The advantage of a private test is that work can take place away from the prying eyes of the media. Some of the MotoGP manufacturers, most notably Yamaha and Honda, have taken advantage of the fact that the two-day test at Misano is private, and have debuted various new parts for both this year and next. With the pit lane closed to the media, the factories can work more freely.
The work going on means you can set little stock by the order on the timesheets. The two satellite Petronas Yamaha riders were fastest, but as they have mainly been working on race setup, this should hardly come as a surprise. Nor should the fact that Marc Márquez was third fastest, the Repsol Honda rider always fast under all conditions. But riders such as Alex Rins were not focused on a single fast lap, and so comparisons are difficult.
Yamaha had the most intriguing test program. Factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales had a lot of parts to test. Both riders tried a second version of the 2020 engine they debuted at Brno, and though it was a slight improvement, much more was needed. "The step is not as big as we need, but in the right direction," was Rossi's verdict, while Viñales was a little more pessimistic, saying it was not the step they had been hoping for.
Viñales was not happy overall, the lack of grip at Misano causing him problems. The summer heat always makes the track greasy, the most difficult conditions for the Yamaha. That may be good in the long term, however, as it is precisely the conditions which Yamaha need to work on.
Yamaha also had a new exhaust at the test, a double-barreled affair similar to the one used by Suzuki. This builds on the work done at Brno, where they had a larger exhaust than the standard one currently in use. This suggests that it will be used for the 2020 bike, rather than the remainder of this year.
The carbon-fiber swingarm which appeared for the first time at the test may be something we get to see this season. Yamaha is following in the footsteps of Honda, Ducati, and KTM in examining the merits of a carbon-fiber swingarm. Carbon swingarms do not tend to make much difference over a single lap, but they can help maintain consistency over race distance, reducing the effects of tire wear.
Another interesting item debuted was a carbon cover for the brake disc. It looked too large to function solely as a brake cover to retain temperature in the carbon discs, making you wonder if this is Yamaha dipping their toes into front-wheel aerodynamics. The tail unit tested at Brno also made a reappearance, identifiable by the special rearsets need to support it. At Brno, Maverick Viñales had explained that the new unit allowed him to move around a little more freely, the unit being a little narrower than the standard seat.
There was plenty of work going on in the Honda garages as well. Both Marc Márquez and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow had three bikes in their garages, and Márquez exited on bikes in all sorts of combinations. Márquez was seen spending time on the bike with a so-called 'Bento box' on the rear, the smaller version of Ducati's salad box, which may or may not contain a mass damper similar to Ducati's.
Márquez did spend time on an all-black bike, clearly another version of Honda's 2020 prototype. He also exited on a bike with his fairing and Stefan Bradl's tank and seat unit. Whether this was Bradl's bike with his fairing fitted, or just the tank and seat unit from Bradl's RC213V is open to question.
Jorge Lorenzo rode briefly in the morning, before calling it a day early on. The Spaniard had achieved his goal of completing the race at Silverstone, but that had come at a cost, the vertebrae injured in the crash at Assen causing him more pain than they had at the British Grand Prix. Lorenzo had tried the updated chassis used by Márquez at the Red Bull Ring, and liked it, saying he will probably use it on both bikes at Misano.
There was less work going on in the Ducati garages, in part because the first order of business for Andrea Dovizioso was to check whether he was fit to ride after his big crash at the start of the Silverstone race. Dovizioso sat out the morning session, and took to the track in the afternoon, eventually completing 37 laps. Both his pace and the length of runs he was doing suggest he was not suffering too badly from the after-effects of the crash.
That left the work to teammate Danilo Petrucci and test rider Michele Pirro. Petrucci was focused on electronics and preparing the Misano Grand Prix, the racing being one of the most important of the year for Ducati. Michele Pirro had a much fuller test program, testing chassis parts and a full range of electronics, including engine braking solutions.
The Suzuki Ecstar team welcomed Joan Mir back to the fold, finally able to ride after his monster crash at the Brno test. He started gingerly, but quickly regained his confidence, and turned his mind toward preparing for the race in Misano in two weeks time.
Teammate Alex Rins had more work on his plate. Fresh from victory in Silverstone, Rins worked on chassis, swingarm and electronics. The swingarm may be an evolution of the item tested earlier in the year at Barcelona, but which has not been used in the race so far.
At KTM, Dani Pedrosa was present to take on the role of test rider and work on the future direction of the RC16. Pedrosa took over from Johann Zarco, who only rode in the morning. With Zarco leaving at the end of the year, he will not be called on to do as much testing.
Pol Espargaro was also busy, working mainly on a setup for the race in Misano. He also had chassis parts to try, which could potentially be available for the Misano race. With Espargaro finishing sixth and Zarco eighth, it was a positive day for the KTM riders.
Less positive for Miguel Oliveira. The Portuguese rider injured his shoulder in the crash in Silverstone, where he was taking out by Johann Zarco. Oliveira tested his shoulder for a couple of laps, before deciding to pull out of the test, his shoulder too weak for the test to be useful.
Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone also had plenty of work to do at Misano. The Aprilia pairing were trying a different setup for their RS-GP machines, as well as various swingarm and chassis parts. Work also continued on electronics, and especially engine braking.
Michelin had brought the race tire allocation to the test, giving the riders a head start on tire choice for the MotoGP race in two weeks time. They also had a new front tire which uses a different casing, aimed at improving braking performance. As yet, there is no feedback from the riders on it.
The MotoGP.com website – the only media allowed into pit lane – has a gallery of photos from the test. Among the photos are a couple of clear shots of Yamaha's new carbon swingarm.
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