Reflecting on the MotoGP/WSBK Misano Test

Misano hosted some MotoGP and WSBK teams for a shakedown test this week

There was no ‘official’ timing undertaken by the respective series organisers but times have widely been circulated from a combined MotoGP and WorldSBK Test staged at Misano over three days this week. One would also imagine the riders were not pushing the outright boundaries in this scenario as the risk of getting injured only weeks before racing is start to recommence after the long COVID-19 induced interruptions to the race season would have their respective team managers none to happy!

That said, racers are racers and when there is a stopwatch present then they want to stop that clock quickest! Some riders got clean laps in on fresh qualifying tyres while others set their fastest time on race tyres. For some there was a strict testing regimen of new parts to be evaluated in their role as test riders and no real chance to slip in soft tyres and go all out for bragging rights.

KRT showing their COVID-19 precautions

The test was also an opportunity for riders and team personnel to familiarise themselves with the masks and social distancing precautions that will be in place at the circuits for race weekends when racing starts again.

Aleix Espargaro was unofficially quickest on the latest Aprilia RS-GP.  Over the course of three days of testing the 30-year-old Spaniard ended with a best of 1m32.932s after 183 laps of the freshly resurfaced 4226 metre long Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia MotoGP – 1m32.932

After such a long stop, it was exciting to get back onto the track and I already can’t wait to go to Jerez for the first two races. Turning a lot of laps is fundamental for us. We have a totally new bike which, although born with great potential, needs to get some miles under it. We also know that Misano is not our favourite track, but in spite of that, at the end of the three days, we managed to achieve a good pace, confirming the positive impressions we had already had in Malaysia and Qatar.”

Aleix Espargaro

KTM riders Miguel Oliveira and Pol Espargaro were also on track earlier in the week but no official information was forthcoming from the Austrians following the test. Anecdotes on the internerd though suggest Miguel Oliveira lapped just as quick as Aleix Espargaro in the 1m32.9s with Pol Espargaro also on that benchmark. Earlier this week KTM confirmed that Danilo Petrucci will ride the RC16 in MotoGP season 2021 and also confirmed their entire rider line-up for next year (Link).

Ducati MotoGP test rider Michele Pirro only just bested Scott Redding on the Ducati Superbike. Pirro put in a total of 178 laps across to complete his testing schedule while Redding notched up 135 laps in what were sweltering conditions in the Emilia Romagna region of Northern Italy.

Michele Pirro – Ducati MotoGP Test Rider – 1m33.000

It was a positive three-day test, which has allowed us to regain some confidence with the bike after the long break of these months. Despite the scorching heat, the track, which was recently resurfaced, was in excellent condition and allowed me to feel comfortable immediately. We were able to set good lap times, which make us confident for the two races scheduled for September. We’ve been working on several electronics components and some aspects that were still pending after the Shakedown Test in Sepang. We are sure that thanks to these three days, the Ducati riders will be able to arrive at the first MotoGP race in Jerez ready to be immediately at the highest level of competitiveness.

Michele Pirro

The 27-year-old Briton would no doubt have loved to have proved faster than Pirro on the MotoGP bike and was only a couple of hundredths off doing exactly that.

Scott Redding – Aruba Ducati WorldSBK Rider – 1m33.067

These were three very positive days as it was important to regain the feeling with the bike. We have worked a lot especially with used tyres and we have tried new solutions that have given positive feedback. I’ve been working out a lot these months with the goal of losing weight. In the end, I also managed to set a good chrono but this is not important. It was great to get back to work with the guys and I can’t wait to get back on track“.

Scott Redding

Jonathan Rea was next quickest on the KRT ZX-10RR, lapping faster than Aprilia MotoGP rider Bradley Smith.

Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team Rider – 1m33.206

I am quite satisfied with this test and it was very valuable to get up to speed. Yesterday everything felt quite alien to me, especially as the asphalt was new and the grip levels were high. I just had to adapt my riding style a little bit. Also we changed the bike setup; actually to take a little bit of grip away. I was still not 100% confident but I felt better a lot better after the tyre grip had dropped a bit. After six or seven laps I felt more comfortable on the bike. At the end, with a race tyre, I was still able to be very fast and I felt confident to push. We did not get excited or carried away when we were struggling; we just went about it step-by-step with the crew, and with Showa, changing the bike set-up. We did not have many huge items to try. I really feel like here, with the grip level being so high, we have been able to achieve a little bit more natural turning from the bike. That is a huge thing to take away from here and I hope we can apply it to other tracks where we have been struggling in the past.

Jonathan Rea

Pere Riba – Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea

Testing has been very good. After this long lockdown it was very interesting to see how the riders would be, how the mechanics and everybody worked. And they all worked very well. Johnny is in really good shape and he has been working a lot on his psychology and physically he was very strong. He came here with his batteries recharged. This track, on the other hand, is like a new track as it has been completely re-asphalted. The grip is impressive – completely crazy! On a Q tyre Johnny was 1.5 seconds faster than what he did last year. Yesterday, all this new grip made a new request to the balance of the bike and Johnny was not so happy. Step-by-step we understood the direction and from the first ‘out lap’ yesterday to the final one today we did not stop improving. I am honestly very proud of the job everybody did in the team. Johnny did a 1’33.4 today, making him the fastest one with a race tyre. On his Q tyre he made a mistake on the first lap but still did a 1’33.2 on his second lap. That could have been a 1’32.9 or 1’33.0.

Jonathan Rea

Bradley Smith was subbing for the suspended Andrea Iannone and will race for the Aprilia MotoGP squad when the season gets underway after initially being contracted as a test rider unless Iannone is allowed to race under appeal, a situation that looks very unlikely. 

Bradley Smith – Aprilia MotoGP Rider – 1m33.536

I’m honestly pleased at the end of these tests. I had to make a physical and mental step to go from tester to rider and I think I managed, especially on this last day. Right now, it is fundamental for us to gain experience on this new bike, gathering data and understanding how it reacts. While the base setup proved to be good straight away in Malaysia and Qatar, there are still many aspects that we need to explore in order to exploit the full potential of the new project. On my part, I know that I still have room to improve and Aleix’s performance demonstrates as much, but the gap has shrunk and I feel much more at ease taking the 2020 RS-GP to the limit.”

Bradley Smith

Romano Albesiano – Aprilia Racing Technical Director

These were important tests to define the starting point of our championship. We assessed the various chassis, engine and electronics solutions, in addition to breaking in a team that is brand new in many aspects. The riders needed this test as well to get back into the rhythm after such a long stop, and I must say that I saw them improving day after day. The decisions in view of Jerez have been taken. Many of the new features we had prepared worked well and I am rather pleased with the overall level of the bike. In any case, there is still a lot of work to do on the details, especially to increase overall reliability. We say it every year, but it isn’t wrong to do so: the level of the championship has gone up even farther and that pushes us to make an even greater effort.

Bradley Smith

Next quickest Ducati GO Eleven WorldSBK rider Michael Rinaldi on 1m33.560 ahead of KRT’s Alex Lowes. The Briton experiencing another new circuit for the first time on the ZX-10RR and building up his experience and relationship with the bike, putting in over 100 laps on the final day alone.

Alex Lowes – Kawasaki Racing Team Rider – 1m33.694

The test today has been really good because we had clear targets that we wanted to achieve at the start of the day. We wanted to do a race simulation while trying to keep a good pace after such a long time off the bike. And also find a direction with the front end setup for the Barcelona tests. We achieved both those things. I had a nice 20 laps this morning, when the track was really hot, which gave us good information for the next races in Jerez and Portimao, because we think they are also going to be hot. At the end of today we tried to improve our pace on new tyres and I was quite satisfied with what we did. After 103 laps I was a little bit tired at the end but it was a successful test and we have a lot of information to take into the next test. That will be another new track for me on the Kawasaki, so it is all about gelling with the bike in all different conditions. I also want to say a big thanks to the team. It has not been easy to organise the test with everything that has gone on but a massive thanks to the KRT guys.”

Alex Lowes

Guim Roda – KRT Team Manager

This has been such an intense test. After four months stopped – the longest in the last 10 years for sure – it has been nice to come back to the racetrack. We tried to get into the rhythm and let the riders enjoy on the bikes. It has been our first experience in ‘Covid-19 mode’ and for sure we need to improve our system. We made PCR tests and Antibody tests for all staff. We even asked a few suppliers who were in attendance to do the same, to ensure to the max that nobody could spread the virus. The most important thing will be to be responsible and try to follow current government rules about virus prevention outside the paddock. We are conscious that part of the proposed racing program is linked to preventing Covid-19 from coming into the paddock, so let’s see if we can ‘win’ this race too.”

Alex Lowes

Chaz Davies put in 177 laps during the test and recorded a best of 1m34.053, a full second slower than his team-mate in the factory Aruba Racing Ducati squad, Scott Redding.

Chaz Davies – Aruba Ducati WorldSBK Rider – 1m34.053

It was nice to get back out there and see a lot of familiar faces. It has been a long four months and there was a great desire to reconnect with the bike and the track. We worked a lot to try many solutions and get some important feedback. We have improved in some areas and we have to improve in other aspects but the direction is the right one”.

Chaz Davies

Marco Zambenedetti – Ducti Corse Technical Director

I am very satisfied with these three days of testing as we were able to test – with Redding and Davies – some new parts and technical solutions we tried a month ago on this circuit with Pirro and Rinaldi. We had good feedback from the riders on the new ergonomics. We also re-tested some of the solutions we tried in Australia and there are still some others to try out, especially from an electronic point of view. We will be able to do it before the race weekend at Jerez“.

Scott Redding

Leandro Mercado (Ducati Motocorsa) was next quickest while Leon Camier (Ducati Barni WorldSBK) and Sylvain Barrier (Ducati Brixx WorldSBK) appeared to both be way off the pace if the times circulating for the pair are correct.

Johann Zarco was on track onboard a Ducati Panigale V4 that the Frenchman uses as a training bike while Max Biaggi was also there turning laps on an Aprilia RSV-4RR.

The test was also an opportunity for riders and team personnel to familiarise themselves with the masks and social distancing precautions that will be in place at the circuits for race weekends when racing starts again.

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