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MotoGP 2014: Marquez ahead of rivals as first Sepang test concludes


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2014 MotoGP™ Official Press Release

Repeating his dominance of the first two days, Marc Marquez concluded the first Sepang test of the 2014 preseason ahead of his rivals, thanks to a rapid early best time.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

MotoGP 2014: ALVARO BAUTISTA E SCOTT REDDING CONCLUDONO I TEST DI SEPANG RACCOGLIENDO DATI PREZIOSI


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OFFICIAL GRESINI PRESS RELEASE – 6 Febbraio 2014

Si è conclusa oggi la tre giorni di prove della MotoGP sul circuito di Sepang: sia Alvaro Bautista che Scott Redding hanno continuato il lavoro impostato nei primi due giorni, raccogliendo dati preziosi in vista dei test che si terranno a fine mese nuovamente sul tracciato malese.

In sella alla Honda RC213V, Bautista ha provato diverse soluzioni di assetto alla ricerca di un maggior grip al posteriore: al momento lo spagnolo sta infatti faticando a sfruttare al cento per cento le nuove gomme Bridgestone per la stagione 2014, anche se il team, supportato da Showa, ha già alcune idee per progredire in vista dei prossimi test. 2’00”788 il miglior giro di Alvaro, in 63 giri totali. Sulla Honda RCV1000R, Redding ha completato una sessantina di giri con un miglior tempo di 2’02”833; il rookie inglese ha affrontato il primo vero test in MotoGP senza errori, prendendo confidenza con la moto e migliorando gradualmente i tempi: a fine mese riprenderà il lavoro su assetto e elettronica.

Il Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini tornerà in azione a Sepang per la tre giorni di test programmata per il 26, 27 e 28 febbraio.

ALVARO BAUTISTA (2’00″788 – 63 GIRI)
“Oggi abbiamo proseguito il lavoro fatto nei primi due giorni di test, sostanzialmente i nostri sforzi si sono concentrati nuovamente sulle sospensioni alla ricerca di una maggiore aderenza al posteriore e di un miglior feeling generale con la moto. È stato fatto un piccolo passo avanti rispetto a ieri, però non riusciamo ancora a sfruttare al massimo le nuove gomme Bridgestone: al momento ci offrono meno grip rispetto a quelle dello scorso anno e di conseguenza non riesco ancora ad agire sull’acceleratore come vorrei. Nei test in programma a fine mese lavoreremo tanto su questo aspetto. Dovremo migliorare anche sulla velocità sul giro secco: questa mattina ho montato la gomma morbida ma anche in questo caso non siamo riusciti a sfruttarla e non sono stato velocissimo. Per quanto riguarda il passo gara invece sono abbastanza soddisfatto, essendo riuscito a fare molti giri consecutivi vicini al mio miglior tempo. Il bilancio comunque è positivo: c’è ancora tanto lavoro da fare, ma sia noi che Showa abbiamo raccolto dati importanti in vista dei prossimi test”.

SCOTT REDDING (2’02″833 – 60 GIRI)
“Oggi ho potuto compiere un altro passo in avanti, sto imparando pian piano a far scivolare la moto per farla curvare meglio e in generale mi sento più a mio agio mentre guido. Purtroppo le condizioni difficili della pista nel pomeriggio non mi hanno permesso di migliorare molto i miei tempi, ma sono contento di come è andato il mio primo test con il team: nelle prossime prove a fine mese ci concentreremo sulle sospensioni e sull’affinamento dell’elettronica, in particolare del controllo di trazione”.

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FAUSTO GRESINI
“Sono stati tre giorni di test importanti, anche se la classifica non ci rende giustizia: purtroppo nei primi due giorni il programma di lavoro con Bautista è proseguito un po’ a rilento e quindi in questa ultima giornata non siamo essere riusciti ad essere competitivi come ci aspettavamo, anche se Alvaro ha già messo in mostra un buon passo. Non sono comunque preoccupato, ci aspetta un altro test a fine mese nel quale cercheremo di migliorare, soprattutto nella ricerca di più grip. Riguardo a Scott, il bilancio è positivo: non va dimenticato che è soltanto all’inizio di questa avventura; tre giornate di test su una MotoGP in una pista come Sepang non sono facili per un debuttante, ma Redding è migliorato giorno dopo giorno senza fare errori. Ci vorrà ancora un po’ di tempo per vedere tutto il potenziale suo e della RCV1000R”.

English Version:

ALVARO BAUTISTA AND SCOTT REDDING CONCLUDE SEPANG TEST COLLECTING VALUABLE DATA

Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini completed today an exhaustive three days of testing at the Sepang International Circuit. Both Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding continued the work set in the first two days, collecting valuable data ahead of the next test to be held later this month, again on the Malaysian track.

Aboard his Honda RC213V, Bautista tried different set-up solutions looking for more traction: the Spaniard is struggling a little bit with the new Bridgestone tyres for the 2014 season, although the team, together with Showa, has already some ideas to improve. Alvaro signed off the three days of testing putting in 63 laps with a best time of 2’00”788. Scott signed off the test putting in 60 laps setting a best time of 2’02”833; the English rookie faced his first real test in MotoGP without making mistakes, getting to grips with the bike and gradually improving his lap times: later this month he will resume work on bike set-up and traction control.

The Team GO & FUN Honda Gresini will return to action at Sepang for the three-day test scheduled on 26th, 27th and 28th of February.

ALVARO BAUTISTA (2’00″788 – 63 LAPS)
“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 can not take full advantage of the new Bridgestone tyres; we have less grip than last year and as a result I still can not 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 the speed on the 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 of 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”.

SCOTT REDDING (2’02″833 – 60 LAPS)
“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”.

FAUSTO GRESINI
“It’s been an important three-day test, although the final classification does not do justice to us; unfortunately we lost a bit of time in the first two days with Bautista, so in this last day we were not be able to be as competitive as expected, although Alvaro already showed a good pace. Anyway I’m not worried, we have another test later this month in which we will try to improve, especially for rear grip. With respect to Scott, the balance is positive: we must not forget that it’s only the beginning of this adventure. Three days of testing on a MotoGP bike on a track like Sepang is not easy for a rookie, but Redding has improved day after day without doing mistakes. It will take a little more time to see his full potential”.

MotoGP 2014: Marquez rapid as Espargaro’s Open finishes fifth


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2014 MotoGP™ Official Press Release

Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez upped the pace as testing continued in Malaysia on Wednesday, while NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro placed an Open specification bike inside the top five for the first time.

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With conditions just as good as they had been on Tuesday, it was Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa who led the way for much of the first half of the day. The World Champion then smashed through the two-minute barrier shortly before his lunch break, after which there were substantially less changes in lap times. It remains to be seen as to whether Marquez can better Casey Stoner’s 2012 pre-season time of 1’59.607, also registered on a Repsol Honda motorcycle.

With Repsol Honda first and second, Stefan Bradl was third for LCR Honda MotoGP (three thousandths down on Pedrosa) with Valentino Rossi fourth for Yamaha Factory Racing. Aleix Espargaro again displayed the promise of the new Open FTR-Yamaha combination, as his Forward machine was barely two tenths down on the nearest Factory Honda, with Rossi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo sixth; the former double title winner was attempting to improve handling issues, encountered on Day 1 as a result of setup changes made in a bid to improve fuel consumption, as for 2014 the Factory Option bikes are limited by a further litre of fuel to just 20 across a race distance.

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Bradley Smith spearheaded the Monster Yamaha Tech3 charge, with Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone in eighth position; on the leading Ducati, the Italian was some seven tenths of a second quicker than he had been on Tuesday. Alvaro Bautista was ninth for GO&FUN Honda Gresini, but his day was not without its problems; at 11:30, the Spaniard suffered a technical problem and thus took a shortcut back to the pit lane. The top ten was completed by Smith’s team-mate Pol Espargaro, while brother Aleix’s team-mate Colin Edwards was the only rider to not improve his lap time today, but his best effort from Day 1 still leaves the American 15th on the combined timesheet.

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Ducati Team bikes were locked together once again, this time filling positions 11 to 13 with Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow and test rider Michele Pirro, with their quickest lap time some 1.3 seconds quicker than it had been 24 hours earlier. In the Honda RCV1000R ranks, the quickest rider was again Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden as the 2006 World Champion managed to circulate 1.1 seconds faster than he had on Day 1. As ever, the true pace of all bikes is difficult to gauge as fuel loads and other such details remain highly secretive. However, more clues may be available on Thursday as a selection of riders aim for race simulations; such long-run pace often serves as a better indicator, although this is only the first of four Official pre-season tests set to be staged prior to the season-opening Grand Prix in Qatar on 23 March.

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The Suzuki Test Team ended the day 20th with Randy de Puniet – 3.1 seconds behind Marquez but eight tenths of a second faster than the Frenchman’s own best lap of Tuesday – as they continued their journey ahead of a MotoGP™ return in 2015. Elsewhere, premier class rookies Scott Redding, Broc Parkes and Mike di Meglio continued adapting to their respective Honda RCV1000R, PBM and Avintia bikes for the corresponding Gresini, Paul Bird Motorsport and Avintia Racing teams.

Thursday will mark the third and final day of this week’s Sepang Official MotoGP™ Test, with identical running times of 10am-6pm local time (GMT +8).

MotoGP 2014: PRODUTTIVO SECONDO GIORNO DI TEST A SEPANG PER ALVARO BAUTISTA E SCOTT REDDING


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OFFICIAL GRESINI PRESS RELEASE – 5 Febbraio 2014

Sono proseguiti oggi a Sepang i test della MotoGP in preparazione del Campionato del Mondo 2014. I piloti del Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, Alvaro Bautista e Scott Redding, hanno iniziato a lavorare sul set-up delle loro moto in una giornata molto calda, ottenendo buoni miglioramenti.

Nonostante un problema alla leva del freno che lo ha tenuto fermo per gran parte della mattinata, Alvaro Bautista è riuscito a completare 55 giri siglando nel finale un ottimo 2’00”897, già migliore del rilievo cronometrico registrato dallo spagnolo nelle qualifiche dello scorso Gran Premio della Malesia. Il suo lavoro si è concentrato sulle nuove gomme Bridgestone e sulla prova di due nuovi ammortizzatori della sospensione posteriore portati da Showa. Nell’altro lato del box, Scott Redding ha continuato il suo apprendistato sulla Honda RCV1000R “Open” abbassando il tempo ottenuto ieri di oltre un secondo, scendendo fino a 2’03”117 in 53 giri.

I test proseguiranno anche domani, per il terzo e ultimo giorno di prove al Sepang International Circuit.

ALVARO BAUTISTA (2’00″897 – 55 GIRI)
“Quella di oggi è stata una giornata molto produttiva, anche se non ho potuto girare per quasi tutta la mattina a causa di un problema alla leva del freno, risolto soltanto nel pomeriggio. Ho provato un paio di nuovi ammortizzatori Showa per la sospensione posteriore: uno di questi, in particolare, sembra funzionare bene con la nuova gomma portata da Bridgestone in questi test, perciò continueremo a lavorare su questa strada. Il bilancio quindi è positivo: tra l’altro ho segnato il mio miglior tempo nel pomeriggio, sicuramente non nelle condizioni migliori, con la pista molto calda e quando ero già abbastanza stanco fisicamente. Domani sono convinto che potremo migliorare ancora, sia in termini di feeling con la moto che come tempi sul giro”.

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SCOTT REDDING (2’03″117 – 53 GIRI)
“Oggi è andata meglio, ho potuto fare molti giri e pian piano ci siamo avvicinati alle altre Honda ‘Production Racer’. Abbiamo lavorato molto sulla frenata e ora mi sento più a mio agio sulla moto. Le condizioni della pista e le temperature cambiano molto durante la giornata e ciò mi mette ancora un po’ in difficoltà, ma tutto sommato sono soddisfatto di come sta procedendo il mio apprendistato. Dal punto di vista della guida, sto imparando come gestire al meglio la moto nell’ultima parte della frenata e in uscita di curva. Domani cercheremo di migliorare ulteriormente”.

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FAUSTO GRESINI
“Oggi il nostro programma è proseguito in maniera positiva con entrambi i piloti: purtroppo Alvaro ha perso un po’ di tempo in mattinata, ma alla fine è riuscito ad ottenere un buon tempo e a mostrare un buon passo. Sono comunque convinto che domani potrà stare ancora più vicino ai primi. Abbiamo ancora tanto da fare, domani continueremo a lavorare sulle sospensioni e a provare le nuove gomme Bridgestone, sia quella da gara che quella più morbida, per tentare un primo ‘time attack’. Scott ha continuato il suo apprendistato e ha migliorato i suoi tempi, avvicinandosi alle altre ‘Production Racer’, anche se ovviamente si tratta di una moto tutta nuova sia per noi che per lui. L’importante adesso è continuare a lavorare con calma: diamoci il tempo, siamo soltanto al secondo giorno di test”.

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English Version:

ALVARO BAUTISTA AND SCOTT REDDING CONTINUE PRODUCTIVE TEST IN SEPANG

The second day of testing in Sepang allowed both riders of the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini, Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, to complete a positive day’s work on their bikes’ set-up, getting good improvements.

Despite a problem with the brake lever in the morning, Alvaro Bautista was able to complete 55 laps, posting in the latter part of the session an excellent 2’00”897, already better than the qualifying lap time recorded by the Spaniard in the last Malaysian Grand Prix. His work was focused on the new Bridgestone tyres and on two new rear suspension shock absorbers brought by Showa. On the other side of the box, Scott Redding continued his apprenticeship on the “Open” Honda RCV1000R, improving his times by over a second, going up to 2’03”117 in 53 laps.

Practice will resume tomorrow for the third and final day of testing at the Sepang International Circuit.

ALVARO BAUTISTA (2’00″897 – 55 LAPS)
“Today was a very productive day, even if I could not run for most of the morning due to problem with the brakes, that we solved only in the afternoon. I tried a couple of new Showa shock absorbers for the rear suspension: one of these, in particular, seems to work well with the new tyre that Bridgestone brought for this test, so we will continue to work in this direction. Despite the time lost during the morning, we are happy: moreover, I did my best time in the afternoon, certainly not in the best conditions, with the track very hot and when I was already a bit tired. Tomorrow I am convinced that we can improve, both in terms of feeling with the bike and lap times”.

SCOTT REDDING (2’03″117 – 53 LAPS)
“Today was a little better than yesterday: I could put in a lot of laps and we are slowly closing the gap to the other Honda ‘Production Racers’. We worked hard on the braking and now I feel more comfortable on the bike. The track conditions and temperatures change a lot during the day and this is making me struggling a little bit, but generally speaking I am satisfied with how my apprenticeship is progressing. From the riding point of view, I’m learning how to brake into the corner and getting the bike turned on exit. Tomorrow we will try to further improve it”.

FAUSTO GRESINI
“Today our program continued in a positive manner with both riders. Despite losing a bit of time in the morning, in the end Alvaro managed to set a good lap time, showing a good pace. I think that tomorrow he will be even closer to the fastest. We still have much to do, tomorrow we will continue to work on the suspension and we will try the new Bridgestone tyres, both the race and the softer tyre, for a first ‘time attack’. Scott continued his apprenticeship and has improved his time, closing the gap with the other ‘Production Racers’. The important thing now for him and for the team is to continue to work with calm: we are only on the second day of testing”.

MotoGP 2014: Marquez leads on opening day of Sepang test


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2014 MotoGP™ Official Press Release

World Champion Marc Marquez topped the timesheets as this week’s Sepang Official MotoGP™ Test began today. The Repsol Honda Team rider led the way from Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, with leading Open rider Aleix Espargaro seventh for NGM Mobile Forward.

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Following the usual break for lunch in the middle of the day, the final of the eight hours saw track temperatures drop which allowed riders to push for quicker lap times. This duly saw Marquez post 2’00.286, half a second up on Rossi as both the Italian and Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa jumped ahead of Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha in the final minutes of the day. The top six was completed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl.

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At Repsol Honda, this year’s RC213V features a larger air intake in an attempt to increase top speeds and improve throttle response on the exit of corners, with Marquez posting the leading effort fresh from historically claiming the title in Valencia last year. In the Yamaha garage, Rossi continued to develop his working relationship with new Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera, who first worked alongside the nine-time World Champion for the post-race test after the final Grand Prix of 2013.

Much attention was on Ducati Team, with talk continuing to circulate that the outfit could elect to race under the new Open regulations this year; this would allow up to 24 litres of fuel as opposed to the 20 of the Factory Options, as well as working on engines during the season and not being limited by the new engine freeze. Also this season, all bikes in the field are running the spec ECU hardware for the first time; however Factory Options are free to use their own software, whereas Opens must adapt the spec software as supplied by Dorna Sports and Magneti Marelli.

The leading Open representative on this occasion was Forward’s Aleix Espargaro (seventh position), with Factory Option riders Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing), Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3 team-mates) helping to complete the top ten. Colin Edwards (Forward) overcame early technical difficulties to finish 11th quickest, as Ducati Team filled spots 12 to 14 with Andrea Dovizioso, test rider Michele Pirro and Cal Crutchlow. The leading Honda RCV1000R customer bike was that of 2006 title winner Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) in 17th place.

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At Paul Bird Motorsport, Michael Laverty (25th position) suffered a frustrating start to proceedings, plagued first by brake problems and then by an engine failure. All teams were present with the exception of IodaRacing, which plans to make its 2014 track debut at the second Sepang test which is to run at the end of the month.

Testing continues at the Sepang International Circuit over the next two days, again running between 10am and 6pm local time (GMT +8).

MotoGP 2014: Marco Simoncelli to become MotoGP™ Legend


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Marco Simoncelli to become MotoGP™ Legend
Italian rider Marco Simoncelli is to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a MotoGP™ Legend. The popular former 250cc World Champion was a front-runner in the premier class before tragically losing his life to an accident in 2011.

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In becoming a MotoGP™ Legend, Simoncelli’s name will be the 21st on the list as he joins a list of 20 other greats. To the shock of race fans around the world, the Gresini rider lost his life on Sunday 23 October 2011 in a crash on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix, just one week after finishing in second place at Phillip Island.

The Italian rider dazzled the World Championship paddock with his charisma, ability and racing style and was a World Champion, having taken the 250 crown in 2008 – a title he narrowly missed out on defending in 2009. Arriving in the premier class in 2010, his progress was rapid and before his untimely death Simoncelli had already taken two premier class podiums and two poles in a strong second campaign.

Marco Simoncelli’s introduction as a MotoGP™ Legend will take place at this year’s Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, as he joins the list already including compatriot Giacomo Agostini plus Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Freddie Spencer, John Surtees, Casey Stoner and Carlo Ubbiali.

2014 MotoGP™ Official Press Release

MotoGP 2014: MotoGP™ all set to touch down at Sepang


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MotoGP™ Official Test Sepang 1
Monday, 3rd February

Tomorrow will see the much-awaited opening MotoGP™ test of 2014 as the field gathers in Malaysia. For the first time this year, Factory and Open machines will share the track as riders and personnel get to grips with new teams.

Tuesday will see the much-awaited opening MotoGP™ test of 2014 as the field gathers in Malaysia. For the first time this year, Factory and Open machines will share the track as riders and personnel get to grips with new teams.

Following on from the post-Valencia Grand Prix test in November that saw new bikes break cover for the first time, 2014 testing now begins in earnest with the traditional early-year trip to the Sepang International Circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Key terms this season are ‘Factory’ and ‘Open’, with the CRT label having now disappeared from the sport. Furthermore, the first Sepang gathering will mark one of only two occasions on which all teams and riders are able to share a race track for testing this pre-season, as the March Tyre Test at Phillip Island in Australia will feature only the official riders of the factory teams, with those in question then not taking part in the following test at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

At Sepang this week, Marc Marquez will continue development with Repsol Honda Team as he retains the number 93 plate, having elected not to take on the World Champion’s privilege of running number 1. On the other side of the garage, Dani Pedrosa will continue to adapt to no longer working directly with long-term mentor Alberto Puig. There are also staff changes for Valentino Rossi, as he resumes work with new Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera who replaces Jeremy Burgess.

For Ducati Team, 2014 is the start of a new era. Andrea Dovizioso reunites with former Monster Yamaha Tech3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow, as ex Aprilia guru Gigi Dall’Igna joins the outfit for what is hoped to be a dramatic turnaround in fortune over the next few seasons. The Italian, now in the role of General Manager for Ducati Corse, aims to start by improving communication between team members working at the circuits and those back at base in Bologna, Italy. Boosting the line-up for this test, Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro will also be in action at Sepang, as well as Yamaha Factory Test Team’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Wataru Yoshikawa plus HRC Test Team representative Kosuke Akiyoshi.

The satellite riders take on new challenges as well. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl returns to Sepang for the first time since breaking his ankle during last year’s race meeting, while Tech3 field reigning Moto2™ World Champion Pol Espargaro – younger brother of Aleix – alongside Bradley Smith. Preparation for the test has been slightly disrupted for the French outfit, which two weeks ago suffered an untimely flood in its Bormes-les-Mimosas base. The satellites are completed by Alvaro Bautista with GO&FUN Honda Gresini and the Pramac Racing Ducati of Andrea Iannone. Both Gresini and Pramac have split their development, however, as second riders Scott Redding and Yonny Hernandez will race Open equipment. At the time same, Gresini is the only team on the grid to be competing with Showa suspension and Nissin brakes on both of its bikes.

For the first time ever, all bikes in the premier class are now running the Dorna-supplied electronic control unit (ECU) as part of the continued initiative to lower running costs in MotoGP™. Yet there are numerous subtle differences between Factory and Open specification bikes. The Open machines must also use the spec software supplied with the ECU by Italian firm Magneti Marelli, whereas Factory entrants are able to make use of their own programs. However, Open riders will be able to enjoy 12 engines per season, contrasting with the five powerplants of Factory bikes which are frozen in development and may not be modified during the season; with this in mind, engine management now becomes more critical than ever before. On top of this, Factories are constricted to running 20 litres of fuel across a race distance (one less than last year), while there are 24 for the Open riders.

Other exciting additions to the grid include four brand-new Honda RCV1000R customer bikes, to be ridden by Gresini’s Redding, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham and the Drive M7 Aspar Team pairing of Hiroshi Aoyama and 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden, who is competing on a Honda motorcycle for the first time in over five years. NGM Mobile Forward racing is running an FTR-Yamaha package including a lease engine deal; with this, the outfit will have five Yamaha engines per rider across the season (three new units and two rebuilds). Within the team, Colin Edwards is joined by Aleix Espargaro.

A total of five rookies are on this year’s grid, with former Moto2™ rivals Pol Espargaro and Redding accompanied by Britain’s Leon Camier (British Supersport and British Superbike title winner of 2005 and 2009, respectively) with IodaRacing Project, although the team is not testing this week. Australian Broc Parkes has signed up with PBM – with the team this year racing two own-built bikes for the first time – while France’s Mike di Meglio returns from an injury-affected 2013 to make his premier class debut with Avintia Racing.

The first Official MotoGP™ Test of 2014 will run between Tuesday and Thursday, with the Sepang track open between 10am and 6pm local time (GMT +8).

MotoGP™ 2014 pre-season testing schedule:

1.Feb 4-6: Sepang 1
2.Feb 26-28: Sepang 2
3.Mar 3-5: Phillip Island (Tyre Test)
4.Mar 7-9: Losail

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