The long wait of so many MotoGP fans is nearly over. The 2013 MotoGP season is about to get underway, or rather, the phony war of testing, which is the first step on the road to the 2013 MotoGP season. In just a few hours' time, the howl of the CRT machines will fill the grandstands at Sepang, joined two days later by the roar of the MotoGP prototypes.
The CRT machines have two extra days of testing ahead of the full test at Sepang, where the teams will have their first chance to test the new spec Magneti Marelli electronics system on track, after having first dialed the system on the dyno at their respective bases. The system is to be used by all of the CRT teams except for those running the Aprilia ART bikes, and so far, the reaction has been very positive to the capabilities of the system. This should come as no surprise, given that Magneti Marelli is the de facto standard in the MotoGP paddock, already in use by both Yamaha and Ducati, though both factories run their own custom software.
The CRT bikes will be joined by the full MotoGP grid on 5th February, when the factory and satellite teams take to the track. These three days will be the focus of much media attention, after testing got off to such a false start at Valencia in November last year due to the rain. If the track stays dry - and the forecast at the moment is for the mornings at least to be dry, though the tropical rains could move in as the afternoons progress - the MotoGP fans should at last get a chance to judge just how competitive Valentino Rossi can be on the Yamaha after two lost years at Ducati, and whether Marc Marquez will live up to the hype generated so far. It will also give the fans and media the first glimpse of the relative strengths of the Honda and the Yamaha, after Dani Pedrosa finished 2012 so incredibly strongly.
Once MotoGP ends their first visit to Malaysia, the focus shifts to Spain, where the Moto2 and Moto3 teams will visit first Valencia and then Jerez. When the Jerez test finishes, action gets under way for real, with the first round of World Superbikes taking place at Phillip Island on 24th of February. Two days after WSBK wraps up its first race weekend, the MotoGP teams return to the track once again at Sepang. Three more days of testing using data taken from the first test at Sepang should give the factories and teams an even better idea of their relative standing.
Honda then head to the USA, with HRC expected to test at the Austin circuit in Texas, due to make its debut on the MotoGP calendar in April. So far, only Honda have announced they will be testing there, though both Yamaha and Ducati have been invited to test as well. With each factory having only 240 tires to use in testing, teams have to choose carefully where and when they test, so as not to run out of their allocation from Bridgestone.
From the US, it is back to spain, where the full paddock assembles once again at Jerez, with what used to be called GP Zero slowly reestablishing its place on the testing calendar. The Moto2 and Moto3 classes have three days of combined testing starting from the 19th March, while the MotoGP class takes to the track from the 23rd for their final three days of testing. There is a very good chance that Yamaha will use the Jerez test to launch their 2013 MotoGP livery, in front of the press assembled for the test.
When the MotoGP teams pack up after Jerez, the fans will have just two more weeks to wait. Then the phony war comes to an end, and battle is joined in earnest on 7th April in Qatar, for the first race of the year.
|3rd-4th February||Sepang||Malaysia||MotoGP CRT (spec electronics set up test)|
|12th-14th March||Austin||USA||MotoGP (HRC)|