Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Why the MotoGP winter testing ban?

Author: site admin
Category: MotoGP

This year the FIM extended the mandatory MotoGP winter test ban to be a seven week window starting today December 1st and ending January 20th, 2005.

I’m afraid I don’t really understand this ban. I assume it was done to prevent the big factories from testing all winter long and having an advantage over privateer teams. However, at the MotoGP level (not including 250 and 125GP where there are substantial numbers of non-factory teams) this doesn’t seem to make much sense. The larger factories like Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki all have private tracks in Japan. (Honda owns Motegi and practically owns Suzuka as well. Yamaha has the Fukuroi track and Suzuki has their Ryuyo Proving Grounds facility.) It is possible a gentleman’s agreement will prevent them from privately testing at their factory tracks but would anyone know if they did test?

Second, the Japanese All-Japan Road Race series has a prototype class where some of the manufacturers have raced, most notably Honda and Kawasaki. Will the MotoGP winter test ban prevent non-MotoGP riders from testing bikes destined for that series? Wouldn’t having someone like Yanagawa, Ukawa or Abe turning laps on a AJRR bike on a private test track be an easy backdoor way to get in an additional seven weeks of development work for a big factory? This certainly isn’t a resource that Aprilia, Proton or WCM would have available.

WCM Blata minis

Finally, it seems that smaller teams like TeamKR with their new KTM motor and the WCM Blata project need all the track time they can get in order to compete. Is a winter test ban really helping these teams? Granted, I doubt the Blata V-6 is complete enough to turn laps right now anyway but if Pramac buys the ex-Aprilia Cube they”ll want some run time on the thing ASAP. More immediately, the Proton/KTM bike could benefit from all the testing that TeamKR can afford. In the past, I know TeamKR have had to run their bikes on rented airport runways since they couldn’t get enough track time in England to properly test their prototypes before bringing them to the race track.

Two things I can say for the winter test ban is that it does give the riders a nice holiday break which I’m sure is appreciated and it may reduce the injuries from riders testing on cold tires in Japan in the middle of December. I’d be very interested to read the various teams opinions, especially the smaller teams, about the testing ban and see if they think it helps or hurts them.

[image from WCM website]

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