story and photos courtesy MotoGP
Randy de Puniet testing Suzuki’s new MotoGP entry
Fresh from his third win of the season on Sunday, Jorge Lorenzo has posted the quickest lap time in Monday’s Official MotoGP™ Test at the Circuit de Catalunya. But all eyes were on Suzuki as the Japanese company made a European debut with its 1,000cc, in-line four prototype ahead of a return to the World Championship in 2015.
On a more overcast day at the Montmelo-based track, the big news was from Suzuki Motor Corporation which announced that – having pulled out of MotoGP™ at the end of 2011 – it would be returning in less than two years’ time. Nobuatsu Aoki was first to ride before Randy de Puniet took over for the rest of the day.
On the timesheets, current title holder Lorenzo led the way with 1’41.908 – only 11 thousandths of a second slower than Dani Pedrosa’s new pole position record of Saturday. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider sampled a new fuel tank he had requested, whereas teammate Valentino Rossi worked on gaining a better front end feeling with the M1. In second place was LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, looking into setup issues in a bid to dial out his lack of front-end grip.
Ducati Team and satellite outfit Pramac Racing ran back-to-back comparisons of their GP13 and GP13 ‘Lab’ bikes, with Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso ending proceedings in third and fourth places while Andrea Iannone and Michele Pirro were ninth and 11th, respectively. At Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, Cal Crutchlow sampled the Yamaha chassis evolution as tested by Lorenzo and Rossi in the post-race test at Jerez, while teammate Bradley Smith departed the circuit early in order to undergo a skin graft operation in Barcelona city centre.
The day was broken up by several red flags, one of which was for Rossi who crashed his Yamaha shortly before 4pm. There were no such issues for the Suzuki, which ran in a chiefly blue livery. For sole tyre supplier Bridgestone, the order of the day was to test a new rear compound tyre, although carrying out meaningful runs was a difficult task as teams were engrossed in their own programmes. The new Hard compound is closer to the current Medium and designed to come into its own towards the end of races.
In the CRT ranks, a raft of components were tried out. Hector Barbera ran a new swingarm and electronics package at Avintia Blusens, whereas CRT leaders Power Electronics Aspar looked into suspension and chassis. At NGM Mobile Forward Racing, there was experimentation of a flat, oval-shaped air intake which is claimed to encourage better handling, although the former teardrop form is better for conserving engines. At PBM, the main plan was to test a new shock and exhaust.
Continuing development work with its ECU software for the CRT runners, Magneti Marelli brought an upgrade in a bid to revise wheelie and upshift strategies, while at Cardion AB Motoracing there was a sense of achievement as a technical problem was identified with the spark plugs of Karel Abraham’s bike. A total of 19 riders posted lap times, with Lukas Pesek completing the field for Came IodaRacing Project.
MotoGP™ action will continue on Tuesday as Repsol Honda Team begins testing at MotorLand Aragon, where it will be joined by Yamaha and Suzuki from Wednesday.