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
Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana
Report Day 1
Fri, 8 November 2013
As the MotoGP™ action on the first day of Free Practice at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana concluded it was Marc Marquez who set the pace with his teammate Dani Pedrosa only 0.066s behind him, and title rival Jorge Lorenzo 0.158s off the pace in third.
Despite the windy conditions in the afternoon’s FP2 at the Valencia track, Marquez stepped up the pace in the second half of the session, with his best time of 1’31.220 not far off Pedrosa’s pole record of 1’30.844 from last year. Pedrosa was very close to his Repsol Honda colleague, with both of them still looking for more grip – using both the softer and harder option rear tyres.
Lorenzo improved late on in the session on his regular number-one machine, having spent time before on his number-two bike with holes in the front bubble to cope with the windy conditions. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow had a great day as he ended up fourth overall despite a late low-side crash, from which he escaped unhurt. The Englishman rides in his last GP for the team this weekend before departing for Ducati.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, who is working with Crew Chief Jeremy Burgess for the last time this weekend, was fifth fastest on Friday, 0.4s off the pace. After his statements that he needs to get quicker for next year, he will hope for a strong push in tomorrow’s practice.
The top ten was rounded out by Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Ducati Team pair Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden. Bradl is keen to resolve front-end grip issues, whilst Batista is working with a new Showa rear shock provided for this weekend.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was unhurt after he crashed his ART machine, which was the new bike him and his team are testing this weekend for the Italian outfit. Despite switching bikes on Monday, Team Manager Gino Borsoi said that the team is pleased to help Aprilia until that day, hence why Espargaro is giving feedback on the new bike featuring a different frame, swingarm and engine. He ended the day 13th on the timesheet.
Having topped the FP1 timesheet, new Moto2™ World Champion Pol Espargaro was fastest again on Friday afternoon at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana, with his 1’35.548 lap keeping him 0.142s ahead of Tuenti HP 40 teammate Tito Rabat, and 0.426s in front of Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing’s Thomas Luthi.
Espargaro will ride a Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP™ bike in testing next week and the pressure is off in many ways, having already clinched the title, but he now intends to end the season on a high. The Spaniard dominated both sessions at the Ricardo Tormo circuit on Friday but almost had a clash with wildcard rider Gino Rea during the afternoon, with both riders just managing to avoid going down.
Behind Espargaro, teammate Rabat aims for a strong finish to the season in his last race for Sito Pons’ outfit, and that pair could do battle for the win on Sunday if today’s pace is anything to judge by. Switzerland’s Tom Luthi would also be a good bet for a podium finish, though having also lapped in the top five Alex de Angelis (NGM Mobile Forward Racing) and Simone Corsi (NGM Mobile Racing) will aim to run at the front as the weekend progresses.
The top ten was completed by Jordi Torres, Mika Kallio, Nico Terol, Xavier Simeon and Julian Simon, all lapping within tenth tenths of a second of the leading time.
The Friday Moto3™ Free Practice sessions at the GP Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana were topped by the trio fighting for the title, with Luis Salom leading Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales.
Salom’s best time of 1’40.403 from FP1 was the best of the day and the Red Bull KTM Ajo man’s best FP2 time was just a tenth of a second slower, as Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) topped the timesheet in the latter session with a 1’40.489 fastest lap.
Team Calvo’s Viñales was third best in both sessions and his FP2 time of 1’40.580 was his best time of the day, as the three Spanish title candidates flexed their muscles in front of the home fans.
German rider Jonas Folger (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3) and Australian competitor Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG) were fourth and fifth overall respectively, but both were unable to improve on their morning best times in FP2.
The overall top ten was completed by Efren Vazquez (Mahindra Racing), Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Niccolo Antonelli (GO&FUN Gresini Moto3), Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold).
Khairuddin has had some costly crashes in recent weeks and he walked away from a big highside at the conclusion of the session, whilst Lorenzo Baldassarri was also unhurt in a light crash towards the end of the outing.
Brad Binder was taken to the Medical Centre with a suspected collarbone injury, as was Alan Techer, after both had FP2 crashes. Whilst Binder was cleared with shoulder contusion, Techer has suffered a left wrist fracture.