It has been a busy few days at the Misano circuit. MotoGP teams have come and go, with five of the series' six factory teams having tested at the track between Saturday and today. Honda and Yamaha tested at the weekend, with Aprilia, Ducati and KTM taking to the track at the start of the week. The private tests were the last for most of the factories, with Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati having burned through their testing days for the year.
The main objective for most of the factories was preparing for the race at Misano. Especially for the riders in contention for the title, arriving at the race with a working setup can mean the difference between victory and missing out on a podium. With the title fight so close this year, the smallest details are making the difference.
When Yamaha took to the track on Sunday, they had one main focus: to solve (or at least improve) the issue of excessive tire wear which has plagued them all season. After an impressive start to the season, the Movistar Yamaha team riders have struggled. The issue has been a major problem since MotoGP returned to Europe. At Jerez and Barcelona, the Movistar Yamahas struggled badly, but it has been tough at other tracks as well. A large part of the tire wear issue can be solved with electronics, but bike balance and swingarm parts will be vital as well.
For Honda, the focus was on bike balance. At the Brno test in July, HRC made a major step forward with the RC213V, by shifting the balance of the bike towards the rear. The Honda had been designed around the Bridgestone tires, and was the ultimate weapon when it came to exploiting the rigidity and grip the Bridgestone front offered. But the very different characteristics of the Michelin meant that weight balance developed for the Bridgestones didn't work.
At the Brno test, and since then, Honda have worked to change the balance of the RC213V. They have found acceleration they were missing, sacrificing braking performance to obtain it. That change has paid off: two victories and a podium in three races for Marc Márquez, and three more podiums for Dani Pedrosa. Work has continued at Misano on that development.
After Michele Pirro and Danilo Petrucci tested at Misano over the summer, it was the turn of the factory riders on Tuesday. Once again, the two riders had nothing radical to test, but were instead focusing on setup for the race. Andrea Dovizioso tested the old and new fairings back to back, while Jorge Lorenzo continued to focus on the new fairing with the aerodynamic package. That aerodynamic package is key to Lorenzo's feeling with the front, and he is likely to run it at every race from now on.
The main objective of the test, Davide Tardozzi told GPOne.com, was to work on suspension and electronics settings for the race. Tire wear is crucial at the recently resurfaced Misano track, and with Dovizioso still so clearly in the title chase, a win at Ducati's home race would be vital.
For Aprilia and KTM, there was much development work to do. Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes were testing for Aprilia on Monday, while test rider Matteo Baiocco was joined by WorldSBK rider Lorenzo Savadori on Tuesday, with both riders continuing in to Wednesday. Factory riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith continued their work for KTM, along with test rider Mika Kallio.
While testing continues for the test riders, the MotoGP regulars are headed to the UK. The British Grand Prix at Silverstone awaits, where at least some of the lessons of Misano will be put into practice.
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