MotoGP plans to ban private testing

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Private MotoGP test sessions like the one Honda and Yamaha recently took part in at the new Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas will be banned in the future.

HRC arranged a private three-day session for Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez at COTA earlier this month, which was a move criticised in some quarters at a time when the paddock is concentrating heavily on reducing costs.

Yamaha too joined the test at COTA but only sent one bike each for Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo and a skeleton crew to save on costs.

Private testing though will be banned in the future under proposals discussed in Jerez last weekend.

The winter testing schedule for 2014 will start in the week after the final race in Valencia in November. But plans are being discussed to test either at Valencia or at a different track in Spain.

Then there will be only three official tests in 2014 ahead of the first race, though a schedule will be decided in the coming months.

The proposals for a ban on private testing will be further debated during the forthcoming first race at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss and International Race Teams Association President Herve Poncharal told MCN:

“Nobody did anything wrong with the Texas test and it wasn’t against the rules but this is not the way to go and we had a meeting in Jerez where everybody, including those that went to Austin, agreed that this is something we shall block and in the future we will stick to the three official tests.

“There was unanimous support that we should stick to what we have done in the past. The season ends in Valencia on Sunday night, so the first test has traditionally been in Valencia. But for the moment let’s call it a Spanish test. We could go to another circuit in Spain. 

“The proposal is to have a test after the end of the season in Spain and not necessarily at Valencia. Then the test ban will come in and there will be only the three official tests. That could be Sepang and then again in Sepang and Jerez. Or Sepang twice and Qatar, Argentina, Texas or Australia.

“We need to understand this but there will be only three official tests.  And then there will only be three post-race tests in 2014 at tracks yet to be decided.”

Last month Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti told MCN: “You have to declare three circuits for testing but until the end of the test ban on February 1 until the 14 days before the first race you can test wherever you what.

“And the satellite teams cannot go to Austin to test because of the cost, so on one side you try to make the competition closer and then in writing the regulations you forget there is a window of two months where you can do what you want which makes the gap even bigger.

“This is not what Dorna wants because they would like a closer show. This is not criticism because Honda did nothing wrong but it is just that I was surprised when I started at Ducati in January and read the regulations, I wondered how they could have this test rule with period where a team can go anywhere.”

Ciabatti was present at the Jerez meeting and afterwards he spoke to MCN: “I was at the meeting and while I can’t disclose details one of the points was to revise a regulation that ws intended to keep costs under control and keep an equal situation among the teams.

“The current rules don’t meet that target. Nobody can put the blame on Honda for going there because it was allowed but obviously those teams that went there, it gives an advantage to them which I don’t think is what the promoter wants.

“The promoter wants to keep the competition closer and if you give an advantage to somebody on a very difficult track like Austin you can expect that those riders will have an advantage and this is probably not going to help us have a spectacular race with more riders able to fight for the top position.

“There was a general agreement that this must be changed.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt