Honda and Yamaha had to test at Circuit of The Americas last week because one of them is going to win the 2013 MotoGP World Championship, so neither could afford not to be there. Another motivation was that the test was non-Dorna, meaning Honda could get the videos they need for promotion (on race weekends, Dorna reserves all video rights to itself).
You can also see why Ducati did not test: They aren’t going to be title contenders and have nothing new to run right now (rumor: new bike for Mugello), so it was more important to save the $350,000 it reportedly would have cost them to run.
And why not send Tech3 teamsters Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith on their leased Yamahas? As Crutchlow never tires of saying, they’ll have no new parts for the first four races, so what would they test?
They know or strongly suspect that in any case they’ll be right behind the four factory Hondas and Yamahas
but ahead of the Ducatis, so what was there to be gained? Stay home and save the money.
That left the question of why LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was at the test. I was able to ask this question of Team Principal Lucio Cecchinello.
“The fact that you are here for this test indicates to me that you believe Stefan could finish the season as one of the top three,” I said.
“Ah, thank you for your confidence in us,” replied Cecchinello. “When the possibility of this test was
announced, we considered the major expense of being here in relation to its benefits. We decided to do it
because not only would knowledge of the circuit be invaluable in April at the GP, but also because Red Bull could do promotional photography.”
The sound of downshifts revealed that Bradl’s bike has the expensive seamless gearbox. Cecchinello said
that Honda has provided this transmission since last year without charge and will also deliver factory-bike updates within a few weeks of their adoption.
These measures serve to keep Bradl happy in his position.