Movistar Yamaha – Valentino Rossi has made several assurances this season he wants a dominant MotoGP test team to take care of the chassis problems. But Movistar Yamaha won’t do him that favor. While Ducati and KTM run professional test teams with Casey Stoner and Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Mika Kallio (KTM) in the MotoGP World Championship, the rest of the manufacturers are catching up in this respect.
Movistar Yamaha is thinking about setting up a test team. Honda is also working on such a plan, as is Aprilia and Suzuki. But the last two plants are failing to do so because of the high costs, which amount to between 1.5 and 2 million euros. The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini wanted to test with Eugene Laverty in 2017. But, in reality, only Matteo Baiocco drove in a circle. “He’s not suitable for performance tests,” said one member of the team. “Too slow.” In Australia, Yamaha approached Michele Pirro. But the 31-year-old Italian is under contract with Ducati until the end of 2020. Aprilia was also after Pirro.
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“I know nothing about a Yamaha interest in Pirro,” Rossi said in Sepang. “But Pirro would be a good idea because he’s strong. If he’s in the tests, his lap times are not far above those of Jorge and Dovi. Pirro could also bring good data to Yamaha. But I hear it won’t be possible to bring him to Movistar Yamaha.”
“Yamaha has already abandoned the plans for a test team based in Europe, anyway. In the last few months, there has been a lot of discussion about new test restrictions,” Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Factory Racing, told SPEEDWEEK.com in Sepang. “Ducati wanted to maintain the current rules. But we wanted a fairer situation because of the Japanese manufacturers a test team based in Europe is costly. We test in Suzuka and Fukuroi with our Japanese pilots. Honda and Suzuki are also testing in Japan. Ducati has done own tests in Mugello, Barcelona, and Mugello this year, in Mugello. They drive with Pirro very, very often because a test driver is not bound to the restrictions of the contract drivers. They’ll test with prototype tires and tune the bikes for the GP tracks in advance.”
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Yamaha will postpone the establishment of a European test team
Now that the test teams of the factories will only be allowed to test on three fixed GP tracks and the regular drivers will have to complete three of the five private test days in November from 2019 onwards, Yamaha will postpone the establishment of a European test team – Suzuki too. “The new test system decided on at the Motegi GP is much fairer because it no longer gives Ducati a clear preference,” says Lin Jarvis. “So far, we have not had the same conditions for MotoGP tests with the test pilots. Because a test team in Europe would be costly and time-consuming for the Japanese plants. For 2018, the regulations will be fairer for all participating works. Ducati will have to restrict itself more with test driver Pirro in the future.”
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