2012 MotoGP Testing Time Comparison: Dovizioso Most Improved, CRT Bikes Making Most Progress

With the three days of testing at the MotoGP class' second visit to Sepang now over, some preliminary conclusions can be drawn on the progress or otherwise that the teams have been making over the course of the two tests. Below are two comparison tables: the first one compares the improvement shown by the riders over the three days of the Sepang 2 test, while the second table compares the best times from the Sepang 1 and Sepang 2 tests, and the difference between the two.

One of the patterns which emerges from both tables is that the factory teams appear to make the least progress. Casey Stoner only improved his time from day 1 by just under 1.3 seconds, less than half the improvement made by Andrea Dovizioso, and a second or more less than almost all of the satellite riders, while the factory riders have improved the least. Something similar is apparent when comparing progress between the two tests, with the factory riders mainly going slower in the second test than they did at the first test a month ago.

Clearly, the factory riders started from a stronger base. The factory teams know what is coming at the tests, and have more data to prepare a workable base setup for their riders. The satellite teams have to wait for parts and information from the factory teams, and the data gathered over the course of a test allows for big steps forward to be made in setup. Factory teams are also working on real testing, trying out new parts and seeing whether they provide better feedback. For the satellite teams, they are mainly focused on finding a race setup, and can focus on actual pace rather than comparing the differences between various parts.

Looking at both tables, Andrea Dovizioso showed excellent progress, but the Italian's injury is a major factor in his improvement. The Italian still had a weak shoulder at the first Sepang test, and so was unable to work on finding the right riding position and setup. That work was all condensed into the three days of the Sepang 2 test, but even then, taking 3 seconds off his time from day 1 to day 3 is impressive. 

That the CRT teams still have a lot of work to do is evidently abundant from the timesheets, but the improvements made by both the NGM Forward and Avintia BQR teams are also clear to see. Both Colin Edwards and Yonny Hernandez made major steps forward over the three days of testing at Sepang, but Edwards also took over a second off his best time between the two tests. Another brand new chassis from Suter - his 3rd since Valencia last year - made a big difference, getting rid of the worst of the chatter in the bike. But Edwards is still over 3 seconds behind the fastest riders - and 2 seconds off the satellite bikes at Sepang - so there is still a lot of progress needed if they are to be competitive.

Improvement over three days of Sepang test:

Rider Bike Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Improvement
Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 2:03.830 2:01.522 2:00.802 3.028
Hector Barbera Ducati GP0 2:03.612 2:01.989 2:01.231 2.381
Stefan Bradl Honda 2:03.820   2:01.492 2.328
Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:03.213 2:01.695 2:00.986 2.227
Colin Edwards Suter BMW 2:05.510 2:05.816 2:03.681 2.135
Yonny Hernandez FTR Kawasaki 2:08.767 2:08.213 2:06.632 2.135
Franco Battaini Ducati Test 2:05.563 2:03.566 2:03.490 2.073
Valentino Rossi Ducati GP12 2:03.245 2:02.130 2:01.550 1.695
Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:02.959   2:01.275 1.684
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:02.436 2:01.293 2:00.877 1.559
Ben Spies Yamaha 2:02.819 2:01.285 2:01.432 1.534
Nicky Hayden Ducati GP12 2:03.132 2:01.748 2:01.609 1.523
Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:02.005   2:00.648 1.357
Ivan Silva FTR Kawasaki 2:08.109 2:07.532 2:06.785 1.324
Casey Stoner Honda 2:01.761   2:00.473 1.288


Comparing times between Sepang 1 and Sepang 2:

Rider Bike Sepang 1 Sepang 2 Difference
Ivan Silva FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:08.225 2:06.785 - 1.440
Colin Edwards Suter BMW CRT 2:04.722 2:03.681 - 1.041
Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 2:01.257 2:00.802 - 0.455
Stefan Bradl Honda 2:01.894 2:01.492 - 0.402
Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:01.108 2:00.986 - 0.122
Nicky Hayden Ducati GP12 2:01.729 2:01.609 - 0.120
Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.384 2:01.275 - 0.109
Hector Barbera Ducati GP0 2:00.929 2:01.231 + 0.302
Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.256 2:00.648 + 0.392
Franco Battaini Ducati Test 2:03.033 2:03.490 + 0.457
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.198 2:00.877 + 0.679
Valentino Rossi Ducati GP12 2:00.824 2:01.550 + 0.726
Casey Stoner Honda 1:59.607 2:00.473 + 0.866
Ben Spies Yamaha 2:00.495 2:01.432 + 0.937
Jordi Torres FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:10.184    
Karel Abraham Ducati GP0 2:02.218    
Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:02.334    
Robertino Pietri FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:09.640    
Yonny Hernandez FTR Kawasaki CRT   2:06.632  


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The factory riders who made the least improvement are the aliens. They are aliens because they are able to get to the limit quicker than the others so it shouldn't be surprising that they improve their times the least. They are always looking for 1000ths and 100ths of seconds of improvement rather than 10ths or even seconds.

What surprised me about Dovi was his initial "slow" pace but he now seems to be where he should be, up the front with the factory riders. He was hard done by at HRC and I hope he rubs it in their face this year by taking some good results away from them.

Great to see improvements for the CRTs. We know that currently they will easily be distanced at the longer, faster tracks but here's hoping they can improve enough to be up close on the tighter, more technical circuits. If they can even get their noses in front of some of the satellite bikes by a little it will be great to see the skills come into play because I think they may prove tough to pass given the riding standard of the likes of CE. Fingers crossed .

1. Andrea and how quickly his numbers on the Yamaha have turned competitive.

2. Stephan Bradl and his rate of speed increase, you'd swear the track conditions were the same at Sepang two and Sepang one on those numbers.

3. Stoners sub two minute lap at Sepang one.

I think Dovi has always been this competitive, however since Sepang I his collarbone has drastically improved in strength and comfort. Add the fact that he's on the same bike as Jorge and Ben, and the numbers are quite reasonable.

I'm really hoping that Yamaha feeds Dovi new parts/updates at the same time as Ben/Jorge very similar to the factory arrangement with Gresini last year. It would be nice to see Yamaha apply the same tactic, and a tactic I've been pulling for for a long time...equal machinery among same manufacture riders.

Part of the reason Honda looked so strong in 2011 was that they had 4 of the top 5-7 riders, all on full strength bikes, not the artificially nobbled stuff that has been fed to satellite teams for the last few years.
Jorge's strong season (up to injury) aside, Yamaha were made to look a little silly by their Japanese colleagues. Hopefully they might consider feeding proper equipment to Dovi, who is at the very least "almost" up there with the top guys and is generally very consistent. If Dovi ends up on on equal equipment to the factory team, Spies will need to lift his game over his lacklustre 2011.