Subscriber Feature: Honda's Private Jerez MotoGP Test - Why It Matters

Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez are to head to Jerez for a private, two-day test on 24th and 25th of February, or Friday and Saturday of this week. The Repsol Honda team announced the test on Twitter, confirming earlier news stories which had broken after the official MotoGP test at Phillip Island last week.

This two-day test is a sign that Márquez and Pedrosa are getting close to making a decision on which version of the engine they will be racing in 2017. They need one final test comparing the various possibilities before heading to Qatar.

The fact that they are now heading to Jerez is emblematic of just how important this choice is. This Jerez test replaces HRC's original plan, which was to retest the big bang engine rolled out at Valencia, verifying results from its original roll out at Valencia, then refine it for Sepang. But Repsol Honda called off that test at the request of the riders, giving the engine to Jack Miller to test in November of last year.

That change of plans was an indication that all was not well with the new engine. Both Márquez and Pedrosa were downbeat about the new engine at Valencia, Márquez emphasizing just how much work Honda still had to do with the new motor. "We must work much more," he said. "Honda needs to work much more this winter to give me something more in Malaysia."

Big bang, times two

Honda kept their word, and came to Sepang with a revised version of the big bang engine with a different firing interval. The two big bang engines sounded almost identical, suggesting that the internal changes were relatively minor, but the sequence and spacing of the ignition of each cylinder is believed to be changed. Márquez and Pedrosa also spent a little time on the 2016 engine, a screamer configuration, running back-to-back tests of the engines.

The two Honda men continued their work at Phillip Island, with Cal Crutchlow also pitching in on the development work. The big bang engine requires completely different fueling maps and torque maps to get the best out of it, and the three men spent a lot of time testing out new electronics settings and torque maps. Given the incredible consistency and speed of all three men, especially at Phillip Island, Honda appear to have a good grasp of what is needed.

The decision to go to Jerez is the final step in verifying which engine to use. Testing at Jerez is key, as it is such a radically different track to Sepang and Phillip Island. Jerez is tighter, colder, and slower than the Malaysian and Australian circuits. It should provide a much more definitive answer on whether last year's problems have been solved.

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This is not ONLY indicative of where they are w their engine. Also that Sepang and P.I. don't give them a good testing ground for the drive out from slow corners on a normal to high grip surface. Also, HRC is learning from their mistakes a bit.

And Vinales is here