November 2018

2018 Jerez November MotoGP Test Thursday Round Up: Fast Times, Obvious Tech Updates, Yamaha vs Yamaha, And The End At Last

And the winner is... Takaaki Nakagami! Or at least the LCR Honda rider's name sit atop the timesheets at the end of the final day of the final MotoGP test of 2018. Which both counts for a lot, and counts for very little at the same time. The fact that Nakagami was able to do the time is proof that the 2018 Honda RC213V is a much better bike than the 2017 version which the Japanese rider spent last season on – see also the immediate speed of Franco Morbidelli, now he is on the Petronas Yamaha rather than the Marc VDS Honda. It was also proof that Nakagami – riding Cal Crutchlow's bike at Jerez – is a much better rider than his results on the 2017 bike suggest. And puts into perspective that this was the bike which Marc Márquez won the 2017 MotoGP title on.

But it also doesn't really mean very much. Testing is just testing, and the riders don't necessarily have either the inclination or the tire allocation to go chasing a quick lap time the way they do on a race weekend. Nobody wants to risk it all just to prove a point and get injured just before they go into the winter break. And with the top 15 within a second of one another, and the top 7 within a quarter of a second, the differences are pretty meaningless anyway.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Andrea Dovizioso

Dovizioso finished runner-up to Marc Márquez in 2017 and 2018, so how does rider counter the skills of his greatest rival and how has riding technique changed since he came to MotoGP?

How has riding technique changed since you came to MotoGP in 2008?

Riding technique has changed a lot. The bikes have changed a lot and the intensity we are able to put into the bike has changed a lot, so you need to be much fitter because to be fast for 45 minutes with such a level of intensity is impossible if you are not very, very fit. This is the first thing, the second thing is the electronics. The electronics have changed a lot: they are much better and the way we manage them is much better; this is the biggest change and it affects our riding style.

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2018 Jerez November MotoGP Test 2:30pm Thursday Times: Dovizioso Leading Viñales And Marquez

Cool weather meant another late start at Jerez, bikes taking to the track around 11:30am, despite the track opening at 10am. The weather is a little cooler and more cloudy than Wednesday, but times are still respectable.

Andrea Dovizioso is fastest shortly after 2:30pm, the Ducatis debuting a new tail with an aerodynamic shape. Maverick Viñales is second, from Marc Marquez, after Marquez had led for most of the session, spending most of the time on the 2019 prototype bike. Danilo Petrucci is fourth, just ahead of an impressive Pecco Bagnaia on the Pramac Ducati.

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2018 Jerez November MotoGP Test Wednesday Round Up: Yamaha Still Struggling, Ducati Dominant, Honda and Suzuki Improving, KTM Chasing Their Tails

The trouble with post-season testing is that it takes place after the season is over. That is a problem, because the season runs well into November, so any testing after that is nearer to December than it is to October. And wherever you go inside of Europe to test, you will never get a full day's testing done, even with the best of weather.

So it came as no surprise that when the track opened at 9:30am on Wednesday morning for the first day of a two-day test, nothing happened. Or that nothing continued to happen for another couple of hours, as we waited for track temperatures to break the 20°C barrier, and make it warm enough to generate useful feedback. It is a perennial issue with no easy answers. Finding a warm, affordable track is tough this time of year.

The good news was that once the track had warmed up, we had ideal conditions for testing. Dry, sunny, warm if you were standing in the sun, though not quite so much if you were in the shade. Despite the fact that so much time was lost to the cold, the riders ended up with a lot of laps completed, and a lot of work done.

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2018 Jerez November MotoGP Test Wednesday: Ducatis Fastest, Nakagami Surprises

Danilo Petrucci topped the first day of testing at Jerez, the Italian the only rider to get into the 1'37s. He beat factory Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso by two tenths of a second, though Dovizioso had a crash at the end of the session, which stopped him pushing for a fast time. 

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