2012 MotoGP Sepang Test Day 1

January 31, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Yamahas Jorge Lorenzo topped the Day 1 timesheet as 2012 testing began at Sepang.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo topped the Day 1 timesheet as 2012 MotoGP testing gets underway at the Sepang circuit.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo topped the timesheet as MotoGP 2012 testing got underway today at Sepang. The 2010 MotoGP champion paced three-tenths faster than his nearest rival, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, on Day 1 of the three-day test. Defending champ Casey Stoner had to sit out Day 1 after hurting his back during warm up.

The Yamaha contingent took most of the top positions, with Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow third-fastest and Lorenzo’s factory teammate, Ben Spies, fourth-fastest on the day. New Yamaha man, Andrea Dovizioso lapped sixth-fastest aboard his Tech 3 M1 – the Italian getting back on track for the first time since breaking his collarbone in an offseason motocross accident. 

Valentino Rossi made his debut on the much-hyped GP12, turning 30 laps on Day 1. Redesigned during the two-month winter testing ban, the new GP12 got Rossi 0.735 seconods within Lorenzo’s leading pace. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera was the next fastest Ducati, placing seventh on the timesheet almost four-tenths behind The Doctor. Rossi’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, managed 10th during his first crack at the new GP12. Ducati reports the American is still hurting from his own off-season injury, a broken scapula from riding flat track. Cardion AB’s Karel Abraham was the slowest Duc on the day back in 12th.

With Stoner out of commission, Pedrosa led the HRC charge. Fellow Spaniard Alvaro Bautista was the second-fastest RC213V in Stoner’s absence, ninth on the day and a full second off Lorenzo’s time. As for Stefan Bradl, the Moto2 champ placed 11th on Day 1, his LCR Honda more than two seconds adrift of the leader.

Can Rossi and Preziosi resolve the development issues that kept the Ducati out of contention in 2011  - 2012 Sepang Test
Rossi got his first crack at the new GP12 at Sepang, discussing the results with Preziosi during Day 1 at Sepang.

As for the CRT squads, Colin Edwards was the fastest aboard his BMW/Suter Forward Racing CRT. The Texan was 15th on the timesheet and 6.583 seconds behind Lorenzo’s best lap. Avintia Racing’s duo of Jordi Torres and Ivan Silva fared even worse, more than nine seconds back.

2012 MotoGP Sepang Winter Test Day 1 Lap Times:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’01.657
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’02.003
3. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’02.221
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2’02.234
5. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2’02.392
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 2’02.751
7. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2’02.773
8. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2’02.829
9. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2’02.869
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’03.151
11. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2’03.668
12. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2’03.781
13. Franco Battaini (Ducati) 2’04.986
14. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2’07.163
15. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 2’08.240
16. Jordi Torres (Avintia) 2’10.671
17. Ivan Silva (Avintia) 2’11.267

RIDER QUOTES (Courtesy of Team PR):

Jorge Lorenzo – Factory Yamaha – 1st – 30 Laps:  “I’m very happy with today. For the first ride on the bike in some time, it’s been very positive. Yamaha has worked very hard over the winter for this M1. I can see very easily where I have to adapt my riding style for the bike and I can see a lot of potential. We have many areas where we can improve so I’m looking forward to beginning again tomorrow. I’m also very happy that my finger is fine and doesn’t affect my riding at all!”

Ben Spies – Factory Yamaha – 4th – 28 Laps: “I’m happy, it was fun to get back on the bike today, I haven’t ridden any type of motorcycle since Valencia. It didn’t take too long to knock the rust off, we tried a few things in set up and every step we did made small improvements. We have a lot to do in the next couple of days and a lot more in the second test. It’s been a confidence inspiring start, Yamaha have put in a lot of effort for this season so we’ll work day by day to be even better.”

Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda – 2nd – 48 Laps: “Today was good, for the first laps I think it was important for me to come back and just ride again. Of course, the first day I was a little bit stiff, not totally smooth on the bike, but we completed some laps and they were good. Today was mainly a test for myself, to get used to the bike again, recover the feeling, feel the throttle and the brakes after a long time off. The whole day I stayed with the same bike that I tested in Valencia in November and tomorrow the real test will start for us, we will work on the set up and probably try a modified chassis that Honda has brought here according to our requests after Valencia”.

A bad back forced Casey Stoner out of the first day of the opening 2012 test at Sepang.
Casey Stoner had to sit out Day 1 at Sepang with a bad back. The defending champ injured himself while warming up to go out on the track.

Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda:  “I was stretching this morning for a good twenty minutes preparing to go out on track for the first time and then all of a sudden my back just locked up on me, I couldn’t move or do anything. I had to call someone to come and help me move into a position that was less painful! Then I had some physio on it straight away trying to get it better for this afternoon but it’s wasn’t feeling good.

“I had some more physio after lunch but it still wasn’t easing up, I felt I could have gone out on the bike in the afternoon but we all agreed it would probably make it worse for tomorrow. We have two more days testing here in Sepang, we know the track well and we are getting to know the bike, we just need some time to test the new parts we have here to give feedback to HRC.

“I think tomorrow the track conditions will be better and as long as my back improves overnight we should get back on schedule with our testing programme tomorrow”.

Valentino Rossi – Marlboro Ducati – 5th – 30 laps: “I’m happy because first impressions are important, and already in the first few laps, I could tell that I like the bike. Ducati did a good job in a just a short time. The bike is beautiful, but more importantly, it’s nice to ride. The riding position has improved a lot, and it’s better on braking and corner entry. I can brake like I want to and take the lines that I like, and I feel comfortable in general. I was able to ride well and not make mistakes, and there’s a reason for that. It means that the bike can be ridden. It’s more agile in change of direction, and it wheelies much less. We’re 7 tenths back today, and of course there’s still a lot of work to do before we can win. We have to improve in some areas: acceleration, electronics, power delivery and setup. I’d say we’ll be able to make a more accurate assessment at the end of the test, because let’s remember, the bike is just 40 days old. To leave here a second back from the top would be okay because anyway, we know that there’s still much more to be done. But one of the best things from today is that the bike reacts well to changes. That enabled us to drop one or two tenths every outing, which means further progress should be possible.”

Nicky Hayden – Marlboro Ducati – 10th – 25 Laps: “It’s great to be back at the track with the team, riding a motorcycle. We lost a little time this morning, but I hadn’t planned to ride the whole day anyway. Obviously, I wish my physical condition were better. On one hand I’m happy just to be here and not miss another test after missing the one in Valencia, but I wasn’t able to do a lot of laps, and definitely no long stints. We know how important shoulders are on these bikes, and I didn’t have the strength I would like. The bone itself was okay, but I had a lot of pain in the joint, although there was no problem with the ribs and very few problems with the wrist. Anyway, it was great to try the new bike and get some information. We made a step forward with the feeling at the front while braking and turning, but I need to find more edge grip and rear grip on entry, and a better balance with the electronics. We’ll do some treatment to my shoulder tonight and see how I feel in the morning.”

Alvaro Baustista tests the Gresini Honda RC213V at Sepang.

Alvaro Bautista – Gresini Honda – 9th: “This was my first day on the RC213V and I am very pleased with it because I instantly felt comfortable riding a ‘thousand’. Obviously after a three-month break from racing it is not easy to get back out there because you have to reset your mind and body to the task and rediscover your pace. We have worked on adapting the bike to my riding style and I have just tried to get confident without worrying about lap times at this early stage. I am satisfied because I am working well with the team and everybody is putting in a lot of effort. Over the next two days we will work on general set-up and the electronics but I am already feeling positive because we are not too far off the fastest times and we haven’t started pushing yet.”

Stefan Bradl – LCR Honda – 11th: “I am quite satisfied about this first outing aboard the new bike. After a few laps I was impressed by the potential of my machine and I did not find it particularly physically demanding as I trained a lot in the winter break. We mainly concentrated on my riding position adjusting the seat, the handlebar, the foot rest and so on. Later, from 1:00 to 4:45 p.m. we worked hard including the electronic side, chassis regulations and tires changing: I posted my best lap time on hard rubber. So far I can say it was a productive day for everybody. Now I need to look at the data to fix more adjustments for tomorrow.”

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