The final round up of press releases from the teams and Bridgestone after the final day of testing at Valencia:
Bridgestone issued their customary post-race debrief after the final race of the year. In this press release, Shinji Aoki discusses how well the asymmetric front worked at Valencia:
Valencia MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Monday, November 10 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Extra-soft & Soft (Symmetric) & Soft (Asymmetric). Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
In the final MotoGP race of the 2014 season at Valencia, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez triumphed over Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who finished in second and third place respectively, to claim a premier-class record of thirteen victories in one season.
The Valencia Grand Prix took place in cool and unsettled conditions, with a peak track temperature of just 21°C recorded and periods of light rain fall during the race. Marquez was able to set a new Valencia Circuit Record Lap (1'31.515) on the eighth lap of the race in the challenging conditions, as the 2014 World Champion ended the season with another dominant performance.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"This year's machine is not easy to ride," HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto said of the 2014 Honda RC213V. "More difficult than last year." Given the utter dominance of Marc Marquez in the first half of 2014, that seems hard to believe. It certainly left the journalists gathered for the special press conference convened by Honda to review the season befuddled. "But Honda bikes are always easy to ride!" declared one surprised reporter. "Our bike is very easy, I can ride it, but I don't get under two minutes," Nakamoto said. "But to find the last one tenth, two tenths is very difficult," he remarked.
A look at the timesheets from the test, or a chat with Marc Marquez or Dani Pedrosa about the 2015 Honda, and you understand the problem. On the last day of testing at Valencia, Marquez and Pedrosa finished first and second, but the satellite Hondas of Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding were a little way off the pace. Crutchlow was eight tenths slower than Marquez, while Redding was struggling 1.6 seconds behind Marquez. In the last race of the 2014 season, Stefan Bradl's fastest lap was just under a second off the fastest race lap, and Alvaro Bautista a fraction slower. The Honda is obviously fast, but it is not easy to go fast on. Too aggressive, too hard to master, a bike with a lot of potential, but extracting that potential takes insight, experience, and the willingness to push an aggressive bike to its limits. It really demands the kind of dirt track background of Casey Stoner or, well, Marc Marquez.
Marc Marquez has ended the final day of testing at Valencia on top of the timesheets, and leaves for the winter as the fastest overall. The Repsol Honda rider spent most of the day trying the 2015 prototype RC213V, but jumped back on the 2014 bike at the end of the day to set the fastest lap. He ended a tenth quicker than his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, and two tenths quicker than Yamaha man Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo led an entire gaggle of Yamahas, the Movistar Yamaha rider ending ahead of Monster Tech 3's Pol Espargaro, factory man Valentino Rossi, and Espargaro's satellite teammate Bradley Smith.
Danilo Petrucci caused a surprise, ending the day in 7th, ahead of the satellite Hondas and as fastest of the Pramac Ducatis. Petrucci was a tenth quicker than Cal Crutchlow, who spent the day looking for rear grip from the LCR Honda. Yonny Hernandez was 9th on the second Pramac Ducati, ending the day just ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who was exactly 1 second behind Marc Marquez. Suzuki's test debut was generally acclaimed a success, with both riders heaping praise on the handling of the bike.
Times from the last day of the Valencia test, at 3:30pm
Jorge Lorenzo tops the timesheets at 2pm on the final day of testing at Valencia, leading a very close group consisting of the two Repsol Hondas, the two Movistar Yamahas and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Pol Espargaro. Both Honda and Yamaha are giving their 2015 bikes a run out, Nicky Hayden is out on the RC213V-RS, while the rest of the field are growing accustomed to their new mounts. Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz are testing Kayaba suspension, and evaluating them for use next season.
Testing started in silence, the track still far too wet from yesterday's rain. But the sun came out and the wind picked up, and riders hit the track shortly before twelve. Michele Pirro was the first rider out, the Ducati test rider testing conditions and helping to create a dry line. Conditions are now good, the track getting warmer as it goes on.
Times at 2pm:
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Hunting the Honda
As you read this, the wheels are probably still turning and the spanners still twirling at Valencia’s first off-season tests where the game is the same as it’s been for years: hunt the Honda.
We all know the RC213V is the best bike on the MotoGP grid right now (it’s won three riders’ titles and four constructors’ crowns over the last four years) and we all know why: because while Yamaha’s YZR-M1 carves the line of beauty – nicely arced all the way through the corner – the Honda is in and out, front tyre tucked on entry and a flurry of wheelspin (not too much, not too little) on the exit.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the rained-out second day of testing at Valencia:
It is a good job the post-race test at Valencia is three days long. The weather in Valencia in November is usually very good, but it can turn, and you can lose track time to rain. That was certainly the case on Tuesday, rain starting early in the morning, and coming in waves all day. It meant the track was wet throughout Tuesday, only the depth of water on the track varying. The heavy rain meant that most rider decided to sit out the day, only ten riders putting in any laps.
With the track the way it was, the finishing order was not really relevant. What was more important was gaining time on the track, and for several riders, getting to grips with Bridgestone's wet tires. Eugene Laverty, Loris Baz, and Marco Melandri, all of whom have moved over from World Superbikes, needed to adjust their minds to the Bridgestones. Even Melandri, who rode on Bridgestones the last time he was in MotoGP in 2010, said the feeling had changed a lot. The rear tire got up to temperature much faster than before, Melandri said.
Only ten riders ventured out on the wet track at Valencia, the rain coming and going all day long leaving the track soaked. Danilo Petrucci ended the day as fastest, posting a quick time when conditions let up a fraction. Scott Redding and Alvaro Bautista did a lot of laps, Redding wanting the time in the wet, Bautista familiarizing himself with a new bike in the wet.
The weather forecast is much better for Wednesday, with all of the riders hoping for a full day of testing to complete their test plan.
Times at the end of the day:
The Grand Prix Commission meeting at Valencia tied up a number of loose ends in the 2015 regulations, most to do with safety, some to do with basic practicalities of racing.
The most significant changes are to the rule for jump starts and for exceeding track limits. Currently, the penalty for exceeding the track limit is a mandatory loss of position, but the races at Misano showed the impracticality of such a rule. Jonas Folger ran straight on at Turn 1, and had to drop back several seconds into the middle of a group battling for position. Race Direction now has the option of imposing other penalties based on their perception of advantage gained. The decision will allow the imposition of a time penalty, or any other penalty they wish.
The jump start procedure has also been changed, allowing a ride to move before the lights are out, and then stop again, and Race Direction once again decide whether they gained an advantage or not.
One change improving safety is forcing riders to wear helmets while riding the track on scooters. Given the speed which some riders reach on their familiarization laps, it is a much needed rule change. To save costs, riders will now also be allowed to rent dirt bikes or other machinery to use to get to know the track, rather than being forced to ship scooters around the world in team containers.
Heavy rain falling since this morning has made for a very wet track at Valencia. Though the track opened at 10am for the second full day of testing, it remained silent for the first two hours, riders only venturing out shortly after noon. By 2pm, nine men had put in laps, though lap times were a very long way off being fast. Yonny Hernandez led the way, ahead of his new Pramac Ducati teammate Danilo Petrucci, while Scott Redding was third.
The riders who are out are focusing more on getting to understand the bikes in the wet, rather than chasing lap times. The weather is starting to lift, but it is still cold, and the track will take a long time to dry. There are several riders who are unlikely to go out at all in the wet.
Times at 2pm:
Press releases from the teams after the first day of testing at Valencia:
Despite being exhausted from a full weekend (make that a complete season) of racing, the entire MotoGP grid was once again out in force on Monday, turning the first laps of the 2015 preseason (full times here). All except Nicky Hayden, that is, as Honda have brought only one RC213V-RS to Valencia, and there was no point for Hayden to spend more time on the RCV1000R, as that bike will be replaced by the new RS for next season. Hayden gets his turn on the bike tomorrow, weather permitting.
There was both old and new on display at the test, some things virtually unchanged, others radically different. New riders joined the grid, as well as two new factories, and a reshuffling of riders and crew between the garages.
The biggest change was at Suzuki, which saw Aleix Espargaro move from the Forward Yamaha team into the new Suzuki squad, where he was joined by Maverick Viñales, fresh from Moto2. Both riders were very impressed with the GSX-RR, praising its handling and the bike. "It was much better than I expected," Aleix told us. The chassis was "fantastic" he said, allowing him to lap within nine tenths of his qualifying lap on Saturday. The bike was very easy to turn, and he could carry a lot more corner speed as the bike was more compact, allowing him to hang off the bike more.