Subscriber Feature: The Importance Of Test Riders, Part 2: Davide Brivio On Japanese Test Riders vs European Ex-Racers

As the MotoGP field gets closer, the value of a good test rider goes up. The closer a rider can get to the limits of the bike, the more data they generate, and the more the factories learn. That means there is a premium now on genuinely fast riders, as the data gathered when a rider is within a few tenths of the MotoGP elite is exponentially more valuable than the data obtained by riders who are a second off the pace.

As a result, top racers who have missed the boat for one reason or another are in high demand among MotoGP's factories. In the second part of our series on the importance of test riders, we take a look at Suzuki. (You can read the first part, with KTM's Mike Leitner, here). I spoke to Suzuki Ecstar team boss Davide Brivio at the Jerez test last November, to ask about the importance of Sylvain Guintoli, the former MotoGP, WorldSBK, and BSB racer who Suzuki have been using to help push forward the development of the GSX-RR over the past year or so. With some success: so far, Suzuki have three podiums from four races, and are clearly competitive with Yamaha, Honda, and Ducati.

Given that a test rider needs to be able to clearly describe what they are feeling on the bike, as well as be fast enough to feel something useful, I started off asking Brivio what he more, a fast rider or an intelligent rider. "I would say it should be a good compromise, but probably an intelligent test rider is important as well. Let's say fast enough!" Brivio laughed. "It's always difficult to say whether a test rider can be 1 second slower or three seconds slower. But for me, we think it's very important that he understands whether something is better or not and he can describe properly why it's better or why it's worse. Then of course everything has to be confirmed by the factory riders. But it's very important that he's intelligent and also expert enough about what he is testing, he has enough experience with the electronics, with the tires, with the chassis."

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2018 Jerez MotoGP Monday Test Press Releases

Press releases from the teams after the Monday test at Jerez:


Zarco tops the testing time sheets in Jerez - Syahrin sits out

Just one day after his fantastic second place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, Johann Zarco was back on track today to go through some different settings aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. Following some intense working hours and 63 laps at the Jerez Circuit, the French star concluded the official test superbly in first position and was even 0.226 seconds faster than during Qualifying last Saturday.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Is Zarco complètement gaga?

Johann Zarco is one of MotoGP’s most talented riders, but he’s signed with a factory that hasn’t come close to the podium, let alone victory. Has the Frenchman lost his mind?

The normal trajectory for an up-and-coming MotoGP superstar goes something like this: prove your talent in Moto2 or show your skill aboard a so-so MotoGP bike, sign with a winning factory, then become MotoGP world champion.

Johann Zarco’s MotoGP stock couldn’t be higher than it is right now: the Frenchman is a front-row and podium regular on a second-hand motorcycle that was designed for the 2015 season, to work with Bridgestone tyres and tailormade factory electronics. And yet despite all this he might just become the first privateer premier-class world champion in the 70-year history of Grand Prix racing.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 72: Talking Jerez With Adam and Tom

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and it features a bumper crop of guests. Regulars Neil Morrison and David Emmett were joined by top French journalist Thomas Baujard of Moto Journal, and MXGP expert Adam Wheeler, who runs the outstanding On Track Off Road website. After the dramatic race at Jerez, they had a lot to talk about.

First up, the guys walk through the dramatic events at Jerez, focusing especially on the three-rider pile up involving Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, and Andrea Dovizioso. We talk about the fall out from that crash, about Marc Marquez' comfortable victory, and how the crash flattered the finishing positions of the remaining riders.

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2018 Jerez MotoGP Monday Test Round Up: Big Things Coming, But Not Here, Yet

Once upon a time, a post-race test would see almost a full complement of riders taking part. But in the past couple of years that has changed, as spec software has meant fewer things to do. The spec software, the engine freeze, the aerodynamics freeze: there is less to test, and so more factories are opting out of the one-day post-race tests. So it was at Jerez on Monday that the factory Ducati riders, the Ecstar Suzuki team, and the Gresini Aprilia squad all decided to skip the test at Jerez in favor of some private testing at Mugello later in the week. Behind closed doors, they can work a little more freely, away from the prying eyes of the press, and especially of a contingent of photographers.

There are other reasons to be wary of a post-race test. The track is in as good a condition as it is going to get on the Monday after a race. It has been swept clean by a weekend of racing, and the last class to smear its rubber all over the track is MotoGP. So the bikes are treated to a clean, well rubbered in circuit, allowing lap times to drop. The average improvement between the race and the test was nearly 1.3 seconds a lap. About half the 16 permanent riders who took to the track on Monday improved their times from qualifying. It is fair to say that Monday tests can be deceptive.

Nothing gained

That was certainly Maverick Viñales' view of the test. "Well, Monday is always positive but we have to be positive on Sunday," the Movistar Yamaha rider said. "We didn’t solve nothing." The Spaniard ended the test as fourth fastest, behind Johann Zarco, Cal Crutchlow, and Dani Pedrosa, but he put it down to the conditions. "In the morning it was really different – much more grip, and much easier. Easier to do 1'38 lows. During the weekend it was impossible to do that."

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