It’s a rite of late winter: Nearly every team press release after preseason test sessions proclaims progress with development and optimism for the upcoming season. It doesn’t matter if it’s a factory, satellite or independent team.
Sorting through the “alternative facts” is pretty easy, as the time sheets usually are a good indication of the true pecking order.
MotoGP veteran Alvaro Bautista was a rare breath of fresh air after the Sepang test last week, after which he ended up a surprising seventh quickest overall on the Aspar Ducati, just .260 of a second behind leader Maverick Vinales on the factory Yamaha.
But Bautista is experienced and honest enough to know that gap probably will widen by the time the season starts March 26 at Qatar. He rode the Desmosedici GP16 at the test, a bike that has a season of development and racing. His factory rivals are still unlocking the secrets of speed for their machines, and their rapid progress is inevitable.
“I felt competitive since the start of the test, so I think we do not have so much room to improve,” Bautista told media at the test, comments which didn’t appear in the team’s press release. “The advantage we have now over the factory riders is that we will ride a fully-developed machine. Don’t forget this bike has already won races, so we have go for it now.
“As the factory teams finish their 2017 bike development, we will be back behind them.”