Times at the end of the final day of testing at Jerez:
Times at 4:30pm:
Times at 3:30pm:
Dovizioso finished runner-up to Marc Márquez in 2017 and 2018, so how does rider counter the skills of his greatest rival and how has riding technique changed since he came to MotoGP?
How has riding technique changed since you came to MotoGP in 2008?
Riding technique has changed a lot. The bikes have changed a lot and the intensity we are able to put into the bike has changed a lot, so you need to be much fitter because to be fast for 45 minutes with such a level of intensity is impossible if you are not very, very fit. This is the first thing, the second thing is the electronics. The electronics have changed a lot: they are much better and the way we manage them is much better; this is the biggest change and it affects our riding style.
Cool weather meant another late start at Jerez, bikes taking to the track around 11:30am, despite the track opening at 10am. The weather is a little cooler and more cloudy than Wednesday, but times are still respectable.
Andrea Dovizioso is fastest shortly after 2:30pm, the Ducatis debuting a new tail with an aerodynamic shape. Maverick Viñales is second, from Marc Marquez, after Marquez had led for most of the session, spending most of the time on the 2019 prototype bike. Danilo Petrucci is fourth, just ahead of an impressive Pecco Bagnaia on the Pramac Ducati.
The trouble with post-season testing is that it takes place after the season is over. That is a problem, because the season runs well into November, so any testing after that is nearer to December than it is to October. And wherever you go inside of Europe to test, you will never get a full day's testing done, even with the best of weather.
So it came as no surprise that when the track opened at 9:30am on Wednesday morning for the first day of a two-day test, nothing happened. Or that nothing continued to happen for another couple of hours, as we waited for track temperatures to break the 20°C barrier, and make it warm enough to generate useful feedback. It is a perennial issue with no easy answers. Finding a warm, affordable track is tough this time of year.
The good news was that once the track had warmed up, we had ideal conditions for testing. Dry, sunny, warm if you were standing in the sun, though not quite so much if you were in the shade. Despite the fact that so much time was lost to the cold, the riders ended up with a lot of laps completed, and a lot of work done.
Danilo Petrucci topped the first day of testing at Jerez, the Italian the only rider to get into the 1'37s. He beat factory Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso by two tenths of a second, though Dovizioso had a crash at the end of the session, which stopped him pushing for a fast time.
Times at 4:30pm:
Times at 3:30pm:
Testing is underway at the final MotoGP test of 2018, bikes out on track at Jerez. Cold track temperatures kept the bikes in the garage for the first two hours, but the noise started at around 11:30, and the track has been busy since then.
Danilo Petrucci is currently fastest on the factory Ducati, ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez is out on a bike in Repsol livery, a black test bike waiting in the pits. Marquez is currently third fastest, just ahead of Maverick Viñales. Jorge Lorenzo is tenth at the moment, but Honda have brought a modified tank with extra support, similar to the one used at Ducati.
Ten Kate Racing BV, the private limited company housing the Ten Kate Racing team's racing activities, has been declared bankrupt by a Dutch court. The Ten Kate team had been forced to file for bankruptcy after last-minute attempts to put together a WorldSBK effort for 2019 had failed.
Ten Kate placed the blame for the bankruptcy squarely on Honda. The Dutch racing team had started out competing on Honda Supersport bikes, a natural choice given the team was a spin off of Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate's Honda motorcycle dealership in Nieuwleusen, in the east of The Netherlands.
Despite racing in both the World Supersport and World Superbike championships, and winning titles in both classes, the team never received much backing from Honda, and none at all from HRC in Japan for most of their existence, support coming from Honda Europe, the European distributor. Ten Kate were never HRC's choice, and so when HRC decided to make a return to the championship, they were always going to want to make their own choice about which structure to use.
The fact that Ten Kate only found on 30th October that HRC had chosen Althea and Moriwaki to partner with for the 2019 season, and HRC would not be providing any support for the Dutch team next year, mean that it was impossible to find other alternatives at such short notice. Contacts with other manufacturers faltered, and they could not find the necessary budget to continue in their present condition.
And so the season ends for WorldSBK. The weather finally behaved at Jerez, and the four WorldSBK teams and three WorldSSP teams got a full day of testing in at Jerez. Or rather, nearly a full day of testing: the track opened at 10am, but the riders didn't go out for about 45 minutes, as cold track temperatures made it a perilous undertaking in those early minutes. But the sun soon did its work, heated the asphalt, and away they went.
Heating the asphalt meant there was grip, but the surface is still in a bad way in several corners. Turns 1, 2, 6, and 8 are the worst, according to the riders. One seasoned rider spotter pointed out just how gracefully Jonathan Rea was riding around the holes in the tarmac, and still producing a really fast time. But it hadn't been as easy as Rea made it look.
"It’s wearing ruts in the short corners where everyone is using the same line and putting the power down, or pushing the front in it," Rea said on Tuesday night. "It’s lifting the asphalt up. It’s treacherous if you run over that. That’s the common racing line for track day users or normal racers. If you’re on the limit or really sharp you can stay just inside that, like pretty much on the white line. But even that, you compromise your line, especially in corner one, two, six… So the track’s in really bad condition so they’re doing right to resurface it."
Smoother on top
Jonathan Rea has topped the timesheets at the two-day test at Jerez, the Kawasaki Racing Team rider nearly two thirds of a second faster than the rest of the field. Alex Lowes ended the day second on the Pata Yamaha, while Leon Haslam made a big step forward to set the third fastest time, a second behind his teammate.
A dry night meant the WorldSBK riders got underway much earlier on Tuesday, the riders taking to the track some time around 10:30am under sunny skies if chilly temperatures. The work from yesterday continues, the Yamahas, Ducatis, and Kawasakis circulating in preparation of the 2019 season.