Oh Boy! these have been long months since the Epic race of Valencia back in November 2015 where we saw Jorge Lorenzo clinch world championship from his team mate Valentino Rossi in a year that was full of thrill and excitement. Sadly, there was the Marquez-Rossi controversy also that was a sore low point for MotoGP. Now, that a new Year and a all new season of MotoGP is upon us, we are looking forward for the first action to start from the Sepang Test 1 that is scheduled to start from 1st to 3rd February, 2016.
So what should be looking forward to this season? Well as already discussed, a hell lot actually. The 2106 MotoGP harks the beginning of a new era in MotoGP with arrival of a new stock tyre supplier in MotoGP in the form of Michelin and mandatory usage of spec electronic sets supplied by Dorna by all teams and riders involved in MotoGP. The 2016 season is poised to throw some real big challenges to the riders and to the teams alike and alongwith the huge expectations created by the 2015 MotoGP season, this year's MotoGP Championship promises to bring never seen excitement to our favourite sport.
With Factory Yamaha and Octo Pramac Satellite Ducati Team already unveiling their livery for the 2016 season in January, thus the 2016 season is truly underway. In a season where the testing is especially vital due to a large number of changes that are scheduled to arrive at the same time in MotoGP, the Sepang test marks the beginning of the 2016 preseason testing season that will be essential for all teams and riders to finalize setup and engine characteristics for the season.
The Open class from previous years seize to exit with the implementation of unified spec software supplied by Magneti Marelli. This means from this year onwards all riders and bikes will use the same software and would chose from same set of tyres and no longer will a few 'open' riders have an excess to softer rear tyre. As an allowance to change is spec software and arrival of new tyres, this year all bikes will run on 22 litres of fuel. All these changes mean that basically all participating teams and contestants will start from zero when the lights go off at Qatar later in March this year, creating what will be the most level playing field the MotoGP arena has seen in a long long time.
With these new regulations implemented, manufacturers are constantly working to bring a variety of changes and upgrades for their bikes and their riders. As already known, Yamaha Motor Racing will continue to assess the difference between the more traditional ‘central’ fuel tank and the innovative ‘rear’ version for their 2016 M1 as they chase better grip from their Michelin fronts. And it is not just the last years triple world champion team, all other manufacturers and teams will have their focus on weight balance of the bikes since the new Michelins have by far been more rear grip centric.
However, things are bit more difficult at Honda this time around as HRC suffered a rather tough 2015 season with an engine that was just too aggressive to tame for its riders. This year it is imperative for HRC to make its engine to have easier power delivery. The over aggressive engine also meant that the 2015 chassis could not gel well with the bike as the frame struggled with the engine throughout the year. Thus, with the implementation of the spec Magnetti Marelli software, Honda will have its hands full in understanding the spec software and utilizing it to the best for the very crucial power and engine management and to alter the hugely aggressive engine power delivery.
For the Italian mark Ducati, the 2015 season, brought some real development and advancement in its quest to regain its lost momentum in MotoGP. With a brilliant start to the season by Andrea Dovizioso and a brilliant later half by Andrea Iannone saw the Ducati Corse team score a total of eight podiums between them as compared to the 2014 season where Ducati could score just three podiums across all their riders. However, the GP15 was still very new and was still developing, and with all new regulation changes for 2016 the work for Ducati doesn’t stop and hell bent to make this year count, the Italian manufacturer looks set to debut the GP16 during the Sepang test. To develop its GP16 Ducati has got Casey Stoner back to its fold and the now Test Rider and Brand Ambassador for the brand has already spent several days testing the bike in a private test at the Malaysian circuit, getting his first taste of the Ducati on Michelin tyres with spec electronics.
On the engine freezing front for the year 2016, all three major players of MotoGP, Yamaha, Honda and Ducati have scored more than six concession points which are awarded for the podium finishes they did in 2015, thus, they will each have seven engines with development frozen once the season starts. However, Suzuki and Aprilia are allowed to have nine engines during the season with no tap on testing or development. It is being done to make sure evry team and rider gets a chance to fight for the victory every race.
Suzuki had a wonderful re-entry to MotoGP in 2015 with both its riders, Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales showing a strong debut year under their belts. The GSX-RR has been heavily revised by Suzuki for 2016 as it looks forward to continue building on its successful 2015 season. In order to match up with the big teams of MotoGP, Suzuki has already debuted a seamless gearbox during a private Sepang test in late 2015 with its factory rider Viñales who showed great pace at the end of season Valencia test. While Aprilia's debut of a all new GP racing prototype has suffered some delay meaning its factory racing riders Alvaro Bautista and Stephen Bradl will be back on the 2015 RS-GP again to gather more data for the development of the all new 2016 Aprilia RS-GP which no longer will be based on the Aprilia RSV4.
Rest assure, Bikeportal, just like last year, will bring you the most in depth news and analysis for MotoGP in India. Ride Safe!