Rossi and Pedrosa in front at Sepang as Ducati confirm ‘Open’ entry
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa concluded the second Sepang MotoGP™ test with an identical 1’59.999 lap time, as preparations for the 2014 season continued in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, after testing concluded the Ducati Team confirmed their decision to enter the ‘Open’ class in 2014, meaning that they will use standard electronics software and will benefit from the greater engine allocation permitted in the new regulations.
The overall pace was not as quick at Sepang this week, with Rossi and Pedrosa’s best laps today being 0.466s slower than the best circulation set last time out by World Champion Marc Marquez – who missed this test due to injury.
The Doctor demonstrated his pace once again on Friday as he prepares for a 15th premier class campaign, setting a quickest time on his 13th lap, in spite of some struggles with the 2014 tyres being experienced by the Yamaha factory team.
Thursday’s fastest rider Dani Pedrosa was also on the pace, his sharpest time coming on the 47th of his 50 laps, as temperatures dropped slightly – following a 64°C (147°F) track temperature peak at 4pm.
Pedrosa undertook an impressive 19-lap race simulation in the afternoon with every lap under the 2’02.000s mark, and a best time of 2’00.985 coming on lap 15.
On the other side of the Yamaha garage to Rossi, seventh placed Jorge Lorenzo’s frustrations continued as he was +0.75s slower than at the previous test – where track conditions were better and the riders still had access to a 2013 specification tyre.
The Ducati GP14 is showing signs of real improvement and Andrea Dovizioso ended the test 0.068s off the top pace in third, with a lap time 0.3s better than at Sepang1. With the data gathered by him and his fellow Ducati riders the Italian factory made the decision that they will opt for ‘Open’ class participation this season.
Aleix Espargaro was once again quick, his best time of 2’00.101s leaving him fourth best overall and with a decent race simulation performed for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team on their ‘Open’ Yamaha.
Stefan Bradl wrapped up early having had a solid week, the LCR Honda rider satisfied with his consistently quick times as he found good rhythm on longer runs and ended up fifth overall (+0.165).
The fastest rider on the first day Alvaro Bautista was 0.5s off the pace on the final day in sixth and is happy with progress made with a new rear shock this week.
In eighth Cal Crutchlow made steady headway over the two Sepang tests and has dropped his gap to the frontrunning pace to less than 0.8s compared with a 1.5s deficit at the end of the previous visit to Malaysia.
The key development for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team this week has been the introduction of the seamless gearbox to their package and their young pair of riders, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, rounded out the top ten with similar lap times respectively 0.8s and 1s off the pace.
Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone crashed shortly before 1pm but was unhurt and immediately able to continue his work, eventually finishing 11th, with Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez behind him on the timesheet on an ‘Open’ Ducati in 13th.
Randy de Puniet carried on with his development work for Suzuki, who aim to return to MotoGP™ in 2015, the Frenchman concluding Friday’s test in 12th, his best lap time down to 1.431s off the top – compared with 2.953s at the end of Sepang1.
Colin Edwards ran out of fuel twice as he pushed the Forward Yamaha to the limit and concluded 14th, just ahead of compatriot Nicky Hayden who was 1.925s off the top on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R.
The Ducati, Honda and Yamaha factory teams now head to Phillip Island for a tyre safety test from 3rd-5th March, though MotoGP™ title holder Marquez will again miss the trip as his recovery from a fibula fracture continues.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) left Sepang at the end of a three-day test at the top of the table with identical lap times.
Pedrosa and Rossi both recorded 1m 59.999s laps, making them the only riders to dip inside the two minute mark during a test spoiled by a track surface that offered less grip than was available at the first Sepang test earlier this month. Conditions were especially hot today – 37 degrees ambient and a track temperature exceeding 60 degrees at one point!
Former 250 and 125 World Champion Pedrosa rode a useful race simulation this morning when conditions were cooler, also working on engine mapping. Later in the day, when the track temperature started to cool, he rode his fastest lap of the week. His best time was several tenths faster than he had managed here a few weeks ago, despite having less grip this time.
Team-mate and reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) is currently at home in Spain, recuperating from the broken right fibula bone he suffered during a training accident last week. The next time the youngster will ride his RC213V will be in FP1 at the Qatar GP on March 20.
Meanwhile Pedrosa travels directly to Australia for a special three-day tyre test session at Phillip Island, following the tyre longevity issues suffered at the high-speed track in last year’s MotoGP and Moto2 events. Only full-factory riders will attend this test. Non-factory riders will test at Qatar on March 7, 8 and 9.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) had a strong final day at Sepang, moving up to fifth overall, while Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was sixth, having run his fastest lap yesterday.
Bradl spent much of the day focusing on improving race-long consistency, having set his best lap of the tests on a softer tyre during the cooler morning. Although he struggled to reach his own limits with the harder front tyre, he finished the tests a happy man.
After being the fastest man on day one, Bautista ended up sixth overall, about three tenths behind the similarly mounted Bradl, after setting his best time of the day on a very hot track. The Spaniard is delighted with progress here, because a new Showa rear shock absorber has crucially improved traction and feeling on corner exits.
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was happy with the data he’s gathered, which he will use to improve his pace still further next time out. His major focus now is improving stopping into turns.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was slowed by a technical glitch today and yet the former 250 World Champion was able to continue vital R&D work on his RCV1000R. Not only was he faster today, but he also felt more comfortable, giving him great confidence for his next test outing in Qatar at the end of next week
MotoGP rookie Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) learned plenty this week, adapting his riding technique to suit the demands of a hugely powerful MotoGP bike. He smoothed out his riding and that also allowed him to think more about bike set-up.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R) once again struggled with his season-old shoulder injury. He will now continue intensive physiotherapy at home in order to be as strong as possible for the opening race in Qatar.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): 1st, 1m 59.999s – “Today we worked on engine mapping to improve cornering, but the most important thing that we were able to do is a race simulation. We also tried to improve our fast lap time attacks as well. We progressed a lot – although there is still room for improvement. Now we are off to Phillip Island to test out the new tyres.”
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda): 5th, 2m 00.164s – “I am quite happy about the job we made in the last three days. It’s tough to work in these conditions and the guys worked hard to adjust the bike. Early in the session we went out on soft rubber and afterwards we kept working on long run performance. Today the pace was not as good as yesterday because I was not enough comfortable on a hard front tyre but, overall, this test has been quite positive for us: we are not far off the pace.”
Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 6th, 2m 00.500s – “These six days of testing in Malaysia have been very hard because we faced very difficult conditions, but we are really happy because we have improved so much throughout the two testing sessions, reaching a good feeling with the bike. After the great work done in the first two days, today we could focus on some details with regard to the Showa front fork, as well as the Nissin brakes. In addition, we have refined the electronic controls. At the end of the day I managed to repeat the lap times obtained in the morning, when the track was cooler: it means that we are working in the right direction, and that there is still room for improvement. Moreover, even though the new rear shock already goes very well, enabling us to maintain a good pace for several consecutive laps, even when the tyre starts to wear out, we have not yet explored all the possible settings. Therefore in the next test in Qatar we will continue to work on this aspect, also trying to improve our qualifying performance.”
Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 15th, 2m 01.924s – “We have worked really hard over the last three days here and we have gathered a lot of information that has given us a better understanding of the bike, although we still haven’t made the major step we are looking for. We still don’t know why we’re struggling so much to get the bike stopped into the corners so we need to work more with the electronics. It has been a strange day and we lost some time making alterations to the set-up to adapt to the heat. We know our potential is much higher than we have been able to show here so we can be optimistic and go to Qatar next week ready to put some more hard work in. It will be interesting to see how the bike performs at a different track but we have a lot to do there to make sure we are ready for the first race.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 17th, 2m 02.070s – “We had a little setback today and had to put everything on hold at around midday but in the end we fixed it and got back out on track. Our objective today was to continue working on the set-up and we managed to improve the feeling by the end of the day. As well as improving the feeling we also improved the lap times but we still have plenty to test next week in Qatar. We need to have a meeting and work out how we can improve the suspension but in general the feeling is that the bike is good and has plenty of room for improvement – it just needs more laps.”
Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 19th, 2m 02.228s – “I am very happy with how these three days of testing went! The situation has improved a lot since the first test earlier this month; we found a good direction to work on the bike and now I also feel much more confident when riding. Initially I was very aggressive, but now I’m trying to adopt a softer and smoother riding style, and this is helping me a lot also to work on the bike set-up. Today we have also seen progress under braking, where, however, we need to work on consistency, and also in terms of electronics. We are confident ahead of the next test in Qatar: we will start from the data collected here in Malaysia and we’ll see how it goes, considering that we will face a completely different track and conditions.”
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R): 22nd, 2m 04.304s “It’s been a difficult few days, and annoying because I cannot perform at my full potential. This is our major focus now, so now I go home to continue rehab and hope I will be a bit stronger before the first race.”
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi has completed the second official test of the 2014 MotoGP season as the fastest rider. Rossi wrapped up the three days of riding at the Sepang International circuit in Malaysia with a fastest time of 1’59.999, one of only two riders to drop under the two minute mark after an impressive fastest lap today.
Whilst still struggling to find a perfect solution to the new Bridgestone tyres, Jorge Lorenzo was able to find a change to make some improvement to set up today. The Mallorcan was still less than satisfied overall with the grip levels on offer from the 2014 rubber. Lorenzo was able to step a little closer to the front than yesterday, wrapping up in seventh, just over 0.6 of a second from his teammate in first.
The Team now move directly to Phillip Island in Australia for a further test before the season kicks off under the floodlights of Qatar on the 23rd March.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro completed the final day of testing with many positives to conclude, for the beginning of the MotoGP season at the end of March.
Both Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders experimented with various aspects of their Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bikes in order to find the most suitable set ups which would suit their riding styles.
British rider Bradley Smith ended the test with an overall feeling of satisfaction regarding his performances over the past three days, as he prepares for his second season in MotoGP. Having spent a large quantity of time on refining the front and rear sections of the Yamaha YZR-M1, as well as accustoming himself to the seamless shift gearbox and the new Bridgestone tyres, Smith was content with the developments made. He completed a full race simulation today, which was successfully undertaken and confirmed that all of the changes made during this test were in the right direction. Undertaking a colossal 185 laps over all three days, the young British rider finished the second Sepang test with a best time of 2:00.804 in 9th place.
Young Spanish rider Pol Espargaro finished the session feeling pleased, having spent the past three days learning and mastering his new MotoGP bike. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion, completed over 158 laps around the 5.543 kilometre track, over the three days. He optimised the available time and tested ceaselessly to continue to gain as much knowledge of his new Yamaha YZR-M1 and Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team as possible. The learning curve was steep and despite a small crash yesterday, Espargaro leaves the Sepang test feeling positive. Having gelled seamlessly with the new gearbox, the young Spaniard set the 3rd fastest time on the opening day, before finishing in 10th overall, with an ultimate lap time of 2:00.999.
The next testing session will commence at the Losail Circuit, Qatar on the 7th of March for Satellite MotoGP riders, and Open Class MotoGP riders only.
The second 2014 MotoGP pre-season test session ended today with very positive results for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team.
Aleix Espargaró was very consistent along the three days of testing, scoring the 4th best time in the combined lap times classification with a top time of 2’00.101. After having worked on the bike set up in the first two days, this morning he made a long run to check the bike behaviour on the race distance, showing a good pace.
Colin Edwards continued working on the bike set up. He also tested some new solutions in preparation of the race distance. In total he completed 23 laps, Aleix 43.
Valentino Rossi – 1st / 1’59.999 / 41 laps – “First of all I am very happy because I am in first position and I did a good lap. I was one of the only ones in the 1’59s which is positive, especially because with the 2014 tyres in the first test we tried a time attack and I was more than one second slower than today. This test we have always been at the top and fighting for the first position so it’s positive. We still have some problems when it’s very hot over long distance with the new tyres, so we still have to work, but we made a good step from the first test. The next test in Philip Island will be very important to understand if also there we improved a lot like here because I am more than one second faster than the second test of last year so we have been working well.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 7th / 2’00.619 / 70 laps – “We found a better solution today to improve our situation and adapt these tyres at this track. The tyres are much harder in the sidewalls. At this track, with this tarmac that is very slippery, it’s not the same as Phillip Island or Mugello for example, it’s impossible for us to be competitive. This tyre is much worse for Yamaha and better for Honda. Our bike is competitive, at a similar level to the competitors but with the tyre we have problems. We tried a simulation today and it was worse and worse every lap. In the edge there is a problem with no grip but also when you pick up the bike it spins. You can improve the feeling a little to get more grip but when the tyre starts to drop the problems get worse and worse.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager – “It’s been a difficult test and really we are not very happy with the result. For the last day Jorge has found some confidence back in the bike. Of course it’s not how we want it but at least he could do a decent long run and be quite consistent. It was very hot today and we got a lot of new information with the new tyres. We are very curious to see how we get on in two days in Phillip Island.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director – “We finished this three day test with some good improvements and were able to make the bike better every day. At the end Valentino was able to make the fastest lap of the day. Jorge continued to have some difficulties, especially because of his riding style. It looks like the new tyre doesn’t work very well on our bike, especially at this track. Here at Sepang the problem was increased because of the lack of grip on the tarmac and also the high temperatures. We made some improvements but we are not satisfied 100% and we have to improve over race distance. We look forward to the Phillip Island test now to see what Bridgestone has prepared to solve the issues we had last year and then we are ready for Qatar.”
Bradley Smith – 9th / 2’00.804 / 71 laps – “We tried a lot of different solutions today, especially with the rear of the bike and tried to work the new Bridgestone tyres as much as possible. I found a setting that I was much happier with, which made the bike smoother, and let me ride the Yamaha how it should be. We definitely made the step with rear tyre performance, which allowed me to be much more consistent, compared to the last Sepang test and last year’s race. I did a race simulation, and am pleased as it was during a really hot part of the day, so not perfect in terms of track conditions. At the end of the day, after 70 laps I also did my best time. There are many positives, and I come away from here quite happy. It appears as though the track was slower this time than the previous test, but we are close to my lap time from then. All in all, it has been a somewhat difficult three days, but I am really pleased with the final result. “
Pol Espargaro – 10th / 2’00.999 / 54 laps – “It has not been an easy day today. Probably the most difficult one we have had so far. I didn’t feel too well, on one hand maybe because of the crash from yesterday, or on the other hand because it’s really demanding doing several days and so many laps in such hot and humid conditions. However, even if I’m not too enthusiastic about my performance today, I am still just one second from the top of the timesheets which makes me feel much better. Again, we tried different setup solutions, as I still have many things to learn about this bike. I’m really looking forward to trying the bike on a different circuit, in Qatar next week. This will extend my knowledge further, and will permit us to be able to evaluate the information which we collected during this test in a better way. But honestly, all these comments are not as important when you get news like we received today from our Moto2 rider, who is in hospital in France. My thoughts are with him and I hope he recovers quickly.”
Aleix Espargaro – 4th / 2’00.101 / 43 laps – “I’m very happy with how we progressed in these three days of testing. We started where we left here in Sepang 1 and I could work on the second bike and on the race distance. I’m very satisfied with the data gathered during the long run. We were competitive and now I look forward to confirm my feeling in Qatar, where we will do another test session before the opening race of the season”.
Colin Edwards – 14th / 2’01.748 / 35 laps – “We continued working on the bike set up to improve the feeling with the bike in the corners. We tried several solutions but I still don’t have the right confidence to push as I am used to. We also worked on the electronics with positive results and we focused on the tank to check the fuel consumption as we would like to take advantage of the possibility to use all the 24 liters that the Open class has at disposal. We gathered important data and I’d like to thank my team for the work done during these three days”.
The Ducati Team concluded the second IRTA pre-season testing session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia in a positive way, with an excellent third place for Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow finishing eighth overall.
In the three days of testing, which were held almost entirely in suffocating heat and humidity, the two riders completed a massive amount of work, aimed at optimizing the development of their GP14 machines, with both men showing a constant improvement; on today’s final day in particular, Dovizioso and Crutchlow also lapped with the DORNA/Magneti Marelli electronic software and ECU provided for the new Open option.
In the evening, the Ducati Team announced that it will be taking part in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship with the two riders on GP14 bikes in Open configuration.
Dovizioso was particularly satisfied with the lap time he set today, the best the Italian has ever recorded on this track, which took him to just one-tenth away from the fastest riders in the test, Rossi and Pedrosa, while Crutchlow also showed considerable progress over the three days, in which he was able to further get to grips with the bike he will be racing in his first season in Ducati.
Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro carried out a totally different work programme over the three days and his aim was not to push for any really quick lap times.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 3rd (2m00.067s) – “I am really pleased: we go away from Sepang having confirmed all the improvements we made three weeks ago. I managed to do a really good lap time, the best I’ve ever done on this track, and I did it in track conditions that were worse than in Sepang 1. This means that we went much better this time around! We also did a long-run of 14 laps and I was also satisfied with that. At this moment we are probably not in a position to fight for the top places, because we are not always able to lap with this pace, but we really improved a lot in these tests.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 8th (2m00.790s) – “Obviously for me the situation in these tests at Sepang was different to what I’ve been used to in the past, so I think Dovi managed to benefit more from the three days because he’s on a familiar machine. But that’s the way it goes and I’m generally pretty satisfied with the results we’ve achieved here. I’ve been consistently able to go as fast as Dovi with used tyres, but not at the start, because I’m unable to push hard right away and get enough grip into the tyres. This is something we will have to improve for qualifying and the races. Overall we’ve made good progress, testing a lot of stuff here, which was the main thing, and starting to understand what the bike does with different set-ups. Now it’ll be good to go to another circuit and try something else.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager) – “For Ducati it is really important to continue the development work on the GP14 and we certainly made some improvements during this test, just like the previous one. The gap separating us from our rivals is however still a big one, so having the possibility to modify our engine during the season is fundamental for us. For this reason, we have chosen the Open option, sharing the decision with our riders: Andrea and Cal have a lot of confidence in all the Ducati Corse technical staff and they accepted our decision without a moment’s hesitation “.
The Suzuki MotoGP Test Team concluded its three-day test at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia today with new direction and a stronger performance after testing several new parts and settings.
Test rider Randy De Puniet completed a total of 188 laps of the 5,543km circuit during the three days, shaving almost two-seconds off his initial best time and finishing the final day with a lap of 2:01.430; which put him 12th in the overall standings.
During the test, the Suzuki MotoGP team worked on new electronic ignition settings, tested a new engine and also appraised a new frame today.
Randy De Puniet: “Today we made good steps with some settings with the electronics by the end of the test and on the last run we found something certainly helped me ride the bike better.
“Overall we reduced our lap-times gap compared to the first test and I’m now more comfortable on the bike. The character is still a little aggressive but now we have got good information and we have some new direction on what to work-on in the future.
“We also tested a new frame today and we plan to further-test with more new settings in the future to further evaluate this.”
Satoru Terada – Suzuki MotoGP Test Team Manager: “We struggled with lap-times during the first test here in early February but our factory technicians have worked very hard over the past two weeks and we were able to bring several new items here in terms of updated software, engine specifications and a new frame.
“We made some good steps improving here and we also found a clear direction for the future.
“Now we go back to work again for the next test opportunity and I’d like to thank all my staff for their efforts.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi shared the top of the timesheet at the second MotoGP™ pre-season group test at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, after the two riders set an identical lap time of 1’59.999.
Both Pedrosa and Rossi set their best lap time using the combination of the medium compound slicks front and rear on the final day of testing. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso finished third overall with a personal best lap time of 2:00.067, ensuring three different manufacturers were represented in the top three. In a carbon copy of the first Sepang test, Aleix Espargaro was once again the quickest open-class rider, placing fourth overall on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR-Yamaha with a best lap of 2’00.101. The gap in lap time from the quickest to slowest rider at the second Sepang test was 6.483 seconds.
Weather conditions for the test were similar to the first Sepang test; very hot and dry, although the grip level of the tarmac was at a lower level when compared to the previous test in February. The peak track temperature recorded over the three days was 60°C; 3 degrees warmer than the highest measurement at the previous Sepang test. All front and rear slick compound choices were utilised by riders over the three days, with only the 2014 specification tyres being made available to riders at this test.
Bridgestone now heads to Phillip Island for a three day test from March 3-5, and will also be present at the final MotoGP™ pre-season group test at Qatar’ Losail International Circuit from March 7-9.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Compared to the last test at Sepang, the track conditions over the last three days weren’t as favourable making grip harder to come by for the riders. This was the main reason why the lap times weren’t as quick at this test compared to the last time we were at Sepang. On the final day of the test the conditions were particularly extreme with track temperatures reaching sixty degrees Celsius, however some riders did race simulations in the tough conditions so we were able to acquire a lot of good data about our tyre durability at this test.
“For this test we only offered our 2014 specification slick tyres for the riders to use, so our engineers spent a lot of time working with the teams to get them up to speed on this new rubber. As is usual when we introduce new tyres, some teams and riders need more time to adapt then others, but I believe everyone has made progress over the last three days. It was promising to see four different types of machine; Yamaha, Honda, Ducati and an open-class Yamaha set lap times within a tenth of a second of each other at this test, as this bodes well for a competitive season. We are now heading straight to Australia for a three day test at Phillip Island next week with some Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders to test the new tyres we developed for the Australian Grand Prix in October.”
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