An interesting press release has just dropped into our mailbox, one which highlights how the lack of testing is impacting the teams and their efforts at developing the bikes. Repsol Honda has just announced that Andrea Dovizioso is to switch from Showa suspension to Ohlins at Misano, and to continue using the Swedish forks and shocks for the rest of the season.
Both Dovizioso and Repsol Honda team mate Dani Pedrosa tested the Ohlins suspension units during the post-race test at Brno in mid-August, but as it rained for a couple of hours during the one-day test, Pedrosa in particular lost a lot of his opportunity to test the new suspension. As a consequence, it appears that Repsol Honda have decided to take a different tack, with Pedrosa sticking with Showa while Andrea Dovizioso - who is out of the running for a top 3 finish in the championship - running Ohlins, partly with a view to gaining enough data for both riders to use the new Ohlins suspension next year.
The problem is of course with testing now drastically reduced, it has become significantly more difficult to test major changes such as this, but during the season and in the pre-season testing. It is likely that we will see more of these kind of changes taking place mid-season, using the remaining races as testing in preparation for the following year. Dani Pedrosa's mid-season tire switch from Michelin to Bridgestone was a case in point. The Spaniard arrived at the start of this season much better prepared to use the Japanese tires than other Michelin runners who had to wait until the end of the 2008 season.
The Repsol Honda team are the second big name Honda team to switch to Ohlins. Earlier this year, the Ten Kate Honda squad dropped their former preferred partner WP Suspension for the Swedish units, citing improved support from Ohlins. The LCR Honda squad have used Ohlins for some time now, but as the LCR bike is a basic satellite spec Honda, the data collected by the Italian squad is only useful in part.
The text of the press release follows:
DOVIZIOSO TO USE OHLINS SUSPENSION AT MISANO
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso will use Ohlins suspension on his factory RC212V at the San Marino Grand Prix this weekend and for the rest of the 2009 season. The decision to change supplier follows the successful test that took place after the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic at Brno in the middle of August. Showa has kindly given its consent to this switch, which forms part of HRC’s ongoing development plan for the RC212V race machine.
Pedrosa will continue to run with Showa suspension, which he has used with considerable success since his MotoGP debut in 2006, including seven premier class wins - the last of which was at the US Grand Prix in July. Pedrosa’s front-running pace this season, coupled with the fact that rain at Brno limited the testing time available to him, made it a natural decision for the Spaniard to continue with Showa.