So testing is done and dusted – at Qatar, quite literally, once the wind picks up – and the pile of parts each factory brought has been sifted through, approved, or discarded. The factories are as ready as they are ever going to be for the first race in Qatar, at which point the real work starts. Testing will only tell you so much; it is only in the race that the last, most crucial bits of data are revealed: how bikes behave in the slipstream; how aggressive racing lines treat tires in comparison to fast qualifying and testing lines; whether all those fancy new holeshot devices will help anyone to get into the Turn 1 ahead of the pack. Only during the race do factories and riders find out whether the strategy they have chosen to pursue will actually work.
So after three days of the Qatar test, what have we learned? In these notes:
Honda, from catastrophe to optimism courtesy of old bodywork
- How Honda made a better bike that is still worse
- Yamaha's fearsome race pace
- A race pace comparison
- What if they can't enter Turn 1 in the lead?
- Is it the bike, or is it Valentino Rossi?
- What is enough top speed?
- Suzuki's growing teammate rivalry
- Ducati teammates working on tire life
- Reality bites at Aprilia
- Brad Binder's brilliant lap
- Is the KTM finally competitive?
We start off with Honda. The last day of the test was something of a roller coaster for HRC. By the middle of the last day, the internet was awash with HONDA IN CRISIS! headlines. A few hours later, once the dust had settled and the test was over, the tone was very different. Honda appear to have found something. So what happened?
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