Ducati Alstare WSBK and MotoGP Jerez Test Mostly A Washout

The 2013 season has gotten off to a very damp start for Ducati. The Bologna factory had booked the Jerez circuit for a three-day test, for both the Alstare Ducati World Superbike team and the Ducati MotoGP test team with Michele Pirro and Franco Battaini, but the rain meant that they only got a few hours of testing done, and all of that was on Monday.

Despite only managing a few laps, the test counts as successful for the Alstare Ducati team. Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini both managed some forty laps, with Checa quickly up to speed and bettering his time from the last visit to Jerez at the end of November last year by over a second, according to times posted by the respected Italian site GPOne.com. Badovini's progress was much more limited: the Italian was just a couple of tenths quicker than his time from November, and over a second and a half slower than Checa's lap time, the Spaniard having set his fastest time on a set of soft tires.

More encouraging for Francis Batta's Ducati squad was the fact that Checa was also faster than Marco Melandri on the BMW, the BMW Italia team having turned up for an extra day of testing ahead of the joint test planned with Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda at the track in Andalucia. Melandri was keen to get back on the bike after an extended layoff with a shoulder injury picked up at Portimao. The shoulder was fully recovered, and a delighted Melandri wrote on his Twitter page "Feeling the shoulder work properly gave me the same feeling as winning a race!" Now, Melandri has to focus on building up strength again, vital with the first race just a month away.

New BMW boy Chaz Davies was supposed to join Melandri for the extra day of testing, but the Welshman was caught up in the weather chaos caused by snow at UK airports, with subsequent massive flight delays. Tom Sykes suffered similar problems, as did key members of staff for the Pata Honda WSBK team. The situation should be resoved by tomorrow, but there could be a slow start on Tuesday if the weather causes more delays.

Unofficial times, courtesy of GPOne.com:

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff. Previous
1 7 Carlos Checa Ducati 1:41.826    
2 33 Marco Melandri BMW 1:42.065 0.239 0.239
3 86 Ayrton Badovini Ducati 1:43.400 1.574 1.335


Below is the press release issued by Ducati's MotoGP team on the test:

Weather affects Ducati development test at Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), 21 January 2013 – Just a few days after the Ducati Desmosedici GP13’s official unveiling at Madonna di Campiglio, the Ducati Development Team was already busy at Jerez for the first of a number of tests planned for the coming weeks in preparation for the new season.

The three-day test, which started on Saturday at the Andalusian circuit, concluded today. The team, with new test rider Michele Pirro and regular Franco Battaini, worked on the development of the GP13, which will return to the track in two weeks in Sepang at the hands of Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.

Unfortunately, the bad weather that has hit Southern Spain in recent days prevented the team from completing its scheduled work program, as track time was limited for both riders.

Bernhard Gobmeier was present at the track for the first time in his new role as Ducati Corse General Manager. “Unfortunately we had some bad luck with the weather, and for two days we were able to do almost nothing,” Gobmeier said. “It rained almost the whole time. Today we squeezed three days of work into about five hours, which obviously required skipping some of the steps we had planned. Anyway, some interesting and positive results emerged, in terms of both the chassis and electronic strategies that we tried. If nothing else, we established a clear line to follow in our next test at Jerez. Anyway, I was very pleased to see how concentrated the guys on the test team worked. Everybody was very motivated.”

Michele Pirro, the 26-year-old Italian from San Giovanni Rotondo, added, “The big problem was the weather. That’s always a risk with Jerez in January. Fortunately, we were able to do some laps this afternoon and gather some important data for developing the bike. It was nice to get back on the track after two months.”

The next test, which will be attended by the Ducati Team riders, will take place at Sepang (Malaysia) 5-7 February, and will be the first of three pre-season tests organized by IRTA, with the season-opening MotoGP race scheduled for the first weekend of April in Qatar.

The Alstare Ducati WSBK team also posted a video of the team warming up the Ducati Panigales of Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini, on the Alstare Ducati Facebook page

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I understand that the winter test ban for contracted riders in Motogp is there to save much needed money in very difficult economic times.

But surely they can't be saving much money if factories are still allowed to test with their test teams. The only difference is that the contracted riders aren't there. They are under contract anyway so it would hardly cost much more for them to be there?

Or am I missing something?