The switch from Bridgestone to Michelin as the official tire supplier for MotoGP promises to be perhaps the most important change to the class for 2016, though the change to spec ECU software runs it a close second. Up until the Valencia tests, held after the final race of the year, the performance of the Michelins was still shrouded in mystery, the official riders contractually obliged to keep quiet about the French tires while Bridgestone was still the official tire supplier.
After its earlier roll out in Austria, KTM has completed its first proper test with the RC16 MotoGP bike at Valencia. On Saturday and Sunday, test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio put the RC16 through its paces on the Spanish track.
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.
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MotoGP's big 2016 change
A few Moto2 and Moto3 riders stayed on for a final day of testing at Jerez on Friday, using the clear skies and good weather to put in a few more laps ahead of the 2016 season. Sam Lowes topped the timesheets on the final day of testing, though his advantage over Taka Nakagami was just a few hundredths of a second. Danny Kent made major steps forward on his second day on the Kalex Moto2 bike, getting within a quarter of his fellow countryman Lowes, and ahead of Moto2 veteran Luis Salom.
The final day of testing at Valencia was a repeat of the first day: a lot of crashes on the Michelin tires, the factory Hondas, Yamahas and Ducatis working on the brand new spec electronics, the satellite bikes and the Suzukis working on their own 2015 electronics. For the Suzukis, that was not such a problem. The new electronics were likely to be an improvement on their own electronics, both Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro said, so missing out now was not such a problem.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the two-day test at Valencia:
2016 Pre-Season Test concludes in Valencia
The Repsol Honda Team have finished their Valencia testing programme with Marc Marquez finishing 1st and Dani Pedrosa 3rd.
Marc Marquez has ended the final day of testing at Valencia, lapping under the race lap record using the 2016 electronics and Michelin tires, and swapping back and forth between a 2015 and 2016 spec engine. Both Repsol Hondas were fast, Dani Pedrosa setting the third fastest time, also spending the day setting up the 2016 spec electronics. Maverick Viñales sandwiched himself between the two Repsol Hondas, while Aleix Espargaro ended up behind Pedrosa, both Suzuki riders concentrating solely on getting accustomed to the Michelin Tires.