Farewell, MotoGP penalty point system, we barely knew you. In a press release issued today (and rather bizarrely, leaked to a Spanish journalist two days ago) the FIM announced that the Grand Prix Commission had decided to modify the penalty point system. From now on, the only penalty to be imposed will happen once a rider accrues a total of ten points, at which point they will be disqualified for one race. The penalties for four (starting from the back of the grid) and seven points (starting from pit lane) have been dropped. At a stroke, the penalty point system has been emasculated.
Qatar is a tough place to test. First, there's the timing. The track is open between 4pm and 11pm, giving a full seven hours of track time. In theory, that is. In practice, the first two hours are pretty much unusable, as track temperatures are much higher during daylight than after the sun sets. The final hour is a risky proposition, as the moisture in the air tends to settle at some point after 10pm, forming dew on the track. The dew is as good as invisible, yet it drastically reduces grip. Crashes start to happen without warning, and at high speed.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams at Qatar on Wednesday:
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP LANDS FIRST AT START OF LOSAIL TEST
After two previous Official Tests in Sepang and on Phillip Island last month, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on the Losail International Circuit today for the final three-day practice session before the start of the 2016 season on the 20th of March.
QATAR MOTOGP TEST
Losail, Qatar - 2nd March 2016
23:00 LOCAL TIME GMT+3 AIR 20°C / TRACK 23°C NIGHT CLEAR / HUMIDITY 80%
It's the last chance to get it right. On Wednesday, the wheels start turning for the final tests of the year, with Moto2 and Moto3 hitting the track at the official test in Jerez, while the MotoGP teams assemble at Qatar. At this stage of the preseason, the teams and factories should be running through their final tweaks ahead of the opening race in just under three weeks' time. There is not enough time to make any major changes of direction. If you haven't got it right for this test, you are in for a very long year indeed. Just ask Honda about 2015.
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What did we learn from the Phillip Island MotoGP test? We learned that the rule changes for 2016, new electronics and Michelin tires, have made learning anything from testing very difficult. To borrow a phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, we learned that there are still plenty of known unknowns, and even more unknown unknowns. The most interesting thing to come out of the test is that a few of the unknown unknowns turned into known unknowns.
Press releases after the final day of testing at Phillip Island:
Repsol Honda Team conclude a productive test at Phillip Island
MotoGP’s three-day Australian pre-season test ended today at Phillip Island, with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa in first and seventh places, respectively. It was a very productive test for the Repsol Honda Team, which made further progress on the new unified software and collected much valuable information on tyres and bike settings. This data will be valuable as the HRC engineers return to Japan and continue their work.
Faces dropped as teams headed into the paddock at Phillip Island on Thursday morning. Another day of rain? Surely not. Had they not suffered enough? What was needed was some dry track time, so that the teams could get on with the piles of work they still have to do getting ready for the 2016 season, and Michelin could start to get some proper feedback on their slicks.
Press releases after the second day of MotoGP testing at Phillip Island:
VIÑALES TOPS PHILLIP ISLAND TEST TIMESHEETS
Team Suzuki Press Office – February 18.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales topped the MotoGP™ test times as the sun finally came out on the second day of testing at Phillip Island in Australia today.