When Tito Rabat broke his leg in Silverstone, his one year old Ducati GP17 was handed to his teammate Xavier Simeon in the Reale Avintia Racing team, while Simeon’s two year old Ducati GP16 ended a the hands of Christophe Ponsson. But after Ponsson’s slow pace was deemed too dangerous by other riders (he was over 4 seconds off the winning pace) Dorna forced him out and Simoen’s Ducati GP16 was given to Jordi Torres, a former Moto2 podium scorer currently racing the world superbike championship on a MV Augusta.
After 5 races since he replaced Ponsson (one raced missed due to injury), now is time to wonder… how well has Jordi Torres rode the Avintia Ducati GP16?
If we look how far each rider have finished from the race winner for the 5 weekends that Torres has been in the MotoGP grid…
… we see that Torres has been very close to the man he has been replacing. Torres finished only 0.5s behind Simeon on his debut race in MotoGP. He was two seconds adrift in Thailand and only 0.2s in Japan, both races less than 40 seconds form the race winner. He got a worse result in Philip Island, where he crossed the chequered flag more than a minute behind the race winner, and over 20 seconds behind Simeon. Torres did not race in Malaysia after he got injured during practice.
But that is not a fair comparison, as Torres has been riding a two year old Ducati GP16, and Simeon a theoretically faster Ducati GP17.
If we compare the time differences to race winner on the races that Xavier Simeon rode the Ducati GP16 (before Rabat’s crash) and Torres results on the exact same bike we can see that Torres has clearly outperformed the man he was brought in to replace.
On a Ducati GP16 Torres has managed to finish a race under 40 seconds behind the race winner on two out of his four appearances in MotoGP, while Simeon closest finish to the winner in his eleven attempts has been 46.7 seconds in Qatar. The average time distance to race winner for Torres has been 50.9 seconds, comparable to Karel Abraham’s performance on the other DucatiGP 16 in the grid, and ten seconds faster than the average performance of Simeon on the GP16.
Note that races where a rider was lapped or did not finish a race are excluded from the analysis.
And while Torres results on the GP16 have been better than the previous results from Simeon on the same bike, Simeon’s results have been far from what Rabat and other riders have achieved on the Ducati GP17 during the season.
The closest that Simeon has finished to the race winner on the GP17 has been 37.2 seconds (37th best result of a Ducati GP17 this season, in terms of distance to winner), more than double the distance to race winner that Rabat has achieved (15.2s), and a far cry from the 19 times that Bautista and Miller have finished less than 20 seconds from the race winner.
In fact Simeon has finished further from the leader on all occasions that he rode Rabat’s GP17 (37.2 to 59.0 seconds), than Rabat’s worst result in Germany (29.0s).
Another interesting inside is that – as expected – Simeon has been considerably faster on the GP17 than on the GP16. His mean distance to the winner dropped from 60.8s to 44.8s, while the closest he has been to the race winner on a GP16 was 46.7s, compared to his best results on a GP17 of 37.2s.
With Rabat recently stating that he will not be able to race in Valencia, Torres and Simeon will have their last chance to score a solid result on the Ducati GP16 and GP17 respectively. Will Torres finally beat Simeon, despite racing on a one year older machinery? Will Simeon finally manage to finish as close to the leaders as Rabat has been doing during the season?
Data visualisation details
In this case, the weapon of choice to make the plots were python with pandas and seaborn. And while usually these two allow you to do nice plots in a couple of lines, I ended creating a >100 lines plot function in order to show and tune the distribution of time differences and the corresponding annotations.