Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki) 2m 4.885s | +4.037s (27
The first day of MotoGP™ testing on the second preseason visit to the Sepang International Circuit saw GO&FUN Honda Gresini man Alvaro Bautista register the quickest lap time, with track conditions not as favourable as they were earlier in February.
Bautista’s best lap time of 2’00.848 was 1.3s slower than the marker set down by World Champion Marc Marquez in the previous Sepang test. Of course Marquez is absent from this Malaysian outing due to a leg injury sustained in training last week.
The track surface at Sepang has been described variously as dirty, slippery and lacking in grip compared to the 4th-6th February session due to recent weather conditions.
Nonetheless the riders and teams carried out crucial development and data gathering exercises on Wednesday in the tropical heat, with pace man Bautista working heavily with the rear of his GO&FUN Honda Gresini bike. He aims to dial in the new hard rear Bridgestone tyre to his package – examining shock, swingarm and linkage configuration this week.
Another solid day of work from Aleix Espargaro left him in second, just 0.052s from his compatriot Bautista, having featured at the top for several spells late in the day. Espargaro and his fellow riders on ‘Open’ class machines have a softer specification rear tyre available, so having demonstrated his sheer pace and the potential of his Forward Yamaha over shorter runs the challenge for the rider from Barcelona is now to prepare for racing.
Tyre durability and engine performance over race distance will be crucial to converting fast times in testing into World Championship points once the season starts.
Espargaro’s brother Pol also impressed, slotting the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike up into third with a late best time 0.15s off Bautista’s pace. The younger Espargaro worked with on electronics, tried different a wheel size and tested small engine parts. His teammate Bradley Smith was ninth.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was again the fastest representative of the Italian factory on track, concluding the afternoon in fourth, undertaking development work on the GP14 from the base setting put in place at Sepang 1.
Dovizioso and incoming colleague Cal Crutchlow – 11th today – are working on overall set-up and engine characteristics at the test, whilst Ducati are set to define whether they will run ‘Open’ class or ‘MSMA’ entries in 2014 before they depart from Malaysia.
Double MotoGP™ title winner Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fifth, with the Yamaha Factory Racing team focusing on refining set-up for the new harder rear tyre option. The team believe that the 20 litre fuel limit for ‘MSMA’ entries this year will not cause them fuel consumption issues, as has been speculated, though they need to verify those findings in this test after some positive results last time out.
Dani Pedrosa had a somewhat anonymous visit to Sepang last time and he has added responsibility this week as the only Repsol Honda rider present. He was sixth on day one, with his main task at this test being confirmation of which chassis works best for him, with RC213V evolution well underway for 2014.
Valentino Rossi was second overall at ‘Sepang1’ but he ended Wednesday in seventh spot, continuing his preparations for his 15th season in the premier class. He was 0.5s off the pace at the end of the day, with 65 laps undertaken.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl completed the day in eighth place, working on braking stability by modifying suspension, geometry and electronics. The German rider has some small parts from HRC to test in the absence of fellow Honda man Marquez.
Andrea Iannone was ninth on the Pramac Ducati, whilst in 15th spot Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez carried out additional crucial data gathering with the new Magneti Marelli software.
It was a mixed day for the DRIVE M7 Aspar team, with the key point for their riders being new suspension settings, as this is the first time they have properly tested the softer option rear tyre for the ‘Open’ class. Nicky Hayden was tenth and Hiroshi Aoyama was ‘unlucky’ 13th as he suffered a light crash early in the day.
Team Suzuki MotoGP are again present at this test, with Randy de Puniet and Nobuatsu Aoki in attendance. De Puniet carried out a considerable 73 lap workload on Wednesday for the manufacturer who have an eye on returning to MotoGP racing in 2015.
After a check-up on Wednesday afternoon with Dr. Mir in Barcelona, it was advised that Marquez takes this opportunity to rest, rather than risk further injury, in order to prepare for the Qatar GP, which will begin in just three weeks.
“I’m obviously disappointed that I’m not in Sepang at the moment and to miss Phillip Island is also unfortunate, but we believe it is the best decision,” declared Marquez. “After my meeting today with Dr. Mir, although he was happy with the general situation of my leg after only seven days since the accident, he advised against taking unnecessary risk. So I will take time to rest and get myself as fit as possible to return to Qatar for the first race in the best shape possible.”
With less than one month to go before the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship in Qatar, a second IRTA test session for the Ducati Team has been getting underway today, again at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, where the first test of the 2014 season took place at the start of February. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took to the track on their Desmosedici GP14 machines to try out the updates brought to Malaysia for these tests and continue development work on the bikes.
After evaluating a number of different set-ups in his 47 laps on the track, Dovizioso found a comfortable feeling towards the end of the day. The Italian rider was then able to record his quickest time of 2m01.029s just a few minutes before the end, concluding today’s session with an encouraging fourth place.
His team-mate Cal Crutchlow completed a total of 48 laps and his gap from Dovizioso was more than one second at the end of the day. The British rider however had a technical problem that did not allow him to take advantage of the new rear tyre he had just fitted.
The priority of the Ducati Team in this test is in any case to continue with the development of the GP14, and today’s results, especially Dovizioso’s improvement on a track that is not performing as well as three weeks ago, helped to confirm that the Italian team is working in the right direction.
Track time was also shared by Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro, who was able to try out some new components and electronics solutions. The best time of the Italian rider was not particularly significant as he was not aiming for quick laps, and he focused on his scheduled work programme.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 4th (2m01.029s) – “We started the day when the grip on the track was not particularly good. We did some laps in the morning, but then worked better in the afternoon when the track improved. The first day was positive, because with what we tested we were able to improve the bike, both in the electronics and in set-up. Today we didn’t have much new stuff to try, just different set-ups that seemed to work well. I had a really good feeling towards the end of the day, when I put on a good tyre on my final exit and managed to set a good time. Even though the times are not to be considered a reference point, I’m still pretty pleased with the improvement we made today.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 11th (2m02.319s) – “I’m not as pleased as Dovi, that’s for sure, but we had a technical issue at the end of the day, and I was unable to capitalize on having a new rear tyre, unlike everyone else. If I had taken off one second like Dovi, I would have been very happy but at the moment we have a lot more issues than that. We’re struggling to find a setting at the moment but we did confirm a few things from the last test. Tomorrow we really need to work on finding some rear grip because the track is worse than last time; the front doesn’t feel too bad, but we need some more time to understand the bike in these different conditions. I’m not too worried, because we know we should be going faster with the new tyre.”
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi returned to work today as the second Sepang test of the 2014 MotoGP pre-season schedule got underway in Malaysia.
The riders were able to further test developments from the first Sepang session a few weeks ago along with some work on the new Bridgestone tyres. Unfortunately the Sepang circuit was much dirtier than the first test following some four-wheeled activity on the track, making it difficult for the riders to replicate their form from the previous visit.
Lorenzo ended the first day in fifth position, 0.310 seconds from first and less than satisfied with the new rubber. The Mallorcan will return to the track tomorrow determined to find a way to make the 2014 tyres work effectively with the YZR-M1.
Following from a very successful first test, Rossi was hard at work today, putting in an impressive number of laps whilst working on improving the balance of his M1. The Italian led the session briefly earlier on, slipping to seventh overall, 0.5 seconds from the front as he too explored set up options with the 2014 tyre choices.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro completed another very strong first day of testing at the second MotoGP test today.
With two further days of testing to come, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team and riders proceeded with their preparations for the impending start of the season. With the first race on the 23rd March at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, less than a month away, both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro tested various aspects of the Yamaha YZF-M1 MotoGP bike, predominantly the new seamless gearbox, and aimed to make as much use of the testing time as possible.
The weather itself was hot and humid, with Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Smith and Espargaro waiting until the afternoon for the track to cool, to set quicker lap times on the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit, located 50kms south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Pol Espargaro began his third testing programme today, as he gained experience with the Yamaha YZR- M1, which he will contest his first season of MotoGP with. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion, closely working with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, built on the positive progress already made at the preceding test. Espargaro tested the new seamless shift gearbox today, which the young Spaniard responded very positively to. He amassed over 57 laps on the first day of testing, and finished the session in a superb 3rd position with a time of 2:00.999, and only 0.151 of a second behind leading Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista.
Young British rider Bradley Smith, who is entering his second full time season in the premier class, sampled a new seamless gearbox for the Yamaha YZR-M1, in preparation for the 2014 MotoGP season. This was a new feature for the British rider, who seemed overly satisfied with the outcome. The Oxfordshire rider followed on with completing over 54 laps, and finished today’s session in 8th position, with a best lap time of 2:01.644.
The first day of the second MotoGP test session of the 2014 season saw Aleix Espargaró scoring the second fastest lap time with 2’00.900, only 52 thousandths of a second behind Alvaro Bautista, the fastest rider today.
Cautious during the morning, when the track was quite dirty, the Spaniard of the NGM Forward Racing Team improved his pace in the afternoon. In total Aleix completed 31 laps and for a good part of the afternoon session was on top of the time sheet.
It was a good start also for Colin Edwards, who was the fastest Open on track this morning. Colin worked on the bike set up, completing 47 laps, scoring a positive lap time of 2’.02.743
Jorge Lorenzo – 5th / 2’01.158 / 56 laps – “The new rear tyres, both the soft and the hard, are not working properly on our M1. We tried many things but for the moment we haven’t found any solutions. Tomorrow we are going to try something different with the electronics that worked last year to try to improve a little bit because we are not so good today. The tyres don’t give me any confidence in the corner entry, in the middle of the corner and on acceleration. It seems Bridgestone will not be providing different tyres this year so we have to adapt to the situation.”
Valentino Rossi – 7th / 2’01.349 / 65 laps – “The track is not fantastic. Especially if you compare it to the first test where it was very good. A lot of cars have used the track and there is some oil in some places, the track is very dirty so it is more difficult to get to a good lap time. In the end we were coming better though. We worked a lot on all aspects; we tried to find a right balance, concentrating on the braking. Especially we tried to make the best setting for the new tyres because in the first test we used old tyres from 2013 that were good for the M1. We have a problem with the 2014 ones so we have to concentrate to take the maximum benefit from them but already at the end of today it was not so bad.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “The first day is done, we tested a lot of material today to improve our package. The track conditions were not that good so I think we will improve step by step and we will reconfirm tomorrow. There was quite some oil on the track so the circumstances were quite difficult to compare stuff. This upsets the riders a bit as you need to compare things to the last test and it was difficult to be precise. We still have a lot to do over the next two days!”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “It has been a long day’s work and we were able to put together a lot of information. We are still focused on making the new tyre work properly on our bike and we found something interesting compared to the last test that needs to be adjusted. I think we are in the right direction to fix this problem. We have two more days so we expect by the end of the last day we will provide a good performance.”
Pol Espargaro – 3rd / 2’00.999 / 57 laps – “This morning the track was not in the best condition, so we weren’t able to start straight away. Near the end of the day the track improved and we managed to get quite a good time. However, we didn’t get things wrong, even though I don’t think the factory teams pushed to the limit and Marc is also not here, but it’s still nice to finish the first day in third position. I want to say thank you to Yamaha as today was the first day we could use the new seamless gearbox, and the feeling is just amazing. We have a bit more power in every gear and it helps you in many different areas, for example, in the middle of the corner or with the anti-wheelie, it takes a lot of work away from the rider. Altogether it has been a really good day today and the feeling with the bike was just great.”
Bradley Smith – 9th / 2’01.644 / 54 laps – “Today was the first day of using the seamless shift gear box. I am really thankful for Yamaha, because it was really beneficial for us. It is a very nice system to use, and I think the biggest advantage of the gearbox with be on old tyres in the second half of the race. We have continued working on ideas from the first test, and have found a great front setting which will probably be our base setting for the season. We still need to work a little more with the electronics, and the rear grip. The Bridgestone tyres seem to be better than last time, even though the track conditions were not so great. We also changed the geometry of the bike which consistently works better with the tyres. Tech3 are doing a brilliant job, and I am pleased with the results. I think the track conditions will improve and on day 3 we’ll try a race simulation. “
Aleix Espargaro – 2nd / 2’00.900 / 31 laps – “I’m happy of today’s result. It was important to work on the set up of the second bike and we did it. During the morning session I did only few laps because I couldn’t push as I wanted. We worked also on the electronics and things improved in the afternoon. This is just the first day, tomorrow we will continue working on the second bike.”
Colin Edwards – 14th / 2’02.743 / 47 laps – “The track was very dirty this morning and I couldn’t push as I wanted. This afternoon the track conditions were better but I couldn’t find a good feeling and I was not so comfortable entering the corners. We tested several solutions, but I couldn’t improve my lap time. We will continue working later today to find something to make a step forward tomorrow.”
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was the fastest man on day one of MotoGP’s second Sepang preseason tests, topping the times on a track that was considerably less grippy than it had been earlier in the month.
In gruelling 35 degree heat, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) was sixth quickest, struggling with the slippery surface and also with jetlag. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was two places further down the order, while Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was the fastest man on Honda’s new production MotoGP bike. Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) is absent from these tests after breaking his right fibula in a dirt track accident last week.
Bautista was delighted with his progress, following the arrival of a new Showa rear shock. Most riders in MotoGP used Öhlins suspension. The former 125 World Champion found the shock gives him exactly what he needs, allowing him to ride comfortably on the limit.
Today’s disappointing track conditions were attributed to heavy recent use of the circuit by cars, some oil deposits and a lack of rain to clean the surface. The Kuala Lumpur area is currently suffering something of a drought, with many fires breaking out in the forestland close to the circuit.
Pedrosa was not at his physical best after suffering sleep deprivation over the last few nights due to jetlag. The former 250 and 125 World Champion was also aware of the circuit’s lack of grip, so he got through most of the day’s workload during the afternoon, when grip had improved somewhat. Having already made his choice of chassis for the season, Pedrosa will focus on engine mapping and general set-up work during the remaining two days.
Bradl ended the first Sepang tests close to the front and was not worried about today’s eighth position because he spent the day concentrating on improving race-long performance, especially tyre wear, so he never bothered to use a softer tyre to get in one or two hot laps.
Former MotoGP king Hayden made useful forward progress at the start of his second full test aboard Honda’s all-new production MotoGP bike, improving machine stability into corners, though he was held back by a minor electronics issue that his crew will work on tomorrow. Hayden once again revelled in the sweet handling of the RCV1000R and is hoping for a bit more from the engine before the season-opening Qatar GP on March 23.
Team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) ended the day three places behind his team-mate and just behind Andrea Iannone, riding a factory specification Ducati. The former 250 World Champion was unable to ride the way he wanted to, due to the slippery track surface, but he nonetheless did useful work on suspension set-up to improve machine balance and stability.
MotoGP rookie Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) also had a good day, even though his lap times didn’t reflect it so well. The Briton tried different suspension settings and also adjusted his riding position on his RCV1000R. Tomorrow he will aim to improve braking performance.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R) had another difficult day, still troubled by the shoulder injury he sustained last year, despite undergoing intensive physiotherapy over the last few weeks.
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 1st, 2m 00.848s – “It’s been a very positive first day of testing! We worked very well on the rear end, an area that earlier this month gave us some problems. We have had excellent results thanks to Showa developing a new shock absorber, somewhat different compared to the one we’ve used so far, which is very suitable for our needs. In addition to the good lap times, even though the track was worse than the first test, I am especially pleased because my feeling with the new Bridgestone tyres has improved so much that now I feel comfortable when riding. We are on the right path: tomorrow morning we will continue to work hard, focusing also on the front end, while in the afternoon if we get the chance we would like to try a first long run.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): 6th, 2m 01.160s – “Today was not the best day for testing – the track was dirtier than ever and there was no grip. It was difficult to find a good feeling with the bike, which we only really got at the end of the day. I also had a few problems with jetlag and I haven’t been able to sleep much over the last few days, so I’m not feeling perfect physically. As I say, at the end of the day we managed to go a little better. We’ll see if I can sleep better tonight and we will continue working hard tomorrow.”
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda): 8th, 2m 01.491s – “Today the track condition was not very favourable and we took to the track later in the morning waiting for the grip conditions to improve. After the first outing here two weeks ago, we gathered important data so today we worked again on the base set-up to have a clearer idea about the overall package. We mainly focused on tyre wear to improve the traction in the corner exit, and we set a good pace on the hard compound. I am not worried about the eight position today because our focus was the bike set-up and not the flying lap.”
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 10th, 2m 02.227s – “The gap to the top is reducing so that is positive. This morning we lost a little bit of time due to some technical problems which gave us a little more work than we expected. The bike is basically the same as the one we had here for the first test. We have worked on the set-up, especially on the front fork to try and improve the stability of the bike under braking. We made some slight improvements. In the afternoon we had to solve an electronic issue which was costing us time in corner entry, so we spent most of the afternoon just solving this setback. Tomorrow morning we will continue to work on it and then we have some set up things to try. We still need to get more power out of the bike but the chassis surprises me more each day.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 13th, 2m 02.709s – “The track conditions on the first day of the second test here at Sepang were quite precarious because the surface was very dirty. I was hoping that the grip would improve in the afternoon but it didn’t. Anyway, that didn’t stop us from working on the set-up of the bike. Today we focused mainly on suspension and we have found some solutions which have made the bike more stable and more balanced. This helped the lap times come more easily. We can say that we have found a pretty positive base but we still need to find more stability from the front and tomorrow we will continue working to try and improve.”
Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 18th, 2m 02.833s – “Today we worked pretty well, especially at the beginning of the day, trying some suspension solutions and varying bike position. However, it seems that we are stuck on these lap times: at the moment we are not able to find something that allows us to make a significant step forward, therefore our lap times are always the same. We must take into consideration that today the track was not in the best conditions, so it’s good that Hayden went fast anyway: this makes us confident. We are convinced that we can close the gap to Nicky, but we need to find a solution to improve. Tomorrow we will continue to work, especially with regard to braking, while on the electronics side we have already reached a quite good setting.”
The Suzuki MotoGP Team continued its 2014 testing and development programme in the opening day of its second three-day test at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia today.
Test rider Randy De Puniet completed 73 laps of the 5,543km circuit evaluating the new Magneti Marelli electronic ignition; which has been improved and further developed at Suzuki’s Ryuyo design and test facility in Japan following the opening test at Sepang earlier this month.
The team also tested a new-specification engine, which has improved torque and throttle-to-rear-tyre performance, and will work on top-speed tomorrow along with evaluating a new chassis; which the team aims to fully-test on the final day.
Randy De Puniet: “We have many things to test here in Sepang and we started today working solely with the new electronic system. We had some improvements compared to the previous test and looks like we have found a good direction now. The system is not yet completed but you can already ride the bike and is an improved direction. We reduced the gap a little and we can continue to work on it.
“Furthermore, we tested a new specification engine, which I found delivered more torque and we have a better connection between the throttle and rear tyre and the turning has also improved. We also hope to improve the top speed but we will test this more tomorrow. We also have to continue to work in the next few days to improve the edge-grip of tyre”
Davide Brivio: “It was a positive day today as we can see several new things that have started to work. The Suzuki engineers worked very hard over the past two weeks since the first test to update our software and Randy immediately felt some benefit. But we also have some new parts as well.
“We have already slightly improved the first test lap time and now we have two more days to continue to work on the electronic, the engine and also a new frame which we will probably test on the final day. I hope we can continue our development the same way also in the next two days.”
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