2016 Barcelona MotoGP Post-Race Test Times: Crutchlow Fastest at End of Long Test

Cal Crutchlow has ended a long day of testing on the day after the Barcelona round of MotoGP on top of the timesheets, the LCR Honda rider putting in a final fast lap to go top. Crutchlow finished ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, who spent the day testing a new chassis and working on new Michelin tires, and Maverick Viñales, who was working with an evolution of the 2016 Suzuki chassis.

The teams now pack and head off, except for Yamaha, who will stay on for one more day at Barcelona, and continue testing the new chassis and swingarm brought to Barcelona.


Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 1:43.963    
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1 1:44.202 0.239 0.239
3 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR 1:44.310 0.347 0.108
4 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP16 1:44.390 0.427 0.080
5 41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR 1:44.717 0.754 0.327
6 8 Hector Barbera Ducati GP14.2 1:44.889 0.926 0.172
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP16 1:44.968 1.005 0.079
8 93 Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 1:45.029 1.066 0.061
9 45 Scott Redding Ducati GP15 1:45.328 1.365 0.299
10 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 1:45.379 1.416 0.051
11 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 1:45.454 1.491 0.075
12 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1 1:45.670 1.707 0.216
13 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1 1:45.835 1.872 0.165
14 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP 1:46.338 2.375 0.503
15 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP15 1:46.515 2.552 0.177
16 6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP 1:46.524 2.561 0.009
17 43 Jack Miller Honda RC213V 1:47.005 3.042 0.481
18 53 Tito Rabat Honda RC213V 1:47.481 3.518 0.476


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Honda's strategy regarding their satellite riders is truly baffling. On the one hand, they seem at least superficially aware of the potential to build a factory-team talent pipeline by aligning their satellite and affiliated lower class efforts in a way that provides a path to the factory team: you can draw really short lines between HRC, the Marquez family, and the Marc VDS/Estrella Galicia collaboration formally announced last year (to say nothing of the Honda-funded contract that has Miller competing on a Marc VDS bike this year).

On the other hand, they seem to have little concern for the fact that Honda premier class satellite rides have become career-destroying disasters the past few years. If anything, they seem to willfully impose poor performance on satellite bikes to ensure that nothing threatens the prestige of the HRC Repsol squad. There doesn't seem to be anything like a coherent strategy at play. 

It used to be that the Honda satellite bikes were almost as good as the Repsol ones.  Gresini riders were 2nd in the championship in 2003, 2004, 2005.  They were 4th and 5th in 2006 and 2007 respectively.  Even in 2012, Alvaro was fifth in the championship.

In 2016 the top satellite Honda rider is Cal in 16th.  He's behind both factory Hondas, ALL the Yamahas, both the Suzukis, both Aprilias, both the factory Ducatis, and is only marginally beating the bulk of the satellite Ducatis - many of whom are riding round on bikes 2 years old!

Whatever Honda have done to that bike in the last three years, it's not working!

I wasn't following the sport then, and while this site and its generous and knowledgeable commenters have definitely educated me on some of its history, I've never known a time as a fan when the satellites have been truly competitive. I'm an avid fan of MotoGP in its current iteration, but I think a return to an era with satellites running at the front more often, like the one you describe, would really be an improvement.

I understand how egos (on and off the bike) can create incentives to give the factory teams preferential treatment, but it really makes much more sense to me to have each manufacturer's bikes be as close to identical in spec as possible. The factories will (almost) always have the funds to poach top talent, and minimizing the individual bike's impact on performance is the surest way to make differences in rider and team performance apparent. 

... the satellite honda bikes still ARE almost as good as the factory ones, just that Marc and Dani are a cut above?

We all know Marc is an alien, due to the things he has doen throughout his career.  Dani was considered one of the aliens, and I believe that he still is, just that there are a few circumstances working against him right now (he's too light for the tyres, and last year he had his surgery).

I very much suspect that Honda, right now are in the same situation Ducati was in between 2008 and 2015.  They've had a number of riders who are making the bike look a lot better than it really is.  The last riders to have any real success on it have been Stoner, Pedrosa (good results despite lack of title) and Marquez, and they're just not really representative of the typical crop of riders in my opinion.

There's no easy way to distill how much of the performance gap is driven by hardware differences compared to riders' skill. It may very well be that Crutchlow, Miller and Rabat would post similar times on Repsol-spec machines. I also get how financial considerations will always ensure that the factory teams' hardware will be at least a generation ahead to ensure that production costs are minimized when experiments prove to be developmental dead ends.

I'm more frustrated by instances of willful gaps in performance imposed beyond those that are unavoidable. Superior tech adopted by factory teams early in the season deliberately withheld from satellites until the following year. Or factory bikes running pneumatic valves and seamless gearboxes, while satellite squads try in vain to keep up with steel springs and clutch-dependent shifting. 

It's one thing to seek out and exploit every advantage you can, when the only thing keeping other teams from following your lead is inferior strategic skill or tactical insight. But to seek out advantage by simply hoarding superior resources is a bit unsportsmanlike in my eyes, and ultimately short sighted. 

bear in mind that "newer" doesn't always mean "superior".

Suzuki were doing reasonably well before they got the seamless gearbox, as were Yamaha when HRC had it and they did not.  Marc had at least one seamless gearbox failure in qualy - that could have come in a race and cost him a win.

Whenever you run some brand new piece of tech, there's always the risk of failure, or that the new shiny thing is actually WORSE than the old proven thing over race distance.  What the satellite teams lose on the level of new tech to play with, they likely win in terms of reliability.  A factory is probably not willing to put something brand new into large quantity production until it has been proven.  I doubt they are "deliberately holding back"; rather, the tech is brand new, unproven, and they haven't produced more than a couple of examples to test with.

Factory teams have ALWAYS had the newest toys to play with and this is not going to change; the satellite riders get the battle tested gear that works from previous races/last year.

Luckily, with motorcycles, the rider can make a significant difference.

This year is particularly bad for the satellites as they are running 2015 spec chassis and engines which were built around the Bridgestone tyres and non-spec ECU.  They've got a much bigger disadvantage this year compared to most years.  2017 should hopefully level things out a little more again.

David, Do you know what Cal was testing? Did he get any parts or was it all electrickery?