The last three-day test in is finally over and we’re 10 days away from the first race in Qatar. The test was on the same track and if in Sepang there were a lot of surprises last week we just had confirmations of what we saw.
Yamaha and the difference between Vinales and Rossi
Vinales seems to be the fastest and it’s not that he just set the fastest lap, he had also the best pace. Rossi was in trouble on the first day and seemed to had found the right way on the second day. But on the third day, all the problems came back as the first day “At this point, we need a miracle” he said. In more occasions, Rossi confirmed the potential of the new M1 but he still can’t find the right setup. Vinales, on the other hand, seemed to like the new Yamaha a lot. But why? The key to understanding this difference is in their riding style and the new frame. Yamaha changed the geometry of the frame to stress less the front tire making the bike a bit less stable in the entry of a corner. The difference between Maverik and Valentino is that Maverik brakes earlier only with the bike upright and Valentino brakes later and keeps squeezing them during the entry. And this is one of the most important aspects of Rossi’s riding styles.
Ducati, Lorenzo is doing better but still not competitive
Lorenzo is still not as competitive as Dovizioso, he’s struggling for a good run and if I’m honest, I don’t think he’s the right rider for Ducati. Also, I’d be very disappointed if I hire a rider for 20 million and he performed less than the others who cost a fraction of him. Dovizioso is a bit worried, the Ducati characteristics remain: top power, a lot of mechanical grip but hard to turn. Ducati is a very physical machine and I think it doesn’t fit with the smooth riding style of Lorenzo.
Honda is not quite there
Pedrosa made a great 3rd place confirming the fact that he can still be fast and has a key role in the development. Marquez on the other hand, crashed five times and finished 10th. But we’ve seen him crashing a lot and coming back really quick on the top. So the first race will be full of surprises.
We thought it was the revelation of the 2016 but we were probably wrong, it was Vinales. Iannone confirmed this “instability” problem by entering the corner while braking. A problem that didn’t come up with Vinales riding style because he releases the brake earlier.
They made some big changes and they’re definitely more competitive than last year so far. This year they’re aiming for the top 10.
They still have problems in transferring the power to the ground. Pol Espagarro said that they still experience spinning in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear. After a year spent on testing on every racetrack, KTM showed that MotoGP is the hardest racing class in the world and that money can’t buy years of experience.
Let’s start with the regulations. The teams will be allowed to use 3 fairings, the first presented in Valencia 2016, the second in Qatar and the third during the season with the only exception that it as to replace one of the two before. Ducati seems to have a technology advantage over the other teams. They’re experimenting building air channels in the highest pressure points of the fairing. The first race will be next week so there isn’t time for a change or emergency solutions.