Organizing a MotoGP event at a brand new facility has given the series a chance to experiment, and the organizers seized that opportunity with both hands. Dorna and IRTA, in charge of the day-to-day practicalities of running an event, made two changes to the schedule at Aragon, reintroducing four practice sessions and moving the order that the classes were run in. Instead of three 1 hour sessions, Aragon saw the advent of four lots of 45 minute practice sessions, giving the same amount of time on the track, while allowing the teams a little more time to experiment.
The experiment has been an immediate success, and Dorna have just announced that it will continue at Estoril and Valencia, the last two MotoGP events of the season. There will once again be two free practice sessions on Friday, morning and afternoon, as well as a free practice session on Saturday morning, followed by qualifying in the afternoon. The return of FP3 has been universally welcomed by the riders, with the only complaint being that the qualifying is now too short. Valentino Rossi called for qualifying practice to be returned to 1 hour instead of 45 minutes, but the factories remain opposed to any further extension of practice.
The second experiment at Aragon has been the alteration in the running order. Previously, the 125s were on track before the MotoGP bikes during practice, with the Moto2 bikes following MotoGP. But after complaints about varying grip levels, the schedule for Moto2 and 125 was swapped, with Moto2 bikes taking to the track first, while the 125s followed MotoGP. That order is not to be retained for Estoril and Valencia, with the 125s on track first, and Moto2 bikes once again hitting the track last.
The return to four practice sessions at Estoril and Valencia makes it highly likely that this old schedule will be adopted for next season as well. The change in the running order is yet to be decided, however, as the MotoGP teams will not be able to judge how well it has worked out until after Sunday. Even then, the effect of the change is uncertain, as the change was tried at a track which is completely new to the series, making comparisons very difficult to make.