So what happened to the lap times? When MotoGP tested here at Aragon back in June, Jorge Lorenzo was nearly one and a half seconds faster than his time on the first day of practice. Marc Marquez was half a second slower than his time in testing, despite being the fastest man after FP1 and FP2, Valentino Rossi was a second slower, and Dani Pedrosa was just a couple of tenths slower than his test time, set here three months ago.
The answer is simple: no grip. Grip is missing both front and rear, as temperatures have soared unusually high at the Spanish circuit. The track is also dirtier: a car event held before the test had laid rubber down and swept the track clean, but that was not the case ahead of this weekend. The lack of grip has meant everyone has struggled to match the lap times from earlier in the year.
One question has been raised ahead of nearly every race this season: Is this a Honda track, or is this a Yamaha track? Winners have been predicted based on the perceived characteristics of each circuit. Fast and flowing? Yamaha track. Stop and go? Honda track.
The track record – if you’ll excuse the pun – of such predictions has been little better than flipping a coin, however. Brno was supposed to favor Yamaha, yet Marc Marquez won on a Honda. Misano was clearly a Honda track, yet Jorge Lorenzo dominated on the Yamaha M1. More than Honda vs. Yamaha, the 2013 MotoGP season has been a tale of rider vs. rider, of Jorge Lorenzo vs. Marc Marquez vs. Dani Pedrosa.
So when the paddock rolls up at Aragon, track analysis says this is a Honda track, something underlined by the fact that the last two editions were won by Hondas. With Marc Marquez growing increasingly confident and Dani Pedrosa looking for a return to the winning ways he showed last year, it seems foolish to bet against a Honda rider standing on the top step on Sunday. Yet there are reasons to suspect Pedrosa and Marquez will not have it all their own way this weekend.
The chance to substitute in the Repsol Honda team for the injured Casey Stoner was a great opportunity for Jonathan Rea to get a feel for a MotoGP bike and demonstrate his talent and potential, objectives in which he succeeded admirably. But it was also a chance for MotoGP journalists to grill the Ulsterman on the differences between various aspects of MotoGP and World Superbikes, Rea having shown he was both fast enough to feel the difference, smart enough to understand the difference, and articulate enough to explain it to reporters.
At Aragon, the subject turned to electronics, and the difference between the systems used in the two series. The topic was broached as Rea was explaining what had happened to him during the race. He had got caught up cycling through the various electronics strategies the Honda RC213V is equipped with, looking for one that would help him as the tire wore throughout the race. A lack of dry track time getting to understand how the electronics affected the bike as the tires begin to wear left him confused and struggling to find a setting that would work, Rea told reporters.
After two days of miserable weather at Aragon, race day dawned dry, sunny, though still a little cool. Paddock regulars who had spent the last two days scurrying from pits to hospitality, seeking shelter from the rain, poured out into the paddock to catch the warmth of the sun, which they had just about given up on previously.
The blue skies brought out some great racing, at least in Moto3 and Moto2, as well as some fantastic displays of riding in MotoGP, though the excitement in the premier class was to be found in the battle for the final spot on the podium rather than in the fight for victory. But there were also a few signs of improvement in the near future.
With the MotoGP paddock assembled at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the press got their first chance to gauge rider reaction to the proposal of a spec ECU which Dorna is looking to introduce into MotoGP, most probably from 2014. The reaction was guardedly positive among the MotoGP regulars, though all five riders questioned in the pre-event press conference raised concerns over safety. Only Jonathan Rea, standing in for Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda team for probably the last time, dissented, believing that MotoGP should be a pure prototype series.
“If everyone has the same electronics, this will be positive for everyone, more positive for the ones who do not have the best electronics,” Jorge Lorenzo told the press conference. He was the first to voice safety concerns. “I think we have to try it and to see if we still have the same security on the bike. Because now we avoid a lot of crashes, especially highsides, and maybe with the standard electronics the bike is a bit more dangerous. Because now, the bikes are more powerful, we have more than 250 horsepower, so we have to be careful of these things.”
Yamaha Racing has debuted its “Race-Blu” livery at Misano today. The work of Aldo Drudi (of Valentino Rossi helmet fame), the blue and matte grey paint scheme is the same special color schemes that will be available on the Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF-R6, and YZF-R125 bikes for 2013, seemingly everywhere except the United States.
Yamaha says the livery is a throw-back to its historic racing blue colors of the 1980’s. Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will also wear special Race-Blu leathers for the races at Misano and Aragon. Will the special livery prove to be as lucky as the Red/White 50th Anniversary livery? Only time will tell.
If you’ve already watched the Aragon GP, you may already have noticed the fact that the Repsol Honda team was using special livery for MotoGP’s penultimate European round. Decked out in special starred race livery created by Spanish designer Davidelfin, Repsol’s riders sure were the stars of the weekend, helping the Spanish company celebrate its 100th Grand Prix victory.
Achieving their first premier-class win at the 1995 Australian GP with Mick Doohan, Honda and Repsol’s partnership in GP racing has been a fruitful one to say the least. Looking for at least one Championship win during the 800cc era of MotoGP, Repsol Honda seems well on its path after this weekend at Motorland Aragon. Check out Davidelfin’s special Repsol Honda livery after the jump.
Though threatening with strong winds and the possibility of rain, the weather held out for MotoGP riders at the Aragon GP. As the Spanish track played host to the premier class of motorcycle racing, the Aragon GP proved to be a Honda affair during qualifying, as Casey Stoner took yet another pole position, while teammate Dani Pedrosa followed closely behind as second on the grid. With Jorge Lorenzo struggling at Motorland Aragon, Ben Spies carried the Yamaha banner to the front row, qualifying third on Saturday.
The first to break the six engine rule allotment (we should add, without a special dispensation) Valentino Rossi took his seventh motor of the season, and thus was relegated to starting from the pit lane, 10 seconds after the start of the Aragon GP. Perhaps the friendliest track to take such a manuvear, Ducati Corse is clearly not only thinking for the long-term of this season, but also for the 2012 season as well. How would starting from the rear affect the nine-time World Champion, and would Jorge Lorenzo continue his pursuit of Casey Stoner at Aragon? Find out after the jump.