The MotoGP schedule is already packed, the riders coming off a free weekend after completing one triple-header before embarking on the next, at Le Mans and Aragon twice.
But about half the MotoGP grid has an appointment on the Algarve before they start a weekend of racing at Le Mans.
On Wednesday and Thursday, thirteen full-time riders and seven test riders will take to the track at Portimao for a combined MotoGP test and track familiarization session.
The test serves several purposes: for the manufacturers to gather information about the track, and find a base setup and gearing to serve as a starting point for when MotoGP returns for the final round of the 2020 season; for Michelin, to get an idea of the kinds of tires needed at the circuit; and for the riders to assess the circuit in terms of safety and to understand the layout.
Episode 128 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is BONUS SHOW for this week, as Steve English and Gordon Ritchie join us on the mics from the WorldSBK pre-season test a Portimão.
For a treat as well, Alex Lowes and Chaz Davies join the show, with special interviews done trackside with Steve.
Eugene Laverty was second on the timesheets for both days in Portimao, and afterwards the Irishman declared that he was happy, confident, and aiming for wins from the opening round of the WorldSBK season.
“I feel a lot more confidence ahead of Phillip Island after this test,” said Laverty. “We’ve had six days on the bike now. The November test was just to get used to the Pirelli tyres again, and by the end of that test I was feeling ok with them.”
Having missed the Jerez test, the MV Agusta squad had plenty of work to do in Portimão. Their sole rider, Leon Camier, had a tremendous 2016 campaign, but in the face of regulation changes, he faces the daunting task of trying to make the F4 into competitive package once again.
The Englishman had seven Top 5 finishes last year, and 15 Top 10s, and helped to change the perception of the Italian squad. Previously, MV Agusta had been consistent under-performers and tail-enders in WorldSBK, but their form last year gave plenty of hope of revived fortunes.
The ban of split throttle bodies, which allowed the cylinders to be opened independently when accelerating, hit the team hard in their initial tests and it appears that over the last two months little progress has been made on the issue.
Episode 45 of the Paddock Pass Podcast begins the 2017 racing season, and tackles the pre-season tests for MotoGP and World Superbike, which were at the Sepang, Jerez, and Portimão circuits.
In this show, Steve English, and David Emmett take us through the happenings on and off the track at these events, and discuss who is looking ready for the 2017 season, and who still has some work left to do before the green flag waves.
To start things off, first we get David’s account of the MotoGP testing at Sepang, where we got a quasi-glimpse of what to expect from MotoGP’s new riders, as well as how teams are dealing with the new ban on winglets.
Next, the show turns to the World Superbike paddock, where Steve gets us up to speed on what happened at both pre-season tests on the Iberian Peninsula. With a bevy of riders coming into WorldSBK as well as some shuffling of machinery, there’s no shortage of topics in World Superbike as well.
With the long wait over the winter now over, we should be bringing you shows regularly once again. Stay tuned for our next episode, from the MotoGP test at Phillip Island.
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!
They say you should never underestimate the fight in a dirt-tracker, but after Portimao the dirt-tracker isn’t underestimating the fight ahead of him. After four days on the new Honda Fireblade, Nicky Hayden cast a downbeat figure at times, but the American is digging deep.
Armed with his renowned work ethic, the Ten Kate rider will be leaving no stone unturned in finding a solution, but after a troubled opening test, it went from bad to worse for the Dutch team.
“The first day was not a good day for us,” admitted Hayden. “I really don’t know how to sugar coat it any better. We’re really struggling with edge grip, the bike pumping, and not being stable on the exit of the corners. We never found a direction to go in and nothing really helped the problem.”
After their return to World Superbike in 2016, Yamaha did not shy away from admitting that there is plenty of work to be done to turn the YZF-R1 into a front-runner.
That work was certainly being undertaken at this week’s Jerez test, with Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes the busiest riders on track over the two days.
The pair completed a total of 283 laps of the Spanish circuit, and with a host of new parts on the bikes, it’s clear that the R1 should be more competitive in 2017.