Aragon MotoGP Test Day 1: Pedrosa Smashes Lap Record

After recovering its breath from two back-to-back weekends of racing with a hop across the Atlantic in between, the MotoGP world is slowly getting back into the testing groove. The factory Honda and Yamaha teams are circulating at Aragon, joined by Stefan Bradl, while at Mugello, Ducati is once again holding auditions for the Ducati Junior team, with Andrea Iannone turning laps alongside Michele Pirro, currently riding the FTR Honda CRT bike for the San Carlo Gresini Honda team. Elsewhere, Danilo Petrucci is heading to Vairano in Italy to test the Suter BMW, ahead of a planned switch by the IODA Racing team from the IODA Aprilia to the BMW-powered Suter at Misano.

Dani Pedrosa was the fastest man at Aragon, already half a second faster than Casey Stoner's 2011 pole record at the Spanish circuit, despite it being just the first day of the test and having to spend the morning cleaning a dusty track. Pedrosa spent the day working with suspension and electronics, looking for better power delivery and more rear traction. The Spaniard was also working with several revised parts aimed at curing the chatter which still plagues the Honda RC213V. Jonathan Rea, taking the place of Casey Stoner who is recovering from ankle surgery at home in Australia, spent his second day on the RC213V continuing the process of adapting to the MotoGP machine, with particular focus on his braking technique. The Ten Kate Honda WSBK rider is closing the gap to the front runners slowly but surely, but is still nearly 2.7 seconds off the pace of Pedrosa.

Joining the factory Repsol Honda team is Stefan Bradl's LCR Honda squad. Bradl spent the day working on set up on his bike, but the German also got a chance to taste the factory RC213V, as the team will have factory-spec equipment for 2013. No separate times were posted for Bradl on the factory and his satellite machine, but the timing screen tweeted by the official Yamaha MotoGP Twitter feed showed a couple of anomalies. Firstly, it showed two different times for Dani Pedrosa, one nearly a full second slower than his best time. It appears that Pedrosa was testing two different machines with different transponders. The timing screen also shows up something strange about Johnny Rea's times: the best time reported by the Repsol Honda team was 1'50.679, while the timing screen photo showed Rea with a time of 1'51.410, three quarters of a second slower than the time given in Honda's press release.

The factory Yamaha men were also testing at Aragon, with Jorge Lorenzo alternating between the 2013 version of the Yamaha M1 - currently just a bike with an updated chassis, using the latest version of the 2012 1000cc engine - and the bike to be used for the rest of the year. Ben Spies, meanwhile, was left to focus on set up, the Texan unable to test any of next year's updates as he is leaving Yamaha at the end of the season. Current rumors suggest that the most likely destination for Spies is the Pramac Ducati team, aboard a factory-spec Desmosedici. Spies looks set to be one half of the proposed Ducati junior team to be run by Pramac, with an Italian rider - most probably Andrea Iannone, though both Danilo Petrucci and Michele Pirro are also in the running - taking the second slot in the team. An announcement on Spies' future is likely to come next week, in the run up to the Misano round of MotoGP. That race will probably also see the rider named for the satellite RC213V at the San Carlo Gresini Honda team, with Scott Redding the current favorite for the slot.

Testing continues at Aragon and Mugello tomorrow.

Times from day 1 at Aragon:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev.
1 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:47.983    
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1:48.471 0.488 0.488
3 Ben Spies Yamaha 1:48.647 0.664 0.176
4 Dani Pedrosa* Honda 1:48.958 0.975 0.311
5 Stefan Bradl Honda 1:49.570 1.587 0.612
6 Jonathan Rea Honda 1:50.679 2.696 1.109

* Stefan Bradl also lapped on the factory Honda. Whether this was Bradl's time on the bike or a time set by Pedrosa is unknown.

Pole record: 2011 Casey Stoner 1'48.451
Race record: 2011 Casey Stoner 1'49.046

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If Spies does join Ducati, will it be a 1yr or 2yr contract? Being an-also-ran rider to fill the MotoGP grid isn't what I would have imagined Spies to do!??? That's one way to stay in MotoGP I guess. Maybe Spies is waiting for Suzuki to come back with a competitive package...

I would much rather see him clean up in WSBK 2013; If he cannot secure decent machinery/team for MOTOGP 2013. Suzuki GP for 2014 if the factory is coming back. Or BMW WSBK 2013/ BMW MOTOGP 2014!

No guarantees of a 'clean-up' in any major competition, he would get very stiff opposition in WSBK. But yes, I'd like to see him in WSBK too.

Spies, with his confidence issues, on a satellite ducati ?

If this is true, then the nightmare goes on... What a weird move that would be.

At the very least they could change the color of the bike...

What's all this talk of Bradl getting a factory-spec RCV, and Spies on a factory-spec Duc in the junior team? Are manufacturers not limited to 2 factory bikes and 2 satellite bikes any longer? Granted, I realize that the factory determines the spec, so it's all just in name anyway, but wouldn't they at least need to pretend they are following that rule?

For the record I'm all for having 4 same spec bikes on the grid, whether that means slightly dumbing down the factory bikes and upgrading the satellite bikes or whatever.

My understanding, and I'm happy to be shown the error of my ways, is that the manufacturers have been limited (for reasons which are beyond me) to four bikes each.

I don't think the rules stipulate what those bikes are, or who runs them. So Honda could have a four rider official HRC team if they wanted, or just run a single 'factory' rider and three satellite machines, all of which could be of any spec the manufacturer chooses.

Of course, when Honda (and hopefully Yamaha) start producing 'customer' racing bikes which anyone with a sufficiently large wedge of sponsorship can buy and race, those rules won't really apply.

I have a feeling the 2013 Desmo will be a totally different beast. If Felipo learned nothing from Furowasa's little lesson on how to build a GP bike I'd be very surprised.

Though nothing is set in stone, and I still hope for a triple-S pairing of Spies-Suzuki-Shwantz, maybe Ben knows something about the next Ducati that we don't.

Either way, there's no reason for him to go back to WSBK. Nothing to prove there. The man from Texas still has some unfinished business in GP's, and the series can't afford to lose a talent like Spies...

I have a similar feeling that things will begin to turn around for the team in red next year.... And it would be incredibly satisfying for Ben to show an effort on machinery that seems to carry little hope for those that ride it. Putting on my prognosticator hat, I'll say that the tire situation is going to change in a major way next year... Don't be surprised when winning becomes a much more diverse endeavor as a result...