November 26th, 2015
Have HRC made the same mistake again? In 2015, the Honda RC213V was a nasty beast to tame, suffering with an excessively aggressive engine. The engine was probably the single most important reason Marc Márquez could not mount a realistic defense of his second title, forcing him to try to make up in braking what he was losing in acceleration, and crashing out as a result. At the Valencia test, all eyes were on Honda's new engine, to see if they had finally fixed the problem.
Valencia turned out to be a little too complex to make a real judgment. The switch to spec electronics and Michelin tires introduced way too many variables to be able to filter out a single factor, Honda engineers taking a long time to extract some kind of consistency from the new unified software all MotoGP bikes must now use. The 2016 RC213V engine seemed a little less aggressive, but the new software made it hard to tell. The current test at Jerez was supposed to give a clearer indication, with HRC's engineers having a better handle on the unified software.
Though the verdict is not yet in, it is not looking good for the 2016 engine Honda brought for the tests in Spain. Both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez have reported the engine as still being too aggressive, and difficult to manage, though the engine character has changed. "Last year's engine was aggressive in the top," Márquez told reporters after the second day of testing at Jerez. "Now we have more power in the bottom, but still we don't understand the way to deliver this torque. It looks like aggressive in the bottom, but then smoother in the top compared with last year." The key will be finding the right balance between the top and bottom end.
Press releases from the Repsol Honda, Gresini Aprilia and Aspar Ducati teams after testing on Thursday at Jerez:
Testing continues in Jerez for Marquez and Pedrosa
The Repsol Honda Team have completed a productive second day of testing in Jerez.
Cold temperatures of 5ºC welcomed the team at the track but by late morning it had soon warmed up to 18ºC and once again remained dry and sunny for the duration of the test.
Marc spent this second day concentrating on the 2016 specification engine and electronics, with long waits in the box between exits as his team adjusted the Magneti Marelli software. He completed a total of 58 laps with his best time of 1’39.57.
Dani did 53 laps today and a fastest time of 1’40.10. He continued to carry out a comparison between the 2015 and 2016 specification engines and software.
The three day test will conclude tomorrow.
1’39.57 58 laps
Testing continued for the fourth day at Jerez, the track getting busier than ever as more and more riders joined the fray. Once again, only the World Superbike riders had transponders, the MotoGP teams electing to keep their times private.
The Kawasaki pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea returned to action after a day off on Wednesday, and were once again the fastest of the WSBK riders. Sykes took top honors on Thursday, finishing just ahead of his teammate Rea, the difference just one hundredth of a second. Chaz Davies made a big step forward on the Aruba.it Ducati, improving his time by nearly three quarters of a second, and ending half a second off the pace of Sykes. Nicky Hayden was the sole Honda representative, teammate Michael van der Mark having gone home with problems in his arm, and Hayden too improved, half a second quicker than Wednesday and within seven tenths of Sykes' time. He finished ahead of the other two Ducatis of Xavi Fores and Davide Giugliano, as well as in front of the MV Agusta of Leon Camier.
There were a couple of crashes on Thursday as well, with Ducati test rider Michele Pirro falling heavily but walking away relatively unhurt. Less luck for Eugene Laverty, though, the Aspar Ducati rider crashing and fracturing his arm in the fall.
Testing concludes on Friday.
Times from Thursday at Jerez:
The final test of 2016 for the World Superbike class has already lost two of its participants. Both Ten Kate Honda's Michael van der Mark and Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes have been forced to withdraw from the test due to injury.
Lowes suffered a dislocated shoulder when he fell heavily at Turn 3 on Wednesday, crashing in the late afternoon. Though he walked away from that crash, and quickly had his dislocated shoulder put into place, a painful shoulder and restricted movement meant there was little sense in continuing. Lowes has returned to the UK for medical treatment, with the objective of being completely fit when testing resumes next year.
What happened to Michael van der Mark is a little more mysterious. The Honda Pro Racing organization posted a brief update on its Facebook page, adding little detail to Van der Mark's withdrawal. Van der Mark was suffering with pain in his right arm on Wednesday, which given his times on the day (Van der Mark was over a second slower than his new teammate Nicky Hayden) appear to have severely affected his speed. Van der Mark has now flown north seeking treatment, and will see a specialist in Antwerp, Belgium for further examinations.
The Repsol Honda team issued the following press release after the first day of testing at Jerez, complete with photos:
Repsol Honda Team commence final test of year
With the testing ban coming into effect of 1st December, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa took to the track today in Jerez for the first day of the three-day test.
A cold fresh morning greeted them but they were blessed with good weather all day remaining dry and sunny until the end of testing. Both Marc and Dani spent this first day comparing different engines and working on the electronics set up.
Marc finished the day with a best time of 1’39.92, completing 65 laps in total. Dani, who missed the race here this year due to injury, managed 56 laps and his fastest time was 1’40.12. He had a small crash on the last exit in the final corner, but escaped unhurt.
The third day of the combined World Superbike and MotoGP test at Jerez saw a lot more action on track at the Spanish circuit, as some teams left and several more arrived to start testing. The BMW Althea and Kawasaki teams were the absentees, while the Ten Kate Honda teams, Barni Ducati and Aruba.it Ducati teams, Leon Camier at MV Agusta, and the Crescent Yamaha World squad all joined the World Superbike fray. The Repsol Honda and Gresini Aprilia teams were both out with their official MotoGP riders, while Michele Pirro was on testing duties for Ducati. The Aspar Ducati team were also circulating, with Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernandez out working on the GP14.2.
Despite the (relatively) heavy traffic on track, the timing sheets remained relatively empty. Only the Ten Kate Hondas, the Ducati Panigales and Leon Camier's MV Agusta F4 were fitted with transponders relaying official timing back to the circuit systems. The Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli, as well as all of the MotoGP bikes, were out without any official timing, and so no lap times were reported.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Duke, Sheene and Dunlop: three great British bikers
Sheene, Dunlop, Duke… it would be difficult to find three more different motorcycle racers, let alone three more different human beings.
We all know the iconic images of these three late, great Britons: Duke waving a jolly hello, his hair painstakingly groomed and Brylcreemed; Sheene topless and in cut-off jeans, sucking on a filter-less Gitanes, one arm around Stephanie MacLean; Joey nursing a pint and puffing on a fag from under that lank thatch of hair.
Duke came from a different age, not only of motorcycles but also of society and culture. He surely would’ve been mortified if he had stumbled into one of Joey’s ale-fuelled lock-ins at The Saddle pub in Douglas, even more so if he had mistakenly walked into Sheene’s hotel bedroom.
The Althea BMW World Superbike team issued the following press release after their two-day test at Jerez:
The Althea BMW Team makes its track debut.
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) 24 November 2015
The Althea BMW Team concludes two days of testing at the Spanish circuit of Jerez de la Frontera.
With cool temperatures but sunny conditions, the Team was able to work on different set-up solutions for the new BMW S1000 RR bikes. Riders Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger each used various configurations as they worked to find a level of performance that can serve as a base for the future development of the Bavarian company’s machines.
Both of the Althea BMW Team riders were able to achieve solid results and, though lap times were not crucial this week, both Torres and Reiterberger were nevertheless able to lap consistently fast, with times that were very close to both the track record and those set by their strongest rivals present on track. Final lap times – a 1'40.531 for Reiterberger and 1'41.002 for Torres – serve as an immediate injection of faith that will boost the whole Team, with all parties working closely together to find the right direction in which to continue. The Italian and German engineers were coordinated by new Technical Director Jan Witteveen with a very positive outcome.
Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has once again topped the timesheets on the second day of the combined WSBK/World Supersport test at Jerez, the Kawasaki man putting in a scorching lap at the end of the day to assert his authority, demoting his teammate Tom Sykes into second spot, over a third of a second behind him. Sykes was hampered by a small crash in the Michelin corner, and was unable to improve his time at the end. German IDM Superbike champion Markus Reiterberger set a very impressive pace, ending his second day with the Althea BMW team just two hundredths of a second slower than the 2013 WSBK champ Sykes, and nearly half a second faster than his teammate Jordi Torres. Reiterberger still has a lot to learn in World Superbikes, the IDM technical rules a lot more restrictive than those in WSBK.
James Ellison improved his time from Monday by over half a second, the BSB rider joined by his GBMoto teammate Peter Hickman. Hickman's times were nowhere near that of Ellison's, but given that Hickman is fresh off the plane from Macau, where he won his first Macau GP, that is hardly surprising.
The Suzuki MotoGP squad held a two-day private test at Sepang on Monday and Tuesday. At the test, Maverick Viñales tested a seamless gearbox and the 2016 electronics, as well as continuing to work with the Michelin tires. Aleix Espargaro was absent from the test, having suffered a back injury in a training accident a few days ago.
Suzuki issued the following press release after the test:
POSITIVE OUTCOME FOR SUZUKI ECSTAR AT SEPANG TEST
Team Suzuki Press Office – November 24.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR has completed a successful private test session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia today, where Maverick Viñales and the test team debuted Suzuki’s new seamless gearbox on the GSX-RR.
Viñales was supported in the two-day test by Takuya Tsuda and Nobuatsu Aoki, who ran many laps to supply Suzuki’s R&D department in Japan with useful information and data before the winter break.
Unfortunately, Aleix Espargaró couldn’t join in because of the injury he suffered recently while training that caused him a flexion fracture to a vertebrae and required a two-to-three-week lay-off.
Monday saw the first day of a week of action for various classes at Jerez, with testing scheduled for the Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati World Superbike teams, as well as Ducati, Aprilia and Honda's MotoGP teams later in the week.
For the first day of action, the Kawasaki World Superbike and World Supersport teams were joined by the Althea BMW squad, MV Agusta's WSS effort, and James Ellison of the BSB GBMoto squad. Jonathan Rea ended the day as the fastest man, a little way off the Superpole time from the race in September, just beating out his teammate Tom Sykes at the end of the session. The two Kawasakis swapped fastest times at the end, Rea prevailing at the flag. Althea made their debut on BMW S1000RRs, German IDM champion Markus Reiterberger making an impressive test debut, finishing ahead of his new teammate Jordi Torres. BSB rider James Ellison was the slowest of the Kawasakis, his lower spec BSB ZX-10R 1.6 seconds off the pace of Rea's WSBK machine.
Kenan Sofuoglu was the fastest World Supersport rider, his countryman and Superstock 600 champion Toprak Razgatlioglu a second behind him. Razgatlioglu is making the switch to the Superstock 1000 class for 2016. Randy Krummenacher made his World Supersport debut at Jerez, ending the first day 1.6 seconds behind Sofuoglu.
Casey Stoner is to leave Honda and work with Ducati as a test rider and brand ambassador from 2016. Two press releases, one from Honda and one from Ducati, today confirmed the rumor which had emerged at Valencia during the race weekend, and especially after the test. Honda thanked Stoner for five years of collaboration, including two years of racing, during which he won fifteen races and a MotoGP championship. After his retirement, at the end of 2012, Stoner continued as a test rider for HRC, but rode only sporadically, no more than a couple of days a year.
The Valencia test saw two of the major changes for the 2016 MotoGP season make their public debut. Testing with the Michelin tires has been going on since Sepang in February, though Valencia was the first time the riders were allowed to speak about them. The 2016 spec electronics package, the so-called unified software, made its first appearance on track in public, it having only previously been used by test riders at private tests.
The unified software was met with a mixed reception among the riders who used it. Though everyone said it was very much a step back in time, some riders were fairly happy with it, while others were much less so. The main criticisms leveled at it were that it reacted inconsistently, and it was difficult to get a handle on exactly how the software would react from one lap to the next. Whether this is fundamental to the software, or related to the fact that this was the first real outing on the software, and the factory software and engineers needed time to sort the electronics out will only become clear as the season progresses.
Aleix Espargaro has fractured a vertebra in a training accident. The factory Suzuki rider was out training on an off road bike, when he landed heavily from a jump, and felt pain in his back. He was taken to hospital, where an MRI scan revealed a flexion fracture of the vertebra, forcing him to miss the Sepang test planned for next week.
The injury suffered by Espargaro should not see him out of action for long. The Spaniard was discharged from hospital on Friday morning, and will now have to rest for a two to three week period to allow him to recover. No further complications were found when he was examined, and rest and physiotherapy should see him make a quick and full recover.
Espargaro's injury does mean that he will miss out on his first chance to try the new spec, or unified software to be used in MotoGP for 2016. At the Valencia test, both Espargaro and Viñales concentrated on learning to use the new Michelin tires, with their first run on the unified software scheduled for a private test at Sepang next week. Now, only Viñales will test it, along with Suzuki's test riders Takuya Tsuda and Nobu Aoki.
The press release from Suzuki appears below:
ESPARGARO OUT OF SEPANG TEST AFTER TRAINING ACCIDENT
Team Suzuki Press Office – November 20.
The FIM today released the provisional 2016 calendar for the World Superbike championship. There is good news and bad news in the calendar, with Portimao disappearing from the calendar, but Monza making a welcome return. World Superbikes will also be returning to Germany, with the entire circus turning up to the Lausitzring, just north of Dresden. The best news is that there are no direct clashes with MotoGP, but WSBK will be running on the same date as F1 for nine rounds, though only the Donington and Monza rounds happen in the same timezone. Given the different time schedules for F1 and WSBK, bike racing fans should not have to miss any of the action.
The Lausitzring was not the only option considered when WSBK looked at returning to Germany. The series was also in talks with the Sachsenring, as the MotoGP round is immensely popular there. In the end, Lausitz was chosen, WSBK having raced there previously from 2005 to 2007.