Today, the Grand Prix Commission officially announced further restrictions on testing for the MotoGP class. Those restrictions were published last month on MotoMatters.com, including the news that the Brno and Valencia tests are to be dropped in 2020, with further reductions in 2021.
The idea is that as the calendar expands from 20 races next year to 22 in 2022, testing is reduced to reduce the workload and stress on the riders and teams. In 2020, there will still be two tests in February, at Sepang and Qatar before the season starts, and Monday tests after the Jerez and Barcelona races.
The Brno test will be dropped, however, as it made for a very short week between the Brno and Spielberg rounds of MotoGP, especially for the crews who have to tear down and build up the hospitalities and garages before and after each race.
Instead, there will be a two-day private test at Misano in September, as there was in 2019. The private test will allow the factories a modicum of privacy, keeping journalists and photographers out of pit lane.
The new schedule starts in earnest at the end of 2020. The traditional post-season test at Valencia has been dropped, the riders getting three days off instead, before reconvening in Jerez for two days of testing. The Valencia test was widely disliked, by everyone except the fans. With just one day of after a punishing season, engineers felt that the feedback from the riders tended to be imprecise and woolly, and of very limited use.
A gap of three days looks like being a compromise. Three days away from bikes should give riders a chance to recover and recuperate a little, while also giving the teams a slightly longer winter break.
In 2021, the test at Qatar will be dropped completely, with just the traditional Sepang test before the season kicks off. In-season testing will likely follow the same pattern as 2020, with two tests on a Monday, and a private two-day test.
The changes will be particularly welcomed by the satellite teams. The private teams receive financial support from Dorna to compete, but they only get that support for races, and not for tests. Going testing costs money, and any reduction in out of season testing saves them money.
Though the new testing program has met with some resistance from factories, they were eventually willing to accept it. The reduction in testing in previous years has put an emphasis on the factory test teams, with factories taking their lead from Ducati, and hiring much faster riders to help develop the bikes. For the Japanese factories, especially, this has been a change, using ex-Grand Prix riders to test, rather than relying on the Japanese test riders who were often three or more seconds a lap slower than the factory riders.
The change does mean that the fans will have to wait to see the new riders on new bikes as they change teams. Instead of staying on in Valencia to see the test, they will have to wait until the Thursday and either keep an eye on the official MotoGP.com website or fly down to Jerez for a glimpse of the riders swapping bikes. With some major changes expected in 2021, flights to Jerez may well prove to be popular.
Below is the press release from the FIM on the new testing restrictions.
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Paul Duparc (FIM), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in an electronic meeting held on 7 October 2019, made the following decision:
MotoGP CLASS – TEST RESTRICTIONS
With the introduction of additional events in the Grand Prix calendar, the MotoGP class teams have been examining ways to offset the additional workload on riders and team staff by reducing the number of tests.
Agreement was reached between the teams to propose cancellation of the November 2020 test after the Valencia GP and the traditional March 2021 test prior to the Qatar GP.
The proposal was approved by the GPC and will become effective in the regulations from Season 2020, which starts the day after the 2019 Valencia GP.
Implementation of the new regulations will result in the following programme of MotoGP class tests:
SEASON 2020 (STARTING 18 NOVEMBER 2019)
|Valencia||19-20 November||Two-day official test.|
|Jerez||25-26 November||Two-day joint private test|
|Sepang||02-04 February||Three-day shakedown test.|
|Sepang||07-09 February||Three-day official test.|
|Qatar||22-24 February||Three-day official test|
|Jerez||04 May||One-day official test after the GP|
|Barcelona||08 June||One-day official test after the GP|
|Finland||15-16 June||Two-day Michelin tyre test – test teams only|
|Misano||15-16 September||Two-day joint private test|
SEASON 2021 (STARTING 16 NOVEMBER 2020)
|Jerez||19-20 November||Two-day official test|
|Sepang||01-03 February (prov)||Three-day shakedown test|
|Sepang||06-08 February (prov)||Three-day official test|
On dates to be confirmed when 2021 calendar is known:
Possible three-day, pre-season test at Lombok, Indonesia if circuit is in 2021 calendar.
Two of one-day official tests on Mondays after events. Circuits to be confirmed.
Two-day official test at a circuit to be confirmed – probably Misano.