MotoGP Riders Pan New Chicane at Barcelona Test

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What had originally been planned as a two-day private test for Ducati grew into something rather larger, with Honda and Aprilia also joining the fray.

At the end of two days, it was Marc Marquez who ended the test as fastest, a couple of tenths quicker than Jorge Lorenzo on the Ducati, while Alvaro Bautista was third fastest on the Aspar bike. 

The test at Barcelona gave the riders a chance to test two of the most important changes for the series. First, the new, much shorter chicane being used instead of the F1 chicane, replacing Turn 12 where Luis Salom tragically lost his life during practice last year.

And second, the riders got a chance to test the stiffer front tire (the ’70’) which will be used from Mugello onwards, and will therefore be used in Barcelona during the race.

The verdict on the chicane was universal, and the language used to describe it colorful and filled with expletives. Aleix Espargaro was the least unprintable of the riders there, telling’s Neil Morrison, “It’s not fun to ride.”

The Barcelona track had once been one of the best in the world to ride, Espargaro said, and now it was just another track.

MotoGP would be OK, Espargaro’s Aprilia team mate Sam Lowes said, but it would cause carnage in Moto2 and especially Moto3, if a large group of riders tried to all get through there at the same time.

Jorge Lorenzo believed Honda would gain the most from the new chicane, as the RC213V is shorter and more agile than either the Ducati or the Yamaha. Whether Lorenzo is correct or not, both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez managed to crash at the new chicane, though both were only low-speed spills.

For more rider reaction to the chicane, as well as video of the chicane, read the full story Neil Morrison wrote on it.

Reaction to the new front tire was very much as expected. Those that had liked it at the Jerez test liked it in Barcelona. Those who didn’t like it in Jerez didn’t like it in Barcelona.

Andrea Dovizioso repeated that the feeling didn’t really much change between the two tires, while Jorge Lorenzo said he hadn’t liked the tire much. The stiffer front was more sensitive to bumps, and needed more work to get temperature into it. 

A lot of riders also did long runs on the tires, checking tire wear at the track which is notorious for wrecking race rubber.

“After three laps, the tire has a big drop,” Dovizioso said. Both front and rear tires suffer heavy wear, but the Italian was confident that testing had brought a solution, and pleased with the tires Michelin had brought to the test.

Ducati had brought some new parts to the test for both riders to test, which Jorge Lorenzo was happy with. The parts had helped make the engine a little more manageable, though the main aim was to find a setup that worked at the track. 

What Ducati had not brought was a new aerodynamic fairing. The lack of a new fairing suggests that Ducati is still stuck in the development phase, after having abandoned its initial design debuted at the Qatar test.

Replacing the winglets, regaining downforce without sacrificing too much top speed and corner stability, is proving to be more difficult than expected.

Aprilia had brought their aerodynamics package, with Aleix Espargaro testing the fairing that Sam Lowes had used at Le Mans. They also had a new, improved seamless gearbox to test, along with some changes to the electronics. Both Espargaro and Lowes viewed the test as positive.

The second day of the test saw the contracted riders on track. Test riders Casey Stoner and Michele Pirro had ridden on Tuesday, with Pirro staying on for Wednesday. 

Below are the times from the test. They should perhaps come with a caveat: according to Neil Morrison, who was at the test, the new chicane was catching a lot of riders out, with riders running wide and off track. Whether such times would be allowed to stand by Race Direction remains to be seen.

MotoGP Results from the Barcelona GP Test, Combined Morning and Afternoon Sessions:

Pos. Rider Bike Time Diff. Prev.
1 Marc Márquez Honda 1:43.803
2 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1:43.998 0.195 0.195
3 Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1:44.258 0.455 0.260
4 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1:44.369 0.566 0.111
5 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:44.373 0.570 0.004
6 Hector Barbera Ducati 1:44.469 0.666 0.096
7 Michele Pirro Ducati 1:44.583 0.780 0.114
8 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:44.852 1.049 0.269
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:45.196 1.393 0.344
10 Loris Baz Ducati 1:45.281 1.478 0.085
12 Tito Rabat Honda 1:45.321 1.518 0.040
12 Sam Lowes Aprilia 1:46.298 2.495 0.977
13 Karel Abraham Ducati 1:47.121 3.318 0.823

Photo: Ducati Corse

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.