A number of the MotoGP teams have had a busy test at the Aragon circuit over the past two days. This is the test that played a role in not being able to move the Silverstone race to the Monday, a public holiday in the UK, as the trucks needed to travel the 2000km from Towcester to Alcañiz and set up ready for testing.
On Wednesday, Suzuki, Yamaha, and KTM were the factories taking to the track, with the Pramac Ducati squad also present. Thursday saw Yamaha and Pramac depart to make way for the factory Ducati squad. The teams were met with much better weather than at Silverstone, allowing two full days of testing, with the track improving as it got cleaned up with bikes circulating.
No press releases were issued after the test, though plenty of riders posted images on social media (such as Jorge Lorenzo, Maverick Viñales, Alex Rins, Bradley Smith, and KTM substitute test rider Randy De Puniet). But Italian website GPOne.com spoke to Alma Pramac team manager Francesco Guidotti after the test.
The roles in Pramac varied. Jack Miller had nothing to test, and focused on setup for the race weekend. Danilo Petrucci, however, was there in part as factory tester, preparing the ground for the factory team, who rode on Wednesday. Times released by the team gave Miller a fastest lap of 1’48.8, while Petrucci managed a 1’49.1.
For reference, Dani Pedrosa’s fastest lap during last year’s race was1’49.140, while Maverick Viñales’ pole time was 1’47.635. Those times are still well short of the times set on Bridgestones in 2015: Marc Márquez holds the pole record with 1’46.635, and Jorge Lorenzo holds the fastest race lap at the track, with a 1’48.120.
The Movistar Yamaha team had a very busy day, putting in as many laps as possible. They are said to have been working mainly on race setup, but in Austria, Yamaha had promised a larger upgrade to test at the Aragon test. It is unknown whether they got to that, but the fact that both Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi put in so many laps suggests that they had more to do than just race setup.
There was a new face in the factory Yamaha garage. Jonas Folger was present at the test, though not riding, further fueling speculation that Folger is to be the official test rider in Yamaha’s European MotoGP test team. Folger’s role with Yamaha is made more likely as Bradley Smith is edging closer to an official deal as test rider for Aprilia.
On Thursday, the factory Ducati team took the place of Pramac and Movistar Yamaha, with Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo taking to the track, alongside official test rider Michele Pirro. The factory Ducati riders were mainly concentrating on setup for the race there in just over three weeks’ time, an important task, given that Aragon is one of Lorenzo’s favorite and best tracks. It is also a track where Ducati have traditionally struggled, their only win there coming in 2010 with Casey Stoner.
They certainly have good pace, if the unofficial times are to be believed. According to GPOne.com, Jorge Lorenzo matched Maverick Viñales’ pole time from last year, with a 1’47.6, while Andrea Dovizioso set a fastest time of 1’48.0.
The test also brought bad news for Ducati, though for the Aruba.it WorldSBK team. Chaz Davies fell while riding a supermoto bike at the circuit – on the collarbone he recently injured in a mountain bike accident before the World Ducati Week in July.
The Welshman suffered a minor fracture of the right collarbone, and is being treated in hospital. At the moment, it is not clear whether he will be fit for the Portimao round of WorldSBK on September 16th, but Ducati currently expect him to be racing there.
Photo: © 2018 Philip Platzer / KTM – All Rights Reserved