Last week’s news was dominated by the first Formula One pre-season test and analysis of the varying fortunes of the teams’ new cars and revolutionary new engines.
Therefore, this week has seemed pretty quiet when compared to the flurry of news last week. This pretty much reflects the difference between Formula One and MotoGP’s approach to testing.
The teams of MotoGP had their first pre-season test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this week and the lack of rule changes in the sport resulted in a pretty quiet and undramatic three days.
However it would be greatly untrue to say there are no stories to report. Going in to the test it was unknown who would be fastest out of last year’s championship contenders – Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez.
But it was Marquez on his Honda who came out on top, the champion setting the fastest time on each of the three days. Yet it is too early to say the new season looks set to be dominated by Marquez.
Yamaha ended the test only two tenths behind, the fastest time set by Valentino Rossi who managed to outpace Lorenzo on each of the days.
Rossi has stated in the off-season that he will take a decision to continue beyond the 2014 season after the first six races providing his pace is improved from last year.
With this in mind, his pace at the test was very promising but with the obvious caveat that Lorenzo may have been pushing to a lesser degree than his team mate.
A second story to come out of the test was the promising pace of the “open-class” bikes, with the Forward Yamaha ridden by Aleix Espargaro managing to get within two tenths of Lorenzo’s works machine.
For those unaware of the biggest rule change in MotoGP this year, the open class is the replacement of the CRT category. In exchange for an increased fuel capacity of 24 litres as opposed to 20 litres teams have to use a standard ECU which will be controlled by the FIM.
The plan was that the new category would get closer to the factory bikes than the CRT bikes did and the performance of the bikes in the test seemed to confirm this.
In fact, the rumours that Ducati have opted to make their new bike conform to the open class rules shows how promising the class is.
However, the biggest mystery out of the test is why Ducati didn’t confirm which class their new bike was designed for.
For the first two days the Ducatis were grouped around 1.5-2.0 seconds off the lead pace and then on the final day Andrea Dovizioso managed to set a lap just 0.8 seconds behind Marquez.
This difference of lap times increased speculation that Ducati had been running both factory and open class bikes in the test to see which one was best. Yet which one of the two variations Dovizioso was running when he set his fastest time is still unknown.
Whichever version Ducati choose to compete with it’s unlikely that they will be racing the lead Yamahas and Hondas, who once again showed supreme pace. The only question remaining is whether Rossi and Dani Pedrosa can turn the championship battle from a duel into a four man competition.