With the closing of the Qatar preseason test over the weekend it truly now marks the BEGINNING of the 2015 MotoGP Season. Are you excited because I surely can’t contain mine any longer!
There are big reasons to be excited about this year’s racing:
- Suzuki is back in the fold as manufacturer and they have brought back a bike which is seemingly more competitive than in recent years to my memory
- Aprilia joined the paddock a full one year earlier than stated to collect enough data to build a full blown prototype, hopefully very much unlike their RS Cube of years past
- The biggest story I think so far will be the Ducatis’ of the Andreas’ Innanone & Dovinzioso
- Yamaha getting a fully seamless gearbox to hopefully match those of the Honda
- Honda well being Honda the Big Red Evil Empire are well on their way to a productive season
The test was held at night of course as the first race is there under floodlights. Ever seen a bunch of fast prototypes racing in the night time? It is pretty surreal, even if watched on TV. Days prior Kawasaki held the launch of their H2 and H2R superbikes which gave way to the idea that with circulating bikes the track would be in much better shape than of years past during the ceremonial testing period. It was and it wasn’t. Track was cleaner than in years prior but being a track in the freaking desert you have to expect some bits of sand and dirt to linger. Not to mention it was held at night unseen dew invisible to the eye can send you reeling and rolling if not expecting.
Thus surprise surprise who tops the sheets on day 1 if it weren’t the Ducatis? Am I shock? Not really because the new bike seem to be a much better competitor than of its last renditions, thank Gigi for that. The real question is did they use the softest option allowed to them to set those times. No one answered directly, but it seemed that they may have been using their allowed hardest option, the softest for the factory riders, when setting these times. Which makes you think ‘damn Crutchlow you jumped ship too early.’
Another surprise? Aleix putting the Suzuki into the top 5 on day one. I always pipped him as talented but always needing better equipment, could the Suzuki be just that for the young lad? Vinales was top 12 day 1 and top 15 day 2. Not too shabby for a front runner in his rookie season in the top class. He surely will be the one to watch this season as his skills of riding the bike progresses.
Aprilia, in full focus of data entry mode, and it shows, lagged around in the back of the packs. Both factory esque riders now regulated to data acquisition instead of fighting for top position in order to help the Italian firm build a much better, hopefully, prototype for when the new regulations start in 2016.
The top two factories, Honda and Yamaha, primarily worked on final race setup, the former much more than the latter. With their programs in place and equipment checked it is pretty much now fine tuning what they can to extract the most bit of performance over race distance as opposed to the other factories. Yamaha with their seamless gear box hopes to change the game in braking and mid corner performance. Honda with their new chassis aims to make it more rideable for both Pedrosa and Marquez.
Images from MotoGP.com: