2017 Valencia Moto2/Moto3 Test: Oliveira, Bendsneyder Top First Valencia Test

Testing season has begun for all three Grand Prix classes now, as some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams assembled at Valencia for the first private test of 2017 after the winter break. Fastest man of the Moto2 group was Miguel Oliveira on the KTM, quicker than Pons rookie Fabio Quartararo by just under two tenths. Oliveira's teammate Brad Binder was not present, still recovering from an arm injury.

Press Release: Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team Launched

The Red Bull Honda team issued the following press release after their team launch in Austria on Monday:

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team unveiled at Hangar-7

The famous Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg, Austria, provided the stunning backdrop for the unveiling of the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team, which will charge into the 2017 WorldSBK season with Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl riding the brand-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Jerez To Be Confirmed For October Round Of WorldSBK

The 2017 WorldSBK calendar is close to being finalized. When it was announced at the combined WorldSBK/MotoGP test in November of last year, the calendar featured thirteen rounds of racing, only twelve of which had been confirmed. The missing round, many present at the test felt, was a Jerez-shaped hole waiting to be filled. Now, MotoMatters.com has learned, the penultimate round of World Superbikes will indeed take place at Jerez.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - An anti-chatter jounce box?

Last year Ducati’s Gigi Dall’Igna maddened many with his wings, now he may have solved an age-old problem with Formula 1-inspired jounce-dampers

This year’s brand-new MotoGP bikes are currently on their way from Malaysia to Australia for the second preseason tests, which take place next week at Phillip Island.

If you are a motor sport fan of a James Bond bent it’s tempting to imagine an industrial-espionage agent dodging through airport security to stow away aboard Dorna’s cargo plane, where he prises open Ducati’s flight boxes to disassemble that little black box at the back of Jorge Lorenzo’s GP17.

Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 45: Testing Season Part 1 - Sepang, Jerez, Portimao

The Paddock Pass Podcast is back! After a hiatus over the winter break, Steve English and David Emmett get together to go over the latest news from testing, now that bikes are back on track.

The first subject is Sepang, where the MotoGP grid had reassembled for the first test of 2017. We go over the results, debate how strong Marc Marquez is, whether Maverick Viñales can pose a real threat for the title, ponder the strength of Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha, discuss how strong Jorge Lorenzo will be on the Ducati, and spend a few words on the exceptionally strong field of rookies who join MotoGP this season.

2017 Sepang MotoGP Test Round Up, Part 2: Suzuki, Rookies, Aprilia, KTM, And Tire Talk

While Maverick Viñales and Marc Márquez emerged from the Sepang tests as clear favorites, with Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, and Andrea Dovizioso close behind, Andrea Iannone established himself as a genuine dark horse. The Italian was fastest on Tuesday, and left the test as second quickest behind Viñales.

Iannone has inherited a bike that is already well developed, and Suzuki brought engine upgrades to Sepang which got them even closer to the front. It was telling that Iannone did not spend much time testing parts, but rather focusing on race set up and working on extracting maximum performance from a used tire.

Tires were a bit of a problem for Iannone on the last day of the test. He crashed three times, including once as he was attempting a long run, the front washing out at Turn 1. The issue proved to be a vibration in low speed corners. "I have a small vibration in the slow corners," Iannone said. "In the fast corner the bike is perfect. There is no vibration, no chattering. But in the slow corner, especially in turns four, nine, 14 and the last corner, we have a small vibration at maximum lean angle." That vibration got worse as the tires became more worn.

How Michelin's Tire Identification System Will Work

Identifying tires has always been something of a dark art. Ever since MotoGP went to a single tire supplier, identifying which tire a particular rider is on and when has become ever more important. Fast laps mean a lot less when a rider sets them on soft rubber.

So far, identification has been done visually, by colored stripes painted on the sidewall of the tire. That worked fine when Bridgestone was still tire supplier as the colors they used - red, white, plain, and green - based on their corporate colors were easy to spot, and applied in a big thick stripe. It got more difficult with Michelin, as their corporate colors - blue, white, and yellow -  are more difficult to spot from the side of the track. Journalists and fans were mostly reliant on the eagle eye of Dylan Gray, pitlane reporter for MotoGP.com, to spot who was going out on what and when.

Identification is to become a lot easier in 2017, with the introduction of an automatic identification system. At the Sepang test, Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert explained how the system will work. As part of their job as official tire supplier, Micheiin already maintain a list of which tires have been allocated to each rider. Since last season, each wheel rim is also fitted with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which communicates electronically with the ECU to log tire pressures, and ensure that they are never too low. 

2017 Sepang MotoGP Test Round Up, Part 1: 93 vs 25, Yamaha, Ducati, Honda & More

What did we learn from the Sepang MotoGP test? More than we thought we would on Sunday night. The forecast was grim: plenty of sporadic rain and a track that wouldn't dry quickly promised three wasted days. But by the time the teams packed up on Wednesday night, after nearly a full day of testing, Sepang had turned out to be both productive and instructive.

After three days of testing it is clear just how close the field is this season. The top ten riders are separated by just four tenths of a second. Sixteen riders are within a second, from Maverick Viñales in first to Hector Barbera in sixteenth. The top four riders are on four different manufacturers, less than two tenths apart, and there is a good mix of manufacturers throughout the top of the timesheets.

The two exceptions are Aprilia and KTM, but there is hope for them too. Aprilia have made huge strides last year - Aleix Espargaro is thirteenth, 0.740 behind Viñales, and two whole seconds closer to the front than Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were at the same test last year – and now basically just lack horsepower. KTM are in their first season in MotoGP, but are already closer at Sepang than Suzuki were at their first Sepang test in 2015. The level in MotoGP is now unbelievably high, and unbelievably close.

2017 Sepang MotoGP Test Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the Sepang test:


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Concludes Sepang Test on Top

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP has wrapped up the first official IRTA test of the 2017 season today at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi have spent the three days working through various testing items to further develop their YZR-M1s and secured first and sixth place respectively in the overall standings.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - It's Vinales versus Marquez

But what is Ducati up to – we reveal the secret (possibly) of the GP17’s so-called salad box

“If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans.” They certainly saw us coming this time at Sepang.

The tropical skies opened on two of the three days, sending riders scurrying into the pits because they were there to work on their new bikes at the limit, not tiptoeing around on a wet track.

But the rain itself wasn’t a huge problem. In the steamy equatorial heat, Sepang used to dry very quickly. No longer, however. Ten months ago the circuit underwent a much-needed resurfacing, which also included adding cambers at some corners to improve draining and safety during torrential downpours.

2017 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 14:00 Times: Viñales Quickest At Lunch

The track has gone quiet at Sepang as the riders break for lunch, and still no sign of rain. There have been few changes in the times, though Maverick Viñales has now taken over the top of the timesheets, over a tenth faster than Marc Marquez. The other change of note is that Dani Pedrosa has drastically improved his time, jumping up to ninth, six tenths slower than Viñales.

Times at 2pm:

2017 Sepang MotoGP Test Wednesday 12:30 Times: Marquez Leads Close Field

The weather gods have looked favorably upon MotoGP testing at Sepang. With no rain overnight and cool temperatures, conditions are just about perfect for testing on Wednesday, and the teams are making full use of the opportunity to test. Marc Marquez currently leads the field, though he has only the narrowest of margins over Maverick Viñales. Four Ducatis follow, Andrea Dovizioso leading Alvaro Bautista, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo is only a quarter of a second off the time of Marquez, suggesting he is starting to get to grips with the Ducati.

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