The MotoGP™ World Champion Marquez wasted no time on the final test day at the Malaysian venue, laying down a superb 1’59.533 marker in the cooler temperatures of the morning. His pace-setting lap was marginally quicker than the previous best Sepang test time of 1’59.607, registered by Casey Stoner also on the Honda prototype in 2012.
Marquez later produced a strong performance in a race simulation with 15 consecutive laps under the 2’01 mark.
The early running had seemed more like a qualifying practice than a test session with the top riders battling each other for top spot in a time attack.
Nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi set his own personal best Sepang test time of 1’59.727, whilst Jorge Lorenzo clocked the third best time of the day with a notably quick 1’59.866 effort on just his second lap.
Like Marquez, both Yamaha Factory riders later produced longer runs as they too worked on tyre durability and fuel consumption in preparation for their battles this year with the incoming ‘Open’ class machines – which will have a 24 litre fuel limit compared to the 20 litre capacity of the Factory entries.
Showing the potential of the new ‘Open’ bikes was the consistently impressive Aleix Espargaro on the FTR Yamaha of NGM Mobile Forward Racing, with his 1’59.998 best time coming on the second of 43 laps. The older Espargaro brother’s pace is one of the talking points of the week and he was able to lap nearly two seconds quicker than his teammate Colin Edwards who concluded Thursday’s session 14th.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl (+0.579) was close behind Forward Racing’s Espargaro in fifth, despite falling at turn one early on Thursday. That was of course the corner where he fractured his ankle in October’s Grand Prix, but on this occasion he was unhurt and immediately remounted.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa made a slower start and also had an off track excursion early in the morning, but later moved towards the business end of the timesheet, going up to sixth place with a 2’00.223 lap in the afternoon.
A decent time for Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (2’00.370) put him seventh on Thursday, the Italian producing one of Ducati’s best ever Sepang test times. Indeed Dovizioso’s time was a 0.776s improvement on his Wednesday best and was 0.7s faster than his new teammate Cal Crutchlow’s final time, as the Englishman ended up 12th.
Both Ducati riders expect machine upgrades for the second Sepang test later this month.
Like his older brother Aleix, rookie Pol Espargaro also impressed, finishing as the faster of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders in eighth place, 1.122s down on Marquez’ best time.
Fellow Tech 3 man Bradley Smith was 11th overall, though he may not have been shooting for out and out pace on Thursday and will hope to improve his competitiveness if the team can secure access to the Yamaha seamless shift gearbox early in 2014.
The top ten was completed by Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, with both riders just over a second off the pace. Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Scott Redding were 13th and 21st respectively and will both hope to go faster on the new RCV1000R before the season starts.
Suzuki Test Team rider Randy de Puniet will also continue his work throughout the year in testing as he looks to close a three second gap to the front with the evolving Suzuki machine. He was 17th on the timesheet.
The majority of riders broke for lunch shortly before 2pm local time as the heat increased, with more race simulations and longer runs a key focus after the initial morning runs. The data from those longer runs are crucial for fuel economy calculations for the ‘Factory’ bikes in particular, as they have one litre of race fuel less than 2013.
A new Bridgestone tyre was also tested by the riders this week – a similar construction to that used in Valencia testing in November, with a compound slightly adapted to suit the Sepang heat. The Japanese tyre supplier will therefore hoped to have gathered useful data for improved performance in 2014.
The premier class riders will be back in action at the Sepang International Circuit for further testing from 26th to 28th February.
Results Sepang Test day 3:Name / Nat / Team / Make / Best Tm / Lap / Laps / Diff / Gap
Marc MARQUEZ / SPA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 1:59.533 / 10 / 40 / /
Valentino ROSSI / ITA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 1:59.727 / 11 / 55 / 0.194 / 0.194
Jorge LORENZO / SPA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 1:59.866 / 2 / 65 / 0.333 / 0.139
Broc PARKES / AUS / Paul Bird Motorport / PBM / 2:03.402 / 3.869 / 0.198 / Session 3
Mike DI MEGLIO / FRA / Avintia Racing / AVINTIA / 2:04.516 / 4.983 / 1.114 / Session 3
Karel ABRAHAM / CZE / Cardion AB Motoracing / HONDA / 2:05.261 / 5.728 / 0.745 / Session 2
Nobuatsu AOKI / JPN / Suzuki Test Team / SUZUKI / 2:05.686 / 6.153 / 0.425 / Session 3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) concluded the first preseason test of the year in first position, setting a blazing pace at Sepang, Malaysia. The reigning MotoGP World Champion has been fastest on all three days, upping his pace by several tenths each day. His quickest lap today was almost two tenths up on nearest challenger Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and half a second inside his own pole-position record, established at last October’s Malaysian Grand Prix. It was also the fastest-ever lap around the challenging, high-speed circuit from a motorcycle.
In a closely packed set of times, Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was the next best Honda rider in fifth place, just over half a second down on Marquez, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) sixth, seven tenths off his team-mate.
After testing Bridgestone’s latest tyres, comparing different chassis and improving braking stability during previous days, Marquez focused on electronics and then completed an impressively quick race simulation. Over the three days he rode a total of 167 laps in withering tropical heat and humidity.
Bradl was in great form today, his quickest lap almost 1.2 seconds faster than his best time from the first day. Like many other riders he used the final day of the three-day session to concentrate on race strategies, including fuel consumption and tyre wear.
Pedrosa would have recorded a faster lap today if he hadn’t had a front brake issue this morning, when the track was cooler and therefore faster. During the rest of the day he experimented with different geometries in an effort to find more rear grip and he was happy with progress. Pedrosa rode a total of 192 laps during the three days.
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was tenth fastest today to end the three days tenth overall. The Spaniard was satisfied with progress, despite being held back by a lack of grip and feeling. The data gathered by his team and by Showa’s suspension engineers should allow them to solve this issue when testing resumes at Sepang later this month.
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) continued making forward progress with Honda’s new RCV1000R production racer, the first premier-class machine Honda have sold to private teams since the NSR500V twin-cylinder two-stroke in the late 1990s. The American – who won the 2006 MotoGP crown with Repsol Honda – is delighted with the bike’s handling, but is hoping for more power to bring him closer to the factory machines.
Former 250 World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) worked hard on electronics set-up today and then switched his focus to the suspension at the end of the day, with some good results. He is already looking forward to the next Sepang outing.
MotoGP rookie Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) had a useful first full test session with the RCV1000R, learning plenty and getting faster each day. His best lap today was 1.6 faster than his best on Tuesday. After four years in Moto2, the Briton had fun perfecting his corner-exit sliding technique during the final day of action. However, this afternoon’s high track temperatures prevented him from dropping his lap times still further.
Moto2 race winner Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R) had an unhappy final day at Sepang, with an old shoulder injury causing him even more problems than it had on the first day. He stopped testing early in order to return to Europe to continue rehabilitation.
The MotoGP circus returns to Sepang on 26, 27 and 28 February before continuing testing at Phillip Island, Australia, and finally in Qatar, where the racing gets underway on March 23.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1st overall, 1m 59.533s – “I’m pretty happy with how the three days here in Sepang have gone and we have started the preseason well. It’s true that this is only the first test and we still have work to do, but we’ve already been able to do a race simulation and it has all gone well. We have tried many set-ups and we have gathered a lot of data, so we will be well prepared for the next test here. We still have some things to try out, so we must make the most of the days we have remaining here this preseason. Physically I feel good, I haven’t stopped over this past month and have had a packed schedule, but I have been able to continue training. I was a little weak here when I arrived, because I had the flu last week, but in the end I felt fine which, is the most important thing. We can always improve and this test will help me to up my fitness.”
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda): 5th overall, 2m 00.112s – “We leave Malaysia with a good base set-up and I am quite happy about the overall work we have done in the last three days. There are some areas to improve, like braking stability, but I feel good on this new bike. Today we focused on the race simulation but my long run was disrupted by a small issue with the rear brake. However, I was able to proceed with my daily programme and we achieved good feedback from the new hard compound rear. I hope that we can continue to improve in the next test.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): 6th overall, 2m 00.336s – “On this third day we focused on the chassis, looking to gain more rear grip and I feel that we have made a lot of progress here. This morning we had a problem with the brakes on both bikes and I lost a lot of time, right in the part of the day in which you can put in a fast lap. However, I am happy that we were able to improve the set-up and in general today was a positive day. At the next test, I hope that we can continue from where we left off today, and continue improving before moving on to Phillip Island.”
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 11th overall, 2m 00.788s – “Today we continued the work done in the first two days of testing: basically our efforts were focused again on the suspension, looking for more grip on the rear and for an overall better feeling with the bike. We made a small step forward, but at the moment we still cannot take full advantage of the new Bridgestone tyres; we have less grip than last year and as a result I still can’t open the throttle as I would like. Later this month, in the next tests, we will work hard on this aspect. We also need to improve our pace on a single lap: this morning I put on the softer tyre, but we were not able to exploit it, and I was not very fast. However, I’m quite happy with my race pace, as I was able to do many consecutive laps close to my best time. My opinion on this first test is positive: there is still much work to do, but the team and Showa have collected valuable data for the upcoming test.”
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 13th overall, 2m 01.514 – “It has been an interesting few days here and we have made progress each day. Even so I was hoping to be further up the timesheets and to be a bit more competitive. Looking at the positives we have improved our lap times and our feeling for the bike, especially in corner entry. I know the team is working hard on the things that we know we need to improve and what we need to learn about this bike. We tried the new softer compound tyre at the end of the day and it gave us a bit of help under acceleration. But the biggest improvements have been with the electronics and in corner entry. We clearly need a bit more power too but the strong point of this Honda is that it handles well and it’s a smooth ride.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 16th overall, 2m 02.383 – “We had planned to do some work with the suspension today but opted to keep our focus on the electronics, which took up a lot of our time, possibly too much. The good thing is that we made some improvements and had some time to do some suspension tests at the very end of the day, which were positive. It has been quite a productive test for us because we have stored a lot of important information, the feeling has improved each day and so have the lap times so we leave Sepang in good spirits. The most important thing is that we have been consistent and we have marked out the path we need to follow in future. We are still a long way off the pace at the front though so the goal for the next test is to close the gap.”
Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 21st overall, 2m 02.833s – “Today I was able to take another step forward: I am learning how to slide the bike to get it turned on exit and in general I felt more at ease while riding. Unfortunately, the difficult conditions of the track in the afternoon did not allow me to improve a lot of my lap time, but I’m happy with how my first test with the team went; later this month we will come back in Sepang, and we will continue to work on the suspension and on electronic set-up refinement, in particular traction control.”
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R): 26th overall, 2m 05.974s – “Today was completely ineffective. I did only 12 laps, two of them only to practice starts. Then we had to stop because it made no sense to continue riding if I can’t ride at 100 percent. I’m now returning to the Czech Republic to see the doctors as soon as possible, though we do not have a lot of time before the next tests.”
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo today completed the third and final day of the first official test of the 2014 MotoGP pre-season activity at the Sepang International circuit in Malaysia.
The test proved to be a successful one for both riders, with Rossi especially happy at the end of today’s riding. The nine-time world champion was able to record his best ever time at the Sepang circuit, dropping under the 2’00 minute mark to finish in second place less than two tenths from front man Marc Marquez.
Rossi and Lorenzo both undertook a race simulation in the stifling Malaysian heat this afternoon to shake the 2014 M1 down over race distance.
Four–time world champion Lorenzo was also happy having completed the three days. The Mallorcan made good progress during the riding sessions, managing to closely replicate the feeling of the 2013 bike whilst making the big reductions in fuel required for the 2014 season. Lorenzo completed the final day in third position, just 0.333 seconds from the front.
The MotoGP paddock will return to Sepang on February 26th for the second official test of the year.
Valentino Rossi – 2nd / 1’59.727 – “The test has been very good, I’m very happy, especially for the second position and more than that for the lap time which is the best of my career in Sepang. It’s the first time under 2’00 for me and just one tenth from Marc and the overall record of the track. I found a good feeling with the bike, we found some good solutions and it’s been very positive. We tried a simulation in the afternoon that was very good to understand any problems. We suffered a bit to keep a good pace but it wasn’t so bad. For the first test the balance was good.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 3rd / 1’59.866 – “I think we improved a lot the lap time from yesterday but I didn’t make a perfect lap. Maybe with softer tyres we could make a 1’59.5 or a 1’59.6. The goal was not to improve the one lap time but to improve the race pace which we did. When we tried a race simulation in hot conditions we found some problems where we didn’t expect it, so the pace wasn’t as good as we wanted. We’ve only practised in one track though which isn’t a Yamaha track historically, so let’s see what happens at the next Malaysia test and the other tracks. The evolution and the improvement is big so I’m quite satisfied. To have a similar feeling to last year with less fuel is a big thing.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “The last day of testing done and we reached our target. We really wanted to jump under the 2’00 mark this weekend so we made that. Step by step we are working in the right direction. We still have some work to do but we have six testing days to go until the first race so we can be satisfied with all the things we tried so far.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “We finished the first three day test of the new season well with good data. We’ve been pretty fast throughout and the two semi-race simulations we did at 4pm gave us good information. Our main subject was fuel consumption and after this test we are able to run a race according to the new rules so this is a successful result. There is still some work to do, we need to find a better way to work with the new tyre but overall we are satisfied.”
Positive Sepang test concludes for Monster Yamaha Tech3.
Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro made further improvements at the Sepang International circuit as the first test for the forthcoming 2014 MotoGP World Championship drew to a close.
The three day test at the 5.543km circuit, 50kms south of Kuala Lumpur had perfect conditions for all three days. This allowed the Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders to ride uninterrupted, in order to prepare for the 2014 MotoGP world championship season which begins under the floodlights at the Losail circuit in Qatar, on the 23rd of March.
Young British rider Bradley Smith completed the first test of the season in a positive manner, by exploring different set ups on the Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike in preparation for his second full time season in MotoGP. Smith experimented especially with full fuel loads, new Bridgestone tyres and long distance runs in today’s session with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team, and undertook 65 laps. He finished today with a best lap time of 2.00,896 min which puts him into 11th position but his time from yesterday ensures Smith an 8th place on the combined classification.
Pol Espargaro concluded a positive, first MotoGP test of 2014 to finish inside the top ten at the Sepang International circuit. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion familiarised himself further with his new Yamaha YZR-M1, the brakes and the tyres, with Sepang being only his second test on a MotoGP bike. The young Spaniard progressed well with his new Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and completed 65 laps. Espargaro finished the session with a best lap time of 2.00,655 min, which puts him in 8th place in today’s session, 9th in the combined times, and almost a second quicker than his initial best lap time set on the first day of testing on Tuesday.
Bradley Smith – 8th / 2’00.603 – “We did some really good work, today we were concentrating on the new Bridgestone tyres. I tried to gain as much information and data also doing a half race simulation at the end of the day with this new tyre, just to compare it with the one from last year. Yesterday’s simulation was quite similar to today, although I believe we can still improve with this new tyre. I think I’ve done nearly 180 laps this test and we know where we need to start at Sepang 2. All in all I am pleased, even if the position on the timesheet does not seem to be ideal, it was never my main aim to set fast lap times during these three days. We are looking at the big picture, and preparing for the Championship and we will try to be ready for Qatar.”
Pol Espargaro – 9th / 2’00.655 – “I’m really pleased with how this first test went. I could improve every day by at least four tenths and it’s exactly these small steps that we need to do to be prepared for the season. My Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team helps me a lot as the feeling with them is already perfect. Nevertheless, I know that there are still numerous things to work on such as my corner speed and my braking. I think the braking is one of the toughest things when coming from Moto2 because you don’t have any electronic help, like there is in acceleration for example. Anyway, I’m truly happy because after these three days, I know exactly where I need to improve also on my personal preparation and I’m already looking forward to come back to this track in a few weeks.”
The third and final day of IRTA testing organized at the Sepang circuit saw Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow continue development work on their new Desmosedici GP14 machines in the same perfect track and weather conditions that blessed the Malaysian test session since Tuesday. The main results were that a lot of mileage was notched up on the new bike, useful data was gathered for future development, and some measure of satisfaction was also achieved by the two riders and the mechanics and technicians of the Italian squad.
Once again Andrea Dovizioso made a major step forward, the Italian lowering his time set yesterday by a further eight-tenths of a second, and he then concluded his day early half-way through the afternoon after completing his work load. Dovizioso’s time of 2 minutes 00.370 seconds was the best ever recorded by the Italian at the Sepang circuit, on any bike. Cal Crutchlow on the other hand, continued to lap until the 6 pm closure, trying to put in as much mileage as possible on the new bike, with which he will tackle his first season with the Bologna-based manufacturer team.
A major contribution in this early part of the season was made by the Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro, who finished day 3 with another 57 laps to his name and with a best time of 2m01.782s.
All the protagonists of the MotoGP World Championship will meet up again at Sepang for the second session of IRTA tests in three weeks’ time, from February 26-28.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #4) – 7th (2m00.370s) – “I am really pleased with these three days of testing because we managed to do a good job and improve a lot. Now we can brake harder, corner entry is easier and quicker, we can accelerate a bit earlier and therefore use more power in the early acceleration phase. We also managed to set some quite fast lap times. In fact, I recorded a time that I had never before managed to do here in Malaysia on any bike, and this makes me happy. We also improved our race pace and so this test was really positive. I didn’t expect to be able to improve so much, but we must remain with our feet firmly on the ground because the gap is still far too high for the objectives we wish to achieve.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 12th (2m01.057s) – “I know the position doesn’t look too good but I have to say that I’m pleased. I’m a long way from Dovi but overall we’re quite consistent and faster than yesterday. We found some good things with the bike, I just did the lap time at the wrong time of the day, at quarter past twelve when it was 15° hotter than when everyone else did their time. I’m not too concerned about the overall time, we seem to have found some things with the bike that enable you to push it a bit more. The limit seems to be a lot more than on the GP13, which is good, and this bike seems to be improving all the time. Overall I’m happy, the lap times I was doing today are not far off last year’s on a different bike, it’s just that everyone’s going a lot faster.”
Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 15th (2m01.782s) – “This final day was really tough the tiredness really started to set in! I also did a long-run at 2 pm to see how my GP14 went with the fuel consumption. In any case I’m pleased with the work we did, we picked up a lot of useful information and let’s hope we can improve in the next tests. Here we improved on each day, even in our fastest lap, and so I’ll continue to carry out my role with commitment to give as much information as possible to the official team riders and to the Ducati engineers.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager) – “I have to admit that I am quite satisfied with the way things went in these three days of testing at Sepang. The climate within the team certainly seemed positive to me, and that’s important. It was also vitally important to try and reverse the negative trend that clearly had been created in this team, for this reason it was important to motivate the riders, everyone involved in the development work and all those working on improving the bike. I would even say that, all things considered, both in the lap times and the comments from the riders, a step in the right direction has been taken. For sure there’s a lot of work still to be done, and we need to have clear ideas and keep a cool head.”
Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez set a stunning lap time of 1’59.533 earlier today to complete his domination of the first MotoGP™ group test of the 2014 season at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.
Marquez’s lap time on the Repsol Honda RC213V was the quickest ever at Sepang and was set on the 2014 specification Bridgestone tyres in the medium compound front and rear. Second quickest overall was a resurgent Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1 with a best time of 1:59.727, the Italian finishing just ahead of his teammate Jorge Lorenzo in the overall standings, who set a lap time of 1:59.866.
Aleix Espargaro showed he will be a real threat to the front-runners this season, powering his new NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR-Yamaha machine to fourth overall with a time of 1:59.998 to be the highest-placed Open class rider. Twenty-seven riders – include a total of five test riders from Ducati, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha – took part in the first group test of the year, clocking a total of 3992 laps (22,128 kilometres) on Bridgestone tyres. The gap in lap time from the quickest to slowest rider at the first Sepang test was 6.153 seconds.
Conditions for the test were dry and very hot with a peak track temperature of 57°C; two degrees warmer than the peak recording at last year’s corresponding Sepang test. With a lack of recent rainfall in the area, the riders reported that the condition of the Sepang track surface was better than in recent visits to the circuit. This enabled riders to not only set quick times on a single lap, but also show good pace during race simulations. In particular, Marc Marquez did a race distance, twenty-lap run on the new specification hard compound slick, with the total time for this run being twenty-nine seconds quicker than the overall race time at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
All front and rear slick compound choices were utilised by riders over the three days and although riders could use the 2013 and 2014 specification rear tyres for the first Sepang test, only the 2014 Bridgestone MotoGP tyres will be available for the remaining official tests.
Bridgestone will be back in Sepang for the next MotoGP™ official test which will take place from February 26-28.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “We achieved all of our objectives for this test and acquired a lot of data and rider feedback on the performance of the 2014 Factory and Open class machines on our new range of tyres. It was particularly important to assess tyre behaviour on the new Open class machines. Lap times at this time of year are usually quicker than what we see for the race weekend later in the yaer, and riders commented that the track condition was quite good compared to last October. This meant lap times were quite quick during the test, with four riders lapping in the 1’59 bracket. This shows that once again, the combination of new machinery and new tyres has pushed the performance level of MotoGP even higher.
“A lot of the first day of this test was spent helping teams get to grips with the new tyres and now that the test is complete, the general consensus is that our 2014 specification tyres are working well. However, there is still a lot of work to do to help the teams get the most out of our new generation of tyres before the season starts. Overall I am pleased with the outcome of the test and the data we acquired means we can now confirm our tyre line-up for this season. We will be providing Open class riders with rear slicks one step softer than the Factory class this year, and I expect this will create some very exciting MotoGP races in 2014. As well as supporting the next Sepang test, our main priority now is continuing our preparations for the Phillip Island tyre test at the beginning of March.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.