Marc Marquez finishes Sepang 2 MotoGP test on top with a 1m59.115
The weather has played a major part in each team’s testing plans, with the searing heat during the day meaning that realistically riders could only really set flying laps within a small time frame when the sun wasn’t at its peak. Most teams focused on developing the bike and finding their riders ideal set ups over the first two days, while today provided a chance for the teams to show their true pace this morning, before running race simulations this afternoon.
Repsol Honda will be delighted by the way Marquez, whose first day was ruined by a brake problem, responded to dominate the last two days. For the Spaniard, his main focus was on evaluating different chassis types, and tweaking the set ups on each to find the one he prefers.
He headed the timesheet’s for the last two days, with his best lap of 1’59.115 putting him over 3 tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rivals. No one can accuse the reigning champion of resting on his laurels on the final day either, as he put in more laps than anyone else (73) on the final day. This included a stint of 19 laps where he managed 16 laps under the 2’01 barrier, and will leave Malaysia knowing that he is once again in a very strong position to retain his MotoGP title.
Marc Marquez / 1st / 1m59.115 (73 LAPS) – “I’m happy because this morning we set a good lap, which is something important, but mostly I am pleased that we have completed all the work we had left pending from the first day. We’re finished today with our homework done and I even had time to do a race simulation this afternoon, with a track temperature of 49°C. We have accomplished all the objectives we had set for this test, and now at the Qatar test our work will be more focused on the Grand Prix and fine tuning the setup of the bike. I do not think there are many more new things to try.”
Dani Pedrosa showed good pace on day 1, finishing 2nd on the time sheets, but since then he struggled to make much more progress. The two time 250cc World Champion only managed to improve by half a second during the test, and will be upset that he didn’t manage to break the 2 minute mark, finishing fifth fastest overall.
Dani Pedrosa / 7th / 1m59.912 (51 LAPS) – “Overall this second test went well. Today we were trying many different combinations for the electronics setup and we have managed to take a few positive steps forward. Obviously we still need to improve some things, but the good thing is that we are clearer about the setup we have to use and the areas in which we need to make further progress at the next test. It’s been a pretty intense few days and now we have to try to adapt our findings in the best way we can, in order to continue progressing at the next test and the races.”
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo arrived at Sepang 2 in the best shape of his life, according to the rider, after a gruelling off season training regime. All that work appears to have paid off as he was able to put in a huge number of laps on each day, despite the heat. Lorenzo not only finished 2nd overall, setting his fastest time this morning just 0.3s off Marquez, but managed to knock over 2 seconds off his time over the course of the three days. He and his teammate Rossi were also evaluating and testing the “evolved” seamless shift gearbox Yamaha brought to Sepang 2.
Jorge Lorenzo / 2nd / 1’59.437 / 73 laps – “Well today I got the best lap time in Sepang ever for me, two tenths faster than the first test. The track was in worse condition than before so the bike has improved quite a bit. Also we made a lot of laps in the 2’00 time. At 3:30pm we tried a race simulation in the highest temperature I’ve ever ridden here in Sepang; it was really difficult to keep a good lap time and pace, the bike felt not so good with so much temperature. I decided to stop as I wasn’t feeling confident in braking. Everyone did a simulation at this time of day so I think they all had problems also. In general I think it’s been a very positive test and our engineers have collected enough information and data to make further improvements for the next test in Qatar and especially for the first race of the season, at the end of March. I look forward to getting on board my M1 in two weeks while in the meantime I will keep on working and training hard, as usual, for the best possible start of the season.”
After topping the timesheets on the first day, Valentino Rossi has seen the gap between him and Marquez stretch from 0.4s on day 2 to 0.7s by the end of the test. While he was one of only 6 riders to break the 2 minute mark over the course of Sepang 2, the 9 time champion will hope to be more competitive in Qatar.
Valentino Rossi / 5th / 1’59.833 / 59 laps – “At the end it has been a positive test. I’m not very happy about my position and my lap time as I wasn’t able to make a good lap, I always had traffic and didn’t have the right moment to push. I think I could have been faster and in the top three. We continued to work with the gearbox and settings and we worked with the used tyres, where we still have to improve with the new bike. Now it will be very interesting to understand our level in another track as the balance between manufacturers can change there. I’m very curious about Qatar and how competitive we are for the first race.”
Kouji Tsuya / 2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 Project Leader – “We have finished this second test at Sepang in a successfully way. Here in Malaysia we have tested especially an updated gearbox both with Valentino and Jorge and we’ve got good results and very good feedback from both riders, similar that we expected. We have worked well during these three days of testing and we have successfully completed our test plan without any issues. Obviously there are things yet to improve but I think it was a great beginning. I would like to thank both riders for the great efforts they put on track testing new components. We could get good feedback and data, enabling us to make further improvements in the near future so now we just have to keep on working very hard by full power and be ready at the next test in Qatar. We want to win the opening race also at Losail, to cheers from all Yamaha fans all over the world!”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “During the morning everything went well and lap times were good. When we started the race simulation in the afternoon the circuit conditions were much hotter and the bike behaved completely differently. As a result we were unable to find a pace we were happy with. The engineers will now take the data away from these three days and work to find a solution for the hotter temperatures for our next time on track. Overall we are satisfied with the majority of our testing, the riders have worked extremely hard as have all the team members. We are confident we will be fighting fit and ready in Qatar.”
One rider who will be extremely pleased with his performance over the three days is Brit Cal Crutchlow on the CWM LCR Honda. When he arrived in Sepang, he acknowledged that he had to change his riding style to suit the RC213V and try and find a way to be competitive on fresh tyres. He did just that, improving everyday and managing to set a very impressive 1’59.658 early on day 3, which was over 1.5 seconds quicker than his time on day 1 and more importantly achieved on a new set of tyres. Not only that but he managed to run a long race simulation this afternoon in which he consistently was lapping around the 2’01 mark.
Cal Crutchlow / 3rd / 1m59.658 / lap 6 of 58 – “For a track that I dislike, that’s my fastest ever lap around here by nearly eight-tenths of a second. I felt good and comfortable on the bike, and it’s not a bad lap considering the conditions of the circuit today.I’m happy enough with how things are, but I still need to improve my riding style. The corner speed isn’t too bad, but although straight line braking is good, the other riders can take more risks than me in the moments just after. That’s a confidence thing though, and as the exit from the corners isn’t too bad I still think there is more to come. In my earlier race simulation we didn’t have any braking power with the bike – exactly the same problem as Marc Marquez had earlier this week. As I have said we have been struggling with corner entry as it was, but I was still really riding well in my long run, it felt quite good but I was losing a second maybe on some laps just from being unable to stop with the brakes.”
His teammate Jack Miller, who was using this test to get used to riding the Open class Honda RC213V-RS, posted his fastest time on the final morning. He managed a 2’01.593 as he continues to get used to the extra 200bhp on offer from his new machine compared to his Moto3 bike from last year.
Jack Miller / 22nd / 2m01.593 / lap 9 of 40 –“I’m really happy with how the test has gone and I have worked hard on the bike but also on myself in order to get more comfortable as the laps go on. We’re not too far off. I’m the second of the rookie riders out there so that makes me happy because there are some other more experienced guys that have been used to bigger bikes behind me, so it’s good to be where we are. Of course, we’re still not quite as fast as we would like to be, but everybody’s putting out some really quick times – my team-mate Cal did a scorcher this morning – so it’s not easy at the moment, but it’s good to feel like we’re making progress. For now I’m reasonably pleased overall, but I will admit that I’m looking forward to the next test in Qatar, which is a track that’s a different style and a bit more flowing. It will be good to get there and try out another circuit on this bike.”
It was a very important 3 days for Ducati, as they debuted the all new GP15 bike. Andrea Iannone immediately found the new machine to his liking, finishing 4th overall on the time sheets, and managing to get within 0.6s of Marquez on the final morning. Dovizioso complained of some issues under braking and did not show the same confidence on the visibly smaller machine, ending up setting his fastest time on day 2, half a second slower than his teammate. Team boss Luigi Dall’Igna stating that they wanted to see how the bike performed at the Qatar test before making a decision if they will take two GP15’s to the first race, in case Dovizioso may prefer the GP14.3.
Andrea Iannone / 4th / 1m59.722 – “For sure these were three positive days, because we arrived in Malaysia with a totally new bike, without ever having tried it before, and we succeeded in lapping pretty quickly and without any reliability problems. The GP15 took to the track for the first time on Monday, and so I’m happy with the way it’s improved in such a short period of time. Today we focused on testing various types of setting on the bike, trying to improve the feeling but above all the grip and corner turn-in. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m happy with this first contact with the new bike.”
Andrea Dovizioso / 9th / 2m00.250 – “I can but only be happy with these tests. We brought a completely new bike here and we were fast and competitive right from the start. I am particularly satisfied because we improved the key point from the previous bikes, and now the bike ‘turns’ in the corners. Back home the guys in Ducati Corse have done a great job and we didn’t have any particular reliability issues in these three days. Now we have to get to know the GP15 better, because we still have a few limits. The new bike is very different from the previous one, and so we have to try some extreme set-ups to understand it better, for example in the last part of braking and in the middle of the corner. But this is all normal, when you change a bike so much there are always good and bad points. I’m convinced that we have a lot of room for improvement, but we need time and in the next few days our engineers will have a lot of data to analyze before we go to Qatar for the tests in mid-March”.
Michele Pirro / 18th / 2m00.875 – “Today we continued the work we had scheduled for these three days. I am also happy because I managed to set a good time, the best I’ve ever done here in Malaysia, improving by about half a second the one I set at the start of February. My position in the standings is maybe not one of the best, but we are all pretty close together and I am pleased because I know I can be quick, but above all because we brought back some useful information for the development of the GP15.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager) – “I am also pretty satisfied with the way things have gone and it seems that everything is going well: we lapped for three days without any major reliability issues and this is surely important for a completely new bike. The GP15 “turns” better than the previous model and this was the main aim that we had set for ourselves. We did however find some critical points, especially in braking and we also have a few more issues that will have to be resolved. However, I am pleased with the feeling that Iannone has already reached, both from the comments he made and the pace he showed on this track, while Dovizioso on the other hand had a few more problems in the final part of braking, which obviously we have to tackle and resolve. Overall however I am happy, because we have begun our work on the GP15 in a positive way.”
Suzuki continued their encouraging return to MotoGP by bringing a new fairing and some engine updates to Malaysia. Aleix Espargaro took advantage of these improvements to record a 2’00.275 on the final morning, good enough for 9th place overall. Rookie Maverick Viñales looked to have no problems adjusting to the GSX-RR after stepping up from Moto2™, and will have surprised quite a few people by finishing just over 3 tenths slower than his more experienced teammate.
Aleix Espargaro / 9th / 2m002.75 – “We are satisfied with today’s results, we ran a lot in hot conditions because yesterday we had some issues with those conditions with more than 50 laps. Today we ran a lot with 60° closing laps in 2.01. I’m very, very happy with the improvements on the pace. I’m missing the fast lap because with the two soft tyres I made a couple of mistakes. The bike is very improved, we worked a lot on electronic set-up and to find a better configuration of the traction control, which gave good results and let us cut one second off our time. We also worked on traction out of corners and it was important to verify the bike’s behaviour in hot conditions because they are similar to race conditions. We still have a lot of work to do but I’m confident and aware that I’m in a Factory team with a lot of people working hard to do the best job.”
Maverick Viñales / 14th / 2m00.604 – “I leave Sepang with a very good feeling and satisfaction and we did a very good job without any major issues. I managed to improve my times a lot, both in the fast laps and the overall pace. I’m learning more and more about the bike, we made some changes in terms of set-up and electronics and I’m learning how to exploit them. Today I tried to get a good single lap time, but didn’t want to push too hard like I did yesterday when I crashed, so we focused more on consistency and we worked on the pace; we also got very important feedback from the bike which we can work on. I’m still a rookie, so I still need to understand so many things about the bike, but I’m performing well and my performance is improving day by day.”
Satoru Terada / Suzuki Team Director/ Project Leader: “We arrived at this test in Sepang only a short time after Sepang 1, so we haven’t had the chance to make very big improvements, but our engineers worked very hard and we managed to introduce several new specifications. Even if small, we did make positive steps forward, both in the engine and especially in electronics. We’ve also worked on the chassis and found good compromises on the set-up, so I’m very happy with how these days went. The riders had two small crashes but without major injuries and no particular damage to the bikes, so we had time to collect information. We will now go to Qatar with more improvements to be tested step-by-step.”
Bradley Smith progressed well during the test as he recovered from his ankle injury to finish 0.6s ahead of Pol Espargaro on the other Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, as their crews focused on developing the electronics package on the YZF-M1.
Bradley Smith / 6th / 1’59.883 / Laps : 41 – “It was a good final day for me, especially to finish in the top 6. The team and I had more or less completed all of our test plans yesterday, but there were a few small things we needed to try today with the electronics and the clutch. So we tested three different ideas, with two of them being definitely an improvement. It’s these little changes that can make a different in the race. I am pleased to say that I did a 1’59 lap time, which was my objective for this test and it’s positive that I could achieve this. The bike now has a very good base setup, so next we will go to Qatar which is a completely different track and see if we can use the base setup we made here, at Losail. All in all, it was a good test. We’re close to being the top satellite bike but Cal is a bit faster, however our pace has been competitive and I am happy with the job the team and I have done here.”
Pol Espargaro / 11th / 2’00.490 / Laps : 37 – “Today was a bit of a tricky day for me. The feeling I had when I first went out on track was good and I was sure of having a positive day. I had just put on a new tyre to go for a fast lap time, but I was disrupted by a slow rider on track. I had to pass him with a quite risky move and unfortunately I ended up crashing. This was at the worst possible time because it was when the track was perfect in terms of temperature. Because bike 1 needed repairing, I went out on the second bike, but any chance of improving didn’t come easily for me and I had to stop shortly after because the track was so hot that the conditions were difficult to ride on. Once things had cooled down, we had some technical issues that slowed us again and after everything, there was only half an hour right at the end of the day where I could ride again. Having said that, after falling in the morning, I did not want to push too hard and end up worse, so we limited ourselves to ensuring that everything was working properly again without pushing. It’s a big shame that we weren’t able to finish our test schedule as we had planned. Anyway, next up is Qatar and we are equipped with lots of information and ideas for improvements after 5 days in Sepang, plus I am eager to roll on to another circuit, although there is still one more day of testing here, where we will test the 2016 Michelin tyres.”
Hector Barbera has been the leading Open class rider throughout the test and put in a flying lap this morning that put him in the top ten for the first time throughout the 3 days, although he did have the softer option tyre available to him compared to the factory teams. Mike Di Meglio on the other Avintia Ducati GP14.2 finished a further second back, with a 2’01.487.
Scott Redding’s focus during the test was on chassis development and adapting his riding style to the Factory spec Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V. He ended the final day in 16th place, managing to shave over a second off his time over the three days.
Scott Redding /16th / 2’00.695 – “I’m not really satisfied that the gap to the front increased today; yesterday we were under a second away, but today we’re 1.5s off. On a more positive note, I’ve learnt a lot about the bike and my riding style, especially under braking and on corner entry, and my lap times have been consistently in the two-minute bracket. I was lacking traction out of the slower turns; I felt good in the fast corners, but exiting the last corner for example I was struggling to find grip and lost a bit of time. My target for this test was a lap time of 2’00.4 so we missed that by a few tenths, but I’m happy enough with what we’ve achieved over the three days here”
Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden had to adjust to a completely different bike compared to the Sepang 1 test, as he wasn’t happy with the original setup, and clearly found something as he shaved 2 seconds of his best time over the test. Teammate Eugene Laverty was using the three days to familiarise himself with the Honda RC213V-RS and will be pleased to have finished just a second behind the 2006 MotoGP Champion.
Nicky Hayden /17th / 2m00.813 / 49 laps – “To be honest we took a big step forward today. Our position is not spectacular but I have dropped my lap time considerably. We managed to get into the two minutes’ and I tried to go a little bit faster but we just fell short. We have to be realistic – we are competing at a very high level and you have to work hard for every fraction of a second. But we are on the right track, we have improved a lot compared to the first test and this is positive. Also today we were able to do a long run, which helped us to improve. I made a small mistake but in general my pace has been consistent. I am happy with the team because they are working very hard and we have improved in a lot of areas, although we still have a lot of work to do, especially in terms of the electronics. We leave Sepang satisfied although we can’t afford to relax. We have to keep trying to evolve in several areas, principally with the engine braking.”
Eugene Laverty / 23rd / 2m01.815 / 61 laps – “We didn’t manage to improve the lap time as much today as we had hoped but we have made progress with the setup of the bike. Today we completed a long run on used tyres which was very useful to measure our performance. We also learned quite a lot about the performance of the bike over long distance and our pace and lap times were consistent. At the end of the day when the conditions were a little better we made a change to the front suspension which helped us to take another step forward. It was good to finish the test on a positive. The results of this second test here at Sepang give us cause for optimism. We have made quite a lot of progress, we still have a lot of work ahead but every time I ride the bike I feel that we are more prepared and I’m looking forward now to travelling to Qatar and continuing to work.”
Danilo Petrucci was the fastest of the two Pramac Ducati riders on the GP14.3, finishing just outside the top ten on the last two days, while Yonny Hernandez simply focused on getting as many laps as possible under his belt after missing Sepang 1 through injury.
Forward Racing were focused on testing the new electronics software for Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz that they debuted at Sepang 1, and will be encouraged by the former’s one lap pace as he finished just 1.5 seconds off Marquez on the final day. Baz, was another 2 seconds back, as he gets used to riding the RC213-RS after making the step up from World Superbikes.
Stefan Bradl / 15th / 2’0.685 / Laps : 45 – “I can’t say I’m happy with this test at all. I struggled with the track conditions that changed a lot from the beginning of February and I did not completely managed to find the right grip. I was expecting something better on my flying lap, but I’m confident because in the long run our pace is good and the feeling also is. Despite the fall this morning, I managed to improve my lap-time and this is positive for us. We are working in the right direction and I am sure we will do better in Qatar in two weeks “
Loris Baz / 24th / 2’2.587 / Laps : 47 – “After the first test in Sepang the feeling was really positive. Unfortunately after the break the weather condition did change a lot and this made the test more difficult. Despite this I did a lot of work with the team, we tried new solutions and collected much information in order to find a good setting. I can´t wait to get back on track in Qatar.”
For Aprilia, an evolution of the bike they used at Sepang 1 had mixed results, as Alvaro Bautista had more success than his team mate Marco Melandri on the latest version of the RS-GP. Bautista ended day one in 12th but struggled to improve much more over the test, shaving just .4s off his time over the next two days, while Melandri ended each day last and on the final day was almost 4.5s behind Marquez.
Alvaro Bautista / 19th / 2m01.310 – “This last day was a positive one. After testing various solutions over the last few days today we focused on the base setting that I liked the best. This morning we improved our best lap straight away, taking another important step forward. Another fundamental test was the new 340 millimetre brake discs, a modifications that I got used to right away but that also required some further settings on the bike. This afternoon, at the hottest time of the day, we took our long run and I must say that I immediately felt good riding with a full tank. I’m starting to have fun and that is essential. I had to stop because of a small problem with a wheel and then we got back on the track and even with a used tyre we had a good pace. After the long run we also compared some new material that we didn’t have before, specifically looking for better traction. These are all positive tests looking toward the Qatar test sessions, because a lot of ideas came out in terms of development. At the end of the day I’m satisfied. I want to thank all the guys at Aprilia because they did a great job these last three days. We all want to improve more in the next tests!”
Marco Melandri / 27th / 2m03.569 – “In these three days we did a lot of hard work in terms of comparison tests to find that feeling that I have been missing up to now. We took laps to analyse various solutions, even with a bike similar to the one that I rode last year, precisely to gather as much information as possible. We were able to find some good things, but it wasn’t enough to let me ride as I’d like to and our times show just how much work is still left to do. Now we’ll analyse the results of these tests and decide the best way focus our future efforts.”
Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Manager) – “I’m quite pleased with the tests because we confirmed how well balanced our bike is, also highlighting the exact direction we need to take in development, both in terms of chassis and electronics. We didn’t have any particular problems with reliability and that is comforting. Another positive note is that our race pace during simulations is encouraging, even more than our flying lap times. This morning a small problem kept Alvaro from further improving his best lap. He could have shaved a little more off but overall the result of these tests is definitely encouraging. We were able to complete all of the scheduled tests and in the coming days we’ll have a look at things and decide which direction to take for Qatar.”
Fausto Gresini (Aprilia Team Manager) – “These were three intense days where we were able to complete a lot of tests in various areas of the bike, from the setup to the frame and even the electronics and engine. All in all even our riders’ time sheets improved compared to the previous Sepang 1 tests and that’s a sign that little by little we are moving forward and improving. We also gathered some more precious information that will allow us to keep working on development at home whilst waiting to get back on the track for the last test in Qatar before the opening round. Alvaro’s time is satisfactory and so is Marco’s, although still far off the mark. At the end of this final day he started to get a more positive feeling. We are working to give him what he needs and to put him at ease.”
Karel Abraham finished with a 2’01.538 on his Honda RC213V-RS, improving by over 8 tenths during the three days. Alex De Angelis was focused on the electronics and set up of his Octo Ioda ART machine, ending the final day just over 4 seconds off the pace.
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