February 5th, 2014
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Sepang:
Final times for the second day of testing:
Marc Marquez tops the timesheets halfway through the day at Sepang, with the track gone quiet in the heat of the day. The Repsol Honda man punched in a very fast lap shortly before 2pm to break into the 1'59s, the first rider to do so this test. Marquez' time is still 0.3 off the fastest ever time around the circuit, set by Casey Stoner back in 2011.
Marquez is now four tenths ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who had led for most of the session. Stefan Bradl is just three thousandths of a second slower than Pedrosa, making it three Hondas topping the timesheets. An armada of Yamahas follow the Hondas, with Valentino Rossi fastest, ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the Open class Yamaha FTR, Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, and Jorge Lorenzo on the second factory Yamaha. Times are close, however, with less than three tenths separating Pedrosa in 2nd from Lorenzo in 7th.
8th is Andrea Iannone, the Pramac Ducati rider continuing his impressive run at the test. Iannone's time of 2'00.855 is the fastest a Ducati has been around the Sepang circuit since the test here in Sepang in February 2010, when both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were quicker. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow are also more competitive than Ducati riders in the past, Dovizioso's time in the low 2'01s quicker than at previous tests.
It has been a fascinating first day of testing at Sepang. And like all fascinating days, it has been long, tiring, and utterly inspiring. There were surprises, disappointments, and rumors confirmed and denied. It was, in short, a good day at the office.
Marc Marquez was fastest – it goes almost without saying – the 2013 world champion picking up where he left off. He was quick from the off, and put in a final burst of speed at the end of the day to open the gap on the rest, finishing with half a second advantage. Braking stability was the watchword for the Repsol Honda team, especially rear grip on braking and corner entry, with both Marquez and Dani Pedrosa working on a slightly revised version of the 2014 RC213V which both men had tested at Valencia last year.
Their main focus – like those of everyone on their first day back on a MotoGP – was just to get used to the speed again. The switchover had been toughest for Cal Crutchlow, the Englishman claimed. He had ridden a motocross bike for exactly one day, he said, spending the rest of his winter training on his bicycle. The speed differential between a 20-speed racing bicycle and a 6-speed Ducati Desmosedici is nothing if not cavernous.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of testing at Sepang:
Times at the end of the first day of testing at Sepang:
Testing is well and truly underway at Sepang, with the bikes rolling out on to a relatively clean track in good conditions. Sepang has not seen any rain for weeks, and the temperature is cooler than in recent years. The good conditions are reflected in the times.
With the teams having taken a break for lunch, Marc Marquez sits on top of the timesheets, the reigning world champion starting the season as he left off at Valencia. Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa are both riding the 2014 version of the RC213V, with its characteristic large air intake on the front of the fairing, resembling a basking shark feeding.
Jorge Lorenzo is the second fastest man so far, the Factory Yamaha rider three tenths off the time of Marquez, and just fractionally ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi. Rossi has made a strong start to the test, leading the times at one stage in the morning. The two satellite Hondas follow the two Factory Yamahas, Stefan Bradl two tenths behind Rossi, but fractionally quicker than Alvaro Bautista.
Bridgestone Press Release - Bridgestone Previews Sepang, And Assesses Tires For The Open Class In 2014
Bridgestone has issued its first press release of 2014, previewing the first MotoGP test of the year, due to start on Tuesday at Sepang. The press release discusses Bridgestone's plans for 2014, and goes into more detail on the decision facing the Japanese tire manufacturer over tires for the Open category in MotoGP. With the Open bikes much more varied, contrasting the Yamaha M1 engines, Honda RCV1000R, Aprilia's ART and Kawasakis to be used by the Avintia team, the range of power outputs is much wider than last year. Some Open class bikes may require the harder rear tire used by the Factory Option bikes, while others may require the extra soft option provided to the CRT machines last year. Bridgestone will have a lot of work to do at Sepang, assessing the tire options for the Open bikes, as well as examining new tires to be used by the Factory Option bikes.
The Bridgestone press release, containing some more detail on the tires, appears below:
Bridgestone heads to Malaysia for first MotoGP™ group test of 2014
Monday, February 3 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium & Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard
Yamaha Racing Director Lin Jarvis had promised to announce more sponsorship during the presentation of the MotoGP bike in January in Indonesia. In the past few days, Yamaha have made good on Jarvis' promise, adding both a brand new sponsor, and extending an agreement with an old sponsor.
The more interesting of the two announcements is the agreement with Eurasian Bank, a bank based in Kazakhstan. The deal will see logos appearing on the leathers of both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and is notable for the fact that Yamaha have managed to lure an entirely new, non-industry sponsor to back their MotoGP effort. Expanding MotoGP's interest and reach into Central Asia is a positive development for the sport, and interest from one bank in the region may help stimulate interest from others.
The other announcement is an expansion of Fiat's backing of the team. Though the Italian car manufacturer disappeared as title sponsor at the end of 2010, Yamaha has retained backing from Fiat, directly and indirectly, ever since. Fiat Professional, the arm of the Italian car maker which produces light vans and trucks, is to step to sponsor the team, providing a range of vehicles to the factory, as well as vehicles for use by the team at races. Yamaha already has an agreement in place with Fiat Group subsidiary IVECO to supply race trucks to the team.
The test ban is over, and the MotoGP season is about to get underway. Bikes are already circulating, as the test riders put the first versions of the 2014 models through a shakedown to ensure that everything is in place, and working the way the engineers intended. In a few hours, we get the first glimpse of what the 2014 season could hold.
The rule changes for 2014, though at first glance relatively small, could have a major impact. For the front runners, the fuel allowance is dropped from 21 to 20 liters, a change requested by the manufacturers to give them the engineering challenge they demand to justify their involvement. All of the Factory Option (the designation for the bikes which have been referred to as factory prototypes for the last two seasons) entries must now use the spec Magneti Marelli ECU, but they retain the ability to develop their own software for the computer which sits at the heart of every modern vehicle. That reduced fuel allowance will place a premium on fuel conservation, meaning the manufacturer who can reduce friction, thermal efficiency and combustion efficiency will hold the upper hand.
It's not just the factory bikes that have a new designation. The CRT category has disappeared, replaced by the Open class. The change is not as big as the renaming would appear. Like the CRT bikes, they have 12 engines instead of 5 to last the season, and 24 liters of fuel to last each race. And like the Factory Option bikes, they must also use the spec Magneti Marelli ECU. The difference, with both the Factory Option bike and last year's CRT machines, is that now they must use the Dorna-controlled software, written by Magneti Marelli to Dorna specifications. The switch to control software means that the claiming rule, which defined the CRT class, has been dropped. Anyone can enter anything in the class, from modified Superbike (as long as, like Aprilia's ART machine, it uses a prototype chassis) to full-fat factory engine, as long as they use the spec software.
The Go&Fun Gresini presented their 2014 MotoGP team this afternoon in San Marino, launching their season ahead of the first test in Sepang. Riders Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding were introduced to the press, along with the RC213V Factory Option Honda to be raced by Bautista, and the Honda RCV1000R Open class bike which Redding will campaign. Below are the press release and photos from today's launch:
THE 2014 SEASON OF THE TEAM GO&FUN HONDA GRESINI OFFICIALLY UNVEILED IN SAN MARINO
Today, at Titano Theatre in San Marino, has been officially unveiled the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini for the 2014 MotoGP World Championship. On the stage, GO&FUN President, Bruno Bollini, the Team Manager Fausto Gresini and the riders - Alvaro Bautista and rookie Scott Redding – unveiled for the first time the new livery of the two Honda MotoGP machines that will be used during this season: the Factory spec RC213V for Alvaro Bautista, and the brand-new RCV1000R to be used in the newly formed Open category.
The debate on the future of MotoGP continues in full force. On the one side of the argument, those who believe that the factories' freedom to develop electronics should not be constrained, and on the other side, those who say that technology has to be reined in to control costs, and increase the spectacle. On one side of the argument stand the manufacturers, led by Honda; on the other side stand the teams, with Dorna at the helm.
Or at least, that's the way it seems from the outside. The reality behind the politics of MotoGP is far more labyrinthine than it appears. The impending decision of Ducati to switch to being an Open class entry (officially, to be taken only after tests at Sepang, but well-informed sources suggest the decision has been all but taken) has cracked the lid on some of the politics, offering a glimpse of the power structures which underly the rule-making process. With Ducati poised to break ranks with the other manufacturers, the MotoGP series could be set to take an entirely different direction.
Yesterday, leading US magazine Cycle World published one of the best analyses of the situation I have read for years. Veteran technical journalist and eminence grise in the world of motorcycle racing Kevin Cameron lays out with incisive clarity how the current status quo came about, and how Ducati's decision to go Open could upset the delicate balance of power. For anyone interested in why MotoGP is the way it is today, it should be compulsory reading.
The addition of the EVO category to the World Superbike class has had the hoped-for effect on the grid. From a modest entry list of 19 riders last year, the grid is up to a healthy 27 entries for 2014. The number of manufacturers has increased as well, up to 9, with MV Agusta, EBR (Erik Buell's latest venture) and Bimota all taking part, racing this year under the EVO banner. Bimota's entry is still provisional, subject to homologation of the BMW-based BB3 being approved.
The gamble of introducing a cheaper, lower-spec form of racing appears to have paid off, with 12 riders entered in the EVO category. Like the CRT class in MotoGP, the EVO category makes competing cheaper, with tuning restrictions closer to Superstock levels on engines, while chassis regulations remain the same as for the full SBK class entries.
The expansion in the World Superbike class has been partially at the expense of World Supersport, with teams such as Team Toth and Yakhnich using the opportunity to move up to WSBK. The World Supersport field is down to 23 entries, after years of fields of 30+ riders. The list of manufacturers in WSS is shorter, with just Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and MV Agusta represented. The World Superbike and World Supersport entry lists are shown below.
The 2014 World Supersport rider line up:
The 2014 World Superbike rider line up: