Phillip Island back on winter testing schedule?

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Phillip Island could make a surprise return to the MotoGP winter testing schedule in 2012.

Plans are under discussion to let factory teams like Marlboro Ducati, Repsol Honda and Yamaha test at the Australian venue, as well as the traditional two Sepang test sessions in Malaysia.

Nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi criticised the testing restrictions recently when he said the current time on track during the off-season wasn’t enough.

Apart from the traditional two-day test session immediately after the final race in Valencia, teams can only test for another eight days. Two of those are of little benefit for the rest of the season as they take place at night under the Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar.

The current testing ban will remain in place, prohibiting anybody from riding and developing bikes between December 1 and January 31.

But Phillip Island could be added to the two Sepang tests and the pre-race two-night test in Qatar axed.

Bridgestone in particular has resisted any attempt to put Phillip Island back on the testing schedule.

Conditions in February during the Australian summer are nothing like the cold weather traditionally experienced for the race in October, so any information on tyres gained is for the most part irrelevant. Some factories have also questionned the wisdom of testing in Phillip Island at considerable expense when conditions for the test and race are so different.

By testing twice in Sepang, teams can make a direct comparison on machine upgrades on the same track, and weather conditions and track temperatures tend to be the same for the race later in the year.

Plans to increase the testing schedule will be further debated during this weekend’s Motorland Aragon MotoGP round in Spain.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt