MotoGP

2017 Barcelona MotoGP Test Times Final: Marquez Tops Test Day

Marc Marquez leaves the Monday post-race test at Barcelona as fastest. The Repsol Honda rider indulged in a late hot-lap shootout with Maverick Viñales at the end of the day, Marquez knocking the Movistar Yamaha rider off the top of the timesheets.

Jonas Folger ended the day in third, though he was nine tenths behind Marquez, bbut just ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Aleix Espargaro. Cal Crutchlow was sixth fastest, ahead of Johann Zarco and Scott Redding.

Final times:

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2017 Barcelona MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: Triumph Of Experience, And Yamaha's Woes Addressed

Are Michelin deciding the 2017 MotoGP championship? That would be an easy conclusion to draw after the war of attrition which the Gran Premi de Catalunya at Barcelona turned into. It would also be inaccurate. This race, like the race at Jerez, was about managing tires in poor grip conditions, with the added complication in Barcelona of extremely high tire wear. The riders and bikes which managed that best ended up at the top of the results sheet. The bikes and riders which struggled with that went backwards, and lost out.

And yet Michelin undeniably has a role in all this. After the race, Honda boss Livio Suppo pointed out that we were seeing different manufacturers do well at each different race. The pendulum swings between one and another, as a particular team or a particular factory hits the performance sweet spot for the tires, and gets the most out of them. At the next race, it's a different rider, a different bike, a different team.

The criticism Suppo had was that the sweet spot for the tires could be hard to find. "The tires seem to have a very narrow operating window. If you get it right, you can be competitive," he told me. If you didn't get it right, if you couldn't find that operating window, you are in deep trouble. "Maybe it would be better if that window was bigger."

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2017 Barcelona MotoGP Saturday Notes: A Primer On Asphalt, And A War Of Attrition

Sunday at Barcelona is going to be a war of attrition. Everything is conspiring against the riders, and most especially the tires. Temperatures are expected to rise even higher than they were on Saturday, when air temperatures hit over 32°C, and track temperatures climbed to 55°C and above. Those are punishing temperatures in which to race a MotoGP bike, especially at Montmelo, where the heat gets trapped in the bowl of hills which holds the circuit.

Then there's the tires. There is much complaining about the lack of grip and the fact that grip drops off a cliff after seven or eight laps. It would be more accurate to blame that on the track, though: the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has not been resurfaced in twelve or thirteen years, and is very heavily used, both by bikes and by cars. That has created a surface which is both too smooth to provide grip, while simultaneously being incredibly abrasive.

That sounds contradictory, so when Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert spoke to a group of journalists on Friday night, I asked him to explain. The Frenchman explained that grip and abrasiveness came from two different parts of the surface. Asphalt (or rather, a road or racing surface) consists two parts: binder and aggregate. Aggregate is basically small stones, specially selected for size and shape. Binder is usually a special formulation of bitumen, often containing other ingredients.

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2017 Barcelona MotoGP FP4 Result: Pedrosa Turns Up The Heat

In the melting heat of the Catalonian afternoon, the tyre combinations were limited to the harder options, many riders trying on the medium rear after a good showing from Dani Pedrosa. Marc Marquez was fastest out the gates, but another crash in turn nine while he was pushing in the beginning of the session gave Pedrosa a turn at the lead on the hard front and medium rear tyre.

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