March 15th, 2015
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Qatar:
Andrea Dovizioso has ended the second day of testing on top of the timesheets, continuing Ducati's domination at the desert race track. Dovizioso shot to the top just before 9:30pm, taking over from Marc Marquez, who had interposed himself ahead of the Ducatis of Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Marquez is the only Honda, indeed the only non-Ducati, to get down to the 1'55.0 mark, though Dovizioso managed to crack the 55 barrier and set a 1'54.907. Marquez follows with a 1'55.091, while Andrea Iannone was just a hundredth slower than Marquez. Which tires the Ducatis used to set their times was not immediately clear.
Ducati debuted a set of winglets on the fairing of Andrea Dovizioso's GP15 today, an idea they trialed in 2010 as well. The very different shape suggests a different purpose, perhaps to suppress fifth and sixth gear wheelies.
Times at 9:30pm:
After the customary hour or more of silence, as the riders waited for the sun to set, testing is currently in full swing on the second day at Qatar. Marc Marquez is fastest, and faster than the time set by Andrea Iannone on the first day. Jorge Lorenzo is not far off the time of the Honda, while Andrea Dovizioso follows in third. Track conditions are improved over the first day, the on-track activity having cleared much of the dust from the racing line.
Times at 7pm:
Did they or didn't they? That was the question after Ducati dominated the first day of the test at Sepang. Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso spent all day swapping places at the top of the timesheets, Iannone coming out on top at the end. It was an impressive showing, but MotoGP watchers and Ducati's rivals were quick to pass judgment: of course the Ducatis were fast, after all, they were allowed to use the soft rear tire, a concession for the Open class teams and factories who have yet to win three races in the dry. That tire is worth six or seven tenths a lap, said Valentino Rossi.
Only they didn't use the soft tire. At least, that is what Andrea Dovizioso told reporters. He spent all day working on race set up, first on the GP14.3 to set a baseline, and then on the GP15 to work on braking set up and electronics. There was no point using a super soft tire, and he had ridden all day on the harder of the two options, which is the soft tire used by the factory Honda and Yamaha riders. Valentino Rossi was skeptical. "They said they didn't use the soft? I have some doubts," Rossi told Italian reporters. He may be partially right: only Dovizioso denied outright using the softer tire, Andrea Iannone skirted round the question, speaking only of being fast on both new and used tires.
Super soft or no, the fact remains that the Ducatis are quick. The GP15 is clearly competitive, something which Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez were all keen to emphasize. On the same tire, the Ducatis were as quick as the Yamahas and Hondas, Rossi said. That, in itself, is cause for concern. At least for the factory Honda and Yamaha men.
Press releases from the teams after the first day of testing at Qatar:
The Factory Ducati men have dominated the first day of testing at Qatar. Andrea Iannone ended the day as fastest, after swapping the top spot with teammate Andrea Dovizioso all evening long. In the end, less than a tenth separated the two GP15s. With the extra soft tire at their disposal, it was easier to set fast times.
Marc Marquez ended the evening as 3rd fastest, a couple of tenths behind Dovizioso. Aleix Espargaro finished behind the Repsol Honda rider, 4th place impressive for the Suzuki man, and within half a second of Iannone. Dani Pedrosa ended the day in 5th, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, the first of the Yamaha riders. Cal Crutchlow put his CWM LCR Honda between the Movistar Yamaha riders, Crutchlow taking 7th ahead of Valentino Rossi. Rossi had taken a tumble early, but walked away unscathed.
Bradley Smith was the fastest of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders, taking 9th spot with a lap under seven tenths off the pace of Iannone, while Scott Redding showed excellent improvement on the Marc VDS Honda, rounding out the top ten.
Final times at the end of the first day of the test:
Times at 9pm:
Ducati have made it clear they mean business in the first few hours of testing at the final test of the year. While most of the riders waited for darkness to fall before taking to the track at Qatar, Andrea Dovizioso, Michele Pirro and Andrea Iannone were soon circulating, putting more miles on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. At 7:30pm, Iannone had taken over top spot from his teammate, while Dovizioso was just a tenth behind. The Suzukis, too, are busy, Aleix Espargaro posting an impressive time in 3rd spot, ahead of Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda and Espargaro's Suzuki teammate Maverick Viñales in 5th. Danilo Petrucci impressed on the Ducati GP14, currently sitting ahead of the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi was reported to have taken a tumble in his first few laps of the evening, but walked away unhurt.
The test concludes at 11pm local time.
Times at 7:30pm:
Who starts the 2015 MotoGP season as favorite for the championship? The final test at Qatar will give us a much clearer picture of where the factories and riders stand than the last two tests in Sepang. That is in part due to the fact that the factories have had time between the Sepang tests and now to work on further refining their bikes ready for the start of 2015.
But the Qatar test is also a little more representative for the rest of the season than Sepang is. The Malaysian circuit may have a good mix of fast and slow corners, but the tropical heat makes it tough on riders, tough on tires, and the track can lose a lot of grip as the temperatures rise. Qatar may not have the fast corners which Sepang does, but much lower track temps make the circuit a lot less greasy than Sepang.
It helps if if the track is clean, though. Sat on the edge of a desert peninsula, dust and sand all too often blows across the circuit, playing havoc with grip levels. Reports from the recent Kawasaki H2 launch at the circuit suggest the track is not too dusty, and having hordes of journalists circulating on a bike with a nice fat rear tire should have swept most of the dust from the circuit.
The other danger is the chance of dew forming on the track, a problem as the night draws on. The problem is that the dew on the track is impossible to see, meaning riders find themselves tumbling through the gravel wondering what just happened. Testing at least offers some way of avoiding the track once the dew settles, but the trick is not to get caught out in the first place.
Press releases from Suzuki Ecstar and Estrella Galicia Marc VDS ahead of this weekend's MotoGP test at Qatar:
It has been a relatively quiet week in the world of motorcycle racing, with much of the focus on preparations for 2015 rather than actual on-track action. The past week has seen riders spending more time on stage than on track, as many teams have presented their 2015 racing programs. This is but the calm before the storm, however: from Saturday, there is another bumper period of world championship action, with MotoGP testing at Qatar from 14th-16th March, Moto2 hitting Jerez from 17th-19th, followed by the second round of World Superbikes at the Chang circuit in Thailand from 20th-22nd.
There have been some bikes from other series circulating in the past week, however. The British BSB series has been testing in Spain, the MXGP championship has raced in Thailand, two weeks ahead of the World Superbike series' first visit to the country, and in the US, Florida is gearing up for the Daytona 200.
A piece of history?
That race will be a rather peculiar affair. When Daytona Motorsports Group lost the contract to run the AMA road racing series, tough negotations began with MotoAmerica, the new sanctioning body for AMA. The DMG overestimated their bargaining position, and MotoAmerica were happy to pass up on the Daytona 200. Once a historic event with a big name line up, the race has slipped gradually into international obscurity and domestic impopularity.
Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano has big shoes to fill. Taking over from Gigi Dall'Igna, Albesiano must continue the legacy of success which his predecessor left for him. He got off to a good start, Sylvain Guintoli lifting the World Superbike title in Albesiano's first year at the helm. Now comes the hard part, following up on that success and expanding into MotoGP.
A small group of journalists spoke to Albesiano at the Aprilia launch in Milan. In a wide-ranging conversation, the Aprilia boss covered many topics, including explaining why the Noale firm came back to MotoGP a year ahead of schedule, touching on what the new bike Aprilia is working on for 2016 and beyond might look like, and the 2016 rules in MotoGP. Albesiano also talked about the World Superbike season, the return of Troy Bayliss, and what it takes to be successful as a racer at this level. Finally, Albesiano discussed the future of two stroke engines, and whether he could see them making a return to racing.
Q: Aprilia has some ambitious plans for 2015?
Romano Albesiano: I think it's very clear from the presence here. We race in all the top categories, big bikes everywhere. But the main project is to develop this MotoGP target, that's the main point.
Q: The objective for this year is to focus on development, preparing for 2016?
RA: Yes, sure. We need to be realistic. We cannot expect big results this year. But we also don't want to be on the last row! But you need to be somewhere and fight with the good guys in order to check your level, to stress your people, to stress the parts, to make progress quicker than any other way.
The Forward racing team launched their 2015 MotoGP and Moto3 campaigns on Monday, and issued the following press release after the occasion:
Athinà Eyewear with Forward Racing in MotoGP and Moto2
The Gattopardo café hosted yesterday night in Milan the presentation of Athinà Forward Racing Team that will compete in the MotoGP and Moto2 World Championships this year.
Athinà Eyewear, a young Swiss startup owned by AF Invest Group will participate in MotoGP alongside Forward Racing with ambitious goals: winning the title in the MotoGP Open category in and fight with the top team in Moto2.
Stefan Bradl, former Moto2 world champion, and rookie Loris Baz will be riding the title-winning Yamaha Open bike. Simone Corsi, returning after last season injury, will be pairing-up in Moto2 with the young rider Lorenzo Baldassarri from VR46 Academy.
One of the greatest mysteries surrounding the Circuit of Wales is exactly where the funding for the project is due to come from. The ambitious project to build a circuit in the Blaenau Gwent region of South Wales will need some £325 million to complete it entirely, with around £200 million to come from private investors, the rest to come from public funds. Though the Circuit of Wales has had plenty of headlines, there has been little word of any private investors putting any actual money into the project.