MotoGP – A busy week for teams and riders

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso (photo by MotoGP)MotoGP may currently be between Grand Prix’s but some teams and riders have been busy this week testing and sampling a new circuit for next year’s calendar.


Ducati were busy at the Misano circuit with the factory team completing a 3-day test.  Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden rode on Wednesday and Thursday, whereas Michele Pirro, fresh off his recent substitute rider appearances with the Pramac team, returned to his role as Ducati’s test rider, beginning his work on Tuesday and continuing through to thursday. 

Cal Crutchlow - Argentina test (photo by MotoGP)Apart from a brief morning rain shower thursday, the test was marked by good weather, enabling the riders to focus their work, which consisted mainly of carrying out frame comparisons. They also tried some engine developments and looked for a base setup for the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, which will take place at Misano in September.

Alex De Angelis, who will be a substitute rider for the Pramac Ducati team at the United States Grand Prix, also took to the Misano track on Thursday to familiarize himself with the Desmosedici GP13.

De Angelis, who hadn’t ridden a MotoGP bike since 2010, was able to complete over fifty laps, clocking a best time of 1:37.0. Overall it was a positive day for the rider from San Marino who, now that he has familiarized himself with the bike that he will race at Laguna Seca on 21 July, will use the practice days for that race to focus on finding a good setup.

Post test quotes.

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team (105 laps)

“The Misano track is a bit inconsistent for our bike, but coming from Assen, we immediately felt a bit better at this circuit.

We worked on the current bike, finding a setup for the Misano race, and then we went ahead with the development of the laboratory bike, trying some new stuff and finding some interesting things. We were able to do nearly two full days of good work, and today we tried a change with the frame.

There were some positives, like an improvement with the feeling on corner entry. We must decide what to do; it’s a new part, so we have to understand whether or not we can have it in time for the Sachsenring.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team (158 laps)

“It’s certainly been a useful couple of days. We didn’t make any drastic improvements, but I tried something with a different anti-wheelie solution that worked quite well, and I’m happy about that for the next two tracks, which are maybe the worst two circuits for wheelies on the whole calendar.

We lost a bit of time today with the rain, but in the end I did a low 1:34. That’s not a bad lap time, although we’ll certainly have to do better than that when we come here for the race. We did a lot of laps, mainly with the wheelie control and a different fork setting, and we got some good information.”

Thursday also saw the first ever outing of MotoGP machines at the newly built 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina about 1,100km north east of Buenos Aires, which has been confirmed in the race calendar from 2014 until at least 2016.

The announcement that a GP came at the end of the first day of testing from The Minister of Tourism, Enrique Meyer, who was accompanied by Governor of the Province of Santiago del Estero, Gerardo Zamora and Javier Alonso, Dorna’s Managing Director Events Area. This is the first time a premier-class race will be held in the country since Buenos Aires last hosted a race back in 1999.

Several riders made the long trip down into the southern hemisphere to not only get a taste for the circuit themselves, but also gather vital data for the race, get an idea of bike set-up, and very importantly test tyre suitability. Bridgestone expects the circuit to be the harshest event of the year on tyres, and brought a variety of symmetric and asymmetric slicks to test.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl ended the day as the fastest rider with a time just over the 1.44 mark, after initial times had been in the 1.57s in the early part of the day. GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista left it late to go second, ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera was the sole CRT rider present on his FTR Kawasaki, with the Spaniard also able to gather valuable data for the Magneti Marelli electronics for the coming year’s race. He ended the day in fourth.

Riders comments were positive after the first day saying they enjoyed the fast layout of the circuit and enjoying the reception they got at the track. With the track being quite fresh however, they noted grip levels were still low, yet the fast nature was also proving abrasive on tyres.

A further aspect of the testing, as explained by Dorna’s Managing Director Events Area, Javier Alonso, was to test the safety of the track, the marshals, as well as the general working of the event in preparation for next year. Alonso said that he was happy with how things had gone and that he was impressed with the circuit.

Teams and riders decided not to risk potential mishaps on Friday morning following an early shower. six riders finally took to the track and lapped somewhat cautiously in mixed conditions with the afternoon session extended by 30 minutes to make the most of some late sunshine.

Cal Crutchlow, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl were amongst the premier class riders who made the trip to South America to check out the new facility, visiting Buenos Aires and the smaller city of Termas de Rio Hondo earlier in the week before getting down to business and putting in some laps of the 4.8km track on their bikes.

Crutchlow put his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 through its paces, gathering crucial data for both Yamaha and Bridgestone. GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Bautista also worked on set up and understanding the nature of the track, topping the timesheet in the afternoon with a 1’45.578 lap.

LCR Honda MotoGP’s Bradl ended the test as the fastest rider with a time of 1’44.188 from Thursday – and only put in 13 extra laps on Friday. Avintia Blusens’ Hector Barbera, meanwhile, collected important data for Magneti Marelli electronics on his FTR Kawasaki.  With Friday morning’s poor weather conditions at the track meaning that testing was limited, the riders also spent time signing autographs for their new fans before heading off to Europe to prepare for round 8 next weekend in Germany.

Post Argentina quotes.

Alvaro Bautista (Thursday)

“This is the first time I have ever been to Argentina and it has been a wonderful experience so far. We were given a huge welcome by an extraordinary number of journalists in Buenos Aires and then on Wednesday we had a fantastic day being tourists at Termas de Rio Hondo. We went out on track today to get a first feel for a circuit that looks really nice and has some technically demanding sections. We spent a day studying the layout and on Friday we will work on adjusting the settings of the bike to suit it more.”

Stefan Bradl

“This was my first time in Argentina and we had a great welcome from local people here. They seem very interested in MotoGP and it’s nice to take the MotoGP back for the first time since 1999. With Alvaro and Cal we had a tour in Termas discovering a new culture and the place is very nice. Before my departure I checked the circuit layout in the web and it looked really fast. So it is! I think it perfectly suits the MotoGP machine but the big question mark are the tyres because the early indications indicate that the surface here is set to be extremely abrasive for tyres.

 I was happy with my fastest lap on day one but our main target  was to get vital data for next year race. Unfortunately on day two the weather was not that good so I made only nine laps in the afternoon. Now it’s time for me to relax for couple of days before my crowded and warm home race”.

Cal Crutchlow

“It was a big pity today that the rain came because people told us that there has been no rain here for more than 20 weeks! I’m really pleased the track dried out at the end and I was able to do some laps to thank the fans for being so patient and coming out to support us.

This test has been one of the few times when there’s not been so much pressure, so I’ve been able to have a lot of fun with the other guys on track. Nowadays in MotoGP you have to be on the limit and giving it 100% for every lap of every test and race, so it was nice to be able to have a bit of fun on the bike. We collected some data for Yamaha and Bridgestone but I’m not sure how helpful it will be because conditions for therace will be completely different. The track was quite dirty but some sections are incredible. Some corners are really fast and there are a lot of overtaking opportunities, so I think it will make for great racing in all three classes.

It has been a great trip and very important for Dorna and Yamaha to promote MotoGP in such a key market like Argentina and I am proud that Tech 3 and Monster were able to play such a big part in it. I’d like to thank everybody involved in our visit this week. I’ve loved every minute of my first visit to Argentina. It is great to experience another culture and the welcome and hospitality we have received has been overwhelming and my first visit to Argentina is one I will never forget. The support and passion for MotoGP has been amazing to see and now I can’t wait to be back next year for the race.” By James Foreman 

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