2013 Jerez MotoGP Test Saturday Round Up: Rain Tires, A Special Marquez, and Crutchlow's Future

It rained today in Jerez. Boy did it rain. The heavens were open for much of the day, with the intensity of the rain varying between a light drizzle and an absolute deluge, sending people scurrying for cover when the skies darkened too much. A few brave souls ventured out to put in laps, but they did not last very long in the conditions. Until around 3pm, that is, when the rain let up, at least for an hour or so, and everyone took to the track. For two hours, testing was at full tilt, before the rain returned to chase most of the MotoGP men back into the pits.

Though having that much rain is hardly what the riders ordered, it still has its advantages. "It's good to be able to test on a fully wet track," Wilco Zeelenberg said after testing. "Normally, it's that half-wet, half-dry stuff, which is hopeless." Real work could be done on a wet set up, and lessons learned for 2013.

One of those lessons proved to be that the rain tires Bridgestone brought to Jerez are not as hardy as they may need to be. "The performance drops a lot after six, seven laps," Valentino Rossi told the press, explaining that the center of the tire wears very quickly. He was not the only one to complain: all of the factory riders, along with Cal Crutchlow, complained of the same thing. They had all destroyed two sets of rain tires in just a couple of hours, and with just four sets of rain tires to last the three days, they would not be able to manage if it rains on all three days.

The reason the tires are being destroyed is fairly simple: the asphalt at Jerez is extremely abrasive, and provides an awful lot of grip even in the wet - the fact that Jorge Lorenzo's fastest time on a fully wet track was just 8 seconds off the dry race lap record speaks volumes of how much grip there is in the wet. Combine that with the fact that the extra horsepower provided by the 1000cc MotoGP machines means they require a different riding style, standing the bike up much earlier to get the bike onto the fat part of the tire and using the extra acceleration of the bike. In the wet, the extra power and the stand-it-up-early riding style is shredding the rear quickly, especially on the abrasive Jerez circuit. At greasy tracks like Le Mans or Sepang, that won't be so much of a problem.

Speaking of standing it up, I spent some time at the hairpin, before the front straight, watching the riders during the busiest part of the day. I had gone specifically to watch Marc Marquez, having heard reports from people in Sepang of his extraordinary riding style. There, it was the fact that the young Spanish prodigy was starting to tip the bike in while his rear wheel was still in the air, something that was impossible in the wet conditions at Jerez.

At Jerez, what makes him special was visible on corner exit: it was clear that Marquez was getting on the gas earlier than any of the other riders, standing the bike up early to grab as much drive as possible. But how he did that was remarkable: accelerating hard shortly after the apex, he seemed to be using the tendency of the bike to fling itself outward to help get the bike upright, before catching it and giving it even more throttle, accelerating even harder before getting completely upright and firing off down the straight. It looked eerily similar to catching a highside, using the centripetal force of the bike to help get it stood up, done twice in short succession on the exit of the corner.

LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl was using a similar style, but where Bradl seemed to be using a lot of physical effort to get the bike upright, Marquez looked to be letting the bike do all the work. It is a risky strategy, because if the bike does too much work, then Marquez could easily find himself on a flyby of the International Space Station, but it is similar to the method he used in Moto2, where he won by exiting corners faster. It is also reminiscent of the man he replaced, Casey Stoner. Stoner's style looked ragged and aggressive, but it was only the bike that moved around when Stoner rode it, the Australian himself sat perched smoothly and calmly aboard the bike. Marquez is much the same: he looks wild, spectacular, but look just at his body, and he is in total control, not expending much effort at all.

I also had time to watch Valentino Rossi at the hairpin, and good place to watch riders under braking and getting the bike to turn. It was a totally different prospect to the man I watched on the Ducati, exuding confidence, pleasure, looking totally at ease on the bike. Rossi's problem is that he is still two seconds behind his teammate, and a second behind the two Repsol Hondas, but it is hard to compare times precisely. Though Rossi was effusive in his praise of his teammate, pointing out that a 1'47 lap in conditions like that is an extraordinary feat, but he also said that timing of laps was crucial. Going out with a new tire at just the right time, when the standing water and rivulets crossing the track had disappeared, was key to turning a fast lap, and Rossi had not got that combination right. It is not something you can plan for, with only four sets of rain tires, and wasting a set of tires just to chase a fast lap was not worth it.

He had also had a recurrence of the electrical problem he had suffered in Sepang. Rossi fans had feared that the Italian had inherited the bad juju which had plagued Ben Spies when he was in the garage next to Jorge Lorenzo, after a series of niggles had halted progress in Sepang. But Rossi told reporters that his problems were down to a single part, rather than the multiple problems Spies seemed to suffer. Rossi's problem kept on rearing its ugly head, and neither Yamaha nor his crew had found a solution to it just yet. The problem being down to just a single part is hopeful, meaning that it should at least be something which can be fixed.

Rossi was also full of praise for both Michele Pirro and Andrea Iannone. Pirro's fast time was to be expected, he said, given the number of laps Pirro had done and the tires he appeared to be using. But Iannone being so fast - the Pramac Ducati man ended the day in 4th, ahead of both Pirro and Rossi himself, and half a second off the time of Pedrosa - that was something impressive, Rossi said.

Cal Crutchlow had a lot to say after the first day of testing, though not much of it had to do with the testing itself. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man made no secret of his disappointment at the gap between his bike and the factory Yamahas, and Yamaha's chosen strategy of having clearly different levels of development between the satellite and factory machines. At Honda, the approach is different: all four bikes start the season in almost identical trim, the factory machines getting upgrades first, with satellite bikes following a few races later. That was not the case at Yamaha, Crutchlow said. "My bike is basically the same bike which Lorenzo started last season on," he said, adding that they were a year or more behind the factory team.

The bikes of Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were identical to the Repsol bikes, Crutchlow said, joking that even Bautista's suspension was the same. The Gresini team are using Showa, rather than Ohlins suspension, but Bautista's bike was using "Ohlins painted black" Crutchlow quipped. The Tech 3 man accepted that this was what he had to fight the season with, but said he was disappointed in the lack of support from Yamaha. "If I'm even half competitive with what I've got, if they give me something else I could be even more competitive," he said, but he wouldn't bother asking for updates. "Yamaha have a clear policy, a factory team is a factory team, and a satellite team is a satellite team."

This lack of support, in Crutchlow's eyes, could have consequences. If Yamaha needed help to fend off the challenges from Marquez and Pedrosa, Crutchlow was not inclined to be supportive. "I have no interest in helping anyone," Crutchlow said. "Why should I? I'm not contracted to Yamaha." Crutchlow had signed to return at Tech 3 for this season on the tacit understanding that he would get more support. That has not been forthcoming, in his opinion, and so the Englishman is likely to leap at the first chance of a factory ride that he gets. With the Yamaha and the Honda seats full, that will have to be elsewhere. Though it is very, very early days, it appears that Crutchlow's time with Yamaha will not extend much beyond this season.

Testing continues at Jerez on Sunday, and the concerns over the lack of rain tires look set to be unfounded. Right now, some time after 1am on Saturday night local time, the skies are clear and the stars are out. Rain could fall in the morning, but it will be only a smattering, not a full-on downpour. Sunday could finally see some dry track time for the MotoGP men. The times set in the wet today may have been interesting, but they are hardly a reflection of the real standing in the paddock. Tomorrow, we should know more.

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I suspect that he will hit orbit this year, at least once, perhaps more. Testing is one area to be in control, its a different thing with 1000cc and people pushing you. Casey did it, Jorge did it. Will we see Marquez on crutches getting on his bike and doing magically this year?

MM is scary. Your analysis of his riding is extremely interesting.

Wasn't it KR senior who remarked that "Let's watch out if he ever perfects that" about an observation on how Spencer had daylight under both wheels?

Won't be surprised if the other three are making similar thoughts/remarks on MM's performance at the moment...

to hear Cal bitching about the hardware before the season has even started. If it's not the brakes, it's the shocks. If not the shocks, then ??? Dude's head seems to be in somewhat the wrong place.

Looking forward to a less-wet Sunday and hopefully dry Monday session to round out the testing.

If he lives up to half the preamble he'll still be a multi time world champ. To compare him to Stoner or Spencer before he's turned a wheel in anger seems a touch premature to me. Sure he's talented, but so are the guys already there who have A LOT more experience. Im not saying he wont be good, but how he measures up against the true aliens remains to be seen. Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Rossi aren't exactly cannon fodder for rookies.

And Crutchlow needs to shut his yap and win some races.

It's fair enough to compare MM to Casey. There's one thing both do that gave them advantage - they both get on the gas earlier than other riders. Where Casey was concerned this was pretty much documented that on every track, data showed he got on the gas earlier and harder on corner exit than pretty much all other riders - that's if he got off the gas at all [insert smiley]

Don't see why people being so hard on Cal. He wants the go faster bits, those bits at this level can be the difference between a podium or an also-ran. It must be frustrating for him to have such megastars in the Yamaha Factory team, he's not one to just grin and bear it, and this I think is good. You want to hear riders passionate about their sport, he's not whinging, he's illustrating what he's getting from Yamaha and what he's not and how that makes him feel.

Personally I'd prefer to see him in the #2 seat at Yamaha than the old warhorse, but who knows when/if that will ever happen.

Oh - and Go Crazy Joe. I really want to see him do well this year!

Great Analysis David of the riding styles.
Such a pity we won't see the two great riding artisans of the modern era, race each other.

Yamaha should be providing similar equipment, particularly at the start of the season.

Firstly, Crutchlow's frustration with the lack of support from Yamaha is absolutely understandable, especially when better support was one of the reasons why he signed with Tech3 again (aside from other doors being slammed shut). Hopefully this will improve throughout the season, it'll make for better racing.

But I'm getting rather annoyed with Cal's tendency to always point out what other riders did or what material they have, in each and every single one of his interviews, no matter how valid it is. There's always a sentence like "the others used more/fresh/better tyres", "the others got this upgrade", "the others went just for one fast lap" or even "that rider was just lucky" etc etc etc. Always. I get the impression that he seems to know more about what other riders are working on and what material they have than those riders themselves, some of whom might even be surprised to hear what kind of support they're allegedly getting.

Cal is doing well enough with the material he has and everyone knows that he's not getting the same support as the factory team, but he seems to feel the need to preemptively excuse or boost up every result he gets. I find that a tad gratuitous.

People say Crutchlow needs to shut his yap win some races...you really think a Sattelite rider can do that ahead of Factory guys like Jorge, Dani, VR, not to mention MM ? You might as well say Spies needs to get a win this year and redeem himself, cause that's just about as likely.

You just mentioned would be a chance to win a race given the same equipment. But Cal needs to just let his riding do the talking. Dovizioso handed him his arse last year.on the same bike.

anyone to do something you cannot/will not do yourself.
That's a pretty good saying.
I doubt that many people on this site have half the talent that any MGP rider has and to tell someone like Crutchlow to 'man up' is, IMHO, somewhat disrespectful to the man. His consistent improvement and growing maturity as a rider is one reason why Tech3 re-signed him.
Much the same was being said about Smith at the end of last season - what had he done to deserve the ride etc. Well, Tech 3 know and Smith has already proven that their judgement was sound.
Crutchlow's outspokenness is a breath of fresh air. Hayden has total respect for doing the opposite. It would be a boring series if everyone toed the party line, and we would know very little about what it really takes to ride these bikes at anything like race-winning pace.
It seems that all of these guys are on the very edge of disaster, consistently, for 20-odd laps. If they are 6 tenths behind they are 'way off the pace'. That's amazing. That level of near-perfect performance carries huge risk and you need the very best (not second near-best) to do it and run at the front.
Would we have a clue about what makes these differences if someone like Crutchlow didn't tell us? He has his own agenda (incl. to change Yamaha) and I hope he succeeds in everything he is trying to do.
I also hope that the top 5 or 6 riders can be a lot closer come race day when outright speed/top equipment counts for less that racecraft and bravery.
MM is amazing, it seems. The others all deserve huge respect too.

Not the sort of attitude an exsisting or potential employer wants to hear, What? you don't think the equipment we're giving you is good enough?
Cal worried about what everyone else has got before the seasons even started???
Sounds like he's beaten already!

If Yamaha are leasing last years bike to Tech3, that sucks for Tech3, their sponsors, and their riders.

Cal has always liked to get his excuses in first.

Cal has a fair point. He was promised better support, which hasn't happend. Why aren't all the Yamaha riders starting off on the same equipment, like Honda ? That's a very important question if you find yourself aboard a satelite Yamaha.... and which rider doesn't want the best possible ?
If one of the Yamaha factory riders has a problem and doesn't finish a race (which WILL happen) who contributes to the points in the manufacturers standings ? A satelite Yamaha, thats who.
Good on him for being honest and open and not regurgitating PR pre-written scripted limp interviews...
Go Cal !!!!!!!!

Cal is interesting in many ways and I am certainly glad he has more about him than the tedious tinies from Spain but his statements are just as boring.

To suggest he ONLY resigned with Yamaha Tech3 on the promise of support is ludicrous, basically he had little other choice.

It is getting as predictable as the tedious tinies thanking their sponsors, hearing Crutch's moaning at everything/anything. He is unlikely to ingraciate himself to Yamaha, especially with comments assuring them he will not help them fight Honda. Given Honda presumably want Gresini to test Showa it seems impolitic to cast aspersions on their 'honesty'. He was very critical of Ducati after their flirting last year, going so far as to call them names in best playground style. Given all this, just which factory does he hope will employ him?

I lost a fair amount of respect that he allowed 'normal' fans to pay for brake discs he convinced himself desperately needed. Comparitive financial positions alone suggests he should've paid for them himself. Regardless, it would be shame if he was exciled, Biaggi-esque, for I'll advised complaining. I'd like him to remain independent, honest and out-spoken but if he can only do so by coming up with a new way to reiterate an old moan, I'd rather he just thank his sponsors.

Needs to keep telling it like he sees it! Are we so inured to heartfelt thoughtful comment in this age of corporate-speak that we automatically brand someone who speaks his mind, with no filters, a complainer?! It was the same with Casey. C'mon, people, appreciate not only the blokes who talk straight but the reporters who'll write/print what is said.

With a rapidly growing number of people out of work through no fault of their own, it is hard to read some of Crutchlow's comments and not think "just another whinging Pom." Bit like Barry Sheene's thick excuse book actually. But unlike the late Barry, Crutchlow does not have factory equipment - which we all know. So we can perhaps forgive him for a few moans, just don't let it become a stuck record. What Yamaha does and doesn't do regarding the supply of race bikes is Yamaha's business. About the only era of racing in which having a private Yamaha was a good thing was in the 1970s - the era of the TZ250/350 & 750 (forget that awful TZ500 though). However, with the 'green' agenda driving racing, don't expect a return to that era of affordable race bikes that anyone can buy. Let's face it, GP road racing is now even more exclusive (as opposed to inclusive) than ever. In the earlier multi-cylinder four-stroke era (1950s-'60s) there were more manufacturers involved and five racing classes, so there were many more factory rides available so good riders did not have to bribe their way into a race team - they got paid to race. Racing now is in the worst state it has been since the advent of the world championship series in 1949.

was another rider who would let the bike do its own thing under him while he just focused on keeping his bodyweight where he wanted it. It certainly seems to work.