Factory MotoGP teams (and Ducati) put in three days of testing at Phillip Island March 3-5, 2014 with special focus on Bridgestone
tire development. The test was planned to avoid a repeat of the Australian debacle in 2013
where the GP race was divided into two halves, separated by a pit stop for fresh rubber because of extreme tire wear. Phillip Island has always been a harsh circuit on tires, particularly the left side thanks to the final two high-speed corners leading to the start/finish straight. Resurfacing completed in December 2012 didn’t help the problem and contributed to a round that will undoubtedly live in GP infamy.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who struggled with tire performance throughout the previous test at Sepang, dominated the three days in Australia. The Mallorcan was fastest in each of the three sessions, running in the low 1’29s with a best result coming on the final day with a 1’29.068. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished second-fastest in combined time with his best lap set during Session 2. Honda’s Marc Marquez was a notable absence from testing, as the defending MotoGP champion rehabs the leg he broke during a dirt-track training ride. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso finished in third, slightly more than three tenths adrift of Lorenzo’s best effort. Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi, posted the fourth-fastest time in the combined classification followed by Dovi’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow in fifth.
During the first day at Phillip Island riders were charged with dialing-in a set-up on control tires and then conducting short runs (of at least six laps) on six new tires with updated compounds and/or construction.
Session 2 was a continuation of the same, but by the end the selection had been pared down to the three best options for use on the final day. Pedrosa and Crutchlow put in longer runs on tires that showed promise during Session 2, the Ducati pilot logging nearly 20 consecutive rotations and Pedrosa doing 20 as well. Pedrosa hit a bird during his long run, though luckily it didn’t result in any serious trouble for the Honda ace. Lorenzo utilized the second day to test a new front faring as well, narrower than the standard kit and with a larger intake port to help optimize performance in the characteristically windy conditions at Phillip Island.
Progress continued the final day with more long runs and ended with riders upbeat about the data gathered.
Cal Crutchlow, “The team worked great at Phillip Island. We had a lot of stuff to try for Bridgestone over the three days to evaluate the rear tire. I’m happy enough to go away from here feeling positive at this circuit. At no point did I push for a one-off lap time over the three days, so I’m confident we could have made an improvement if we’d needed to but the test was about evaluating the tires for Bridgestone and I wasn’t taking any unnecessary risks.”
Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna, “For us it was important to show that we could also make progress at Phillip Island, on a track that is so different from Sepang in Malaysia. We also tried to do a race simulation, which is always very useful. I am quite pleased with the results, but in any case we still have a lot of work to do before becoming really competitive.”
Dani Pedrosa, “"Overall, this has been a positive three days. We have enough data gathered not only for Bridgestone, but also for ourselves, so I think that it has been positive and now we shall try to rest up a bit. It's all about continuing our training now, with the first race in Qatar on the horizon."
Jorge Lorenzo, “After Sepang I told the press that the tire Bridgestone gave us in Sepang was too hard for everyone, especially Yamaha, but with normal conditions and normal tarmac there is no problem as we saw here.”
Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Manager, Shinji Aoki, “This was a very positive test for Bridgestone as we achieved all our objectives. I would like to thank the riders and teams for all their hard work over the three days, as without them we couldn’t have achieved what we set out to do. Our primary focus was to find some suitable rear tire options for this circuit, and out of the six experimental rear slicks we provided for the test, three options yielded some very encouraging results. These three rear slick options will now steer development for the race tires we will provide for October’s Australian Grand Prix and following a successful three days, we are confident of delivering an allocation of tires that will last the full-race distance while maintaining very high levels of safety and performance.”
Four Moto2 riders were on hand as well to evaluate Dunlop’s tire solutions in Philip Island. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio and Tito Rabat and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol and Jordi Torres turned a total of 838 combined laps over the three days. Rabat finished fastest on the combined timesheet, followed by Kallio in second, Torres in third and Terol in fourth.
MotoGP & Moto2 Phillip Island Tire Test Combined Results 2014
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’29.068
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’29.381
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’29.387
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’29.516
5. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 1’29.576
6. Tito Rabat (Kalex) 1’32.168
7. Mika Kallio (Kalex) 1’32.698
8. Jordi Torres (Suter) 1’32.998
9. Nico Terol (Suter) 1’33.014