More press releases previewing the Sepang test, from Bridgestone and from Tech 3:
Bridgestone prepares for the first MotoGP™ group test of 2015
Tuesday, February 3 2015
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric) & Medium (Symmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard
The riders contesting this year’s MotoGP™ World Championship will get their first taste of Bridgestone’s 2015 specification tyres at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit from February 4-6, as the world’s largest tyre maker embarks on its seventh season as the official tyre supplier to the series.
Like last year, the MotoGP regulations for 2015 provide concessions on rear tyre choice for manufacturers, depending on their class of entry, Factory or Open, and their recent record in dry races. Open class entrants, and Factory class manufacturers that did not win a race in dry conditions in the previous season, will have access to rear slick compounds that are one step softer than Factory class entrants that did record a win in dry conditions last year.
The table below details the rear slick tyre allocation available to each team for pre-season testing and races during the 2015 season.
Testing is underway at Sepang, under good conditions, with temperatures reasonable and humidity not too high. Marc Marquez leads after just two hours, but it had taken him a while to set the quickest time, Dani Pedrosa having led earlier, with the two factor Yamahas and Andrea Dovizioso also quick.
Times at 12:15pm
The 2015 MotoGP season kicks off tomorrow. On Wednesday, the riders take to the track once again at Sepang to continue the development on the bikes they will be racing this year, and to test out the new updates the engineers have been working on during the winter break.
And yet the two most important and interesting developments won't even be at the first Sepang test. Ducati's much-anticipated Desmosedici GP15 is not quite ready for prime time, and so will not make its public debut until 19th February at the launch in Bologna, and not make its first laps in public until the second Sepang test at the end of this month. Yamaha's fully seamless gearbox – allowing both clutchless upshifts and downshifts – will also wait until Sepang 2 before Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo get their hands on the bike.
The official reasons given for the delay are that the GP15 and Yamaha's gearbox are almost ready, but not quite, still needing a few last checks by the engineers before they are ready to be handed over to the factory riders. Those of a cynical – or perhaps even paranoid – bent may be tempted to speculate that the delays are more to do with the media than the engineering. The first Sepang test this week is well-attended by journalists and photographers alike, the MotoGP press just as eager as the riders and the fans for the winter to be over.
The second Sepang test sees only a very few journalists attend, with few publications willing to spend the money to cover the expenses for what is often just more of the same. Perhaps the factories have cottoned on to this, and are taking advantage of the opportunity to test important new parts with a little less media attention. Or perhaps it really is just a case of not being quite ready in time.
Despite the absence of the really big news, there will still be plenty to see. So who will be testing what, and what are the key factors to keep an eye on?
With the MotoGP test at Sepang due to start on Wednesday, the first preview press releases are starting to trickle in. Today, Suzuki and Marc VDS issued their previews, while Pramac Racing issued a press release containing an interview with team manager Francesco Guidotti. The press releases appear below:
SUZUKI MOTOGP BEGINS 2015 TESTING AT SEPANG
Team Suzuki Press Office – January 31.
SUZUKI MotoGP begins 2015 pre-season tests at Sepang in Malaysia next week in preparation for its return to the premier class of motorcycle racing at Losail, Qatar on March 29th.
Despite a forced winter testing ban, new team riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales, plus Suzuki’s factory technicians, have been hard at work training and continuing development of the 2015 GSX-RR MotoGP machine that the young Spaniards will race in the 18-round series.
The official four-day test at the 5,543m Sepang International Circuit, 60km south of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, will see all the 2015 MotoGP factory teams together on track for the first time between February 4-7th; and the first opportunity for Espargaro and Vinales to evaluate the new developments made to the GSX-RR at Suzuki’s development centre in Ryuyo in Japan since the previous tests in November.
Casey Stoner wrapped up a three-day test at Sepang on Saturday, riding the 2014 and 2015 Honda RC213V MotoGP bikes, as well as a Honda CBR1000RR which HRC is preparing for the Suzuka 8-Hour race. HRC issued the following press release after Stoner completed the test:
Stoner returns to Sepang in HRC test
Two-time MotoGP World Champion, Casey Stoner, has completed a successful test in Sepang with Honda Racing Corporation.
Casey began his test schedule at the 5.548km Sepang Circuit – 75km to the south of Kuala Lumpur – on Thursday mid-morning. Brief rain showers interrupted testing throughout the course of the three days, but nonetheless Casey was able to fulfil the plan set by HRC.
Casey spent time on both the 2014 and 2015 RC213V machines, doing a chassis comparison and analysed new variations of the new spec brought to this test by HRC. He also tried new brakes from Brembo amongst various other testing components. The engineers also took advantage of having Casey in Sepang to run a few laps on the Suzuka 8 Hour Honda CBR1000RR in the afternoon on the final day.
Casey Stoner 27
Test Rider – MotoGP
Officially, testing for 2015 MotoGP season starts in five days time, on Wednesday, 4th February. Unofficially, it started yesterday, when Yamaha and Honda's test teams gathered at Sepang to pre-test a number of parts and prepare the way for the arrival of the factory riders, who arrive in Malaysia next week.
Normally, test teams test in secret - a local journalist and photographer was told in no uncertain terms he would not be welcome at the track - which means their work goes unnoticed. Unfortunately for Honda - or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective - HRC had a very high-profile test rider at Sepang. Casey Stoner spent a couple of days on the 2015 Honda RC213V, and though no press release has yet been issued, a couple of posts on his Instagram and Twitter accounts gave a few clues about the test.
Analyzing Yamaha's MotoGP Launch - A Motivated Rossi, A Lean & Mean Lorenzo, And A Fully Seamless Gearbox
2014 did not go to plan for Yamaha. After the first four races of last year, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo trailed the Repsol Hondas by 76 points in the team championship, and Yamaha was 33 points behind Honda in the manufacturers standings. Marc Márquez was in the middle of an unbeaten run, Dani Pedrosa backing him up strongly. There were a lot of good reasons for Yamaha's troubled start. Yamaha was struggling to get a smooth throttle response from a liter less fuel, the new Bridgestone tires were less suited to the YZR-M1's need for high corner speeds, and Jorge Lorenzo arrived at the start of the season out of shape, after neglecting his training after surgery during the winter.
2015 looks like being the polar opposite. At the launch of their 2015 campaign, the Movistar Yamaha team looked forward with some optimism. Building on the progress made in the second half of 2014, the bike is much more competitive, Valentino Rossi arrives motivated by his strong season, and Jorge Lorenzo is lean and fit, having spent all off-season preparing. They are ready for big things.
With 2014 out of the way, one of the big sponsorship issues could also be addressed. When Movistar signed up alongside Monster, that caused a confusing clash on the fairing of the 2014 bike, with two large fluorescent green M logos on the bike. A redesign has given Movistar a little more prominence on the fairing, the logo now much larger, the text moved elsewhere on the bike. Key to the sponsorship is not just the visibility, however, it is also the ability to showcase technology. Movistar demonstrated an excellent 360° smartphone app at Aragon last year, which is the start of much more to come.
Yonny Hernandez is to miss the first Sepang test. The Colombian rider crashed while riding dirt track, falling heavily on his left shoulder, and dislocating the shoulder. As a result, Hernandez will not be able to ride at Sepang, and will be replaced by Ducati's test rider, Michele Pirro.
The good news for the Pramac Ducati rider is that the damage was mainly microfractures, and the ligaments and tendons were undamaged. The shoulder is a very complex joint, held together by a complicated network of tendons, cartilege and ligaments which allow it to move freely, but is vulnerable to damage. Damaging the connecting tissue in a shoulder can severely hamper riding ability and even end careers, as it did for Ben Spies. Hernandez' injury is nowhere near as severe, and should allow him to take part in the second test at Sepang.
The press release from Pramac Racing appears below:
Yonny Hernandez to miss Sepang 1 test due to shoulder injury
Pramac Racing announces that Yonny Hernandez can't participate for the Sepang test scheduled in February 4th to 7th.
As had been widely expected, Ducati will not have the GP15 ready for the first test at Sepang, in early February. In an interview with the MotoGP.com website, due to be shown on 19th January, Ducati Corse boss confirmed that work was still underway on the all-new bike, and that instead, Ducati will be bringing an uprated version of last year's bike, dubbed the GP14.3, to test aspects of the new design not requiring the new engine.
The delays have been trailed by both Dall'Igna and Paolo Ciabatti, speaking to the media at the Valencia test and at the Superprestigio dirt track event in December. The GP15 is a completely new bike, designed from the ground up, with a completely redesigned engine. Though expected to retain Ducati's 90° V4 layout and desmodromic valve operation, the engine is likely to be much shorter, with a revised gearbox layout making it much more compact. Ducati are also believed to be looking at a heavier crankshaft, to help smooth throttle response. Dall'Igna will reveal more details on the design of the bike to the MotoGP website in the interview to be shown as part of the site's Off Season Show, set to be aired on 19th January.
The LCR Honda team issued the following press release, after Jack Miller completed his three-day test at Sepang:
POSITIVE TEST CONCLUDES FOR MILLER IN MALAYSIA
Today in Malaysia saw the last of the on-track action in 2014 for the CWM LCR Honda Team and their rookie rider Jack Miller, as they concluded a three-day test at the Sepang International Circuit.
The 19 year-old Aussie has made significant progress over the past three days as he prepares the huge step up from the Moto3 World Championship to the elite of MotoGP in 2015. With help from HRC the team are gradually revealing more complex aspects of the Open electronics package on the Honda RC213V-RS, and with more time spent on the bike Miller admitted he felt increasingly comfortable, despite a small lowside spill in the morning.
After having completed a long run out on track in the afternoon the testing session was once again halted, as it had been the previous two days, when rain fell just after 4pm. However the Queenslander had already improved on his best lap of the test, with a quickest time of 2’02.9.
The LCR Honda team issued the following press release after the second day of testing for Jack Miller at Sepang:
MILLER KNOCKS TWO SECONDS OFF BEST LAP
On his second day of testing at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Jack Miller upped his pace by nearly two seconds as he continued his apprenticeship on board the CWM LCR Honda RC213V-RS.
Track conditions were much improved from the first day of testing, and the Australian was able to consistently make progress as he and his team work to adapt the new bike to his requirements.
Dark clouds hung over the circuit for the majority of the day, but before they dropped their payload at 4pm in the afternoon as per usual, Miller was able to complete a best lap of 2’03.1, compared to a 2’04.9 on day one.
CWM LCR Honda’s final test of the year concludes tomorrow at Sepang, with the 19 year-old hoping to get in a couple of long runs to test out his fitness over a race distance.
Jack Miller #43 (2’03.1, 48 laps)
The LCR Honda team issued the following press release after the first day of extra testing laid on for MotoGP rookie Jack Miller:
ROOKIE MILLER BACK ON TRACK AT SEPANG
One half of the CWM LCR Honda Team began the first of three test days at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia today, as preparations for the 2015 season continued before the testing ban comes into force during December and January.
As a rookie to MotoGP next season, the team’s new recruit Jack Miller is entitled to extra test days in order to smooth the transition to the premier class, and was joined out on the 5.543 km (3.444 mile) circuit by various test riders. Temperatures were cooler than during the scorching October race at the track, peaking at around 32°C, but with only four riders testing the surface took a while to clean.
The Australian, who joins the motorcycling elite after finishing as the championship runner-up in Moto3, was able to put in 39 laps of the track on his new Honda RC213V-RS until light rain at 4pm brought a halt to any further progress.
Testing continues at Sepang for Miller and the CWM LCR Honda Team on Thursday and Friday, where the 19 year-old will hope for better conditions to carry on with his adaptation to the new bike.
Jack Miller #43 (2’04.92, 39 laps)
The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand.
The chances of this being the definitive calendar appear to be slim. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen. The 2014 round was canceled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible. The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be canceled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for.
After Tito Rabat sealed the 2014 Moto2 championship, Dorna issued the following press release, charting Rabat's path to his title winning season:
Tireless Rabat’s hard work takes him to the top
At the age of 25 Tito Rabat has seen his years of hard work and steady improvement pay off as he took a big step forward in 2014 to become a World Champion.
On Sunday the rider from Barcelona clinched his first World title, following up on the success story of his former teammate last year in the Moto2™ class Pol Espargaro. Rabat’s journey to the World Championship glory in the intermediate class has been one of diligent self-improvement since his first appearance in Grand Prix racing in 2005.
Rabat made his debut in Valencia at the end of that 2005 season having been runner up in the Spanish 125cc championship that year. The following season he made further guest appearances at Jerez and Barcelona-Catalunya before getting handed an opportunity in the second half of the 2006 campaign to ride permanently on Honda machinery. He attended 10 Grands Prix that year and registered his first points.