The testing season is nearly done. The MotoGP grid assembles in Qatar for three final days of testing, in preparation for the season ahead. Much has already been done, but there is still a lot of work to get through.
Every factory, every team, every rider has things they want to try, in the hope of improving their chances in 2017. In most cases, those are just minor details, the nuances and finesses that will give hundredths of a second, not tenths. But not always.
There are always a couple of last-minute gambles to take, big ticket items that need one last decision. At Qatar this year, it is Honda’s turn to make a big decision, on which spec of engine to use for the season.
They tested one spec at Valencia, then another one at Sepang and Phillip Island, and at a one-day private test at Jerez.
It looks like they have made their decision, to go with the revised big bang engine tested for the first time at Sepang. But the cool air and hard acceleration of Qatar will be the deciding factor.
To double check, they will be bringing an extra engine to give to Jack Miller, the Marc VDS Honda rider, who has so far only used the Valencia engine.
If the Repsol riders, LCR’s Cal Crutchlow, and Jack Miller all agree, then HRC will pull the trigger on their latest engine, and race with it in 2017.
Can we just have every race at Phillip Island? That’s certainly what a lot of fans will be thinking after a thrilling opening weekend of World Superbike action.
The tension that has simmered between Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies over the winter came to the fore over the weekend, and once again it is these two riders fighting it out for wins.
The second race of the World Superbike season saw history made, with the introduction of the much touted revised grid that saw the podium men from Race 1 start from the third row.
This meant that Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies, and Tom Sykes had to fight through the field during the 22-lap affair.
It proved little challenge for Rea and Davies to hit the front, but ultimately Sykes lost too much time making progress, and abused his tires trying to bridge the gap to the leading group.
That leading group consisted of three Ducati’s, a Kawasaki and a Yamaha with the Italian horde of Davies, Marco Melandri, and Xavi Fores – all taking turns at the head of the train.
Episode 46 of the Paddock Pass Podcast covers the MotoGP test at Phillip Island, with David Emmett and Neil Morrison covering the second-to-last pre-season test before the start of the 2017 Grand Prix Championship.
Of course the talk of the test is the brewing rivalry between Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales, with the Yamaha factory riders showing impressive speed in Australia. Unsurprisingly, the mind games have already started for the season.
Aerodynamics is of course a topic of interest, with Aprilia, Suzuki, and Yamaha showing their aero packages already. We will still have to wait and see what the remaining factories come up with…or don’t, as the case might be.
KTM might be one of the factory teams without advanced aerodynamics this season, with the Austrian brand having bigger fish to fry in order to get the KTM RC16 better prepared for Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
David and Neil also shed some much needed light on the satellite riders, especially the rookie riders, as the bevy of factory teams has made the competition for the private teams much closer and more difficult.
The show wraps up with the various development efforts Dorna is undertaking to bring in new riders, from different nationalities, into Grand Prix racing, which will be something for fans to keep an eye on as the fruits of that labor ripen.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
WorldSBK came back with a bang in the opening round of the 2017 season. With five different leaders, and four manufacturers in the scrap for the podium the Phillip Island crowd was treated to a superb season opener that eventually saw Jonathan Rea come out on top.
The Northern Irishman edged the win from Chaz Davies, after a race that saw the field race with one eye on tire conservation and the other on their rivals.
Afterwards Rea compared the 22-lap affair to a cycling race, where everyone tried to shadow their rivals rather than show their true pace. With that being the case it allowed the likes of Alex Lowes and Leon Camier to fight at the front, and the Yamaha rider came within a whisker of the podium.
Our trained World Superbike reporter, Kent Brockman, has his eye on the World Superbike Paddock, and is ever vigil for the next big
braking breaking story.
Submitting a lengthy preview of what to expect from the 2017 WorldSBK season, we have broken it up into two parts in order to
make more money whet your appetite ahead of this weekend’s season-opener at Phillip Island. -JB
Jonathan Rea has topped the final World Superbike test of the 2017 preseason, a few days before the season kicks off in earnest at Phillip Island.
The reigning champion was fastest in the morning session, though he had to cede top spot to Marco Melandri in the afternoon. But the Kawasaki man had gone fast enough in the morning to just edge the Ducati of Melandri, and end the test as fastest overall.
Chaz Davies was third fastest, three tenths off the time of his Ducati teammate Melandri, but still ahead of the Kawasaki if Tom Sykes. Xavi Fores made it three Ducatis in the top five, while Leon Camier put the MV Agusta into 6th place, in what is a promising start to the 2017 season.