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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.

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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 2013: Yamaha goes “seamless” to take the fight to Honda at Misano


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MotoGP 2013 Press Release Race Preview
Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini
Thu, 12 September 2013

The Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli got underway today with a packed pre-race press conference featuring Repsol Honda Team’s championship leader Marc Marquez, Yamaha Factory Racing duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, Repsol Honda’s Team Principal Livio Suppo, as well as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis.

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The main talking point for Marquez was whether his injured shoulder from Silverstone has improved: “I feel quite good, nearly 100%. It’s not perfect, the shoulder, but I have good memories at Misano. Every year I ride quite well and it looks like Honda is quite good here. Brno and Silverstone are big circuits with fast corners. This is smaller, but I usually ride quite well on small circuits.”

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Yet it was Lorenzo who trumped Marquez by announcing the arrival of the seamless transmission, putting them level with the Honda’s gearbox: “It [seamless transmission] will be here for the weekend. We can say that. Tomorrow! After a nice victory at Silverstone, normally Misano is good for me, I have always finished first or second in MotoGP. I like the track and I think we’re in good shape.”

Rossi, for whom this is his home-circuit, has good memories of the track: “Yes, this is a special track for me because I grew up here, and the first time I used a real bike on a circuit was here. It’s my home Grand Prix, so it is a special track and I like it. I have had good results in the past, especially with the Yamaha but also with my best result for Ducati last year. We have to improve on the results of the last three races and try to fight with the top three guys.

“We will try the new gearbox from tomorrow and we are so happy. For sure it is important, it is very good for the rider and a big help. Misano is a track on which you use the gearbox a lot, so we hope that will be a good advantage when fighting with the Hondas.”

Iannone, who has had an injury-plagued time in his first year in MotoGP™, is pleased with his progression nonetheless: “Yes, many, many [injuries]! But, okay, it’s a very difficult season for me this year. My last injury with the shoulder is a big problem for me, last three races very hard, much pain, but with the Clinica Mobile I have been trying different solutions and last week I worked very hard to try and improve my situation. I am very happy with the development of it and I think it is ready for this weekend, I will try to do my best.”

Suppo confirmed not only that the Honda “production racer” is proving competitive in tests, but also agreed that the championship on a whole was heading in the right direction. He also had to rebuff questions regarding a possible return of Casey Stoner: “Sure. We have to find a way to find teams reasonably competitive machines for reasonable prices. It’s not easy because the level of factory machines is very high, but we are trying. Yamaha is doing similar things and it’s good.

“Of course, when you speak about Casey everybody is interested in knowing if he will be back one day, but there is nothing more to it at the moment. He is enjoying it [testing] and for sure for any manufacturer something like this is a dream for testing. We are very, very lucky. For sure, he loves riding the bike because you can’t replicate that. So he is happy to go there testing, no media attention or anything. I think he loved the competition but he just wanted to be in his kind of isolated world, and that is the case with the tests.”

Jarvis on the other hand spoke about Yamaha’s plans for next year, and joked that it was rider pressure that brought the seamless transmission in for the race: “Earlier today we announced the renewal with Tech3 for another two years, which is very important with them using the factory-spec bikes. Just now we have come from the Forward Racing press conference; we have a one-year programme to provide them with our solution to the ex CRT class. We will provide them with the package. They are not ready with their riders yet but the project is taking fruition, so that is new and exciting. In addition to that it is our second home race based in Italy – a really busy time to the year. And now we introduce the new gearbox we have been waiting for a while, so it’s a very exciting weekend.

“[The transmission was brought in now] with the pressure from these two! But if it’s ready for Monday, it’s ready for now. We have a deficit to Honda and need to do everything we can to challenge them over these next six races.”

The day before, Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith, Ducati Team test rider Michele Pirro, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis, as well as Yamaha Team Director Massimo Meregalli, all participated in a 5km uphill bike ride up Mount Titano to the Old Town of San Marino, supported by four members of their personal team. Starting at Fonte dell’Ovo, it was Pirro who came out on top with his team, starting his home race weekend in the best possible way.

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