Poncharal: Extra Test For Rookies A Waste Of Money

The testing limits imposed at the beginning of the season have caused much debate throughout the year. The number of winter tests were cut to just 6 days in total (plus 2 days after the final Grand Prix at Valencia) in order to restrict engine mileage and severely cut costs. But since the announcement that there will be six new riders entering the MotoGP class next season, lobbying has started for extra testing time to allow the rookies to get up to speed. 

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Herve Poncharal had previously expressed his opposition to the extra tests for the rookies, despite having Ben Spies joining Monster Tech 3 as a rookie for 2010. MotoMatters.com caught up with Poncharal to ask him to explain his opposition.

Herve Poncharal: At the moment this is an MSMA proposal [to allow two extra days of testing for the rookies, MM] that will be on the agenda of this weekend's Grand Prix Commission. Me personally, as Monster Tech 3 Yamaha owner, I am against it. We will talk about it in the IRTA committee meeting to give an official position in the Grand Prix Commission. I have a feeling the committee will reject it, but it is only a feeling.

At the end of the day, I saw this morning Toyota is quitting Formula One, there is a big question mark over Renault, this is not just talk, there is a serious problem and motorsports, as well as other sports are costing too much.

So this is another thing to try to go around the rules. The rule was that there would be only two days instead of three days in 2010, and that rule was supported by everybody, because that would be a cost reduction, less engine mileage, less traveling. Then some of the factories, asked "Can we have a day before, just to check the bike is running. This is only the test team and the test riders, because if we do this big traveling, we need to be sure we can use fully the two days."

And now, they say "Why not call a rookie a test rider until the championship starts?" And then at the end of the day this is what? You know, spend more money to go round and round and round? For what? A rookie is a rookie, a rookie will have to discover the bikes, a lot of them are coming from 250 so they already know all the tracks. I think a lot of riders like Casey or Lorenzo showed that you don't need to spend to much time on the bike to be fast. I'm against it. I'm against it because this is going totally against what we are trying to achieve and the message we are trying to pass to the outside world.

MotoMatters: Would it be cheaper if there was more testing on Monday after the race?

HP: For the teams it would be cheaper because you don't have any travel. But for the manufacturers this is a problem for the engines. Don't forget that we only have 6 engines for the whole season, and we are trying to stay at that level. MSMA requested no more tests post-race except Catalunya and Brno.

But at the end of the day, what will more testing change? What will it change? This is a never ending debate, we can test on Monday, we can test on Thursday, we can test seven days, but the result will still be the same.

Back to top


The truth of the whole matter is this comment:

"A rookie is a rookie, a rookie will have to discover the bikes, a lot of them are coming from 250 so they already know all the tracks."

So the rookies spend the first season as virtual backmarkers. I always thought that's what rookies did, no matter what the sport.

Absolutely agreed. A rookie should spend his first season adjusting while still being allowed to make mistakes.

What you see a lot though - no matter which sport really - is that while all rookies are equal, some are more equal than others...
There's been all sorts of things and tremendous media buzz going on when people like Rossi came into the class or Pedrosa or Lorenzo. They were expected to do great things in their first year - which they all did - and with examples like these in mind and the worn-out "financial problems" knockout argument teams expect rookies to do more than just be a rookie in their first year and deliver results fast to please the fans and sponsors. They rarely get a second chance when they are no immediate hit and from that perspective I understand the teams' quest of trying to give their newest possessions all the advantages they can get to be right up there from the start.

And as far as I understand it, compared to the amount of testing all the current riders had before and during their first seasons, this additional test is merely an attempt to give the same amount to the new riders as well. There's nothing really extra about it. Except the money spending of course.