2014 Qatar MotoGP Test Day 1 Times: Aleix Espargaro Leads On Dusty Surface

While their factory counterparts are on aircraft heading back from Phillip Island, everyone not on a factory team (that's factory, small F, not Factory Option, capital F capital O) have spent the day at their own test at Qatar. As always, the first day back at the desert track means a horribly dusty surface, which led a large group of riders to sit out the first hour or so of the test. Once the more eager of the riders - none more so than Danilo Petrucci, keen to get back on a bike for the first time after the winter layoff - had cleaned the track a little, and the track had cooled after the sun had gone down, the full pack headed out for the final test before the season started.

It came as no surprise to see Aleix Espargaro topping the timesheets a the end of the day. The NGM Forward rider has been fast all pre-season, Espargaro extracting every last ounce of performance from the Forward Yamaha, taking full advantage of the softer rear tire made available to the Open class machines (and now nicely color-coded to make tire choice more visible.) There is however no more mention of FTR in the Forward garage, the bikes appearing as Forward Yamahas on the entry list, and Colin Edwards admitting to Motorcycle News that he did not expect to see a chassis from FTR this year. The rumors of unpaid bills appear to have some weight behind them, despite the official denial issued by FTR in February.

Aleix Espargaro led a trio of Yamahas, finishing ahead of Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. Though Smith was a quarter of a second slower than Aleix, the Englishman was clearly working on his pace, consistently lapping in the high 1'55s, where Aleix only posted the one very fast lap. Brother Pol continues to impress with the pace of his adaptation ot the class, setting the 3rd fastest time, seven tenths off the pace of Aleix. The two satellite Hondas ended just behind Pol, but both on identical times, both Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl posting a 1'56.081. Andrea Iannone set the 6th fastest time, but was nearly 1.4 seconds slower than Aleix Espargaro on the Open Pramac Ducati.

Friday at Qatar was a busy day for those in positions of power. Many meetings were held to discuss the 'Factory 2' proposal put forward by Dorna, with MotoGP technology chief Corrado Cecchinelli and Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna seen heading off for a discussion. Ducati were very unhappy with the proposal, team boss Paolo Ciabatti telling GPOne.com, 'I would like to know which part of the regulations state that the Open category is a low cost category.' Meanwhile, Dorna Events Director Javier Alonso explained the decision on the MotoGP.com website as being a concession to the Open class teams. They had complained that they could not compete against Ducati, and did not have the resources to handle the much more sophisticated software update provided by Magneti Marelli. Fausto Gresini told GPOne.com that it was clear that Ducati's switch meant that the series had lost sight of the idea of the Open regulations, to cut costs. Lucio Cecchinello had also complained to Speedweek.com that the switch by Ducati and the Open regulations were unfair on him and his rider, Stefan Bradl. This is clearly a soap opera that is set to run and run.


Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Diff previous
1 41 Aleix Espargaro Yamaha Forward Open 1:55.386    
2 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1 1:55.639 0.253 0.253
3 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1 1:56.072 0.686 0.433
4 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda RC213V 1:56.081 0.695 0.009
5 6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 1:56.081 0.695 0.000
6 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP14 1:56.780 1.394 0.699
7 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha Forward Open 1:56.961 1.575 0.181
8 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP13 Open 1:57.318 1.932 0.357
9 69 Nicky Hayden Honda RCV1000R Open 1:57.574 2.188 0.256
10 45 Scott Redding Honda RCV1000R Open 1:57.922 2.536 0.348
11 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda RCV1000R Open 1:58.151 2.765 0.229
12 8 Hector Barbera Avintia Kawasaki 1:58.503 3.117 0.352
13 17 Karel Abraham Honda RCV1000R Open 1:58.833 3.447 0.330
14 23 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 1:59.121 3.735 0.288
15 63 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Kawasaki 1:59.294 3.908 0.173
16 9 Danilo Petrucci Aprilia ART 1:59.358 3.972 0.064
17 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:00.055 4.669 0.697


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So, now it turns out the Satelite- and the other Open-teams were the ones that complained while we were thinking Honda had their hand in the invention of a 2th sub-group in the class. Very confusing, and no doubt it will stay that way for a while. I can hardly wait for tomorrow's episode. Brrrrrrr.....

Ultimately, the difference between Factory and Open is the ability of the Factory teams to use their own software. But if Ducati helps develop the 'championship software' aren't they basically doing the same thing? What is the difference between Open and Factory then? The smaller teams already complained they can't use the more advanced software, while Ducati can.

So yeah, I can see why the other teams complained. It's a smart move by Ducati but it might ultimately hurt the series so much that they'll be the only manufacturer left next year.

apparently, "classes" running the same series has always been a means to determine the pecking order.

The spirit of the rules say that an Open team cannot win a dry race.

Honda complaining about spirit of the rules this, spirit of the rules that, is starting to sound very childish.

What you say is true, but DORNA requested that all of the factories supply data for the new champion software. Honda and Yamaha chose not to, Ducati on the other hand, helped out. If they all answered the request, they would have less to complain about.

Sure, but the whole point of the championship software is to make it available to everyone. Are you surprised Honda and Yamaha didn't want that? It's the whole reason they're in MotoGP anyways.

Ducati can make their stuff open to everyone because they have nothing to lose. They have a massive advantage over the smaller teams because the software is too complicated for those teams to even use! In essence Ducati can just keep doing what they've been doing under the guise of competing under Open rules just because they release their software. They don't even care the other teams can't use it.

This pretty much demonstrates the idiocracy of having the Open rules in the first place.

Isn't Hondas opposition to championship software the fact that they want to develop their own and Dornas stated intent is for the entire grid to run on the open rules? Well there is nothing stopping honda developing their own software within the chpionship format as Ducati has allegedly proved by releasing theirs to all teams. It's like going open source. If HRC developed some neat idea nothing is stopping them keeping it to themselves as they still get the r and d benefit they profess to need to justify their participation, just don't race with it. Another point to be made is that if the smaller teams struggle with using the software couldn't Dorna or marelli provide them extra support or write into the rules the number of software engineers allowed on every team to level the field in resource terms? Wow I long for the days when bike tech was about Big Bang v4 or square four jetting tuning and porting.

The whole point of Honda racing (so they say) is testing out what they develop in R&D. Saying that they should continue developing systems without being able to test them is ludicrous.

And yes Dorna can do whatever they want to level the playing field and whatnot. That's what they're trying to do with these ridiculous rules changes at the last minute.

So they limit the number of engineers to say two, but Honda, Yamaha and Ducati send the data via satellite link in-between sessions to their respective racing departments at the home office which has 20 engineers. How would that be policed? Okay satellite links are banned so Honda, Yamaha and Ducati put the money towards developing race simulation algorithms that tunes the SW before the race with a team of 60 engineers. At the end of the day the factories will ALWAYs have the upper hand compared to the rest of the open class due to spending power.

As for Honda developing a neat software idea and keeping it to themselves. In the world of SW development you usually think of a new idea, write the code, BUT then you need to run it/test it. At that point they would need to 'OPEN SOURCE' it and it ceases to be Honda's idea and becomes everyones idea.

To police. As the best funded teams will always be able to find the best way to exploit the software available to them even if they all run the same very basic package like Dorna wants to do eventually. We have already seen this a couple of seasons ago in moto2 when the monlau team were spending rep sol big bucks and found something very clever but legal with the quick shift setup on Marc Marquez's bike. It's called competition and exploiting the rules to your best advantage just like Ducati have done with the open regs.

Trying to limit cost is a tricky business. Ban dual clutch boxes, so Honda spend even more to develop a new concept seamless transmission, forcing Yamaha to spend large to keep up. Limit the number of engines to save money. Thinking being that the engines will be detuned to extend life and save cost, but the big spenders throw mega bucks at advanced materials and production techniques to extend service life without reducing performance. That's all OK, but ducati's move is unfair because it will escalate costs? Hello, pot!

Will this "Factory 2" nonsense really come to fruition?

Are Honda not in anyway concerned about the MASSIVE negative PR this has earned them on every MotoGP site?

Am interested to know. Does this Factory truly not care about this? If not, Dorna needs to do something fast, as it seems many sites see MotoGP becoming a bit of a farce.

This is getting dumber by the minute! If they want to cut costs, combine Moto GP and WSB. Establish a production based rule and be done with it. What is there to gain? More manufacture participation, deeper talent pool, riders on bikes people can actually buy..... Look at AMA Supercross, that should be the yardstick, not F1. Multiple factories, multiple tire manufactures, MULTIPLE WINNERS and ONE set of rules! This isn't rocket science, boys. Dorna is a cash whore. In the long run, they would make more money and actually promote the sport.

I'm close to switching it all off. Just tired of this. Gigi has done a good job and exploited the rules, good for him. Same thing HRC has done the entire 4 stroke era. It doesn't help that at the MSMA table Ducati is outnumbered yet they still foot the bill to race.

HRC and Yamaha are acting like children and so are there satellite teams. What do you expect Cechinello to say?

Production based rule is a slippery slope. The motorcycle racing industry is based on "Win on Sunday, buy on Monday". Production based passes the costs onto the consumers directly, rather than indirect such as research and development from the race team trickling to the sportsbike market after a couple of years.

The latest bikes are already fairly track focused, compared to the sportbike/roadbikes of the 2000's.

By forcing manufactures' to sell race ready equipment will increase the costs of the bikes into the region where noone is able to afford them, it would bring the sportsbike segment decline into free fall.

How many Desmosedici's do you see on your daily commute, or weekend backroad? Also, at the pointy end, how much of an AMA supercross bike is actually production?

Which bike could You come closer to reproducing yourself, Ryan Villipotos' or Marc Marquez's? You can buy ever single part on Mike Allesi's bike. He's won two heats, thus far. The factories don't care if they win on production based equipment or exotic one offs. They are in business to sell their product. If you think differently, you are extremely naïve.
Combining WSB and Moto GP allows them to focus their resources into one series. Will deeper pockets still prevail? Probably, they will hire the best.
Wouldn't you rather see 7-10 legitimate factory entries? Baring mechanicals, crashes and injuries its a foregone conclusion Yamaha or Honda will win. Is that an absolute? No, but it's hard to bet against.
The current Moto GP, WSB rules are a joke! Multiple classes within one race, WTF? HRC making the rules as they go!
I say Line up and shut up! Let's go racing!

With enough money you COULD reproduce RV's bike but you can't buy a lot of parts off the self. Difference between his bike and Allesi's bike are pretty significant and as a result Allesi may win a heat race here and there but he has not finished in the top 5 this season and even at the beginning of the season was not considered a title contender. The reality is apart from Reed all the winners are on factory bikes, running custom fabricated parts (minus chassis and engine case).

MotoGP Factories want to win but more so the factories (particularly the Japanese factories) want to develop their engineers. To do that they want to race in a series where they can develop ideas and minds (notice I said ideas & minds not parts) and have the engineers prove them out against other factories. That is the reason HRC is allowed to go racing by Honda Corp. Not because of the glory of winning (which is nice) not to directly create ideas that translate road bikes (which is nice) but to create the next generation of revolutionary thinkers that have earned their merit competing head on with the best of the other factories.

That fundamental difference between what the promoter/fans want out of a race and what the factories want out of a race is the reason MotoGP has the on going power struggle. We need a happy medium somewhere. In my opinion that comes from strong leadership that is willing to risk a lot to create concrete lasting rules.

Wanna cut costs, ban factories , i guess.Anyway, if honda wants to make tech of the future, y dont they make electric racers !

I thought the intention of Dorna was to have everyone on Open machines within the next 2 years. The farce that has been going on recently indicates that when that happens the pecking order will still be in place. Even using the "free" software the factories will always have the expertise and money to extract the maximum performance from the software, meaning the satellite and private teams will be fighting over crumbs. It has always been thus, and always will be.

In all endeavours states, organisations, and individuals try to tilt the level playing field in their own favour.

We could end up with a series like the Ozzie V8 Supercars where maximum horsepower and maximum revs are dictated as well as stock ecu and software. They even go to the point of dictating how much fuel must be added during a race so as not to penalise the more thirsty cars. This led to a situation last weekend where the more fuel efficient cars started the race with an almost empty fuel tank so that they could actually fit the required amount of fuel in during the race. But, the racing is close!

What do we want? Close racing, or the ability of teams to develop their machines over time? The latter will always lead to a situation where there a limited number of front runners and a pack of also-rans. The former places more emphasis on the pilot.


Re the dusty track, anyone else have this idea?
Like the Zamboni in hockey, why not have a line of about 4 cars circulate on the motorcycle race line until the dust is blown off? Heck, they could even be intentionally laying down rubber. And have some sort of areodynamics specifically designed tonblow the track clean. And what of oil on the track? Can't we Zamboni that too?

The best RACING at the moment is Moto2. Spec bike, spec tires and sealed engines. Fantastic racing over the last two seasons with eager and inexperienced riders on matched bikes with many bikes racing nose to tail, great passing and on track action. It is the perfection of spec class racing with minimal electronics.
But something seems to be missing. We like the technology, V4 vs V5 vs inline 4 even the twins. We love the seamless gearboxes, carbon fiber frames and swing arms. We live for the rivalry between the teams, the drama, the villainy of Honda at the moment.
It's not only the riders, and it's not just the manufacturers, it's the combinations of the riders and the bike they ride and the team they ride for. Think Rossi on the Yamaha after leaving Honda vs Biaggi on the Yam or Gibernau in the Sat Honda. Think Bayliss, when he won his one off race it was great. When he did it on a Ducati, it was something of legend. And many if us pulled for Kenny Roberts when he did his experiment with the KR series Honda V5's.
We need riders on many different bikes to add the layer of complexity to make it interesting in between weekends. We want the close racing like Moto2 to make the racing interesting during the weekends. What we don't want is to have to keep the ever changing rule book(s) on our coffee table so we can make sense of it. I want to be angry at Honda for being Honda. And love Ducati for being uniquely Ducati.
Dorna, please figure this out before I am forced to follow F1, or worse, NASCAR.

So, the new 'Intermediate' category will not be made after Honda's "crying". I guess it was easier to blame Honda. It fits and it seems it is becoming a trend now.

David Emmet wrote:

"Dorna Events Director Javier Alonso explained the decision on the MotoGP.com website as being a concession to the Open class teams. They had complained that they could not compete against Ducati, and did not have the resources to handle the much more sophisticated software update provided by Magneti Marelli. Fausto Gresini told GPOne.com that it was clear that Ducati's switch meant that the series had lost sight of the idea of the Open regulations, to cut costs. Lucio Cecchinello had also complained to Speedweek.com that the switch by Ducati and the Open regulations were unfair on him and his rider, Stefan Bradl. This is clearly a soap opera that is set to run and run."

Javier Alonso:

“The proposal which has been made relates to Open entry manufacturers achieving podium results, specifically three third positions, two second places or one victory, in dry race conditions. They would then have certain limitations applied relating to the Open class (22.5 litres of fuel reduced from 24) and less engines available (the total reduced from 12 to 9),” states Alonso, Dorna Managing Director and Race Direction member.

He added, “We looked at the Sepang test results, especially the second test, and it’s clear that of the two software versions used, the second developed by Magneti Marelli offers great performance. The fact is that the only manufacturer ready to use that software is Ducati. That gives them some advantage when combined with the Open rules, so we have therefore made this plan to the GP Commission, to find a balance which does not give one manufacturer too much of an advantage.”

Please tell me were can i see were yamaha is acting like a kid?? because the only one acting like a spoiled baby is honda, i hear nothing else but honda moaning. because Yamaha has an open bike with espargaro and edwards, so why would they complain.?? Honda was the first to complain about the open yamaha, the ducati, next came suppo crying, then Cecchinello moaning. and dont forget honda also crying about the ecu. so honda moans about yamaha, ducati, the rules, the ecu, open class etc.

So brick if you can give us a link were we can see yamaha acting like a kid about thier own open yamaha please let us know!

Dorna want everyone in the same class and 'competitive'. Cost reduction is a major part of that aim, in order to get a more level playing field competition-wise, and to slow the bikes down before the circuits become obsolete/need huge amounts of money spent to make them able to accommodate the ever-faster machines.
That the 'lower' teams have said they cannot afford the staff to apply the latest software as released by Dorna/Ducati just illustrates the extent of the affordability/competition problem. Someone has to be last, but you want them a bit closer than they are now, even if big gaps are not new in this class/the 500's.
This situation has occurred mainly because of Ducati's problems (the Forward /FTR situation is perhaps not far adrift, but it's mainly about Ducati). Who knows if they would have gone Open with a lesser grade of software? They probably would have, because of all the other issues. However, we are where we are, and this restriction isn't really a problem for them. The 'lower' teams are no worse off than before (except the Ducati is still, perhaps, ahead of Aleix). If they have particular problems it may be that MM can point them to a solution within the software that they can use.
If Ducati start winning, apart from a one-off or weather event, then both HRC and Yamaha will be working for further restraints, because that clearly isn't the intention here. Given the technology and software advantage that they both have, plus the riders, that seems unlikely - if it was just fuel/power the Open boys would already be up there. However, if Ducati do start to look dominant then all Dorna has to do is turn off a few bits of capability, or lock-out some revs, in the ECU and restore competition.
As others join the Open game the same will apply - Dorna is able to 'simplify' the TC and limit engines to rein-in the factories/better-off teams and put the emphasis on the riders. The same goes for braking controls - air-bleed and other strategies can be prevented and we get racing with slightly slower bikes where riding skill is emphasised over electronics, and the riders with particular skills have a chance to use them, rather than being out-gunned by electronics all the time. Whether these strategies will filter through to ABS/ESC etc. systems for road bikes in the future I don't know - but racing has served its purpose and now is time to put control back to the rider and the hand/foot controls.
As for Dorna's fiddling with the rules - it has to be. Stand up the person who could get it exactly right every time and please everybody, plus deal with investors etc., etc. No set of rules is going to remain Gigi-proof and the best option is to keep it more open, allow innovation, and just rein it in when the clever/rich chaps get too much of advantage.
The current stuff is more or less pure politics - Dorna is rightly trying to keep everyone on side and keep their eye on the main objective. It is better to have HRC in MGP than for them to drop it in a huff of oriental face-saving. I don't like some of their strategies either, but racing is better with HRC than without and I would rather they keep some of their trainee GiGi's in MGP than F1. If they go, they go; but it's better with them and the control ECU IMO.