2013 Misano MotoGP Test Round Up: 2013 vs 2014 Machines, Spec Electronics And A New Rear Bridgestone

The rain on Monday morning brought a welcome respite for tired journalists at least, after a night spent filing stories until the early hours of the morning. It meant that the Misano MotoGP test did not get underway until very late in the morning, with most riders staying in the pits until well after noon.

Once they got started, though, there was a lot to be tested. Both Yamaha and Honda had brought the latest versions of their 2014 prototypes for testing, but with the championship heading into its final five races, there was a lot to work on with the current crop of machines.

That was particularly true for Dani Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda man dropped from second to third in the championship at Misano, Jorge Lorenzo matching him on points, but taking the position on the basis of having more wins. Pedrosa has complained of a lack of rear grip almost all season, and if he is to retain a shot at the title, his team have to find a solution. Did they find anything? Pedrosa gave a series of carefully worded answers trying to put a positive spin on the test, but the short answer was 'not really'. There were positive points and negative points, and they had some ideas to try at the next races, but in reality, they did not find the silver bullet they were looking for.

So focused were they on the 2013 bike that Pedrosa only put in four laps on next year's bike, and he had little to report about it, other than that the spec Magneti Marelli ECU was working well with HRC's ECU software. He had not noticed the difference between the two. Marc Marquez had, having also tried the 2014 bike, but it was more a matter of feeling than anything else. Both old and new packages worked well, but there was a small difference between the way the two systems felt to Marc Marquez. The fact that Honda has managed to port and translate their vehicle dynamics algorithms so well from their proprietary ECU to the spec Magneti Marelli unit suggests that the spec ECU hardware, at least, is up to the job of managing a MotoGP bike. The spec software, on the other hand...

Marquez had less to improve on the 2013 bike than Pedrosa - but then, given that he has scored five wins, a total of twelve podiums, and currently leads the championship, that is hardly surprising - and so could devote a little more time to the 2014 machine. The bike was an improvement from the prototype tested at Aragon back in June, Marquez said. At that test, there were more negatives than positives, he explained, but now the positives vastly outweighed the negatives.

At Yamaha, both riders had spent time on the new prototype, though Lorenzo insisted he had only tested a new motor. The new engine spec had a little better acceleration, but his team needed to check the data to be sure they saw the difference which Lorenzo believed he felt. Rossi had been more concerned about this season, and had worked on finding a cure to the front end stability problems he has under braking. He believed they had found a solution, or at least a partial one. It was a step in the right direction, which he hoped to continue to work on at Aragon.

Ducati had very little to test. Nicky Hayden had been given the special Brembo carbon brake disks to test which the riders will use at Motegi, where brakes overheating become a problem. The larger mass helps disperse the heat more effectively, and as far as Hayden and Dovizioso could tell, they had worked. Dovizioso had also worked on a different set up for corner entry, and he said, they had learned something. What they had learned, it emerged, was that the changes hadn't worked, but this too is useful knowledge.

Suzuki were also once again present, with Randy de Puniet taking on temporary test duties. The bike sounded a little louder than it had at Barcelona, and appeared to have a few cosmetic differences, including a slightly different nose. Suzuki are still using their proprietary Mitsubishi ECU hardware, as they continue work on the bike, but they are already running into fueling problems. Test rider Nobu Aoki told one reporter that Suzuki is having problems at low revs, and though he did not say so, that is exactly where fueling is so critical. It is easy to get good throttle response when you have plenty of fuel to burn, but as you work towards making do with the (frankly depressingly stingy) 20 liters each rider has for the race, fueling at partial throttle and low revs becomes particularly sketchy. The reduced fuel limit was one of the main reasons Suzuki decided to put back their projected return to 2015, taking another year to try to get to grips with the problems of lean running.

The most significant news was the testing of a new spec rear Bridgestone tire, aimed at providing a usable harder option rear tire. The current hard tire is almost unusable, temperatures never getting hot enough to allow the tire to maintain its core temperature. By introducing the new rear tire, which uses a special new construction to improve warm up while retaining durability, Bridgestone hope to be able to offer riders a choice. This would give Bridgestone the chance to introduce an even softer soft option, which would be ideal for mornings when the track was cool, and prevent some of the early morning crashes we have seen.

For the most part, the riders loved it, those who had tried it. The one exception was Jorge Lorenzo, but he was comparing its performance to the softer option rear. Bradley Smith said that the new tire solved some of Yamaha's problems with edge grip, but both Ducati men were pleased as well. After such an overwhelmingly positive reception, the tires are likely to be debuted sooner, rather than later. And that can only be a good thing.

The paddock heads home for a week now, riders dispersing to train and help with sponsorship deals. In 9 days' time, we reassemble at Alcañiz, for the Grand Prix of Aragon.

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A Silver Bullet? Dani needs an entire clip filled with silver bullets in order to turn things around for himself! If Dani doesn't adapt to the tire spinning/sliding style of riding soon like Stoner/Marquez by Aragon... it will take a miracle for him to win the title, unfortunately due to other riders' misfortune! Lorenzo will only get stronger now with 2 recent wins. Marquez must destroy Lorenzo's confidence by getting the hole-shots starting at Aragon.

Is riding at the end when the tyres have gone off. His strength is getting huge drive out of turns but without rear grip he can't exploit it as much at the end of the race, where CS and now MM are still strong at the end because once the rear grip goes they just shorten the turns by drifting it. I'd love to see Dani swap bikes with Rossi and get on an M1. Dani strengths would balance out the perceived weakness of the Yam off slow turns especially with his feather weight, and with his smoothness he might be super quick with the extra grip the M1 affords. Dani to Yamaha in 2015, Stoner goes back to Ducati just as Audi start to iron out new generation desmo in its second year and Rossi returns to HRC in a last ditch attempt to regain his superiority on the brakes and overtake Agostinis record. One can dream.

I think this doesn't work. In fact it's the opposite that seems to get the best out a package, in my opinion.

For example Lorenzo and Yamaha are a perfect pair because of that; Lorenzo's strengths are Yamaha's strengths. They all know it and that's a reason why they stick together.
Second example: put two late brakers (Rossi, Dovi) on a machine with front end problems like Ducati. They didn't exactly balance the situation out. It's more like their greatest strength was taken away from them and that only brings frustration.
Third: Stoner in all his career has been a gas-sensitive rider. First in that beast Ducati of 2007 (and less in the subsequent years) and then in the mighty Honda of 2011 he got the championship exactly because he could operate well what he knew best, throttle.
Dani is similar to Stoner, but, as you said, doesn't like the bike loose and will suffer when the grip drops. I don't think he would do much better in a Yamaha, but (like David has also suggested in the past) I'd love to see him on a Ducati. Ain't gonna happen though!

Dani's strengths and Yamaha strengths would compliment eachother nicely IMO, both go fastest when they are smooth, Dani needs grip and the Yamaha offers it. The fact Dani also weighs less than my left gonad would just be an added bonus for the Yamaha in terms of getting drive off turns. I think Dani would be slow as hell on the Duc cos it's requires the very thing he isn't strong at, riding loose and lots of oversteer to turn.

So what's the word on the software? Should be interesting seeing how good/bad it is and how quickly it progresses (or not). This seems to be the pivotal technical issue for the class over the next couple of years as Dorna gradually tries to get rid of the locked-down leased prototypes.

So the CRT's are all running the spec ECU already correct? Are they also required to run the spec Marelli software? Of particular interest is Edwards Forward bike as he has been right up with Espargaro in some recent races (though not Misano where AEs nearly caught CE after serving a ride-through).
Is Edwards recent speed because he's pulled his finger out at contract time or due to genuine progression in the spec / non-spec software? Hard to believe that Forward has done a shred of mechanical development on the bike since it became obvious that the M1-lite would be coming their way.

The number of challenges prospective teams and manufacturers face to enter the paddock must be soul destroying at times. Can the writers of the rule book not see that fuel limits have forced Suzuki to take an extra years development on a bike that is otherwise 'ready to race'? Illogical... But why am I not surprised

less fuel more weight? lets take away 2 litres of blood every day from calimero and put extra weight on his shoulders on the same time. 5 engines and only 20 litres of fuel costs a fortune! all the people all the research all the development all the money for 1 litre of fuel???? i dont know how calimero calculates but its totaly wrong. Suzuki keeps delaying the come back. and no other factory wants to join!! insane in the brain!!!!

Agreed, but you're pointing the finger in the wrong direction. It wasn't Carmelo/Dorna that put the fuel and engine limits in place, it was the MSMA (Honda). The MSMA (Honda) claimed this was to justify racing as R&D to the bean counters. What it was really meant to do was keep competition either at a lower level than the MSMA teams (Honda) or keep them out altogether. Want proof? What's the first thing Carmelo gave CRT bikes to help them along? More engines, more fuel. It was the MSMA (Honda) that forced Kawasaki and Suzuki out with the rules they imposed. Which ironically are the rules they agreed to and signed a contract to compete under. Then Kawasaki and Suzuki broke the contract and withdrew from MotoGP. So you can see why Carmelo might be hesitant to grant concessions to allow Suzuki (or Aprilia; they were once a full-fledged MSMA member as well) to compete under different rules. MotoGP needs to be sustainable without factory involvement.

In fact it makes years that the Dorna/Carmelo are fighting for our (us fans) rights to be entertained.

do you explain Dorna selling us fans out to BT Sport?

My math says that a MotoGP bike (Yamaha) gets ROUGHLY 14.8 mpg. Does anybody know what an F1 car gets by chance? This discussion of what is and isn't stingy related to fuel consumption is going to be an interesting and hugely important question. I have a feeling it is going to be a massive problem for Yamaha compared to Honda as well based on the amount of time Yamaha's run out of fuel on the cool down lap compared to Honda's not to mention the reliability issues Yamaha is facing in the engine department

What MPG do you think would be reasonable for a 260HP+ bike to get flat out for 20 laps?

nearly 15mpg is insanely good to me for that much power for that long of a distance. When is enough enough?

For perspective, the same math would work out to be just 15.586 MPG at 20L of fuel. How many MILLIONS are going to be spent squezing out that last .8 mpg ?

I also find it interesting that there are NO Fuel capacity restrictions in Moto2 . . .

My MPG Math:

Rossi out of gas about halfway on cooldown lap at Silverstone
Silverstone has 20 laps plus 1 sighting lap plus 1 warm up lap so 22.5 laps ROUGHLY
Assuming they used the full 21L of fuel allowed (5.54761 Gallons) which i view to be likely
Then they did 22.5 laps of a 3.666 mile long circuit so 82.485 miles so 14.84 MPG

Pedrosa has never been much interested in testing. When Hayden won in 2006, Hayden was doing all the testing while Pedrosa used the tried and true. Hayden continued to do it in 2007.

I will raise the question as to how serious Suzuki is about racing in MotoGP in 2015. If you are racing in a series with spec components, you start your machine design around those components. Why in the world is Suzuki still running a machine with Mitsubishi electronics components? If they had shown up to test with a 1200cc machine or Pirelli tires, no one would take them seriously. I'm wondering how seriously Suzuki is taking this MotoGP bid.

That's a very good question, especially considering they knew they'd have to use the spec ECU hardware for over a year, said hardware has been available for what, about 9 months, and they're STILL using their own hardware to test with. So their plan is to perfect their software on a platform they won't be able to use, then port it over to the new hardware that's been available for months and they could have been developing with already? So they've spent all of 2013 so far developing a system they can't use, when they could have been developing a system they could use. Brilliant.

Seeing that Pedrosa and Marquez tested the Honda with a spec Marelli ECU and there was no (Pedrosa) or nearly no (Marquez) difference felt, feeding the software through the spec hardware is probably not going to be the real problem. And since Dorna changes things all the time, the spec ECU might very well change in the coming months. Suzuki at the moment is probably more concerned with the programming, the engine itself, the chassis and everything else.

Apart from that, why on earth is it not possible for the rule makers to stick to 21 liters of fuel next year? We would have Suzuki AND Aprilia as full factory teams in 2014. I mean, what would Honda and Yamaha do if it stays 21 liters? Are they going to leave? Seriously?

No thats not true. The factory's were not pleased with the rules of making the bikes more heavy. And certainly not so late. So that was calimero. Calimero also said 20 litres of fuel if you want too keep factory ecu. Soo ?????