MotoGP

Casey Stoner's Ducati MotoGP Test - Your Questions Answered

The return of Casey Stoner to Ducati as a test rider has raised more questions than it answered. Fans and media alike are in a state of confusion about his intentions, especially given the times he was setting on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. What was he doing? Will he race again? When will he test again? To try to put this test and Stoner's role into perspective, here is what we know, what we think we know, and what we don't.

What was Stoner riding?

Casey Stoner spent all three days on the Ducati Desmosedici GP15. He did not test the GP16.

If he's a test rider, why didn't he test the GP16?

A lot of reasons. The GP16 is a brand new bike, and there aren't that many of them yet, so Ducati can't afford to have a test rider destroy one if they crash. The GP16 is not that different to the GP15, so there was plenty for Stoner to test which is transferable to the GP16. Stoner hadn't ridden a MotoGP bike in a year, and hadn't ridden a Ducati since 2010. He hadn't ridden Michelins since 2006, and MotoGP is now using a spec software. For this test, Stoner's aim was to get up to speed, learn and understand the Ducati and a 1000cc era MotoGP bike, complete with Michelins and spec software, and prepare himself for the next test, so that he can provide better input at the next test.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Honda never take the easy road

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Why Honda never take the easy road

Honda’s RC213V engine is a wild thing, but this is not an unusual problem for them to solve. Here’s why…

Many people will tell you the most important things about preseason tests is lap times. These numbers are endlessly analysed by so-called experts attempting to predict the outcome of the new season, rather like weirdos trying to divine the future by reading the tealeaves in the bottom of their teacups.

It’s all a load of nonsense, of course. Individual preseason lap times mean nothing. If they did, Marc Marquez would’ve won last year’s MotoGP title.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2016

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Round Up: What We Learned So Far

What did we learn from the first proper MotoGP test of the new era of Michelin tires and spec electronics? More than we hoped, yet less than we think. A quick run down on the state of play after Sepang, with more to come over the following days.

Michelin

The riders approached the Sepang test with some trepidation, fearing that Michelin had not fixed its wayward front that caused so many crashes at Valencia and Jerez. Their fears were unfounded, the new front tires which Michelin brought – a total of five different types, of varying construction and compound – were all a massive step forward. They were not as stable as the Bridgestones they replaced, but they had gained a lot of predictability and feedback. There were very few crashes which the riders said they had not seen coming.

That does not mean that all of the problems have been solved. A couple of people went down at Turn five on Tuesday, in crashes they described as strange. Casey Stoner (more on him later) had a typically concise and thoughtful analysis. "There's a little point after probably 45°, that [the tire profile] goes down just a little bit more, that it doesn't seem to match with the rear with some of the profiles that we've tested," Stoner explained. "That gives everybody a little bit a nervous feeling, and essentially why people are struggling into Turn 5, a big fast open corner, going in, when the bike goes light, it doesn't like that feeling. It makes the bike a little nervous, and I think that's when the front wants to break away."

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday Final Times: Lorenzo Dominates, Rossi Second

The sun came out at around 4pm at Sepang, and quickly dried off the rain which had fallen throughout the early afternoon. The track dried, and most of the field took to the track again, everyone chasing a fast lap. 

Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fastest, the only rider to get under the two minute mark, and ending the test nearly a second quicker than his teammate Valentino Rossi. The Hondas made an improvement, Marc Marquez leapfrogging over Cal Crutchlow to take third, the LCR Honda rider dropping to fourth ahead of Casey Stoner. Stoner was the fastest of the Ducatis, with Danilo Petrucci in seventh and Andrea Iannone in eighth.

Times at the end of the day at Sepang:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 2:30pm - Yamahas Lead As Rain Comes

Light rain has started falling at Sepang, bringing proceedings to a halt. The insistent light rain with just a few hours of the test left makes it likely that the teams will soon pack up and leave, and start their preparations for the next test at Phillip Island in two weeks time.

The two Yamaha riders lead the rest by a big margin, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi swapping the top spot until Lorenzo stamped his authority on the timesheets. The Spaniard leads his Movistar Yamaha teammate by half a second, while Rossi is another half a second ahead of Marc Marquez. Fastest Ducati is Casey Stoner, over a tenth quicker than factory rider Andrea Iannone, while Cal Crutchlow was strong at the end once again, putting the LCR Honda into sixth, 1.3 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Times at 2:30pm:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 1pm - Lorenzo Leads Stoner, Marquez, Rossi

Track action started late on the final day of testing at Sepang, after rain overnight and through the morning left the track wet. The track was empty until shortly after 11am, when Yamaha sent test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga out to test conditions. One by one more riders joined in, until the track was filled, the teams trying to get as much testing in as possible before the rain expected for this afternoon starts to fall.

Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest of the riders shortly after 1pm, the Movistar Yamaha rider leading Ducati test rider Casey Stoner by two tenths of a second. Marc Marquez is not far behind on the Repsol Honda, while Valentino Rossi shot up to fourth shortly after 1pm, demoting the two factory Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales into fifth and sixth.

Times at 1:15pm:

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Tuesday Round Up: Exploding Tires, Changing Compounds and Stoner's Return

If being the official supplier to a racing series is a double-edged sword, then being the sole supplier of equipment as essential as tires is doubly so. Leaving aside the complexities of exactly what a four-edged sword would actually look like, being official tire supplier to MotoGP is a role which offers massive opportunities for raising the role of a brand, and having it associated with the most famous names in motorcycle racing. It gets your brand name and logo in front of many tens of millions of race fans and motorcycle enthusiasts every weekend. It also sees your logo plastered all over just about every photo which appears in magazines and newspapers about MotoGP, as well as filling thousands of column inches on websites and in magazines. If you had to pay for the same exposure – a concept known as equivalent advertising value – it would cost you many, many times the €25 million Bridgestone were rumored to have paid for the contract.

There is a downside, of course. It is extremely uncommon to hear riders heap praise upon your tires spontaneously. Bridgestone had to announce they were pulling out of the role of official supplier to receive the praise they deserved, riders immediately paying tribute to just how good their racing tires actually are. By contrast, criticism from riders about the spec tire is both instantaneous and highly vocal. Allow a rider to speak about your tires, and they will expound in great detail on all of the failings, real and perceived of the product you have so lovingly produced. Should you suffer some form of catastrophic failure, or get something horribly wrong, then you face a barrage of coverage, all of it negative. As a tire manufacturer, you leave your PR people fighting fires for weeks, and sometimes months to come.

That is precisely the situation which Michelin finds themselves in this evening. At 10:40 on Tuesday morning, Loris Baz accelerated down the front straight at Sepang, and around two thirds of the way along, the rear tire of his Avintia Ducati GP14.2 exploded. As Dorna only has a couple of cameras at the Sepang Test, the video coverage is mainly from the HD CCTV cameras around the circuit, one of which is permanently trained down the main straight.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Tuesday Press Releases

Press releases from the teams after the second day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2016

2016 Sepang MotoGP Tuesday Test Times Final: Petrucci Fastest Early, Lorenzo Fastest Late

Danilo Petrucci kept his place at the top of the timesheets on Tuesday, the Pramac Ducati rider having set a fast time in the morning. Only a few riders improved in the afternoon, when the riders were forced to use the harder tire after Loris Baz' blowout on the main straight. Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest man on a hard tire, while Cal Crutchlow also made a big step forward with hard rubber.

Times at the end of Tuesday:

Sepang Clash Fallout - Race Direction To Be Altered

Race Direction is to be altered in the wake of the clash in Sepang between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. A proposal to split the responsibilities of Race Direction is to be adopted at the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission to be held on Thursday. 

The proposal will see the responsibility for disciplinary matters removed from the current four members of Race Direction, and placed in the hands of a separate panel of stewards. Race Direction will continue to be in charge of all aspects of running the race, including marshalling and safety, but incidents between riders will be investigated by the new panel. They will be charged with judging all incidents of unfair play, and especially of violations of rule 1.21.2, which mandates responsible behavior by the riders on track.

Exactly who will be in the panel is unclear at the moment, but the aim is not to have any Dorna staff in it. The fact that Javier Alonso, a senior executive of Dorna and one of the inner circle at the heart of the company, sits in Race Direction has occasionally been a concern from some of the manufacturers, with accusations of bias surfacing on occasion.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Tuesday Test Times 2pm: Ducatis Lead After Test Halted

Ducatis are topping the timesheets halfway through the second day of the Sepang MotoGP test. Danilo Petrucci set a quick time early, taking over top spot from Jorge Lorenzo, who looked like dominating the second day as he had the first. In the late morning, Hector Barbera joined Petrucci at the front, putting the GP14.2 behind the Pramac GP15.

Jorge Lorenzo is third fastest, nearly three quarters of a second off the time of Petrucci, but the Yamaha man suffered a crash in the early afternoon, sliding off at Turn 5 and damaging his M1. Pol Espargaro also crashed at around the same time, track grip reducing in the afternoon. Marc Marquez set the fourth fastest time, dropping nearly a second and a half off his best time from yesterday, and ending ahead of another pair of Ducatis, this time those of Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone.

Though the crashes of Lorenzo and Espargaro were a minor worry for Michelin, what appeared to be a much bigger problem occurred in the first hour of the day. Loris Baz got halfway down the main straight before his Avintia Ducati GP14.2 disintegrated in an explosion of bike and tire parts. Confusion among the marshals meant it took nearly a minute for the red flag to be shown, several riders passing the straight still littered with parts.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Monday Round Up: Lorenzo Dominates, Ducatis Impress, Honda Struggles

What did we learn from the first day of testing at Sepang? Exactly what we expected to learn. Some riders have adapted quickly, others less quickly. The Michelins have made a big step forward, and the teams have started to understand the Michelin tires better. The spec electronics still need plenty of work, but are pretty usable in their current form (and well liked by the riders). Yamaha and Ducati have adapted well, Honda not very well at all, with the possible exception of Dani Pedrosa.

Above all, we learned that it is too early to be making any judgment calls, and that everyone still has a lot of work to do, and a lot of room for improvement. Today's outcome is interesting, but not definitive. In other words, if your favorite rider is near the top of the timesheets, you can feel optimistic that they will do well in 2016. If your favorite rider is nearer the bottom, you can console yourself with the fact that there is hope, and that testing will solve the worst of the issues.

Lorenzo's Blitzkrieg

Testing at Sepang started where the 2015 championship left off: with a Yamaha 1-2. Unlike 2015, however, the first day of testing at Sepang was not even close. Jorge Lorenzo set the fastest time, well over a second faster than his Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi. But it was not just the time which was impressive – just over 0.4 seconds off the fastest time set by Marc Márquez on the first day of the 2015 test – but the outright speed which backed it.

2016 Sepang MotoGP Monday Press Releases

Press releases after the first day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2016

2016 Sepang MotoGP Test Times Monday: Lorenzo Leads, Rossi, Pedrosa and Ducatis Follow

Final times at the end of testing on Monday:

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