Gordon Hatch, MotoGP Correspondent
Teams take part in two days of testing under Spanish sunshine
The MotoGP teams remained in Catalunya last Monday for a one-day test following round 5 of the 2012 championship taking place the day previous. Many of the teams also travelled to the Aragon circuit in Spain after a day’s break for another one-day of testing after the original test at Estoril was cancelled one month ago.
The first day in Catalunya saw the factory, satellite and independent teams all taking part with the Paul Bird Motorsport CRT team also enlisting the services of former MotoGP rider Shane Byrne to take part in the test alongside PBM rider James Ellison while the Ducati team also had their official test rider Franco Battaini in attendance.
Following rainfall overnight at the Montmélo-based circuit, some of the factory teams were not quick to send their riders out on track with damp conditions prevailing for a short time. When the track dried out the testing began in earnest and all riders had a raft of parts and settings to test with some teams reporting successful outcomes while others weren’t 100% happy with the way things were going.
The fastest man on the day was Andrea Dovizioso for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team after recording a fastest time of the day 1m 41.997s with the team using a new specification of engine and electronics. Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow was unlucky to crash early on in the session with the British rider hitting a damp patch on the drying circuit. Crutchlow however did rejoin the test later on and eventually ended in 7th place.
While Dovizioso grabbed the headlines with his fastest time, Repsol Honda rider and reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner again voiced his frustration at having to use a new-spec Bridgestone front tire that the MotoGP field will use from the next round of the Championship at Silverstone in England next week. Stoner was critical of the decision to change the spec of the front tire that the rest of the MotoGP riders said they preferred but the Australian and teammate Dani Pedrosa were quickest in the morning part of the session while dropping to 5th (Pedrosa) and 6th (Stoner) in the afternoon.
The Repsol Honda team worked on getting the RC213V machine suited to the new spec rubber while the Yamaha Factory Racing team focused on a large number of parts to be tested and to find what direction of development that the team should go in with their YZR-M1. Jorge Lorenzo was giving the task of giving his team his opinion on whether the team should focus on improving traction from the engine or if they should work more on power while Ben Spies worked on engine specs, electronics and chassis options. Lorenzo ended in 8th on day one with Spies in 2nd place.
The Ducati Team was mainly testing a new aluminum swingarm that the team developed in conjunction with a new engine and tested in private at Mugello in Italy two weeks ago. The swingarm was ditched during free practice for the Catalunyan GP by Valentino Rossi who tried it out again on Monday with Nicky Hayden also testing the new parts with Rossi ending the day in 11th while Hayden finished one place head of Rossi in 10th place.
Satellite Honda teams, LCR Honda and San Carlo Honda Gresini, were both out in force under the Spanish sun on day one with LCR rider Stefan Bradl working on the front end of his machine to improve feel while pushing the front and also on his corner exits while Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista worked on his suspension settings. Bautista ended day one in 4th place on the timing sheets while Bradl came away in 9th place.
The Cardion AB Motoracing team had an unlucky day after Karel Abraham crashed early on in the morning session and although being able to take part in the rest of the test he couldn’t make it passed 12th place while the Pramac Racing team and fellow Ducati customers saw their rider Hector Barbera jump up the timings into third place on day one after working solely on the GP12’s set up.
The CRT teams were also busy testing with San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Michele Pirro ending the day in 16th on his FTR Honda machine that the team is still getting dialed in to GP racing. Paul Bird Motorsport availed of current British Superbike rider Byrne’s services on day one with the Brit giving feedback to the team for most of the day and Ellison testing a new swingarm.
NGM Forward Racing and Colin Edwards were busy testing two new engine specs and getting their electronics package working better while Avintia Blusens teammates Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez working confirming a direction for the team on what type of chassis to use moving forward. Power Electronics Aspar riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro tested a new swingarm and Speedmaster rider Mattia Pasini worked solely on set-up for the next race at Silverstone. De Puniet was once again top of the CRT machines in 13th place.
The second day of testing at Aragon saw a smaller field of teams taking part in the test with the biggest absentees the Repsol Honda team that opted not to travel to the Spanish circuit because their sole focus was to adapt its RC213V machine to the new Bridgestone tires but with no allocation of the new front rubber the factory Honda team decided not to take riders Stoner and Pedrosa to the second test.
The full second day of testing saw Lorenzo coming out on top of the timing sheets setting a best time of 1m 49.187s late in the day after focusing on set up for the Aragon track and also confirming new settings tested in Catalunya. Spies was close behind in second place while Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Crutchlow and Dovizioso in third and fourth respectively.
Pramac Racing man Barbera had another good day in his homeland with a fifth place finish and well ahead of the factory pairing of Hayden and Rossi who ended the day in 6th and eight respectively. Bautista split the Ducati Team riders while LCR rider Bradl ended up in 9th place being followed by Abraham on his GP 12 machine. The Czech rider is now in doubt following a second heavy crash at Aragon following his incident at Catalunya. Abraham reportedly badly injured his left hand and his team is due to make an announcement shortly on whether their rider will be fit for the Silverstone round.
There was a reduced number of CRT machines also taking part in the second test day and it was Michele Pirro ending up fastest for the San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT effort with a best lap of 1m 52.452s with Hernandez in 12th, Edwards in 13th and Silva in 14th place at the end of the test.
The Hertz British Grand Prix from Silverstone will take place from 15th to 17th June with the traditional Day of Champions taking place the day before on Thursday 14th June.