The importance of a private test can sometimes be measured by the lack of news emerging from the track. For the past three days, the Jerez circuit has resounded to the bellow of MotoGP and WorldSBK machines, as Honda, Ducati, Aprilia, and KTM have shared the track.
Yet other than a couple of social media posts on Twitter and Instagram, there was next to no news from the test. The only official source was a brief news item on the official website of the Jerez circuit.
Despite that, it was an important test for the factories involved. For HRC, especially: on Monday, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa used the first of their five days of private testing to try the 2018 Honda RC213V at a tighter European track. The test was aimed at verifying the engine selected for this season, and setting it up for the slower, tighter tracks which form the bulk of the European rounds of the series. Given that the engine is now frozen, Jerez is an ideal place to work on chassis and setup, something which was deprioritized over the winter in favor of selecting an engine for the season.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Stefan Bradl took over from the Repsol Honda riders, carrying on the work in his role as Honda test rider. Bradl was joined by Matteo Baiocco testing the Aprilia RS-GP, Mika Kallio and Pol Espargaro on the KTM RC16 MotoGP machine, Danilo Petrucci working on the Ducati Desmosedici GP18 - Ducati using Petrucci as a test mule, to spare the test days of the factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo - and Michele Pirro, riding the Ducati Panigale V4 in race trim. KTM's Moto2 testers Julian Simon and Ricky Cardus were also present.
KTM had the track to themselves on Thursday, the other factories having already left. As a team with concessions, KTM are free to test as much as they want, limited only by the season's supply of 120 tires per contracted rider during testing.
The absence of Bradley Smith was notable, in part because of the presence of Pol Espargaro. Though Espargaro had been forced to miss a lot of preseason testing after aggravating a back injury in a massive crash at the Sepang test, and was therefore in need of more time on the bike, it is noteworthy that Smith was not invited. Smith has been the subject of fierce criticism by KTM bosses, most recently by KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer in an interview with the German language publication Speedweek. In that interview, Beirer expressed his frustration at Smith, who would demonstrate that he was capable of pushing for a very quick lap, but spent most of the tests and practice sessions going too slow to provide meaningful data, in Beirer's opinion. His ability was not in doubt, just his approach, Beirer told Speedweek.
Testing is now complete, and the teams are preparing to board flights for the long haul across the Atlantic to Termas de Rio Hondo, and the Argentinian round of MotoGP, which takes place on 8th April.