Barcelona Private Test: Marquez Fastest As Riders Slate Chicane

What had originally been planned as a two-day private test for Ducati grew into something rather larger, with Honda and Aprilia also joining the fray. At the end of two days, it was Marc Marquez who ended the test as fastest, a couple of tenths quicker than Jorge Lorenzo on the Ducati, while Alvaro Bautista was third fastest on the Aspar bike. 

The test at Barcelona gave the riders a chance to test two of the most important changes for the series. First, the new, much shorter chicane being used instead of the F1 chicane, replacing Turn 12 where Luis Salom tragically lost his life during practice last year. And second, the riders got a chance to test the stiffer front tire (the '70') which will be used from Mugello onwards, and will therefore be used in Barcelona during the race.

The verdict on the chicane was universal, and the language used to describe it colorful and filled with expletives. Aleix Espargaro was the least unprintable of the riders there, telling's Neil Morrison, "It's not fun to ride." The Barcelona track had once been one of the best in the world to ride, Espargaro said, and now it was just another track. MotoGP would be OK, Espargaro's Aprilia team mate Sam Lowes said, but it would cause carnage in Moto2 and especially Moto3, if a large group of riders tried to all get through there at the same time.

Jorge Lorenzo believed Honda would gain the most from the new chicane, as the RC213V is shorter and more agile than either the Ducati or the Yamaha. Whether Lorenzo is correct or not, both Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez managed to crash at the new chicane, though both were only low-speed spills.

For more rider reaction to the chicane, as well as video of the chicane, read the full story Neil Morrison wrote on it.

Reaction to the new front tire was very much as expected. Those that had liked it at the Jerez test liked it in Barcelona. Those who didn't like it in Jerez didn't like it in Barcelona. Andrea Dovizioso repeated that the feeling didn't really much change between the two tires, while Jorge Lorenzo said he hadn't liked the tire much. The stiffer front was more sensitive to bumps, and needed more work to get temperature into it. 

A lot of riders also did long runs on the tires, checking tire wear at the track which is notorious for wrecking race rubber. "After three laps, the tire has a big drop," Dovizioso said. Both front and rear tires suffer heavy wear, but the Italian was confident that testing had brought a solution, and pleased with the tires Michelin had brought to the test.

Ducati had brought some new parts to the test for both riders to test, which Jorge Lorenzo was happy with. The parts had helped make the engine a little more manageable, though the main aim was to find a setup which worked at the track. 

What Ducati had not brought was a new aerodynamic fairing. The lack of a new fairing suggests that Ducati is still stuck in the development phase, after having abandoned its initial design debuted at the Qatar test. Replacing the winglets, regaining downforce without sacrificing too much top speed and corner stability, is proving to be more difficult than expected.

Aprilia had brought their aerodynamics package, with Aleix Espargaro testing the fairing which Sam Lowes had used at Le Mans. They also had a new, improved seamless gearbox to test, along with some changes to the electronics. Both Espargaro and Lowes viewed the test as positive.

The second day of the test saw the contracted riders on track. Test riders Casey Stoner and Michele Pirro had ridden on Tuesday, with Pirro staying on for Wednesday. 

Below are the times from the test. They should perhaps come with a caveat: according to Neil Morrison, who was at the test, the new chicane was catching a lot of riders out, with riders running wide and off track. Whether such times would be allowed to stand by Race Direction remains to be seen.

Combined times from both sessions:

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 93 Marc Márquez Honda 1:43.803    
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1:43.998 0.195 0.195
3 19 Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1:44.258 0.455 0.260
4 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1:44.369 0.566 0.111
5 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:44.373 0.570 0.004
6 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 1:44.469 0.666 0.096
7 51 Michele Pirro Ducati 1:44.583 0.780 0.114
8 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:44.852 1.049 0.269
9 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:45.196 1.393 0.344
10 76 Loris Baz Ducati 1:45.281 1.478 0.085
12 53 Tito Rabat Honda 1:45.321 1.518 0.040
12 22 Sam Lowes Aprilia 1:46.298 2.495 0.977
13 17 Karel Abraham Ducati 1:47.121 3.318 0.823

Morning session:

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1:43.998    
2 19 Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1:44.258 0.260 0.260
3 93 Marc Márquez Honda 1:44.410 0.412 0.152
4 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 1:44.469 0.471 0.059
5 51 Michele Pirro Ducati 1:44.583 0.585 0.114
6 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1:44.588 0.590 0.005
7 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:44.852 0.854 0.264
8 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:44.894 0.896 0.042
9 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:45.196 1.198 0.302
10 76 Loris Baz Ducati 1:45.281 1.283 0.085
12 53 Tito Rabat Honda 1:45.944 1.946 0.663
12 22 Sam Lowes Aprilia 1:46.298 2.300 0.354
13 17 Karel Abraham Ducati 1:47.663 3.665 1.365

Afternoon session:

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 93 Marc Márquez Honda 1:43.803    
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1:44.267 0.464 0.464
3 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1:44.369 0.566 0.102
4 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:44.373 0.570 0.004
5 19 Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1:44.431 0.628 0.058
6 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1:45.268 1.465 0.837
7 53 Tito Rabat Honda 1:45.321 1.518 0.053
8 76 Loris Baz Ducati 1:45.719 1.916 0.398
9 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1:45.720 1.917 0.001
10 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 1:46.119 2.316 0.399
12 22 Sam Lowes Aprilia 1:46.504 2.701 0.385
12 51 Michele Pirro Ducati 1:46.788 2.985 0.284
13 17 Karel Abraham Ducati 1:47.121 3.318 0.333


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they have removed a dangerous corner due to a lack of run-off, and added a dangerous chicane. 

Surely just addressing the run off would have been a safer option?

The best option would be to fix the lack of run off at Turn 12. However, there are a number of factors preventing this. Although it's been a couple of years  since I walked behind that grandstand, I believe there is a slope behind it, so you can't move the grandstand any further back. A floating grandstand, like in Assen, would be an excellent solution, but would be costly. This is one of the most expensive grandstands, so a case could be made that the circuit would earn the investment back.

An alternative, which would be much more costly, would be to reshape Turn 12, so that it turned in earlier, cutting diagonally across the tarmac where the new chicane is. That would leave enough runoff for MotoGP, and still allow F1 to keep a chicane. However, this would require a major track redesign. I believe Barcelona is waiting for funds to resurface the track, and that would be a perfect time at which to reshape that final corner.

Sadly, I fear we are stuck with the new chicane for the foreseeable future. It's the easiest solution.

KTM have been using a seamless box since at least Mikka Kallio's wildcard ride last year

Fix the bump. Make the circuit safer. putting in a mickey mouse chicane is NOT the answer.

Or keep a similar double right onto the main straight. just move the corners away from the barriers.

I understand that it is impossible to move the existing barriers & grandstands away from the track. so move the track away from the barriers.

the circuit could still be safe, with two good corners and plenty of run off. slightly shorter distance each lap. similar lap times, similar tire life

Rather than a dumb rinky dink one line first or second gear chicane.

Oh yes looks like there is no way of moving the final corner. my mistake.

Amazing how looking at a map helps to visualise stuff.

I still think there has to be a better solution than the proposed abomination.

Ruin a classic circuit. damn Dorna.

From watching the testing it looks like the new chicane might prove to be a bottleneck. Whoever gets in first comes out first.