Jerez MotoGP Test Round Up: Redding Reveals Ducati Dominance, And Where Honda Is Going Wrong

So, testing is over and the winter test ban can start. Riders who intend to race in 2016 are banned from testing between 1st December 2015 and 31st January 2016. Engineers now have a long winter ahead of them to try to make sense of the data gathered at the test at Valencia and Jerez, or else send their test riders out in the chill of winter, as Aprilia intend to do at Jerez in a few weeks. Those engineers have an awful lot of work ahead of them.

The men and women at Ducati will be getting the most time off over the holiday period. It is clear from the first two tests that the Italian factory has hit the ground running with the new unified software, and have the systems working relatively well. One Ducati engineer reckoned that they were already at about 50% of the potential of the software, far more than the 10% MotoGP's Director of Technology Corrado Cecchinelli had estimated at Valencia. The fact that Scott Redding topped the final day of testing at Jerez on the Pramac Ducati GP15, a couple of tenths faster than Marc Márquez and the only rider to crack into the 1'38s, is proof enough that Ducati have the situation under control. (For a full list of unofficial times, see below).

Redding's Rocket

Redding has been impressive throughout the test, and was a very happy rider after Friday. "The good thing for me is that I feel comfortable on the bike," Redding said. "I know what's going to happen. Today I nearly crashed at the last corner because I tried to force the front a bit but it didn’t want to. The bike was talking to me. When you have a good feeling like this you also have a bit of confidence. You know what’s going to happen." Last year on the Honda, the RC213V did anything but talk to him. Whenever he tried to go faster, he would go slower. Now, on the GP15, he was fast, knew he could go faster if he pushed harder.

Redding was very happy, as were the Pramac team he is now riding for. Even more importantly, Ducati management were happy with Redding, Ducati's MotoGP boss Davide Tardozzi singing Redding's praises to journalists. Redding's teammate Danilo Petrucci was fast too: a quarter of a second off the pace of the Englishman, but just a few hundredths slower than Marc Márquez. Both Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso were nearly as fast after just one day of testing as Márquez was on his second day.

Working smarter, not harder

What have Ducati done so right? It looks like they are reaping the benefits of their work with Avintia and the Open class Ducatis in 2015. Ducati's engineers have a solid understanding of how to use the unified software, at least, despite the major changes it has undergone for 2016. The new software, and the interface used to control and manage it, is based on last year's software, and so that experience is coming in handy.

That is where Honda is struggling. "The trouble is that we don't know this program," Dani Pedrosa said. "The technicians don't know this program, neither me or them. They need a lot of testing to find out and figure to arrive to the point we want, or figure out what we need." The problem is the same at Aprilia, who were focused on their own effort this year, and completely ignored the ART bike being run by the IODA team of Giampiero Sacchi. Aprilia barely touched the unified software at Jerez, despite this being their second test in November.

That experience with last year's software is beneficial could be an advantage for Yamaha too. Yamaha shirts were regularly seen in the Forward Racing garage, working with that team to get the best out of the Yamaha M1s being run by the team. That knowledge will transfer into both the factory Movistar Yamaha team and Tech 3, and should allow them to get up to speed with the electronics more quickly in 2016. With private testing limited to just five days for 2016, Yamaha elected not to test at Jerez, preferring to save their test days for the season next year. That is a luxury which Honda have already foregone.

Cruder software needs better hardware

With the electronics now more crude, engines are becoming more difficult to control. This, in turn, is benefiting Ducati, the Desmosedici having a more user-friendly nature, despite its massive horsepower. This had meant Ducati had fewer problems with the electronics, as Andrea Dovizioso explained. "We didn't have any big problem, but it's different from what we use before," the Italian said. "You have to ride very smoothly, especially in the middle of the corner when you have the maximum angle. There is less control than what we used before." This again should also benefit the Yamaha, once they take to the track.

It certainly didn't help Honda. The aggressive nature of the RC213V and HRC's lack of experience with the unified software saw Marc Márquez thrown violently from his bike early on Friday. "The highside was really strange," Márquez said. "Really strange, because it was not a corner that you open the gas more, you just keep the gas steady and in one point I lose the rear really quickly. This never happened to me in MotoGP, I never had this experience, but now I was more careful in this corner." The place where Márquez crashed was fast, Turn 3 or Doohan corner. "I went in with some gas. I was consistent with the gas, but in one moment I lose the rear wheel in a really aggressive way, and then I fly! Maybe we have to understand better these new electronics," he said.

That crash happened with Honda's new engine, which was an improvement, but was still aggressive and powerful. After three days of testing, both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez felt the new engine had more potential, but it was still not completely where it needed to be. They were both uncertain whether Honda had enough time to build a new engine ready for the Sepang test in early February, but there were still some avenues open for exploration. "We must work on the mechanical side to try to avoid some problems, because by electronics, some problems we have will be difficult," Márquez said. "Honda must work on the mechanical side, to try to be smoother, to try to gain on the acceleration."

Falling at the front

Acceleration was where Honda were struggling in 2015, but they had been able to get it all back in braking. That could be a much tougher ask with the Michelin front tires. "Looks like last year we lose in acceleration, we gain in the brake point. This year, still we are losing on the acceleration at the moment, and we cannot gain a lot on the brake point, because the Michelin tire is more in the limit, and is more difficult to find the limit." The front was not as strong as the Bridgestone had been. "In the last long run, in the last ten laps, I push and when you push all the laps on the brake point, you overheat the front and then it's easy to lose the front. So we have to find a way to gain on the exit and acceleration," Márquez said.

In that last long run, Márquez had suffered his second crash of the day. It had been entirely his own fault, he said. "We did the comparison with both engines and everything, and Honda asked for us to be on the limit to try to compare well, and the limit on the brake point with the Michelin is dangerous."

The problem with the Michelin is that it is hard to feel exactly where the limit is, Andrea Dovizioso explained. Again, they had been helped by the fact that both the Avintia and Pramac teams had already been testing, and had provided the factory team with data. That had helped improve the feeling with the front of the bike, but there was still room for improvement. "Overall, you have a good feeling when you ride, but you don't understand everything that happens," Dovizioso said.

Tire management matters

That made it hard to manage the front tire over the course of a race, he said. "We have a lot of grip on the rear, we can be really fast, but it's not easy to manage the front." The transition between braking and off the brakes was the risky part. "On braking, with braking, but also the critical point is when you touch the throttle. At maximum angle, when you unload the front, it's easy to lose the front. That's why it's not easy to manage, and we have to understand if we can improve this feeling."

It is no real surprise that Michelin tires should behave this way. When asked if the feeling was any different from Valencia, when they used different compounds, Dovizioso echoed the sentiments of Valentino Rossi, who had referred to the DNA of the Michelins being unchanged. "It doesn't matter the compound, the rubber, this is the characteristic of the tire," Dovizioso said.

There have been an awful lot of crashes on the Michelins, but this will start to diminish over time. The riders' riding habits are still infused a Bridgestone attitude, but this will have to change. The Bridgestone is big and stable, and that stability allows a rider to keep the front brake applied quite forcefully all the way to the apex. The Michelins are much more sensitive, and need riders to do much more of their braking in a straight line, pitching into the corner with a lot less brake, and not upsetting the bike through the corner until the bike is in a position to start to use the tremendous grip of the rear Michelin. Apply it too early, and with too much lean angle, and the rear can overpower the front and cause it to wash out. But be a little more patient, and you can exploit all that grip to get massive drive out of corners.

Lessons for the future

What the Jerez test has confirmed is what seemed apparent at Valencia. Though the RC213V can be quick for one lap, the Hondas are in trouble. The Michelins allow a bike with great acceleration to get out of the corners very quickly, but the front is much more critical when it comes to braking. That is diametrically opposite to what HRC's current design philosophy needs, Honda riders able to exploit outstanding braking into corners, and having to find a way to manage the lack of acceleration. More rear grip will definitely help the Hondas, but nowhere near as much as they will help the Ducatis and the Yamahas, bikes which already have fantastic drive out of corners.

The Jerez test also exposed two more of Honda's handicaps. Firstly, the engine is still too aggressive, making it much more unsettled through corners, again making it more difficult to manage the limit of a twitchy front tire. Secondly, the lack of experience and knowledge of the new unified software is making it harder for their engineers to calm the engine down using the electronics. HRC is full of incredibly smart people, but they need time to figure out how to get the best out of the bike.

This was also costing Pedrosa and Márquez track time during testing. They spent a long time sitting in the pits waiting for software changes to be made, as data engineers figured out how to make the adjustments to the electronics needed to achieve their intended bike behavior. You have to wonder whether HRC is starting to regret not putting more time and effort into supporting the Open class Hondas in 2015. They could have started 2016 with an idea of where to find solutions to their problems with the software. At the moment, the impression they make is of a factory which is floundering.

Unofficial times for the MotoGP riders at Jerez:

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 45 Scott Redding Ducati GP15 1:38.96    
2 93 Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 1:39.17 0.21 0.21
3 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP15 1:39.20 0.24 0.03
4 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP15 1:39.60 0.64 0.40
5 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP15 1:39.70 0.74 0.10
6 8 Hector Barbera Ducati GP14.2 1:39.90 0.94 0.20
7 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 1:39.93 0.97 0.03
8 76 Loris Baz Ducati GP14.2 1:40.20 1.24 0.27

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I would have thought the added rear grip would have helped the Honda get closer to the Y & D in acceleration. .

Perhaps that uber aggressive Honda engine is the root cause of them not being able to get on the gas early enough to be quick on the straight without washing out the front.

Honda has always seemed to chase max power at the expense of usability. Seems like it'll hurt them even more next year unless they do a major revision before the season starts

Ducatis engine strategy just gets more and more impressive

"if i had Bautistas bike i'd be top 3"-2014

Marc VDS bends over backwards and Redding gets a RCV!!

Qatar 2015: "I expect to be top 5, after a few races i will be fighting for top 3"

Scott Redding writes checks his A*# cant cash. He didnt get the job done in 2013 like he should have, Danny Kent did in 2015.

Every race Tito finishes ahead of Scott will be a win for Marc VDS. And it will happen more often then not.

... but Honda could have had Stoner out circulating on the new software (and possibly the michelins?) for most of 2015 - Suzuka injuries notwithstanding. It seems completely unbelievable to me that they would not have done extensive testing - even with their slow Japanese test riders - all through this year in preparation for this major change. If they are really so unfamiliar with the software as is suggested here, then it's a pretty major managerial oversight.

There is a tendency in motor racing (and life in general) for the dominant teams to rapidly turn into echo chambers. They have the best riders who are the most talented, the best engineers who are the smartest and the best hardware that's the fastest. All your strategies and development paths are correct and any opinions that don't support this can be disregarded, because you're winning so you're obviously right.
It's bitten Honda this year, they didn't listen to feedback and failed to address the RCV's weaknesses whilst Yamaha thoroughly addressed the M1's and Ducati continue to plug away at the Desmo. It hasn't been as bad as Ducati from 2009-13, but it has happened.
I don't think Honda are in as much trouble as people seem to think. Unlike this time last year Honda knows it's on the back foot, they know they don't have the best all around bike for racing. When HRC feels it's behind they bring a truly colossal amount on expertise and money to close that gap. They know they're behind on software, that the engine is too punchy and the front end too unreliable on the brakes. So they're going to spend the whole winter working to fix that.

It is still to early to say. If Honda is in trouble, how they finished Valencia test in first place? Still too aggressive engine? Look at the second part of the last season. I don't think it bothered Marc and Dani so much once Honda has sorted electronics.

Really sounds like Ducati is using their Satellite (and Open teams) as an asset, rather than something to forget. Probably why there's going to be so many Bolognese bikes on the grid next year, and why they keep the old GP14s circulating. A definite lesson for Honda (and probably Yamaha as well).

I haven't followed team politics as much as other aspects of the sport, and my serious fandom is a recent development, but I do already have the impression that Honda has not treated its riders well historically. They apparently have a knack for ignoring assets.

Ducati looks to be in as good a position as could be hoped for. Three different versions of the bike on track, and what - nine? ten? of the world's best riders in all shapes and sizes, including a World Champion who apparently sees corner topography in Matrix bullet-time, means piles of data and feedback. Gigi's going to have to hire extra guys just to sort his e-mails and run between all the garages with thumb drives.

If Stoner does a wild card race, I hope it's one I can get to. I never saw him on track and I'd love to see how he handles being a "Brand Ambassador". :D

It's nice for Redding to be hyped once again, but that's what it is. Hype. He has never delivered on any of it and never will. A few seasons on the Ducati in the lower midfield and he will be off to superbikes like Hayden. I'm looking forward to hearing his excuses when he gets beaten time and again by mister Petrucci.

As for Michelin, I'm not liking what I'm hearing. The Bridgestone front had a perfect balance between going all out and saving them for later in the race, both were viable strategies. From the sounds of it now only saving will become the de facto strategy which will detract from the racing. This is what completely ruined F1 so Michelin and Dorna better think carefully about this...

I don't understand the criticism of Scott Redding? He came close to winning the Moto2 title and was clipped by injury. He rode the open class Honda to good results considering the bike's limitations. He struggled to adapt to the satellite Honda yes, but it was obvious it didn't suit him almost from the start.
He had a good test for Ducati prior to moving to MotoGP, he seems to have gelled with the GP15 quite well, who can say what he can achieve now?
Racing is all about confidence at any level, once you begin to struggle, if you can't find an answer pretty quickly you are doomed to fail unless you change something radically.
Valentino didn't become a bad rider when he signed for Ducati but his confidence waned, he knew he had to change something, as he did when he parted with Jeremy Burgess.
It's all in the head and a boost to your confidence works wonders.

Some unusual negativity on this thread. I like Scott, as he's got some much needed character and a bit of swagger at times.

2015 was definitely an off year, but as you've said, the prior couple of seasons he's been pretty impressive. Hope he gels well with the Duc.

I think Petrucci is a definite star in the making, so he'll have a good stiff challenge to face there. Petrucci's wet weather performances have always been super impressive and that is the sign of a rider with a good feel and lots of potential (Vermeulen maybe being the exception)

Roll on 2016, Pramac is in for a good year as long as the GP16 isn't vastly superior to the GP15

Vermeulen had all the potential in the world, he just gave it to Suzuki. 1 win and a handful of podiums and poles makes him Suzuki's most successful rider of the Moto GP era. Watching make overtakes on the grass at the old Assen of all places in SBK was something quite special.

seems like most of the negativity is from mcn rejects that have no clue what they are talking about.
i have always seen scott to be a great talent and i am pretty sure marquez said that he was worried about scott on a factory bike.
it didnt happen in 2015.. so what
honda didn't help scott one bit and you could see the frustration building from early season.
im willing to give the lad the benefit of the doupt.
ducati seem to see something in him. so i guess they would be a bit more qualified than you lot jumping on the scotts... outta his depth bandwagon.
thanks for a great seasons write-ups David 2016 is looking interesting to say the least

Any merit to the idea that the move from 16.5" to 17" wheels is a factor here? It seems like that must have an impact on the size of the contact patch, especially while leaned over, but I haven't seen any discussion of this change since post-season testing started.

I believe that even a half of inch is enough for making it harder to achieve the same level of homogeneity in all directions in the rubber compound. It is also true that the contact patch changes, but the biggest change in that is due to the different shoulder and compound of the michelin, softer and less predictable than the bridgestone (according to the riders). I think that if you combine the two elements you get the mess almost all the riders are complaining about.
Of course we are talking about tiny details here, but enough for them to feel non constant feedback from the tyre and loose the perception of the limit.

... begin for 2016. This is a fun a part of the offseason as we all try and make sense as to where all the players will land by Qatar. Sadly, although I think we'd all love a good upset to the running order, I expect the front runners to be similar for next year. Of course I hope I'm completely wrong about that!

I will be really interested to see how all the riders have adapted to braking on a 17-inch Michelin by the first round. Corner entires will start to look a lot more like WSB methinks. Seeing how Marquez in particular deals with having to race on a "normal" tire will perhaps be the most intriguing.

Deep trail-braking on a 16.5 front tire offers much more comfort and communication, simple as that. A 17-inch front is a veritable light switch by comparison.

Deep trail-braking on a 16.5 front tire offers much more comfort and communication, simple as that. A 17-inch front is a veritable light switch by comparison.

Having never compared both, why is that?

Suzuki comes to mind as a relative benefactor. One way of looking at it is that they are the inverse of Honda in terms of predominance of electronics vs mechanical. Horsepower deficits in the lower gears may not hinder as much now either when electronics aren't doing as much. Even Aprilia has good mechanical traction. The Ducati story is a bit more complex and a interesting. Perhaps Gigi and Co have had their gaze on this time for two years?

There is satisfaction for me in noticing Goliath struggle with his size. It will also be satisfying to watch their inevitable solution, HRC does amazing things. I like that the bikes need more respect and rider sensitivity. No, I am not looking forward to the rider or two that gets hurt from the crashes as the whole circus adjusts. But that and a few details aside, this is a good era for the sport.

Count me pleased.

I can't remember if it was in the latest FEC or Two Enthusiats podcast, but it was mentioned that hydraulic or electronic VVT is banned in MotoGP. Suzuki just launched the new "concept" GSXR1000 and made a big deal of the tech coming from GP (which always happens with a new sportsbike), and what does it have? Mechanical VVT. Suzuki may be able to tune the GSX-RR's power delivery mechanically and be less sensitive to the currently-less-than-perfect electronics.

David, have you heard anything about Suzuki running VVT on the GP bike?

This doesn't sound encouraging for 2016's on-track action. Nursing tires, hamstrung Hondas, software-induced high-sides and lots of front-end crashes - am I being pessimistic to worry that the outcome could be terrible racing?

And what does "tire's DNA" really mean? Is there some deep, fundamental difference in front-tire construction philosophy between Michelin & Bridgestone that only tire geeks will understand? Does Bridgestone have a closely guarded construction secret or patent that Michelin can't imitate?

It's always a little distressing to confront the fact that the absolute least sexy part of the motorcycle has some of the greatest influence on the racing!

This article is quite intersting on the topic

And one from years ago talks about it more as well

When CRT was around the American team Attack-Kawasaki talked about wanting to know about the tire profile of the Bridgestone to design their bike too, but that it was such a closely guarded secrect no information was shared and they could not measure of inspect the tires even nice fitted to their bike. It was all iterative design process.

Also seen some comments before from Edwards about the size change from 16.5 to 17 tending to make a narrower and longer contact patch rather than a blunter one. That change also effects the profile and will be part of the

Just to put that into perspective, that was also his only win in 125s. One of his four total wins in any class. He didn't win again until 2013.

People saying he had an off year are deluding themselves. Rather, he had one good year in 2013. He got an early lead in the championship because of the advantage of not having to run dead weight because of the stupid combined minimum weight rule. Once the rest of the field got used to that he got outclassed by Espargaro.

The numbers don't lie, Redding is all hype (as demonstrated by the post I quoted) and nothing else.

Will be interesting to see if Redding uses the Crutchlow method of extending one's career and earnings. Complain about the bike and switch bikes often before anyone realizes you are not all that.

Not sure what the hate's all about. Both Cal and Scott are tough, brave, talented riders who've shown that they're quite capable of beating others on similar machinery.

But that's the point. Similar machinery. This and last year's Hondas, both open and 'factory' have been utter dogs and as David mentioned, Honda engineers very much left the satellite teams to their own devices instead of pitching in to help as Yamaha did with their second-tier teams. Cal tried to tough it out with the RCV and got spat off at monotonously regular intervals; Scott tried to take it more methodically and just went slower and slower with every set-up change.

Subtract the four top factory riders, and they've both been in the mix, even on the awful Hondas.

Scott, remember, was all over Marquez in the smaller classes. (Digression: Does anybody else think there was something highly odd about Marquez's amazing Moto2 start from the back of the grid? He was so, so much faster than everybody else with a supposedly 'equal' engine...)

Even Marquez, with massive factory support, made a total pig's ear of this season. The other teams were just left to dangle. How were they supposed to be competitive when the bike was constantly trying to hurl them into the gravel?

I'm looking forward to seeing Scott on a bike he likes. Him and Petrucci will knock lumps off each other all season, like Nicky & Dovi before them, and it'll be great to watch. Cal will, as usual, give about 140%. I just hope that Honda manage to tame that bike before he hurts himself yet again trying to get results it's simply not capable of.

I really don't understand the contempt some people have for the best riders on the planet. If you can back a 200mph missile into a blind-apex corner too, then say what you like. If not, just shut up and show some respect.

"I really don't understand the contempt some people have for the best riders on the planet. If you can back a 200mph missile into a blind-apex corner too, then say what you like. If not, just shut up and show some respect."

It's our sport too, the spectators. The argument of "if you can't do it then you can't have an opinion" is and always will be spurious. Otherwise what good would coaches be? Managers? Teachers?

No matter how skilled and talented, a jerk is still a jerk. I don't have to be able to ride a GP bike to recognize one.

I do doubt Cal's talent. I do. He's been on very bike in the paddock and has never become consistent enough to challenge for podiums regularly. He gets judged on the words that come out of his mouth, and he's managed to complain about every bike he's been on. Rewind to Tech3 and his complaints about Dovi having better brakes - well, Dovi bought them himself. Cal wouldn't. Then he wanted the new tank to help with the first part of his race. Then he couldn't ride it. Then he was never going to get to factory Yamaha so he went to Ducati. Then he left after a year to Honda. Then the Honda isn't any good. At some point he needs to shut up and do the business. But he just keeps talking and not getting results.

Scott is a different story. I think he will do well with a bike he has confidence in.

You're just a fan as you say, and you've resorted to calling him a jerk. That's quite personal. Do you know him somehow? You can for sure have an opinion, but the personal judgement is a bit far, in my opinion.

I wouldn't back him for a WC, but I do believe that he was consistent enough for podiums on the Yamaha, but was likely going to lose out to Pol and Bradley if he stayed at Tech3. He appeared to have no choice but to move on, and so agitating for a factory ride given that he was showing results near the pointy end was a reasonable move.

"You're just a fan as you say, and you've resorted to calling him a jerk."

Read my comment correctly please, in context - I never called Cal a jerk and didn't mention his name until a new paragraph, denoting a change in subject in the English language. Do I think he's a jerk? No. Do I think he needs to put up or shut up? Yes.

I remember during the big switch from Michelin to Bridgestone, the main complaint from many riders was the Bridgstone tyre was so sturdy that they couldn't feel the edge and didn't have enough feedback. This pretty much ended some riders' motogp careers (Elias as the prime example). Now, six years later, we're switching the other way and riders are now complaining that they don't have feel on the Michelins and they can't feel the edge like they could on the Bridgestone.

Okay so we have devolved back to Cal bashing. Perhaps a sign things are back to normal after the great and thankfully brief VR-MM flatulation?

Seems a bit premature to be saying we have seen what Redding is capable of. And since we know it is top 10 in the dry, I don't have a hard time saying that he is cutting it. Heck, look at Smith - he sure was a slow but steady riser. Has there been hype around Redding? Yes. Would I prefer there to be less? Yes. At least this isn't American basketball or boxing in which there is so much self promotion and hype that it stinks the whole place up. Glad no one put a mic to my mouth when I was these kids' age, I said some really self involved and reactive hyperbole.

On record I enjoy Cal. He is a solid rider and a good guy. And specifically re him stating complaints when asked re Yamaha while at Tech 3 - many agree that he received less from Yamaha than he had been promised and had good reason for it. Listening to all that he says over time he seems genuine and fairly humble, albeit demonstrative.

With that done...
A year ago who would have guessed that we would have Honda and Ducati in our current consideration and not in reverse? Fun to have a new script! Our next Alien may come as quite a surprise?

I think Bradley Smith should get the amount of attention that Scott Redding has been getting. Out of EVERYONE on the grid, Bradley has become a solid racer through and through. Scott has talent, maybe even more than Bradley looking at their Moto2 runs. But at this level, it takes a mentality that cannot be contained by problems with the bike especially when speaking on weight and other things. Simoncelli was the same height and weight and had no problems fighting and scrapping from 125s on up.

Bradley Smith was considered such a non factor that even negative comments on this site were ignored. I remember one comment someone said about wondering who Bradley Smith's Manager was because he should get an award getting high star marks and NO ONE replying back about the blatant reference to Smith having such low skill that he should not have a ride at all. Now look at him. One of the most communicative and solid riders on the grid. Absolutely brilliant ascension.

The one thing I seem to notice with Ducati is they have on average the tallest and heaviest riders out of all the factory and satellite teams. The extra grunt Ducati develop should be good for Redding. And maybe that bike works better with people that have more leverage... Just a thought. Not an Engineer, do not know if this is true or not. But I did notice their current riders are taller than most. That is a fact.

Nicolas Goubert was interviewed after the MotoGP test and said that the Michelin front tire profile was fixed and that they were working on compounds. With 30+ crashes during testing I wonder if Michelin is listening to the riders? I'd like to see a comparison of the Bridgestone and Michelin tire profiles and hear from Goubert more details about why they are sure the profiles are not the problem. I'd suspect (imho) that there is something about the Michelin tire structure, their DNA so to speak, that prevents them from adapting a more forgiving profile to their slicks. Would be interested to hear more on the topic.

I have not ridden GP level race slicks from either company, but I have ridden their road sport / track-day tyres, and I understand (I have heard) there is a pretty fair degree of crossover. They both build their racing tyres very much the way they build their top road sports tyres. In particular, Bridgestones feel and talk to the rider like Bridgestones, and Michelins feel and talk to the rider like Michelins. It's like a different language. Both offer a good degree of feel, but you tend to naturally and instinctively get along with one or the other. Personally, I like the Michelins.

The other thing, is the nature and relative strengths and weaknesses of the two, have not changed a lot over time. Go back to the last time you had both in top level racing, and the Michelin had excellent off corner drive, and was extremely forgiving at and near the limit off the corner, but it was weak under brakes and especially weak as you got off the brakes and opened the throttle. ie, not much has changed. Same with the Bridgestones, they had the advantage of being better under brakes and at mid corner for the front. They were somewhat less easy to use and forgiving at the rear. Being able to power-slide a Bridgestone off the corner and make it work as well as the Michelin, was an art. There was one person who had learned the hard way how to save many front end loses, (if not all of them) and could slide around on Bridgestones more or less the same as he could on Michelins. And then he got a Ducati with better power and drive than anybody else.

That man is now coming back as a test rider (and brand ambassador) for Ducati. And since he was last there, Ducati have done what he kept asking them to do, and left behind the carbon fibre non-frame arrangement. Shame he's not going to be their lead factory racer...

Getting the best from the Michelins will require some degree of back-in-time step. The last gen of 500 racers and the first gen 990 racers, were slightly cautious on the brakes, but focussed everything around corner exit. That seems to have been forgotten, with traction control and Bridgestone tyres. But now we will see Michelins back, and far less sophisticated TC. It is going to be a bit like going back 12 ~ 15 years in time.

I would be surprised if old Valentino doesn't get his head around all this faster than most. He did win a few races on Michelins back in the day...