2014 Qatar MotoGP Test Day 3 Times: Espargaro Brothers Lead, But Pol Breaks Collarbone

Aleix Espargaro has stamped his authority on the final day of the test for non-factory teams at Qatar, blitzing to a remarkable time of 1'54.874 on the Open Forward Yamaha, less than two tenths off the pole position set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race. Aleix led an Espargaro 1-2 and a Yamaha clean sweep, ending just ahead of brother Pol on the Tech 3 Yamaha, and fifteen hundredths ahead of the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith. 

It was not all good news for the Espargaro brothers, however. Pol crashed towards the end of the evening, falling heavily and breaking his left collarbone. The Spaniard is flying to Barcelona tonight and will undergo surgery to fix the collarbone, in an attempt to be fit for the season opener which takes place in two weeks' time. Pol was not the only rider to crash; both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista had offs, though neither rider suffered any injury.

The satellite Hondas ended the evening behind the Yamahas, reversing the roles from yesterday. Stefan Bradl just edged Alvaro Bautista for 4th, less than five hundredths separating the LCR Honda man from the Go&Fun Gresini rider. Andrea Iannone bagged 6th, the Pramac Ducati rider nearly two thirds of a second slower than Aleix Espargaro. Colin Edwards was 7th, 1.1 seconds slower than his NGM Forward teammate. Nicky Hayden took the honors among the Honda RCV1000R riders, just 1.4 seconds off the pace of Aleix Espargaro, and two tenths off the pace of Colin Edwards.

Sunday was also the day to try out race runs. The big question hanging over Aleix Espargaro was whether his pace during long runs would be able to match his single-lap pace. Aleix answered that question in the affirmative, posting a very impressive race simulation on the harder of the two tire options featuring a long string of high 1'55 laps. More importantly, lap times did not appear to drop off too much at the end of the run. On the basis of this run, the Forward Yamaha rider could well be a serious threat for the top 5 during the race.


Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Diff previous
1 41 Aleix Espargaro Yamaha Forward Open 1:54.874    
2 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1 1:54.907 0.033 0.033
3 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1 1:55.027 0.153 0.120
4 6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 1:55.187 0.313 0.160
5 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda RC213V 1:55.232 0.358 0.045
6 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP14 Open 1:55.518 0.644 0.286
7 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha Forward Open 1:55.978 1.104 0.460
8 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP13 Open 1:56.056 1.182 0.078
9 69 Nicky Hayden Honda RCV1000R Open 1:56.273 1.399 0.217
10 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda RCV1000R Open 1:57.006 2.132 0.733
11 45 Scott Redding Honda RCV1000R Open 1:57.009 2.135 0.003
12 8 Hector Barbera Avintia Kawasaki 1:57.142 2.268 0.133
13 17 Karel Abraham Honda RCV1000R Open 1:57.342 2.468 0.200
14 63 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Kawasaki 1:57.669 2.795 0.327
15 9 Danilo Petrucci Aprilia ART 1:58.086 3.212 0.417
16 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 1:58.555 3.681 0.469
17 23 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 1:58.971 4.097 0.416


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Gutted to hear about Pol. I like the Espargaro Bros. They always seem to have a positive attitude and they look like they mean business while having fun. Aliex is going to be very entertaining to watch this season. The man is on fire.

Gutted about Pol's injury. He was looking to make a stunning debut.

I don't know when but Aleix Espargaro transitioned to alien status some time ago... I can totally see him bag a podium this year.

Meanwhile, the Honda production racer isn't as bad as people make it out to be. Shocker.

Oh yes it is. Nicky Hayden, a quality rider, has been consistently the fastest RCV1000R. He is 1.4 seconds off Aleix after a 3 day test. Yamaha have supplied an open bike capable of challenging their factory & satellite bikes. Honda have supplied a grid filler, designed not to challenge their factory class bikes. Been lots of talk about the new knee-jerk Open 2 class idea being anti Ducati, but I think Honda must be pissed at Yamaha for breaking step in a very un-Japanese fashion over the open class bikes.

The compete RCV1000r costs 1.2 million euros.

The Open M1 engine's lease is .8 million /year.

The teams that bought the Honda are getting what they paid for.

If you look at DUC position from this test, and assume Iannone is on a like spec bike to Dovi or Cal, (and if DUC was smart, it would be Dovi or Cal's bike), they are still behind the SATELLITE yamahas and hondas. They are going to be better than the Honda Production racer because Pramac is basically a factory 2 team as well.

Im really hoping Nicky can get some sort of engine upgrade this season early on, the problem would be raising the money for such a purchase or hint hint *lease*/#lease your engines honda. C'mon Honda, the gloves are off, supply like 5 data engineers to Aspar and get the thing up to speed with your satellite bikes.

Its not like you dont have the money, manpower, capability...

I think it's time everybody acknowledged that Nicky Hayden is a good rider but not a great rider. Good guy, hard working, determined and consistent (which won him a deserved championship) but never outright fast. A controversial statement to make on this site but that doesn't make it any less true. Just look at the numbers. Everybody here was cheering at the prospect of him being back on a Honda while everybody without bias knew he wouldn't do any better than his Ducati days. There is no grand conspiracy by Honda to stop Nicky Hayden from performing.

Honda have supplied what Dorna asked them to supply. The bike is slow because it is cheap. The Forward Yamaha is fast because it's a 2013 M1 and A. Espargaro is on it. He's been stealing the limelight, but if you look at Colin Edwards, no slouch, Hayden has been consistently getting closer to him at every test.

And finally, put A. Espargaro on Hayden's bike and he goes half a second faster. I'd put a hundred bucks on it.

I agree with most everything you said, except for when you said Hayden was never outright fast. He won the BMW M Award in 2006, awarded to the rider with the lowest total qualifying times for the season.

I'll concede that point, and I do think Hayden really deserved that championship on his own merit. But that was 8 years ago. The field has moved on.

The production racer is still not inside top 10 with the Aliens missing this test so I guess it is as bad as they are making it out to be. Poor NH69, wherever he goes, bad luck follows.

I recall reading a story about when Duhamel raced the RC45 here in N America one weekend he showed up with a new spec of motor that was like 15 BHP more than normal , this was back when gaining 0.5 or 1 was a big gain, Im hoping HRC can pull the same magic with the RCV.

Maybe they could cut a deal with the buyer and give a higher spec motor with guarantee of fresh parts for a low ( no ) cost?

given that none of the "big boys" are there. All it tells us is the status quo of the rest. In that regard it appears to have very much been the same since the first test, i.e.,

Aleix is fast and might (just might) give things a shake up
Brother Pol is making Smith look a tad slow
Edwards needs to leave it to the younger kids
For the 8th year in a row Hayden is not going to be on a competitive ride
Bradl and Bautista - hmmm, same old.

Looking back at the numbers, I stand corrected. There is one possible new development - it looks like Scott Redding is starting to get the hang of things.

Smith looks fastest over race distance and most consistent.

Did some quick analysis of the lap times from session 3 focusing on the race sim run average lap times and came up with this:

# Rider / Race Time / Diff #1 / Laps<56.0 / Laps<55.5 / Laps<55.0
1 Bradley SMITH / 43:29.582 / 0 / 17 / 5 / 0
2 Aleix ESPARGARO / 43:32.065 / 2.483 / 19 / 3 / 1
3 Pol ESPARGARO / 43:36.107 / 6.525 / 12 / 3 / 1
4 Stefan BRADL / 43:39.845 / 10.263 / 9 / 2 / 0
5 Alvaro BAUTISTA / 43:41.851 / 12.269 / 5 / 1 / 0

/ Fastest Lap / Race Sim Avg / 22 Lap Race Sim Time
Aleix ESPARGARO / 1:54.874 / 1:56.0030 / 43:32.065
Pol ESPARGARO / 1:54.907 / 1:56.1867 / 43:36.107
Bradley SMITH / 1:55.027 / 1:55.8901 / 43:29.582
Stefan BRADL / 1:55.187 / 1:56.3566 / 43:39.845
Alvaro BAUTISTA / 1:55.232 / 1:56.4478 / 43:41.851

My numbers here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1g0PiiWwiLQbVckVG_BT24U7MBlcoXOjy...
MotoGP.com official times: http://resources.motogp.com/files/testresults/MotoGP_Test__Losail_analys...

Thanks for putting together the numbers. I wish this site more routinely did an analysis like this. It can tell you a lot more than is available out of press releases and quotes. I've done similar things a few times before, but my problem is how apocolytically terrible the data formating is on the motogp.com site.

Anyway thanks for this, and I'll keep my fingers crossed for .csv data downloads someday . . .

Say Yamaha loans Forward some engineers that can run the 2014 version of the software and that Aleix qualifies on the front row with that soft tire...... Thats what is scaring some people. Poor Nicky needs some power or he could end up close to a minute behind the race winner at the finish line.

The simple fix would be to just swap the engines for Hayden! HRC should try that for the Aspar team. Give Aspar old RCV engines from last year factory machines and see what happens next!!! Now that FTR is not making the chassis for Forward, how much more expensive is the Forward Yamaha-M1 now??? HRC is right, the 'Open' class isn't that much cheaper as intended by the rules! The rules are still changing especially after the Ducati decision to be an Open team. HRC are testing their options as the season gets under way.

Nakamoto has already said they're not giving the RCV a pneumatic valve engine. Because of this, I'm not sure any engine upgrades they might (emphasis on MIGHT) give would be all that spectacular. Plainly stated, I'm afraid the RCV is as good as its gonna be.....or very close to it.

It does seem amazing that pneumatic valves can be the primary difference in power, especially given how frequently I have read it helps primarily with reliable max rpm running.

Do we know what other differences are holding the bike back?

It probably isn't just one thing but with the lower spec 2013 electronics, Espargaro's bike seems markedly fast thus it seems unlikely it is this.

So where us the RCV lacking?

I do recall that in 2006, Hayden beat every rider on the grid including the all mighty Rossi via talent, determination, and luck! Marquez did the same thing last year. Hayden may not have the 'alien' gene like MM93, JL99, CS27, and the younger VR46... but given the right machinery, Hayden would be up there battling with them.
Valve springs, gearbox, and brakes are the major differences between the RC213V and the RCVr. But the electronics differences are understated as usual. The seamless gearbox will count for a few tenths per lap but keep in mind that the brakes will too. Remember how Bradl performed after he switched brakes from the Nissins?! I doubt if the RCVr's Ohlins suspension is the same grade as the factory team.
Nakamoto is very unhappy at the moment... so HRC is planning something that's for sure. At this point, money isn't the priority... HRC wants to get even with Yamaha and Ducati. It's Revenge time. So everything Nakamoto said that HRC would NOT do for the RCVr may have been thrown in the toilet by now.
The RCVr will get some power upgrades soon enough... Hayden and the others will just have to be patient and ride the RCVs like they stole them til then.

"everything Nakamoto said that HRC would NOT do for the RCVr may have been thrown in the toilet by now"

And have somebody possibly show up Bautista or Bradl? I don't think so.....but we shall see.

"Hayden may not have the 'alien' gene like MM93, JL99, CS27, and the younger VR46.."

Until riders are put on machinery that is pretty close to being similar, it's hard to be sure of what's what. Dennis Noyes said recently (and of course I'm paraphrasing) "I don't know if there's aliens, rather than spaceships" or as Mr. Emmett has said before that "currently there's a lot more good riders than good bikes"

My eyes have moved on from the Honda production racer, same for the selling of the bike model of doing things. Looking eagerly to Yamaha and the leasing, which seems more the future. Forward now, and more so Tech 3 next year on Open bikes with nearly top level kit and full use of the championship software capabilities = where things are going.

Look how many contracts are up this year! This is going to be a humdinger of a season in a bunch of ways and I am super excited.

Help me out here. Is A. Espagaro's M1 expected to remain a 2013 M1 engine and chassis or is the frame just a placeholder for the Forward (FTR?) to be completed? I really am a loyal MotoGP fan, but I cannot keep up with all the changes from CRT to Open to Factory/Open 2. And if this is the case, I would expect Aleix to be less of a threat to holding the champagne. For the sake of the show, I really hope he contines on the full M1 with Open specs and harasses Rossi/Lorenzo as they battle Pedrosa and Marquez.

Easy to miss! Closest thing we had to info on this was the lack of a financial transaction for the FTR frames and their quiet disappearance. The utter and complete lack of anything info about any frame besides the Yamaha, titling the team "Forward Yamaha," and one or two off handed comments from Espargaro and Edwards seem to indicate we are looking at the future in their garage.

Would have won last years race by 1 second ahead of Lorenzo. Taking his 20 Laps and adding in two more at 1:56.0 gives 42min 38.982 sec total time. Lorenzo 42 m 39.802 s.

I love to see Aleix up there setting some controversial lap times but two factors make all the conjecture a bit pointless. If they're not the same riders out there on the same day in the same conditions riding the same tyres then we're not comparing apples with apples so we may be able to draw some vague indications but anything beyond that is just pure conjecture. The other point that confuses me is why are half the teams at Phillip island whilst the other half are at Sepang? And why didn't they drop past my place for a sausage sanga and a beer?

I know others have said it, but I have to say it too. I wish Honda would give an older (2 years old), engine from a satellite squad that is slightly detuned guaranteeing that they would not show up the factory riders, and would put pressure on satellite riders if they are bullsh*tting. It would seem like a better option than finding power, which would probably be at least 50hp out of the current engine. I do not think Hayden would be in contention for the title. But it would give him a fair chance to at least compete, and give up and coming Redding a chance to make a difference and show some potential closer to the front.