Testing is done.
The 3 nights spent at Qatar did give us some ideas about how the 2016 Championship is going to unfold, but it’s all still so unpredictable. The double whammy of both electronics and tire change for this season seems to have been a bit too much to handle for everyone, especially given how little a time they had to get used to them.
I’ve never heard a MotoGP rider give his bike 100/100, it’s always 95 at best, mostly lesser. The reasons for that may be varied, chassis, engine, tires, electronics, suspension etc., it could be anything. But what’s special about this season is that almost everyone is whining about the same problem.
The Frenchies at Michelin have done a fantastic job of providing rubber for the monsters, but just like the bikes, they also seem stuck at 90. Their tires were responsible for one of the rarest and the most dangerous types of crashes that ever happen in MotoGP, the one on the straights. Here’s a video of Loris Baz narrowly avoiding grevious injury, if not certain death, at nearly 300 kmph.
What most riders seemed unhappy about was the lack of tires, especially the front. They only had 2 options, a soft that was too soft, and a hard that was a bit too hard. Most went in with the hard, since the soft didn’t seem to give any feedback at all. Naturally, too few a tires and too much of pushing, there were plenty of crashes.
Probably the hardest hit was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who took his bike’s rear tire straight to the balls.
That didn’t seem to have dampened his spirits though, as can be seen by the new and exclusive winglet system on his helmet.
Tech3 Yamaha also seemed to have taken a liking to the wings, and so did a few Mahindra powered Moto3 teams. Damn the wings are here to stay.
The medium tire used by test riders seems like the best bet, but the real riders will only get to feel them at FP1 in 2 weeks time, at which moment it might be a little too late to panic, or the best possible time, based on your situation.
The fastest riders
Lorenzo was there, again, and faster by over half a second than anybody else. As much as may people, including myself, hate Lorenzo for being a cock, there’s nobody like him out there, not even close.
The gap that Lorenzo had over the second guy was the same gap that the second guy had over the 10th guy.
He never looks like he’s pushing too much, unlike Marquez. When Marc is trying to go fast, it’s easy to tell. The rear tire bounces left and right, then slides wildly, at which point the bike lowsides only for him to pick it up again on his knee and set the fastest lap in the history of time.
Lorenzo’s riding style is like Kristen Stewart’s facial expressions, they just never fucking change.
Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding finished second, followed by Viñales, then the surprise entry of Marquez, and then Rossi. Here’s the complete list of 10 fastest times over the weekend.
[table id=10 /]
Dani Pedrosa isn’t happy
And he doesn’t have much reason to be. Not only was he not able to improve his time from Thursday, Marquez finished about half a second quicker than him. It wasn’t surprising then to hear his answer to the question “Had he made any progress with the bike?”
What a brilliant guy, and a brilliant racer he is, but also THE unluckiest man alive, by miles.
Nobody has any doubts about his talent, but it appears that he’s been regularly let down by the machine. The 2016 Honda doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement over the 2015, with the same heavy-metal power delivery that makes it a pain to pull out of corners.
With the pace that the Suzukis and the Ducatis are running, Honda’s problems are only going to get worse.
Ducati forgets how to read a calender
In other news, Ducati booked the Losail circuit for a test of their GP16 with Casey Stoner this weekend, only to find out that the rule book says this:
Test riders may test at any circuit, at any time, using only their team’s Test Tyre Allocation. Tests are not permitted within the 14 days before a GP event at a circuit unless authorised by Race Direction.
Their faces must’ve been a treat to watch. Good thing Ducatis are doing well in almost everything else.
Marquez finds his feet
Out of nowhere, Marc Marquz finished 4th, just ahead of Rossi on Friday. That’s what he’s always been known for, pulling a rabbit out the hat, quickly followed by a lap time that no one expected.
Marquez is one of the youngest on the field, and still with enormous experience on GP bikes. This means that he’s the most well-placed dude out there to radically change his riding style to suit what can only be described as a mediocre machine. And that’s what it’ll take, a giant leap of faith.
There are plenty of things against him though, and the biggest one is the 250 hp piece of burning metal and fuel between his legs. None of the Honda riders seemed happy with their machines, neither factory nor satellite. Both the changes in 2016, tires and electronics, seem to have affected the bikes in an extremely negative way.
The Hondas were already like a problem child, and with the spec electronics, it’s like the dad dying in a car crash. Dad was the one with some level of control over the beast. Can’t expect much from the crying mom or the retarded step sister.
Even if somehow the Hondas manage to be a bit fast in the opening laps by taking lots of risks, as the tires wear out the bike is going to get worse to handle. It’ll not be surprising then to watch Marqeuz crashing over and over again, just like last year.
Everything will be clear by 20th, when the first round is over. Till now it’s been a lot of trying of new things and running race simulations and stuff, but when those red lights go out, none of that will matter.