You should never make the mistake of taking test times too seriously, but they do give you an inkling of the storm that’s about to come.
Quite a few new things have been happening in the world of MotoGP, not just on the track, but miles away too. Dorna, the company that owns MotoGP, was slapped with a multi-million dollar fine by the Spanish Supreme Court. Apparently the CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and CFO Enrique Aldama tried to sell their own shares to themselves to avoid taxes and get richer, which should make both of them poorer by a few million Euros. They of course have a very technical explanation for their shenanigans and why they are not guilty, but I think we all understand how these things go by now.
A bit further away, the Grand Prix commission announced some updated regulations, most of which didn’t make much sense to me. The 2 that did are the following:
- Previously, overtaking under yellow flag was penalized by the rider going back a number of places, but now it can be that and a bunch of other shit. Hopefully, the rule will be enforced more seriously this year than it has been in the past.
- After the fuckfest that was the Rossi-Lorenzo-Marquez orgy of stupidity, new regulations have been put in place to curb irresponsible statements. What can you say in the racing world is already pretty well controlled, but looks like the school kids got a bit more punishment than they had expected.
Closer to the track, Aprilia launched their racing livery for the 2016 RS-GP, and it’s “different” to put it mildly. The 250 hp monster is covered up in too many colors for my taste, and looks more like a teenager’s riced Honda City rather than a track eating God. It almost looks happy, almost looks like it’s not the man-devouring vicious little vampire that it totally is.
As far as the track goes, things have started becoming clearer, although the real story will come out only after the FP sessions at the MotoGP season opener are done and the dust is settled.
The Hondas look fucked
Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez just can’t seem to catch a break. 2015 season saw them struggling from the start, but by the halfway point Honda had finally put some reins on their over-enthusiastic little engines, although it was a bit too late. The fact that even the ridiculously insanely talented track God called Marquez couldn’t tame that RC213V tells you a lot about how unmanageable that thing must have been.
2016 doesn’t look like it’ll be any different.
Both the riders seemed unhappy with the new bike, especially with corner exits. Both Marquez and Pedrosa were off by Lorenzo’s times by well over a second. Dani couldn’t even do 30 laps, with others finishing north of 50.
It’s kinda hard to imagine that the biggest problem with a bike could be that it’s too powerful. Most people tend to think more horsepower = less laptimes, but the real problem is always putting that power down on the ground, and that’s where the Hondas have been miserable.
The Yamahas look comfy
Lorenzo didn’t seem to like Philip Island, but was back on top at Losail. He set up a string of fast laps, with nobody even coming close to his fastest time by about 4 tenths. Rossi remained the consistently steady performer as he’s always been, although he did have a small crash at some 70 mph that nobody really bothered about.
We all know that Lorenzo is quick, and robotically consistent, but with the spec electronics in 2016, it’ll be much harder to stay that consistent over the race distance. Controlling that bike is now more physically demanding than last year, and that’s probably the only weak point in Lorenzo’s impenetrable armor.
Rossi looks happy to be back on Michelins, and I think the tires suit his riding style. Where Lorenzo or Marquez go more like a heavy-metal concert, hard from the start, Rossi and Pedrosa build up to a crescendo after a slow beginning, and I think that’s going to work to Rossi’s advantage.
Is Maverick Viñales the next Marquez?
I’ve been pretty surprised by the Suzuki rider’s pace. I’m sure he’s quick and always has been, but staying so close to the top after just 1 season in MotoGP is pretty impressive. Not only has Maverick been fast, he’s been fast everywhere all the time.
The factory Suzuki team finally seems to have got their machines upto the level that makes them competitive, but it appears to not just be about the bike, but the rider too. Aleix Espargaro ended the session seven tenths behind his teammate, and that gives you an idea of the difference skill can make, regardless of the equipment.
The Dominance of the Ducatis
The Ducatis have made a comeback, and I think they are going to be all over the place.
2015 was pretty impressive for them, but in a very intermittent way. Although the bikes would go flying past the Hondas and the Yamahas on straights, they never really seemed to be anywhere close to the real battle. This year, not only the factory Ducatis are looking quick, but the satellite ones too.
Things are not going to be easy for the front runners.
The Ducs have always been known to have brilliant power, and a good method to put it all down too. What remains to be seen is how well the riders are able to handle the pressure and remain steady.
Where the fuck is KTM?