Sepang 2 test – Final day round-up, plus Ducati confirm ‘Open’ entry
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa concluded the second Sepang MotoGP™ test with an identical 1’59.999 lap time, as preparations for the 2014 season continued in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, after testing concluded the Ducati Team confirmed their decision to enter the ‘Open’ class in 2014, meaning that they will use standard electronics software and will benefit from the greater engine allocation permitted in the new regulations.
The overall pace was not as quick at Sepang this week, with Rossi and Pedrosa’s best laps today being 0.466s slower than the best circulation set last time out by World Champion Marc Marquez – who missed this test due to injury.
The Doctor demonstrated his pace once again on Friday as he prepares for a 15th premier class campaign, setting a quickest time on his 13th lap, in spite of some struggles with the 2014 tyres being experienced by the Yamaha factory team.
Thursday’s fastest rider Dani Pedrosa was also on the pace, his sharpest time coming on the 47th of his 50 laps, as temperatures dropped slightly – following a 64°C (147°F) track temperature peak at 4pm.
Pedrosa undertook an impressive 19-lap race simulation in the afternoon with every lap under the 2’02.000s mark, and a best time of 2’00.985 coming on lap 15.
On the other side of the Yamaha garage to Rossi, seventh placed Jorge Lorenzo’s frustrations continued as he was +0.75s slower than at the previous test – where track conditions were better and the riders still had access to a 2013 specification tyre.
The Ducati GP14 is showing signs of real improvement and Andrea Dovizioso ended the test 0.068s off the top pace in third, with a lap time 0.3s better than at Sepang1. With the data gathered by him and his fellow Ducati riders the Italian factory made the decision that they will opt for ‘Open’ class participation this season.
Aleix Espargaro was once again quick, his best time of 2’00.101s leaving him fourth best overall and with a decent race simulation performed for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team on their ‘Open’ Yamaha.
Stefan Bradl wrapped up early having had a solid week, the LCR Honda rider satisfied with his consistently quick times as he found good rhythm on longer runs and ended up fifth overall (+0.165).
The fastest rider on the first day Alvaro Bautista was 0.5s off the pace on the final day in sixth and is happy with progress made with a new rear shock this week.
In eighth Cal Crutchlow made steady headway over the two Sepang tests and has dropped his gap to the frontrunning pace to less than 0.8s compared with a 1.5s deficit at the end of the previous visit to Malaysia.
The key development for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team this week has been the introduction of the seamless gearbox to their package and their young pair of riders, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, rounded out the top ten with similar lap times respectively 0.8s and 1s off the pace.
Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone crashed shortly before 1pm but was unhurt and immediately able to continue his work, eventually finishing 11th, with Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez behind him on the timesheet on an ‘Open’ Ducati in 13th.
Randy de Puniet carried on with his development work for Suzuki, who aim to return to MotoGP™ in 2015, the Frenchman concluding Friday’s test in 12th, his best lap time down to 1.431s off the top – compared with 2.953s at the end of Sepang1.
Colin Edwards ran out of fuel twice as he pushed the Forward Yamaha to the limit and concluded 14th, just ahead of compatriot Nicky Hayden who was 1.925s off the top on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R.
The Ducati, Honda and Yamaha factory teams now head to Phillip Island for a tyre safety test from 3rd-5th March, though MotoGP™ title holder Marquez will again miss the trip as his recovery from a fibula fracture continues.