Andrea Iannone leads Sepang MotoGP Test Day Two
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made the timesheets fantastic reading for his new home Suzuki on Day 2 of the Sepang test, as he smashed Ducati test rider Casey Stoner’s day one pace to set the fastest lap of the test so far. A 1:59.452 saw the Italian an incredible four tenths clear of the man in P2, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Impressing once again, Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was third.
Andrea Iannone, led today’s classification by 0.406s with the best lap of 1’59.452 as the Italian rider exploited the closing minutes and track conditions to put in a positive series of laps, being in the top part of the screen in every run.
“I’m very happy with today, although we had a short time due to the track conditions, we could do much work and, most importantly, made a step forward. In the early runs we started with some configurations that didn’t make me feel totally comfortable, then when we tried some changes I found much more confidence and the lap times got a huge benefit. They were not radical changes, more small improvements, but they proved to be very effective. We are working very well, I am finding an excellent feeling with my team, they are working very hard and very professionally and this gives me a positive attitude that allows me to ride with confidence. Today is a result of this, we improved a lot since yesterday and it is important for us to have found positive improvements.”
Both Pull&Bear Aspar riders Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham waited until around 2pm before getting to work, the Spaniard immediately finding a good feeling and adapting his riding style to the Ducati GP16 he will ride this season. Bautista finished as the fastest Ducati on track and the fastest Independent Team rider, with his team-mate Karel Abraham just seven tenths off his pace after improving by a second from yesterday to register a 2’00.981 and finish sixteenth.
The Czech rider had set 2’01 as his objective for this test but after working with his team on a variety of chassis, suspension and electronic settings he was able to achieve his target with his last effort of the day. The Pull&Bear Aspar pair head into tomorrow’s final day of the test in positive mood.
“I am happy because we have been very competitive and we have managed to complete everything we had planned. I really like the engine and my riding style suits this bike. We need to improve certain aspects but the base is very competitive. We tried some things with the electronics to get the most out of the potential of the engine and found some useful things for the future. Even though our bike is last year’s, it has a good base because it is a race winner. Today was a tricky day because we had to wait until 2pm for the track to dry. Also there wasn’t as much grip as yesterday and it was more difficult to find a feeling but that was the same for everybody.”
“Honestly I am very happy because I was hoping to get down to this lap time over the three days of the test but not expecting it on the second. We have done a lot of work with the suspension, the chassis and electronics and tried some different tyres. I set a good lap on my penultimate run and said to my crew chief that it was the moment to push, I felt comfortable. I am really happy. It’s a great lap time and sixteenth position is not bad because I am seven tenths off third place, although with such a small gap I would hope to be higher up the order.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s new fairing – featuring “internal” winglets – was one of the big debuts of the day as the ban on external winglets comes into force in 2017. With work condensed down into the hours of dry track time, both Yamaha riders Viñales and Rossi made the most of day two, with 51 and 54 laps completed respectively. Viñales’ best of 1:59.858 kept him P2, with Rossi fourth on a 2:00.254. The young Spaniard was the only other rider to dip below the two minute mark, four tenths off leader Andrea Iannone’s time.
“Today was good and I‘m so happy because we worked on our race pace and finally at the end, on the race tyre. I tried to do consistent laps, and honestly the lap times were quite fast. I‘m surprised that the bike has been working so good and, as the grip increased, we improved each time we went out. As I said, we are focusing on riding on a used tyre so I‘m quite happy with second place. It‘s nice to focus on one lap and be fast, but we have to be fast on all twenty laps and I think we did a good job and made a good start. I don‘t know if I will do a time attack tomorrow, it will depend on the weather and the condition of the track. You always want to see your name at the top of the list, but sometimes it‘s more useful to work towards the races.”
Rossi was also eager to work on the bike set-up to improve performance and left pit lane as soon as the circuit was dry. As one of the first riders to venture out on track, he put in 54 laps, which he used to compare the new fairing to the old version. With his physical condition improved from yesterday, he underlined that he was back on form by being one of the few riders to improve on his best time of the day before. At the very end of the session he put in a time attack to move up to fourth place in today‘s standings, with a fastest lap of 2‘00.254s, 0.802s from first.
“I‘m feeling 100 per cent fit again. Yesterday when I went to sleep I still had a headache, but today when I woke up I felt better so I was able to put in some good work and at the end it was a good day. This morning we lost a lot of time waiting for the conditions to improve, but in the afternoon I could do more than 50 laps. We had some important stuff to try and more or less everything was positive. My pace was quite good and at the end I did a time attack and I‘m in fourth position, so top five is OK. We have a different frame and it was good, I like it. We haven‘t decided yet, but the first impression was positive.”
Iannone, who also impressed on day one as he settles into life at Suzuki, led for some time until losing the top spot and then going red in every sector to take it back. The Italian has been focusing on a new engine as a point of exploration throughout his 40 completed laps, and rookie teammate Alex Rins increased the good vibes for the Hamamatsu factory as he improved on day one’s efforts to go P13.
Double Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco was the fastest rookie of day two. After a solid first time on track on Monday, the Frenchman took back that honour from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Jonas Folger. Zarco lined up an incredible P5 – after having also briefly topped the timesheets for the first time in the premier class – and put in a 2:00.343 after 50 laps. Folger continued his impressive run on day two with a 2:00.495 after 43 laps – lining up P9.
“Today was positive and I am happy about what the Tech3 team and I achieved together. It took a long time for the track to dry this morning and so to feel comfortable on the bike, I started the day on rain tyres. Just like yesterday, it was useful to get some additional valuable experience in the wet and to gain more knowledge of the YZR-M1 in these conditions, plus I understood the grip levels well. The team and I did some really good work today and when we started to use the slicks, I felt confident and I was able to ride consistently. We put in the new tyre and every lap, I improved my personal best and also myself. It was a solid second day, but I still think that I need time and there are many things to control, yet, this will come with experience.”
“We tested a lot of different things today but overall I am happy even if we had to wait a while for the track to dry this morning. Yet, once we got going, we tried a lot of different options from Michelin and found some improvements and useful information although it cost us some time. After this, we changed back to the standard tyres and started working on the setting and the braking performance which we managed to advance a little bit. Then, there wasn’t long to go until the end of the session, so we put some new slicks in and I rode quite a good lap, but I wasn’t completely happy with the edge grip after we had adjusted the braking. So the team tried one last thing with the shock, which worked and I was able to cut my personal best whilst running with the used tyres. I am happy about that last lap and I’m pleased with the work that we undertook today. We are not a huge distance from the top so I am excited to see what we can do tomorrow.”
Hector Barbera (Reale Esponsorama Racing) impressed on day two to join Alvaro Bautista in the top echelons on the timesheets on an Independent Team Ducati. Bautista in P3 did a 2:00.218, with Barbera in P6 posting a best of 2:00.352. The two men led the charge on day two for the Borgo Panigale factory, with the Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo slotting into P7 and P8.
“Today has been a positive day and I felt quite well on the bike. It was a shame to have to wait so long for the track to dry, but we solved the problems we had yesterday and I felt strong on the bike. I was quite comfortable and our line of work was very good. The team works perfectly and they understand what I need to go fast. Maybe I could have done a faster lap, which would have helped us to be closer to the top, but this is just a test and we are here to get ready for the first race. Considering that I’ve done my best time with worn tyres, I can be happy. I don’t want to worry about our position in the classification, the goal is to enjoy riding and I have more and more fun every time I take to the track with my bike.”
Dovizioso had a good day one in Malaysia as he was the quickest race rider behind timesheet-topping tester Casey Stoner, and the Italian ramped up the workload on day two to put in 42 laps with a best of 2:00.441 – around half a second down on his day one pace. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who ended day one in P17, took a leap up the timesheets as he gets used to life in red and ended day two in eighth – only 0.043 off his new teammate. The ‘Spartan’ put in an impressive 66 laps despite the time wasted by the weather, and finished the day a second off Iannone’s fastest lap of the session.
“Despite the bad track conditions in the morning because of last night’s downpour, today we managed to do four hours of work and test a lot of things. It was important because we picked up a lot of indications, my feelings were positive and I feel good with the bike. Now we must hope that the weather gives us a hand and that tomorrow the track is in a good condition to take advantage of the soft tyres and see if we can get our times down even more.”
“I’m very happy with the progress we made today. Now I understand the bike a lot more and I managed to improve my performance, even though I’m still some way from my limit. We also improved the general set-up of the Desmosedici GP and in addition I could see that what I thought yesterday was correct: I only need a bit more time and to do a lot of laps to get even closer to the top and to my limit with this bike.”
Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa took to the track as soon as it was dry enough, after 2 p.m. They continued their development work on their RC213V machines, both of which were equipped with the same engine’s new configurations. Tests of the Michelin tyres also continued for both.
Marquez’s fastest time of 2’00.531” (lap 27 of 33) placed him 10th for the day. Pedrosa finished in 14th place with his time of 2’00.886” (lap 38 of 44). Marquez also suffered a stoppage on track at Turn 12 during day two.
“We started late like everyone this afternoon because of the track conditions, and generally speaking, it was a challenging day. We spent a lot of time in the garage working on sorting out many little things. It’s okay, as this is the pre-season and it’s better to work and solve all these issues now, but of course this takes time. We have a lot of work to do to find a good setup for the bike and the electronics. That said, our rhythm wasn’t too bad and hopefully tomorrow we’ll improve our pace and speed. We must keep focused and work hard. I’m sure that step by step we will get better!”
Pedrosa was only a few tenths back, with a 2:00.886 his fastest lap after 44 circulations of Sepang.
“Today we started working as soon as the conditions allowed, even if the track was still damp here and there. We made a re-check of some setup details we wanted to improve, and the positive is that we actually bettered them by about 50%. We’re not yet where we want to be, but it’s still a step forward. Other positives to the day are that I did my fastest time on a quite used tyre and that we did some good work on the fork and on one front tyre as well. Unfortunately, at the end of the session we weren’t able to fit a new tyre and try a time attack, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll have time to do more tests on the tyres and setup and to try and improve our lap times.”
Aleix Espargaro was P11 for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini despite his crash, with a 2:00.609 to narrowly head LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow’s 2:00.691.
“It was the same as yesterday really – nice to be back out on track again when we managed to get out after lunchtime when the track finally dried. We had lots of things to test, but it was very difficult out there because we had so much to try out. So far we are happy enough with the progress and we are just continuing to give our feedback to Honda and to the team. I’m not so worried about the overall lap-time at the moment, because we didn’t use the soft tyre, which we know many of our competitors did. I now look forward to what is hopefully a dry day tomorrow when we can get some more work done.”
Big improvements were also made by rookie Alex Rins, who is getting more and more familiar with his GSX-RR, and was able to get into the 2’00 bracket and climb the classification to 13th place with a best chrono of 2’00.877. His work is focusing in learning the electronic management of the bike, but he also tried the new 2017 spec of the engine, as this is one of the priorities for the definition of future development.
“Today we couldn’t ride so much in the morning because of the track conditions. We have waited for the track to dry up but overall I am very happy, we have improved a lot compared to yesterday and we understand how the bike works, suspensions and other things, we have taken a big step especially on braking. Little by little I have taken the confidence to brake hard in the corner and we have improved so much. I think we will improve step by step with the bike just doing more kilometres. Fortunately regarding the back I don’t feel pain!”
Davide Brivio – Team Suzuki Ecstar Manager
“It’s been a nice day, hasn’t it? Despite having a delay at the start due to the track conditions, we got only few hours left to test, but we could make another important day. We have tested many things that proved to be effective, and Andrea did a very good job, an incredible time. Of course we still need to work a lot but I’m happy for this time; although it’s only one single lap we have stayed in the front for the whole session. Most importantly, this time is the proof that there is already a good feeling between Andrea and the machine, this means that when the moment to push will come he will be already able to do it. Now we have to work on many aspects to prepare consistency for the race, so we need to work on tyres, suspension, electronics, many things. But this a good sign. Alex as well made very positive progresses, he has already gone under 2’00 and he is improving more and more, he feels the machine more and more and at the end he enjoys riding more and more. Today we could test more in depth the new specs of the engine, making comparisons with the old one, and also tried a new front fork that Ohlins provided, and especially Andrea proved to appreciate it.”
The final rider in the top 15 was Scott Redding, who completed 36 laps continuing the set up work Ducati Desmosedici GP 2016. The British rider, who has complained about lack of feeling on the front, tried to push in time attack, but he had to settle for a time of 2: 00,124 that earns 15th position.
“We worked a lot on the set up but I could not find a good feeling especially on the front. We tried different tires which have given different data to work on. I can not find speed in the long corners where I feel the front closing. And this also happened in the small crash, fortunately without consequences for me and the bike. We have clear ideas about the work that we will do tomorrow.”
It was not an easy day for Petrux who can count on a single Ducati Desmosedici GP 2017 in the first official test of the season. The Italian rider has never managed to get the rhythm, first because of a technical problem that forced him to stay in the pits, then for a crash at turn 8 that didn’t allow him to take advantage of the best conditions of the circuit in the final part of the session (22 laps completed, the 17th time).
“I struggled today. After the technical problem I went back out on track and I felt good. I was improving even though I had the used tire but I made a different line in corner 8 and I lost the front. It has been a smooth slide, but there was no time enough to fix the bike. Too bad, we did a few laps in these two days. That’s why I hope that tomorrow there will be the right conditions to work throughout the day.”
Loris Baz tested different configurations on his bike, but didn’t quite like the changes to the set up of his Ducati Desmosedici GP15 and, after suffering a small crash when braking on a wet patch, returned to the set-up of yesterday. He finally was able to match his best lap time from day one and ended the session in P18.
“Today was a little more complicated than yesterday. We had to wait a long time until the track dried up and when we went out, the feeling was very good. We then tried several setup ideas on the bike, but then I crashed and we lost a bit of time. After that, we went back to the set-up from yesterday and I inmediately repeated yesterday’s lap time. We miss the track time lost in the morning due to the damp tarmac, but other than that, it was a normal day. If it is dry tomorrow we will continue to test more things to improve the set up and I will also continue to work on my riding style. I am still aggressive, which doesn’t work with this bike.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith put in 37 and 32 laps respectively, and ended the day in P20 and P25 as they make progress through the incredible amount of testing work for the Austrian manufacturer – including three different chassis – ahead of their full-time race debut at Losail International Circuit in March.
Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller finished in P21, setting a 2:01.556, while teammate Tito Rabat was P23 with a 2:02.189. After crashing heavily at Turn 11 however, Rabat will not participate in the third and final day of testing at the Sepang Circuit. Rabat crashed during the final hour in a day of testing that was heavily disrupted by rain.
The former Moto2 World Champion was initially treated at the circuit medical centre before being transported to hospital in Putrajaya for further assessment of his injuries. Once a full medical assessment has been completed, Rabat will return to Europe for treatment and rehabilitation in a bid to be fit for the next MotoGP test at Phillip Island, which starts on 15th February.
“Despite the delay due to the weather today was pretty positive. I improved my lap time compared to yesterday, even though that wasn’t what we were working towards. During the first half of the afternoon we focused on improving the feeling with the front before moving on to testing for Michelin, which was really good. There were definitely some positives with the new front tyres they’ve brought to this test. We still have more tyres to test, but we simply ran out of time.. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off tomorrow and have the chance to throw down some lap times too.”
Day three – the final day of testing in Malaysia – gets underway tomorrow at 10am local time (3am CET), before Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit prepares to next host the MotoGP paddock for the second Official Test of 2017.
2017 MotoGP Sepang Test – Day 2 results
- IANNONE, Andrea / Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:59.452
- VIÑALES, Maverick / Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +0.406
- BAUTISTA, Alvaro / Pull&Bear Aspar Team +0.766
- ROSSI, Valentino / Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +0.802
- ZARCO, Johann Monster / Yamaha Tech 3 +0.891
- BARBERA, Hector / Avintia Racing +0.900
- DOVIZIOSO, Andrea / Ducati Team +0.989
- LORENZO, Jorge / Ducati Team +1.032
- FOLGER, Jonas / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +1.043
- MARQUEZ, Marc / Repsol Honda Team +1.079
- ESPARGARO, Aleix / Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +1.157
- CRUTCHLOW, Cal / LCR Honda +1.239
- RINS, Alex / Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +1.424
- PEDROSA, Dani / Repsol Honda Team +1.434
- REDDING, Scott / Octo Pramac Racing +1.520
- ABRAHAM, Karel / Pull&Bear Aspar Team +1.529
- PETRUCCI, Danilo / Octo Pramac Racing +1.672
- BAZ, Loris / Avintia Racing +1.775
- PIRRO, Michele / Ducati Test Team +1.930
- ESPARGARO, Pol / Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +2.073
- MILLER, Jack / Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS +2.104
- LOWES, Sam / Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +2.606
- RABAT, Tito / Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS +2.737
- TSUDA, Takuya / Suzuki Test Team +2.815
- SMITH, Bradley / Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +3.064
- NAKASUGA, Katsuyuki / Yamaha Factory Racing +3.441
- NOZANE, Kohta / Yamaha Factory Racing +3.600
NC… STONER, Casey / Ducati Test Team
RECORD LAP – TIME 2’00.606 – RIDER J. Lorenzo – BIKE Yamaha – YEAR 2015
BEST LAP – TIME 1’59.053 – RIDER D. Pedrosa – BIKE Honda – YEAR 2015
- A. Dovizioso (Ducati) 42’27.333
- V. Rossi (Yamaha) +3.115
- J. Lorenzo (Yamaha +11.924