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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).