Privacy is a precious commodity. And an increasingly rare one, as technology allows ever greater scrutiny. And it seems as if some MotoGP teams sometimes feel the same way. This seems the only plausible reason that both Kawasaki and Yamaha have decided to pull out of the upcoming MotoGP test at Phillip Island in Australia.
Yamaha had announced earlier that they would not be testing at Phillip Island, preferring to run a private test at Sepang in Malaysia, scene of the previous MotoGP test. No official reason was given, but most speculation has concentrated on tires, with the Yamaha riders spending some time testing the new Michelin 16 inch front tire at the previous test. Motorcyclenews.com has quoted Valentino Rossi as saying that Yamaha are in search of "driveability and acceleration". One way of obtaining better driveability is of course by altering cylinder firing orders. Changing firing sequence is the kind of change which is immediately obvious to bystanders, and therefore very much the kind of change you would want to run at a private test, far from the prying ears of the competition.
Kawasaki, on the other hand, have not given a reason for their absence. What makes their absence all the more unexpected are the very fast times posted by de Puniet posted during the last test at Sepang. De Puniet's success suggested that Kawasaki had found answers to the rather disastrous first public outing for the Kawasaki 800, when the new bike blew up after just a few laps, to be returned to the factory for further development work. Possibly, the runs at Sepang may have uncovered a few more minor problems which, though not enough to prevent de Puniet putting in fast laps, could require attention before being subjected to more punishment at a public test.
This leaves the Honda teams, the Ducati teams, Suzuki, and Team KR as the only teams to be present for the Phillip Island tests, which start on Tuesday. The absence of Yamaha will increase the scrutiny of Suzuki's performance, with Phillip Island being a track at which Suzuki has run particularly badly, despite Chris Vermeulen's 2nd place in the rain last year. If Suzuki are fast over the next few days, then it will be yet more proof that this year, the Suzuki threat is for real. This focus will also please Honda, which is due to provide new parts for the Repsol pair of Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, in an attempt to remedy what appears to be a woeful lack of horsepower. There's still a long way to go till Qatar.