The second day of the special CRT test at Sepang, laid on to allow the teams using the brand new Magneti Marelli spec ECU, was as beset by problems as the first day. If technical problems and a lack of parts had been the bane of day 1, it was the weather which dogged the teams, though technical problems persisted. Heavy rain in the morning meant that only Danilo Petrucci went to put in a few laps before running into an electrical issue with a coil left the engine running on two cylinders. The rain stopped in the afternoon, but the track remained wet, leaving the riders present to do only a few laps.
The (still) provisional entries for the 2013 World Superbike season:
The first day of the extra two-day test for the CRT teams laid on to allow the teams using the new Magneti Marelli spec ECU has been almost entirely wasted. A lack of parts and above all, a lack of data with the new system meant that the day was spent mostly in the garage, with very few laps turned out on the track.
Only CAME Ioda's Danilo Petrucci got in any serious track time, the Italian posting a total of 27 laps. All of those laps were set without any assistance from the electronics, however: with no data, the team had no base set up to work from, and Petrucci was lapping without any electronic aid. "It's really hard to ride a bike without any electronic controls," Petrucci posted on Twitter afterwards, a fact that is borne out by his times. Petrucci's fastest lap was a 2'06.841, two seconds slower than his best time from the race weekend at Sepang, and four seconds behind the best CRT time set back in October of last year.
With the first full test for the World Superbike class behind us, and the first test of the MotoGP grid about to get underway at Sepang at the end of this week, it is time to take a look at motorcycle racing's preseason, and evaluate where we stand so far. Just what is the state of play for both MotoGP and World Superbike in 2013?
The question is even more pertinent now that both series have been taken under the wing of Dorna, much to the consternation of World Superbike fans and, to some extent, the WSBK paddock as well. It was feared that Dorna would either kill off World Superbike entirely to strengthen the position of MotoGP, or impose such stringent technical regulations on the series as to dumb it down to Superstock spec.
Fortunately, neither of those options looks likely. World Superbikes will continue as a separate series, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was keen to explain when quizzed about the takeover at Ducati's Wrooom launch event early in January. The aim is to build a strong WSBK series to stand alongside MotoGP, preserving the unique identity of the two series - WSBK as a place to race production bikes, MotoGP as the series for racing prototypes.
The prospects of both MotoGP and World Superbikes visiting Wales took a step closer yesterday. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Events Managing Director Javier Alonso flew to the UK earlier this week for a series of meetings about the proposed Circuit of Wales, a new facility that is to be built near Ebbw Vale, in South Wales. The Dorna bosses met with several key figures involved in the project, including Lord Kinnock, former UK Labour Party leader and now ambassador for the circuit, and Welsh Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Edwina Hart.
Ezpeleta and Alonso also met with media, including Motorcycle News and local news organizations. Ezpeleta expressed how impressed he had been with the plans for the facility, which include an FIM and FIA approved race track, a motocross track, a karting track, as well a technology park, hotel facilities, and a motor sports racing academy, aimed at providing training for young riders and drivers. Having another track in the UK was a positive thing for racing, Ezpeleta told the Gwent Gazette. "“For me, I will say that out of all the races we have in the year, for us and all the people involved, we feel British people know much more about racing," the Dorna boss said. Once the track receives planning permission - a hurdle the facility still has to clear - the track could be ready to host a MotoGP or World Superbike round as early as 2015, Ezpeleta told MCN's Matt Birt.
With launch season in full swing, the next team to kick off their 2013 campaign was the CAME IODA Racing project. The team, run by former Aprilia supremo Giampiero Sacchi, will field two riders in MotoGP and one in Moto2. In the premier class, Danilo Petrucci returns to the team once again for his second year. He will be joined by former 250cc man Lukas Pesek, the Czech rider having found the prerequisite funds to secure a slot alongside Petrucci. Frenchman Johann Zarco will contest the Moto2 season for the team. All three riders will be using Suter chassis, Petrucci and Pesek on Suter BMW machines, using the spec Magneti Marelli electronics, while Zarco has the championship-winning Suter Moto2 chassis used by Marc Marquez in 2012.
Below is the press release issued by the team:
CAME IODARACING TEAM TAKES ITS COVER OFF ITS 2013 MOTOGP CHALLENGE
CAME and IODARACING PROJECT unveiled their team to take part to the MOTO 2 and MOTOGP classes of the 2013 World Championship at their factory in Dosson di Casier on Wednesday 30th January. .
The partnership between the company based in Veneto, a leader in automation systems and access controls, and the factory in Terni continues in the best possible way. Both enterprises will face together the most important motorcycling world championship. A Made-in-Italy challenge.
The BMW Goldbet World Superbike and Pata Honda World Supersport teams issued the following press release after two-day test at Jerez:
The 2013 season has gotten off to a very damp start for Ducati. The Bologna factory had booked the Jerez circuit for a three-day test, for both the Alstare Ducati World Superbike team and the Ducati MotoGP test team with Michele Pirro and Franco Battaini, but the rain meant that they only got a few hours of testing done, and all of that was on Monday.
Despite only managing a few laps, the test counts as successful for the Alstare Ducati team. Carlos Checa and Ayrton Badovini both managed some forty laps, with Checa quickly up to speed and bettering his time from the last visit to Jerez at the end of November last year by over a second, according to times posted by the respected Italian site GPOne.com. Badovini's progress was much more limited: the Italian was just a couple of tenths quicker than his time from November, and over a second and a half slower than Checa's lap time, the Spaniard having set his fastest time on a set of soft tires.
Now that it has the World Superbike series under its control, Dorna is turning its attention to the question of costs. It was an issue which, WSBK insiders claim, the Flammini brothers and Infront spent too little time on, preferring to focus on trying to compete with MotoGP instead. The series' critics charge that this obsession caused WSBK to allow bikes into the series which were more like MotoGP prototypes than production road bikes. The Aprilia RSV4 is one of the bikes most often named in this regard, though perhaps the most extreme example was the Foggy Petronas FP3 machine, of which the entire homologation run is rumored to be stored in a warehouse owned by the Malaysian oil company in Kuala Lumpur. As a result, grids have shrunk from around thirty starters in 2009 to just twenty in 2013.
The 2012 MotoGP season was one which was absolutely full of surprises. One of the very biggest was surely Ben Spies' shock decision to leave Yamaha at the end of 2012, something which nobody had seen coming. The move was unexpected in part because the Yamaha was clearly a highly competitive bike, as Jorge Lorenzo's world championship demonstrated. But most shocking of all was the way in which Spies announced his intention to move: via tweeting a link to an interview given in the early hours of a July morning to Superbikeplanet.com's Dean Adams.
BMW issued the following press release after the final World Superbike test of the year at Jerez:
The last day of testing of 2012 turned out to be a mirror image of the MotoGP season just finished. As it had so many times this year, rain and wind ruined conditions, making the track far too dangerous for slick tires, and too dry to do any proper testing on wets. And just as they had done so often this year, the few riders remaining at the Jerez combined MotoGP and World Superbike test spent the day sitting in the garage, watching the weather, before calling an early halt to proceedings and heading home.
A few riders did briefly venture out, though to little effect. Nicky Hayden had stayed on for an extra day to help the testing program, after Andrea Dovizioso's neck problem meant that the Italian did only three laps over the first two days of the test. Hayden went out for a few laps to compare the two different wet compounds, and Ducati test rider Michele Pirro put in a few laps as well, but both Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone chose to sit out the final day. Dovizioso's neck problems had not subsided sufficiently, and the conditions were not worth the risk, while Iannone did not feel there was anything to learn on the treacherous conditions.
BMW issued the following press release after completing testing at Aragon:
BMW Motorrad - WSBK - Winter Testing - Motorland Aragón
Alcañiz, 15th November 2012. After the rain-hit test last week at the Spanish Jerez circuit, BMW Motorrad scheduled two more days of testing this week at “Motorland Aragón” near Alcañiz (ESP). There the factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Chaz Davies (GBR) continued the preparation for the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship yesterday and today. Again the team was not too lucky with the weather conditions. Yesterday, Wednesday, and last night it rained again. This morning the track was still damp, but then it dried up. Therefore, at least this afternoon, the team found good conditions to continue its comprehensive testing programme. The highest air and track temperatures reached 17 degrees Celsius.
BMW Motorrad had taken numerous newly developed components for several areas of the BMW S 1000 RR to Alcañiz, which were evaluated by Marco and the team. His new team mate, Chaz, used the time to further familiarise himself with his RR. In total, Marco and Chaz completed 114 laps or 607 kilometres of testing on their RRs.
Press releases from the teams, from the single tire supplier and from Honda after Sunday's dramatic MotoGP race at Valencia:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier after a rained-out day of practice at Valencia: