Testing Continues For MotoGP And World Superbikes In Run Up To Winter Test Ban

Testing is set to continue this week in a range of classes, as bikes take to the track in preparation for the 2015 season. The south of Spain will see the most action, with a group of MotoGP teams being joined by the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team at Jerez, and a selection of Moto2 teams heading to Almeria.

At Jerez, Suzuki and Aprilia will continue work on their bikes ahead of next season. As new factories, they receive the same concessions as Ducati, which means that they are allowed unlimited testing, more engines, they have the softer rear tire, and they are allowed to develop their engines throughout the season. Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro will be riding the GSX-RR for Suzuki, while Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri will be taking the Aprilia ART out for further testing. 

Ducati will also be present at the test, Andrea Dovizioso and new teammate Andrea Iannone continuing work on the Desmosedici GP14.2. They are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the GP15, but that bike will not be ready until the Sepang tests, and most likely, only at the second test at Sepang. 

The NGM Forward team are also due to test at Jerez, though they may have less to test than expected. The test had originally been planned to continue work on Kayaba suspension, but after complaints from Stefan Bradl at Valencia, there may not be much point. Bradl complained to German-language website Speedweek that Kayaba were poorly prepared, had no real test plan, very few suspension parts to test, and the engineers sent by the firm spoke almost no English. Bradl did not see any point in continuing to test the suspension until these fundamental problems were solved. That could prove to be an expensive decision for Forward: Kayaba would come on board with the team as a technical partner, paying all of their own costs and possibly contributing to the team budget. If Forward stays with Ohlins, they will do so as a customer, paying a considerable sum for the privilege.

The Suzuki World Superbike team is also at Jerez, with Randy De Puniet about to get his first ride on the GSX-R1000 as he makes the switch to the WSBK series. He and Alex Lowes have work to do ahead of the new regulations for 2015, with Yoshimura staff also present at the test to help development of the engine. The team also have new technical staff joining them, and this will be their first chance to integrate them and get them working as a unit. Suzuki will be joined by Kawasaki, where Jonathan Rea will get his second test on the ZX-10R alongside Tom Sykes.

So far, the weather has not been kind to the teams testing, with the track wet and rain still falling. Better weather is forecast for this afternoon and for Tuesday, but the Jerez track takes a long time to dry out, meaning action is likely to be limited on Monday.

Further eastwards on the Iberian peninsula, the weather is a little better. From Tuesday, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Team (currently candidate for the longest team name in racing) will be testing at Almeria. Tito Rabat, who virtually lives at the circuit, will continue work on the 2015 Kalex, while new teammate and reigning Moto3 champion Alex Marquez will carry on with his job of adapting to the new category, and changing his riding style to suit Moto2.

The man Marquez beat for the 2014 Moto3 title is headed to Malaysia. Jack Miller has a private test arranged at Sepang for later in the week, where he will get his first taste of the Honda RC213V-RS Open class bike. Miller will ride for two days at Sepang, on the 27th and 28th November, before heading home for a break.

For the Grand Prix teams, the winter test ban kicks in on 1st of December, and will last until the end of January. With new technical regulations coming into effect for the World Superbike class, their winter test ban has been greatly eased, testing only stopping for a brief two-week break for Christmas and New Year. Action ceases for WSBK on the 21st December, and will only resume again after 4th January.

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Testing and the Michelin

So test riders are turning laps on the Michelins here and there. Not an earnest development test, just preliminary, but is anyone else super curious?

Pirro has done some laps on the Ducati, and somewhere or other there was mention just that it was "positive." The Bstone front is obviously really strong - the grip is amazing. It has been described as very stiff and lacking some feel. Less is said about the Bstone rear, but some Honda riders have described struggling to get edge grip to drive out of corners and I have always thought more about the bike than the tire there. Perhaps all of us have and that is soon going to change.

Yamaha riders, or should I say Lorenzo, have been expressive of concerns about edge grip from the Bstone rear. Especially when the extra layer was added to help it hold up for the greener or more abrasive couple of tracks on the calendar.

Tire choice always involves a tradeoff. There are always some exceptions where a certain tire just "gets it right" (anyone remember the Dunlop rain tire being such a gem seemingly out of nowhere? Or was it their Qualifier? A very nice exception to the frowns in the Tech3 garage). Michelin has been known for more feel and Bstone for stability. A softer carcass construction on the front will aid the gentle brakers that don't "smash" the front down. Also providing some confidence for the "front end" riders over the "back that rear end in" ones.

Maybe Lorenzo will have a resurgence in 2016. Perhaps Marquez will need to adapt his riding to carry momentum. Maybe Yamaha with a bit more fuel, and the Michelins will thrive. Perhaps the Honda without the magic electronics algorithm anticipating power needs and a torque-o-meter will have some adjusting to do.

Suzuki (who are being pushed both by Dorna and missed developme t opportunities to start a satellite team...hooray! Nail down a major sponsor from Asia?) had a smidge to say about running the Michelin in some tests. Basically that they are running similar times to the Bstones for them. At their early stage of development w the bike this means conaiderably less than it would from YamaHonda, but still very good news.

" Project leader Satoru Terada also confirmed that the factory has begun their testing programme with Michelin ahead of the French company's re-entry to the series in 2016. The results have been impressive thus far. “We already started testing with Michelin,” said Terada. “It's different of course. The rider views [that] both the front and rear are very different but the lap time is not so different from the Bridgestone tyre.” Pushed on whether the factory will need to develop a new frame around the different tyre characteristics he said, “At the moment I don't think about another chassis. I think we can adapt [to these tyres].”