Barcelona MotoGP Saturday Round Up: A Three-Way Battle Against Grip

On Friday, things looked pretty clear. Aleix Espargaro would walk away from his rivals at Barcelona, using the ability of the Aprilia to find grip where there is none – and at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the grip is absolutely terrible – to cruise to his second victory of the season, and of his MotoGP career.

On Saturday, things had changed. We are still on for a race of attrition, a desperate battle to keep your tires in good shape for as long as possible in the hope of wearing down your rivals. Or rather, convincing your rivals to wear down their tires, by pushing a fraction too hard, cracking the throttle a fraction too aggressively, spinning the rear just a tiny amount more than is absolutely necessary. This track eats tires, so the trick is to get your rivals to feed the circuit first.

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Tire Allocation Changed For 2023 - Michelin To Bring Just 2 Rear Compounds

There is to be a reduction in the choice of rear compounds from the 2023 MotoGP season. Today, the Grand Prix Commission announced that from next year, the teams and riders would have a choice of only two compounds, instead of the current three. The number of rear tires per race weekend would remain unchanged, but the number of compounds would be reduced.

The change has been made in response to the way the teams are now using tires. At most races, riders are choosing between two of the three compounds for the race, and keeping the soft only to set a fast lap, either for qualifying or in FP2 and FP3 to secure a spot in Q2. This means Michelin ship a lot of tires around the world, many of which go unused. By focusing on just two rear compounds, the teams should have a clearer choice and be able to focus on the race.

The change was requested by Michelin, but met with overwhelming approval from the teams.

The FIM press release appears below:

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2022 Barcelona MotoGP FP4 Result: Aleix Espargaro Asserts His Dominance

The final practice session of the premier class was a good opportunity for some tyre experiments, with all the options getting an outing during the 30-minute session. Aleix Espargaro’s experiment was running full race distance on a set of mediums and it seemed to be a very successful one, the Spaniard boasting impeccable consistency and topping the session by a tenth of a second. In a familiar flashback from last weekend, Marco Bezzecchi was in close proximity, together with Fabio Quartararo – the reigning world champion two tenths off top spot.

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2022 Barcelona Moto2 FP3 Result: Roberts (Just About) Rules

Bright balmy Barcelona set the scene for fast improvements in the intermediate class, Friday’s hierarchy unrecognisable after the first few minutes of FP3. Joe Roberts took control of the timesheets only three laps into the session and led throughout, holding onto an advantage of only one thousandth of a second over Jake Dixon. Pedro Acosta slipped under the radar until the final few minutes of the session, when he made a late jump into the top three.

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Barcelona MotoGP Notes From Pit Lane

A few thoughts on things I saw walking up and down pit lane.

First, it is clear that teams are worried about tire temperature. The factory Ducatis, the factory Yamahas, and even Andrea Dovizioso were using the silver wheels, using special paint to dissipate heat more effectively.

Aprilia appear to have the most sorted motorcycle, judging by the parts and tools in the garage. Where other teams and factories have shocks, fork springs, and even swingarm linkages (Suzuki) lying in the garage, Aprilia are just changing tires. That is ominous for the rest of the grid.

As one of the factory KTM riders left pit lane, a caught a glimpse behind the bottom of the fairing. It looked like they have a lot of hydraulics there, which are most likely used to control the ride-height device. Locating it under the bike is ideal in terms of weight distribution.

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2022 Barcelona MotoGP FP3 Result: Aleix Espargaro In A League Of His Own

MotoGP machines were unleashed in another beautiful low grip morning in Barcelona and spent much of their time chasing a precious Q2-worthy flying lap. Despite some early eagerness from the likes of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales, they were no match for the man of the moment, Aleix Espargaro, who posted the first 1:38 time of the weekend to go over half a second quicker than the opposition.

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2022 Barcelona Moto3 FP3 Result: Foggia Returns To The Spotlight

The cooler conditions of Saturday morning in Barcelona helped riders make a difference on the timesheets early in FP3, but Friday’s benchmark stood until the fight for the precious top 14 hotted up in the closing stages of the session. Although both Aspar boys enjoyed stints at the top of the timing screens, it was Dennis Foggia who posted the first 1:47 time of the weekend to become the fastest man in practice, two tenths ahead of rival Sergio Garcia.

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Barcelona MotoGP Friday Round Up: How To Go Fast When There Is No Grip, And Why Aprilia are Favorites

Normally after the first day of practice for a MotoGP race, everyone says, "it's only Friday, you can't read too much into the times". But not here. At Barcelona, everyone is asking how they can stop the Aprilias. Aleix Espargaro was fastest on a soft tire and in race trim, and Maverick Viñales was quick over a single lap – his weakness so far with Aprilia - and managed a respectable race pace. If one or both qualify well on Saturday, nobody will see which way they went.

The gap over the rest is impressive. Aleix Espargaro was three tenth faster than his Aprilia teammate, while Viñales was two tenths quicker than Enea Bastianini in third. And that was with Viñales feeling he hadn't get everything possible out of the soft tire he put in at the end of FP2. "When I put the soft, the jump was huge so I didn’t take enough profit of the soft. The difference was very big," the Spaniard told us.

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