With MotoGP scheduled to race in Argentina in 2014, the MotoGP teams will be heading down to the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit between the Assen and Sachsenring races in July to conduct a two-day test at the track, as well as take part in a number of promotional activities. The test, to be organized by Dorna, will see a number of teams participate, with Dorna announcing that teams representing the three factories racing in MotoGP will at least be present at the circuit.
Exactly which teams will attend is not entirely clear. The press release is worded vaguely, saying only that Honda, Yamaha and Ducati teams will be present. Given that the factory Ducati team was absent at the private test organized at Austin - and given that Ducati hopes to be a lot more competitive in 2014 than they were in 2013 - it seems obvious that Ducati will attend the test. According to GPOne.com, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha and Pramac Ducati teams are also likely to attend, as will the Gresini Honda squad.
The big question is whether the factory teams will attend, and especially Repsol Honda. The Argentinian circuit was originally placed on the 2013 calendar, but the lingering dispute between Argentina and the Spanish government over the confiscation of the Argentine branch of Repsol, Repsol YPF, was cause for it to be postponed. That dispute simmers on, and it is unclear whether Repsol Honda would consider it safe to travel to Argentina at the moment.
The test in Argentina also makes a mockery of the cost-cutting agenda in recent years. By having the test between two European rounds - Assen and Sachsenring - the bikes and teams will be shipped across the Atlantic three times during July. From Assen to Termas de Rio Hondo, from Termas de Rio Hondo to the Sachsenring, and from the Sachsenring to Laguna Seca. Unless Dorna is covering the costs for the test, this could turn into a very expensive trip.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
It appears that Repsol Honda, Factory Yamaha and LCR Hondas will not take part in the Argentina test. The idea, MotoMatters.com has learned, is to compensate the teams who did not make it to Austin for the private test held there, and give them some experience at the track before the race next year. Those riders will then be at an advantage at Argentina, to make up for being at a disadvantage at Austin.
Having the Repsol Honda team skip the test also means that there will be more time for the political problems which exist between Argentina and Repsol to be resolved. Whether that happens is open to question: the conflict has already been dragging on for over a year, and the Argentinian government has shown little inclination to budge from its current position, and even less inclination to compensate Repsol, given the severe economic problems it faces, largely, it must be said, of its own making.
Below is the press release from Dorna:
Argentina to welcome MotoGP™ this year for test
With the 2013 MotoGP™ World Championship having been launched last weekend, it has been confirmed that some teams will head to Argentina later this year for a test session to be staged at the Circuito Internacional Termas de Río Hondo in the first week of July, just after the IVECO TT Assen.
Between 1st and 5th July, MotoGP riders and teams will move swiftly from The Netherlands to Argentina and the province of Santiago del Estero. They will also visit capital city Buenos Aires for a selection of media commitments.
Several representatives of the World Championship - including those of marques such as Honda, Ducati and Yamaha - will take part in official trials in Argentina.
The program will include two days of intensive work on the track, where each team will focus on their competitiveness, while being able to extract data for the circuit for when the Grand Prix of Argentina is added to the calendar in 2014.
MotoGP is the premier motorcycling competition in the world and, for this reason, official tests are key to ensuring the development of reliability and competitiveness at the highest levels. Making best use of the official timing system, teams and riders will be looking to configure their motorcycles to perfection across each and every lap.
Details of the testing schedule for the Official Test in Argentina, as well as full lists of media activities and information on those taking part, will be available in due course.