Three days of testing at Jerez is over, and the real star of the show is obvious for all to see: The Weather. Of the 18 hours of track time that the MotoGP riders had at their disposal, only about 4 were in consistent conditions, and that was in the pouring rain on Saturday. An afternoon of dry track time - well, dryish, with groundwater seeping through the track from the hills at Jerez which have been lashed by unusually heavy rain all winter long - on Sunday and a bright start to Monday morning left the riders hopeful, but it was not to be.
Press releases after the final day of testing at the IRTA MotoGP test at Jerez:
Crutchlow ends pre-season campaign in style at Jerez
The 2013 MotoGP World Championship pre-season ended in stunning style for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow, who topped the timesheets on a weather-hit final day at the Jerez track in Spain.
The 27-year-old surged to the top of the timesheets on a greasy but dry track in the closing stages of a day that saw less than two hours of track time available following early morning rain.
Good news for US motorcycle racing fans at last. After it was announced that the US TV channel Speed was to be subsumed into the Fox Sports 1 network, and Fox decided to drop Formula One, there were fears that MotoGP would not be screened on US TV. Those fears were further fanned when it appeared that World Superbikes would not be on US TV, an issue that was only resolved in a last-minute deal between Dorna and beIN Sports TV.
Combined times from all three days of testing at Jerez:
Cal Crutchlow leaves Jerez as the fastest man at the three-day test, having set the quickest time of the event on the final day. Even more impressive for Crutchlow is that he set that fastest time in the middle of his long run, while he was working on race set up.
Valentino Rossi being fastest in a dry MotoGP session brought joy to the hearts of his millions of fans, but also relief to the writers of motorcycle racing headlines. For the past two years, with the exception of a damp and freezing session at Silverstone, the media - especially in Italy - have spent many hours puzzling over how to shoehorn Rossi's name into a news item without it appearing overly clumsy. With little success: "Pedrosa grabs pole, Rossi to start from ninth" sounds, well, as awkward as it does dispiriting.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Jerez:
Weather finally allows for some dry test time in Jerez
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were back on track today in Jerez for the second day of the final pre-season test.
Valentino Rossi topped the timesheets on the second day of the MotoGP test at Jerez, the first time he has topped a session in the dry since 2010. The Factory Yamaha rider just edged his teammate Jorge Lorenzo by a few thousandths of a second, and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow by a few fractions more. Dani Pedrosa was the first non-Yamaha man, the Repsol Honda rider just over a tenth of a second slower than Rossi. That four men should finish so close together is an intriguing prospect, and promises much for the upcoming season.
It rained today in Jerez. Boy did it rain. The heavens were open for much of the day, with the intensity of the rain varying between a light drizzle and an absolute deluge, sending people scurrying for cover when the skies darkened too much. A few brave souls ventured out to put in laps, but they did not last very long in the conditions. Until around 3pm, that is, when the rain let up, at least for an hour or so, and everyone took to the track. For two hours, testing was at full tilt, before the rain returned to chase most of the MotoGP men back into the pits.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a very wet first day of testing at Jerez
Heavy rain upsets testing on first day in Jerez
The final pre-season test of 2013 has begun in very wet conditions in Jerez, Spain.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez waited until lunchtime to take to the 4.4km track in the South of Spain with lap times over ten seconds slower than the pole time from 2008 (1'38.189) as rain showers continued throughout the day.
Jorge Lorenzo has finished the first day of a rain-lashed Jerez test on top of the timesheets, getting within 8 seconds of the lap record despite a soaking track. The day started dismally, with a lot of heavy rain and only a few riders circulating, but shortly after 2pm the rain let up sufficiently to allow everyone but the Aspar riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro to go out and chase a wet set up.
So the final test of the year is upon us, and at last we know what the bike Valentino Rossi - oh, and by the way, reigning MotoGP World Champion and arguably the best motorcycle racer in the world (now that Casey Stoner has retired, and before Marc Marquez gets up to speed) Jorge Lorenzo - will be riding. That it was a big deal was obvious to anyone on Twitter, with a lot of buzz surrounding when the unveiling was, and what the bike would look like.
At the presentation of Yamaha's 2013 MotoGP campaign, where the bike which Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will ride in the coming season was unveiled, it was clear that there was one thing missing from the bike: this season, as for the last two years, Yamaha's MotoGP team will not have a title sponsor, but will campaign in corporate colors once again.
As part of the launch of their 2013 MotoGP campaign, Yamaha issued a bumper crop of videos featuring interviews with key figures in the team. The videos are all posted on Yamaha's Youtube channel, but we have made a selection of some of them below.
First up are the riders. The first interview is with 2012 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo:
Next is returning former champion Valentino Rossi:
The Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP team launched their 2013 campaign today, and unveiled the livery they will be defending this year. Below are the official photos of the bike, and the (highly vague) specs as provided by Yamaha. Yamaha have also provided a page with downloadable wallpapers of the bikes with and without Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo: