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Halfway there: The factories analyse their season so far

As MotoGP™ returns from its summer break, a Press Conference allowed the factory teams to give their thoughts on the first half of 2017

The arrival of MotoGP™ at the Automotodrom Brno marks the start of the second half what’s already been a thrilling season in the premier class. Four riders are separated by just 10 points as we head into this weekend, and aside from the phenomenal ability of the riders, the continual development of the factory teams and their machinery has helped keep such a level playing field.

Halfway there: The teams talk about MotoGP™ in 2017

So what do the six factories think about their season so far, and what will they be doing to improve in the future?

Shinichi Kokubu (Honda Racing Corporation): “It is important to continue to develop the bike in all areas during the season, and also to improve for next year’s championship. We have tried a differnet approach to develop the engines, in a different way to before.

Cal [Crutchlow] has tried new test items before the Repsol riders, so he helped a lot with the development for the factory.”

Kouji Tsuya (Movistar Yamaha): “It’s difficult to say about the problems, but everybody knows but under low grip conditions our bike couldn’t perform because of tyre wear, so because of that, we were losing cornering speed.

In Barcelona, we stayed one more day after everybody else, so we were there for two days. There we compared with both riders four different chassis; the 2016 chassis, the then current chassis, and the new chassis. Finally, both riders chose the same chassis, which is the new one, so both riders are using the same one.”

Gigi Dall'Igna (Ducati Team): “For sure we worked quite a lot during the first part of the season. We are quite happy about the overall result of our bike; we tested a different fairing with Danilo [Petrucci] in Misano two weeks ago, and the result was quite good. We will test the new fairing today and tomorrow depending on the weather with different riders. I don’t know what to expect but I hope we can make a step forward. We will see.

I’m really happy for Dovi because he had two fantastic races in Mugello and Barcelona, but also in Assen he had a fantastic middle part of the race, so I’m quite happy for him. Lorenzo we have had more problems for sure. Today in wet conditions he rode the bike really well; the lap time was really fast and consistent, so I hope we can improve his performances over the next few races.”

Shinichi Sahara (Team Suzuki ECSTAR): “We have two new riders and Andrea [Iannone] has taken time to adapt his riding style to our bike, but we are taking time to adapt our bike to his riding style. Also, Alex [Rins] was unfortunately injured, but now he is in good shape. The riders are motivated to be more competitive for the rest of the season.

I think we are making progress [with Andrea] from both sides, from the team and from him. Actually, we have modified some details of the bike from last year to this, and some positive points are that it works very well in some conditions, but sometimes when the conditions aren’t right, it affects the result more than we expected.”

Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini): “It has definitely been a positive season [so far], but when we changed both riders we knew we were taking a risk when we had other opportunities. We are very happy about the contribution that Aleix Espargaro has given to the development of the bike.

Our strategy was based on a rookie and an experienced rider, and he is doing very well for us, although this is not reflected in his position in the championship, but reflected day-by-day with the performance we can see in the garage. Elsewhere, we are giving some more time to Sam to show his potential.

The nice part of this job is that you are continuously creating new things. For sure we have some very good points, like the balance and electronics which are okay. The weakest point is the engine performance; it’s not bad at all, but this is where we have put most of the effort to improve, with good results I would say, and we are still pushing.”

Sebastian Risse (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing): “I think in total we can be quite happy, of course we are all racers in some way and looking to make the next steps. We have made a lot of steps already this season, but looking at the results and the comments from the riders we are improving things, and this allowed us to go into the summer break happy.

Developing is a big challenge, on the one hand [we have to develop] in the time frame with the time we have on the track. On the other hand, when we do make steps, we have to distinguish between what is now a particular reaction to a certain tyre we have on-track, to track conditions or track character, or what is general development, where we are improving the bike in general and where we can transfer from one track to the other.

We made quite big steps in all areas. With the engine, we had a completely different specification in Jerez. Aerodynamics: we want to use the advantage that we have in the first year so we made several aerodynamic configurations, and tried to work on the downforce which I think we did not so badly on.

The chassis, of course, with WP and the steel frame this is a big challenge because we have to use even more stuff than the conventional materials, and we made a lot of different versions with settings, different chassis and parts to find the way.

After Sachsenring we went to Aragon and we can’t wait to have dry track time to understand how it’s worked.”