Record broken as first Sepang test concludes

Repeating his dominance of the first two days, Marc Marquez concluded the first Sepang test of the 2014 preseason ahead of his rivals. The World Champion wasted no time on the final test day, 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. 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, with his 1’59.998 best time coming on the seventh 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 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, as 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.  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 did more race simulations and longer runs as 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.

_MG_9285 _MG_9292 _MG_9345 _MG_9416 _MG_9441 _MG_9455 _MG_9466 _MG_9476 _MG_9483 _MG_9498 _MG_9509 _MG_9675 _MG_9684 _MG_9725 _MG_9751 _MG_9756 _MG_9804 _MG_9809 _MG_9834 _MG_9890 _MG_9915

Pos

Rider

Team

Fastest lap

1 MARQUEZ, Marc Repsol Honda Team 1:59.533
2 ROSSI, Valentino Yamaha Factory Racing 1:59.727
3 LORENZO, Jorge Yamaha Factory Racing 1:59.866
4 ESPARGARO, Aleix NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1:59.998
5 BRADL, Stefan LCR Honda MotoGP 2:00.112
6 PEDROSA, Dani Repsol Honda Team 2:00.223
7 DOVIZIOSO, Andrea Ducati Team 2:00.370
8 ESPARGARO, Pol Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.655
9 IANNONE, Andrea Pramac Racing 2:00.725
10 BAUTISTA, Alvaro GO&FUN Honda Gresini 2:00.788
11 SMITH, Bradley Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.896
12 CRUTCHLOW, Cal Ducati Team 2:01.057
13 HAYDEN, Nicky Drive M7 Aspar 2:01.514
14 EDWARDS, Colin NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:01.731
15 PIRRO, Michele Ducati Test Team 2:01.782
16 AOYAMA, Hiroshi Drive M7 Aspar 2:02.383
17 DE PUNIET, Randy Suzuki Test Team 2:02.486
18 HERNANDEZ, Yonny Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 2:02.556
19 AKIYOSHI, Kosuke HRC Test Team 2:02.619
20 NAKASUGA, Katsuyuki Yamaha Factory Test Team 2:02.788
21 REDDING, Scott GO&FUN Honda Gresini 2:02.833
22 LAVERTY, Michael Paul Bird Motorsport 2:03.187
23 BARBERA, Hector Avintia Racing 2:03.204
24 PARKES, Broc Paul Bird Motorport 2:03.402
25 DI MEGLIO, Mike Avintia Racing 2:04.516
26 AOKI, Nobuatsu Suzuki Test Team 2:05.686
27 ABRAHAM, Karel Cardion AB Motoracing 2:05.974

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