Andrea Dovizioso logging laps on his new Ducati during the first test session of the 2013 MotoGP season at Valencia.
MotoGP riders officially kicked off the much anticipated 2013 season with a somewhat frustrating test session at Valencia. Just a few days ago the 2012 season came to a dramatic end at the same circuit with the weekend plagued by rain showers and unsafe track conditions. The wet-weather continued into testing, though many riders braved the elements anyway to get a taste of what they could expect aboard their new machines.
Valentino Rossi was one to hit the track prior to showers but while still extremely cold in the morning, marking his official return to Yamaha Factory Racing. The Doctor went out again after the rain started to fall in an attempt at logging fast laps and made it to sixth before the end of the session. After the session ended, Yamaha announced that Rossi and teammate Jorge Lorenzo won’t take part in the second day of testing at Valencia, choosing instead to move to Motorland Aragon.
Andrea Dovizioso, who replaces Rossi on the Ducati team, was able to log laps in the early dry conditions as well, placing third and coming away happy with his new team.
“I’m happy after my first day, mainly because I have a good feeling with my crew and I had a good lap time in the wet, even compared to the wet times over the weekend,” said Dovizioso. “The conditions weren’t ideal for a debut on a new motorcycle, but anyway, it was important for me to do some kilometers on the bike. The Ducati is known for working well in the wet, and I can confirm that, but obviously, we have to try it in the dry. Unfortunately, it looks like the weather tomorrow will be like today.”
Marc Marquez opted out of testing in the rain at Valencia, getting acquainted with his bike in the garage instead.
Hiroshi Aoyama, new to the Avintia Blusens CRT team, put in 31 laps during testing and finished the day in fourth. Premier-class rookie Andrea Iannone logged 40 laps on his Pramac Ducati and placed 13th fastest, just ahead of former Pramac rider Hector Barbera, who is now teammate to Aoyama. Iannone’s teammate Ben Spies remains out with injuries, so Michele Pirro stepped in as test rider for the day and finished seventh.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and former Moto 2 rider, Marc Marquez, both opted to sit out the entire session to wait for dry conditions. Marquez tried to optimize his time though by gaining a feel for the bike dimensions and electronics in the garage.
“I have this fantastic bike here but unfortunately the weather isn’t very good,” said Marquez. “It’s better to be patient and wait as it’s important to test the bike in the best conditions possible. I spent some time with the team this morning and I learnt many things but I still have a lot to learn. I know the power will be very different and also the electronic controls, also the carbon brakes and tires will be something I need to adapt to, but step by step we will learn. I’m really excited to get started but we agree that it’s best to test the bike in the dry for the first time, I just hope the weather will improve tomorrow!”
Repsol Honda also promises to unveil new livery and leathers for the upcoming season sometime after the first of the year.
Bradley Smith, new to Monster Yamaha Tech 3 for 2013, stayed inside during the first day of testing at Valencia due to weather, but made sure his leathers fit all the same.
Bradly Smith is another rider to rise up the ranks from Moto 2, joining Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team. Both riders stayed inside during testing, and Smith was particularly disappointed to have to delay his first ride aboard the YZR-M1.
“To say I am disappointed is an understatement,” said Smith. “I’ve been looking forward to today for months, so to not even get out on track for one lap is a bit frustrating, but there is nothing I can do about it. When I got in my leathers yesterday and sat on the bike for the first time, it really hit home what a big day in my career this was. It is a shame that I’m still waiting to try the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 for the first time but my chance will come. For most of the day the conditions were the worst possible. I was only going to get let out if the track was really soaking so I could get a feel for the bike. It looks the weather is going to be even worse tomorrow but at least I’ll get out for a few laps and that will be a bonus.”
Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista was the fastest rider of the day, followed by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in second. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden scored fifth-place, trying new shock settings and a different frame to help improve wet-weather performance.
2013 MotoGP Season Valencia Test Results:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’35.936
2. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’36.198
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’39.868
4. Hiroshi Aoyama (BQR) 1’42.239
5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’42.571
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’43.736
7. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 1’44.297
8. Claudio Corti (FTR) 1’45.814
9. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’46.045
10. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’46.060
11. Colin Edwards (FTR) 1’46.426
12. Karel Abraham (ART) 1’46.992
13. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’47.772
14. Hector Barbera (BQR) 1’49.457