After the Yamahas took the honors on the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test, on Saturday, it was the turn of the Hondas to shine. Alvaro Bautista set a fast time early on during the test, which was good enough stay at the top of the timesheet for the rest of the session. Stefan Bradl grabbed the second spot behind the Go&Fun Gresini Honda of Bautista, the LCR Honda man three tenths slower than the Spaniard. Aleix Espargaro once again led the Yamaha charge with a late lap, but though he came within a tenth of the time of Bradl, he was nearly four tenths off the pace set by Bautista.
Bradley Smith led the Monster Tech 3 team, just behind Aleix Espargaro but once again frustrated at not being the fastest Yamaha. Once again, however, Smith's pace was consistently fast, posting a lot of laps in the high 1'55s and very low 1'56s. Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro was 5th, a quarter of a second behind Smith and seven tenths off the pace of Bautista, while Andrea Iannone was the first of the Ducatis on the timesheet, the last rider to get within a second of the time of Bautista.
A lack of top speed continues to punish Honda's production racer, especially difficult at a track like Qatar with such a long straight. Nicky Hayden was the best of the RCV1000R-mounted riders, 1.7 seconds behind Bautista on the satellite RC213V. Scott Redding has started to make strong progress, closing the gap on Hayden, and ending ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama, a sterling performance by the MotoGP rookie. Redding has been boosted by a big improvement in braking, the area where he had struggled most of all during the first two tests at Sepang.
There was also a major meeting of the Open class teams at Qatar, where they gathered with Dorna's technology chief Corrado Cecchinelli and Magneti Marelli staff to discuss the latest version of the spec software. The Open teams were unanimous in deciding not to run the latest version of the software - extremely powerful and complex, and based on the software provided by Ducati at the end of last year - as they simply did not have the knowledge or the staff to set it up or manage it. They will continue to run the 2013 version of the software for the rest of the season. Ducati, with factory budgets and levels of staffing, can get the most out of the upgraded software, and will run the 2014 version of the software. This appears to have been the reason for Carmelo Ezpeleta to have created the Factory 2 class. Given the fact that Ducati managed easily last year with 5 engines and 21 liters, running with 9 engines and 22.5 liters should be trivally easy.
The decision by the Open teams to avoid the more complex software lays bare the expense which electronics imposes on the private teams. For more detail on the Open software story, see the following series of tweets from MCN's Matt Birt. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.
|1||19||Alvaro Bautista||Honda RC213V||1:55.194|
|2||6||Stefan Bradl||Honda RC213V||1:55.508||0.314||0.314|
|3||41||Aleix Espargaro||Yamaha Forward Open||1:55.586||0.392||0.078|
|4||38||Bradley Smith||Yamaha M1||1:55.627||0.433||0.041|
|5||44||Pol Espargaro||Yamaha M1||1:55.876||0.682||0.249|
|6||29||Andrea Iannone||Ducati GP14||1:56.026||0.832||0.150|
|7||5||Colin Edwards||Yamaha Forward Open||1:56.289||1.095||0.263|
|8||68||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati GP13 Open||1:56.480||1.286||0.191|
|9||69||Nicky Hayden||Honda RCV1000R Open||1:56.923||1.729||0.443|
|10||45||Scott Redding||Honda RCV1000R Open||1:57.154||1.960||0.231|
|11||7||Hiroshi Aoyama||Honda RCV1000R Open||1:57.281||2.087||0.127|
|12||17||Karel Abraham||Honda RCV1000R Open||1:57.728||2.534||0.447|
|13||23||Broc Parkes||PBM Aprilia||1:57.730||2.536||0.002|
|14||8||Hector Barbera||Avintia Kawasaki||1:57.738||2.544||0.008|
|15||70||Michael Laverty||PBM Aprilia||1:57.860||2.666||0.122|
|16||63||Mike Di Meglio||Avintia Kawasaki||1:58.175||2.981||0.315|
|17||9||Danilo Petrucci||Aprilia ART||1:59.305||4.111||1.130|