Press releases after the second day of the tire test at Phillip Island:
The tire test at Phillip Island continues, with a selection of MotoGP and Moto2 riders putting new specs of tires from Bridgestone and Dunlop through their paces in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of last October. After the first day of testing, where the riders tested a large selection of various compounds and constructions, the second day of testing concentrated on the tires which showed the most promise from the short runs on Monday.
Though Jorge Lorenzo was fastest on the day, his time was still over a second off the lap record set by Marc Marquez in October. But fast times were less important than tire enduranc, and Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow all posted long runs towards the end of the day. Pedrosa managed 20 laps, or just over two-thirds race distance, while Rossi and Crutchlow both did runs of half race distance. Lap times were consistent, with little drop off towards the end. Bridgestone were very happy with the data, and have narrowed the selection down to three possible tires, and hoping to leave with just two options for development ready for the race in October. Jordi Torres did a race simulation on the Moto2 Dunlops, but the tire did not produce the lap times which Dunlop had hoped. The data was useful nonetheless, as it provides further input for development.
Press releases at the end of the first day of the tire test at Phillip Island:
Times from Monday:
Italian rider Niccolo Antonelli was one of the revelations of Moto3 testing at Valencia and Jerez. Teammate Enea Bastianini was also notably quick. So the press release issued by the Go&Fun Gresini team featuring crew chiefs talking about the progress made so far with the KTM machines in preseason testing makes for interesting backround. The press release appears below:
MOTO3 PRE-SEASON TEST DEBRIEF WITH STEFANO RIMINUCCI AND FABRIZIO CECCHINI
Nine days of testing, divided equally between the circuits of Almeria, Valencia and Jerez have provided a first, interesting indication of the performance values ahead of the 2014 Moto3 World Championship campaign. During this trip across Spain, the Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3 has became soon a protagonist, being costantly at the top of the timesheets: during all the testing sessions, Niccolò Antonelli has been always in the top three positions, resulting the fastest over the three days spent at Valencia.
The Repsol Honda team issued the following press release, announcing that they have secured the backing of Indonesian Honda distributor PT Astra Honda Motor for the 2014 season, after a year of absence:
HRC celebrate new collaboration with PT Astra Honda Motor, Indonesia
In an effort to inspire young Indonesian riders to achieve their highest racing dreams, PT Astra Honda Motor (AHM) have partnered up with the Honda factory racing team, Repsol Honda.
The One HEART and Satu HATI logos will be displayed on Honda’s RC213V bike (having already featured since the first Sepang test) and also on the leather suits of team riders Marc Marquez – 2013 MotoGP World Champion – and Dani Pedrosa, for the 2014 season.
This partnership, which also existed in 2011 and 2012, demonstrates AHM’s commitment to growing grass roots motorsport in Indonesia and supporting the development of young riders on both a national and international level. The training of young riders will be conducted through the Honda Racing School (HRS), using Honda’s sport motorcycle the CB150R StreetFire, meanwhile the development of racing teams will be conducted through Honda Technical Racing Training.
The Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 team issued a press release reviewing progress in testing so far. The crew chiefs of Xavier Simeon and Lorenzo Baldassari talk about the steps made at the two tests in Spain, and look ahead to the season to come. The press release appears below:
MOTO2 PRE-SEASON TEST DEBRIEF WITH TOMMASO RAPONI AND DAVID JABAL
Throughout February, the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 carried out the first major phase of winter testing in preparation of the 2014 World Championship campaign: despite being forced to miss both Almeria and Valencia test, due to the injury suffered last February 6, Xavier Siméon was able to make the most of the recent Jerez test. The Belgian rider, alongside his crew chief Tommaso Raponi, went down to business working on the 2014 Suter chassis set-up reaching soon a good feeling, confirmed by the ninth overall fastest time in the combined standings, but especially by a very steady pace over the long distance.
IODA Racing will field just Danilo Petrucci in MotoGP in 2014, leaving Leon Camier without a ride. Rumors of financial problems for the teams had been circulating for several days, but now IODA has confirmed officially that they are down to just a single rider.
The team will still be racing Aprilia ART machines entered under the Open regulations, but with just a single rider, progress will be slower. Danilo Petrucci has soldiered on with the team for the past two years, riding first the underpowered IODA machine using a stock Aprilia RSV4 engine, and then the Suter BMW which was quickly ditched by the teams which had been using it. Petrucci's patience has been rewarded with a much better machine in 2014, though the level of support Aprilia will be providing remains unclear.
Though the press release says that the team are working to find sponsorship to keep Camier on board, the Englishman will only be able to compete if he is effectively able to pay for his ride. If Camier cannot raise the funds, he will be forced to look for other options, but in a difficult market, those options are severely limited, and he could be forced to take a year out of racing.
The big news on the final day of testing at Sepang was not what was happening on track, but rather what was happening off track. The announcement – trailed here and all around the media since early January – that Ducati would switch to the Open category was the talk of the paddock. And social media. And bike racing forums. And biking bars around the world, I expect. Even though we knew this was coming, it is only now becoming clear just how much of a game changer this decision is.
The announcement was timed curiously, made at the end of the day when the bosses of Yamaha and Honda had already left the circuit and were unavailable to the press. Likewise, the press room had largely emptied out. It appeared to have been made to minimize the impact, especially on the other manufacturers. Honda and Yamaha now have a couple of days to gather their PR might and put together a carefully worded position on the move by Ducati, which will both give the impression they are entirely disinterested in what Ducati have decided to do, while at the same time exuding a vague air of disapproval. Expect to see the verb 'to disappoint' in various conjugations.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone at the conclusion of the final day of testing at Sepang:
With Ducati having elected to switch to racing as an Open entry in the MotoGP class, it is time for a quick refresher course on the rules. Below is a primer on the key differences between racing as an Open entry and racing as a Factory Option entry, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Factory Option: Factory Option bikes have 20 liters of fuel, and 5 engines to last the season. No engine development is allowed, the engine specifications being frozen before the first race in Qatar. Factories have to supply template engines with specifications of all parts at the race, those parts must remain unchanged. Development is frozen on parts not accessible when engine is sealed. In short, this means engine internals, crankshaft, crankcases, cams, valves, pistons, conrods, etc. Gearboxes can still be modified. Engine specifications must be identical within teams. This means that engines for Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez must be identical, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi's engines must be identical, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro's engines must be identical.
Testing is also limited for Factory Option teams. They can take part in all official tests (the three one-day tests after Jerez, Barcelona and Brno) and on five days at a nominated circuit.
Ducati have officially confirmed that they will race as Open class entries in the 2014 MotoGP season. Speaking to the media at Sepang, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna announced that all four Ducati machines will be entered under Open regulations. The decision has been the worst-kept secret in the paddock for some time, with rumors emerging earlier this year that the Italian manufacturer would abandon Factory Option status to switch to the freer Open class.
Dall'Igna described the switch as 'the most interesting option for Ducati in the current situation'. Given the nature of Ducati's problems, they were left with virtually no option but to switch to the Open class. The engine freeze in place for Factory Option entries make it impossible to make significant changes to the bike layout, as the engine cases are fixed, right down to the engine mounting points. The freeze limits both engine development and chassis development as a result.
Valentino Rossi leaves the second Sepang test as fastest overall, after finding a burst of pace early in the day to crack the two-minute barrier. So happy with his progress in testing this year was the Italian that he told the press afterwards he was already seriously considering a contract for 2015 and 2016, as long as his results during race weekends improve along the same lines as his pace in testing.
Dani Pedrosa took second spot, finishing with the same time as Rossi after chasing a time at the end of the day. But the Repsol Honda man had to cede top spot to Rossi, as Rossi had posted faster times during the day. The clear progress Ducati have made with the GP14 was evident from Andrea Dovizioso's time, the Italian setting the fastest ever time on a Ducati around the Sepang circuit. Clear improvement on braking and corner entry have made a big difference to the performance of the bike. Dovizioso set his best time using the factory software, though he later did a long run using the Open configuration, running a string of laps in the high 2'01s and low 2'02s.
2014 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 2 Round Up: The Old New Tire, Lorenzo's Lamentations, And Ducati's Open Future (Again)
A cleaner track made for better times at the second MotoGP test at Sepang on Thursday, but conditions remain far from ideal. The track was still greasy, and the added heat made the situation worse. That meant the track remained empty for large parts of the day, the riders waiting for temperatures to come down at the end of the day.
When the riders did go for their fast laps, the usual suspects raised their heads. Aleix Espargaro was quick, Alvaro Bautista was quick, but if anyone was in any doubt about where the real power lies on the MotoGP grid, Dani Pedrosa quickly disabused them of their misconceptions. The Repsol Honda man posted two scorching laps, faster than anyone else was capable of riding. At nearly three tenths of a second, the gap was convincing. When Dani Pedrosa decides to exert his authority, the world listens. Especially when his teammate is absent.
Pedrosa spent the day working on the front of the Repsol Honda, and deciding on which of the two chassis to use for the rest of the year. The quicker of the two options was also less forgiving under braking, meaning Pedrosa elected to pursue the slower of the two frames. Sacrificing a little bit of speed for more stability and less effort to ride seemed like a suitable trade off.