The minor furor caused by the private Honda/Yamaha test at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas—which will be hosting the next round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship in less than two weeks—has apparently resulted in a couple of moves by MotoGP rightsholders Dorna with regards to testing.
The Honda/Yamaha test ironically was fully within the rules on testing, which were much more restrictive prior to 2011. Testing using contracted riders (meaning riders competing in the MotoGP championship) was effectively banned outside of the official MotoGP tests, but that ruling was reversed ostensibly to allow the factory teams additional time to get the then-new 1000cc MotoGP machines fully developed before the 2012 season. But another reason is that Dorna made the move to help the struggling factory Ducati Marlboro squad, who were clearly behind the eight-ball with regards to competitive speed as demonstrated by Hayden’s and Rossi’s dispiriting 2011-2012 seasons. Lifting the testing ban allowed Hayden and Rossi to engage in numerous midseason tests in an effort to solve the Ducati Desmosedici’s handling woes, even though they were fruitless for the most part.
Because the Repsol Honda, LCR Honda, and Yamaha Factory Racing teams took part in the Austin test while the other teams balked because of cost, there was a lot of grumbling within the paddock regarding just how meaningful Dorna’s oft-stated aims at reducing costs really were. Thus, Dorna and the FIM announced that the testing ban has been reinstated, with no private testing using contracted riders outside of the four official MotoGP off-season tests.
Dorna then curiously announced that a test has been scheduled for the week following the Assen race in the first part of July at the newly constructed Circuito Internacional Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina. Curious because the Argentina race was unceremoniously dropped from this year’s race calendar because of tension regarding the Argentinian government’s expropriation of Repsol’s YPF SA subsidiary in that country, leading the many Repsol-sponsored teams in all classes of MotoGP to likely demur from attending the race. In a vaguely worded press release, Dorna stated that “Several representatives of the World Championship—including those of marques such as Honda, Ducati and Yamaha—will take part in (the) official (test) in Argentina.”
But according to MotoMatters.com, those teams that took part in the Austin test—meaning the factory Repsol Honda and satellite LCR Honda squads, and the Yamaha Factory Racing team—will not be attending the Argentine test. The reason for the test was to compensate the teams that did not attend the Austin test by allowing them to gather data ahead of the race next year—even though that is by no means guaranteed of happening. There has been little progress in solving the issue of the Argentine government’s seizure of Repsol’s assets in that country since the expropriation occurred back in April of 2012, and whether anything will occur between now and then to ease the crisis is up in the air.
There is also the issue of the logistical costs concerned, as the teams will have to ship their bikes and gear across the Atlantic several times; from Assen to Argentina, Argentina to the Sachsenring round on July 14, then back across the ocean to Laguna Seca for the second of three U.S. rounds. Unless Dorna is paying for the shipping costs, it’s questionable whether many teams will deem the trip worthy of the effort.