After nearly three weeks off, MotoGP riders resumed testing at Sepang on Tuesday and Dani Pedrosa of Repsol Honda ended the first session at the top of the timesheet once again. The Spaniard led all three days of testing at the Malaysian circuit in early February, and though outpacing his competitors by mere tenths-of-a-second this time around, he remains the man to beat on the grid. The 2012 GP champion, Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing, was second-fastest, posting a lap just 0.235 adrift of the Repsol ace. Pedrosa’s teammate, Marc Marquez, continued to show his skill aboard his new mount, placing third 0.362 seconds off the lead pace.
Conditions were precarious at Sepang thanks to the string of days of heavy rain that pelted the circuit leading up to the test. Venturing out on the dirty, slippery track in the morning, most riders put up lap times two to three seconds slower than their previous outing, but gained speed as the day wore on. By afternoon more rain started to fall, giving a number of teams the chance to test full wet settings for a period, but ultimately resulting in an early end to the session.
Pedrosa was primarily focused on dialing-in his suspension settings and ironing out details in his electronics package to improve corner-entry performance.
“Today we continued trying things out with the bike here in Sepang, focusing most of all on suspension,” said Pedrosa. “We also worked a little on the electronics. The track wasn’t 100% after the rainfall from the past few days, but we were able to ride well. In the afternoon it rained again, and we used this to perform some laps in the wet. Tomorrow we will continue with the work that we have scheduled.”
Marquez went down at one point during the session in Turn 9, though due to his reduced speed leading up to the incident, was able to pick the bike back up and return to the garage unscathed.
Lorenzo tried to find ways to improve the M1’s acceleration during the 25 laps he completed, but in the end didn’t make many changes to his set-up owing to the conditions on track.
“We need to improve the acceleration a little bit but for the moment no new bits to try,” said Lorenzo. “The track was more slippery than the first test due to the rain which has left the tarmac in a worse condition.”
Placing fourth was LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl. The German grappled with braking issues during the day, finding that the system felt much less stable than during the previous test. Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi, came in fifth-fastest, less than half-a-second off Pedrosa’s lead pace. Rossi hit a snag early in the day when he experienced a technical issue with his M1, which was configured around a new chassis. He switched back to the old bike and ended up putting in a total of 25 laps before the afternoon rains put a stop to his efforts.
“The first day is not so bad, but we were unlucky because we had a small problem with the bike which had the new chassis so we had to stop and use the old bike,” said Rossi. “We made some tests with that using just one tire and my pace and my lap times were not so bad. After we waited for the afternoon for the real work but the rain came so we decided to stop continue tomorrow. If it rains again tomorrow we will do some laps in the wet conditions.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow put up his best time during the first laps in the morning, choosing not to test the limits of grip available as the day progressed. He was followed by Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista in seventh and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso in eighth. Dovi focused in on electronics settings and weight distribution, comparing two different set-ups during his 22 laps.
“Today we did tests with the electronics, and we also made a comparison between two bikes with different configurations—one had a different fuel tank and weight distribution—but we didn’t have much time,” said Dovisioso. “It was nothing too major, but it was a positive step.”
Dovi’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, put in more laps than anyone else on the grid, working to sort out his electronics and gain feel for the changes to weight distribution offered by the new items Ducati brought to the circuit.
“It’s good to be back to work in Malaysia,” observed Hayden. “This morning we lost a bit of time sorting out some electronics mapping, but then we were able to do some good riding. Ducati brought a couple of things to try, mainly some changes to weight distribution, which helped make the bike a little nimbler on change of direction. Also, I’m able to brake better with the same amount of pressure on the lever. We still need to work on it, but anyway, it’s an improvement.”
Crutchlow’s teammate, Bradley Smith, rounded out the top-10. The wet weather and difficult track conditions provided the GP rookie some valuable lessons in riding the M1 smoothly on what would become the final lap of his test. While pushing into Turn 7 in third gear, Smith lost the front end and went down. He was able to walk away unhurt, but by the time he was ready to get back on track the afternoon downpour had started and he decided to call it a day.
“This morning was another good learning process for me because the track condition was completely different to the first test,” said Smith. “It was dirty and slippery and it meant that I had to ride smoothly, which is how I need to be riding this bike all of the time. I’ve been a little too aggressive but in those conditions I had to ride the bike in a completely different way. The crash was another part of the learning process too. I’d had a couple of warnings in the previous two laps but I kind of shrugged them off because I’m not sure what the limit is. Now I know the limit although a crash is never ideal. I’d done all my laps on the same set of tires and now I know what the warning signs are I’ll be better prepared in the future.”
Yamaha Factory test rider, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, finished in 11th, followed by top CRT rider, Aleix Espargaro of Power Electronics Aspar, in 12th. Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies put his new Ducati into 13th on the penultimate lap of his day. Spies’ teammate, Andrea Iannone, followed in 14th, with Wataru Yoshikawa of the Yamaha Factory Test team close behind in 15th.
MotoGP Sepang Test 2 Day 1 Results 2013:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’01.580
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’01.815
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2’01.942
4. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2’01.959
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2’02.028
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’02.272
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2’02.362
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2’02.801
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’03.143
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2’03.632
11. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2’03.734
12. Aleix Expargaro (ART) 2’03.941
13. Ben Spies (Ducati) 2’04.047
14. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2’04.050
15. Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha) 2’04.590
16. Michele Pirro (Ducati) 2’04.626
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’04.743
18. Randy de Puniet (ART) 2’05.288
19. Takumi Takahashi (Honda) 2’05.510
20. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’05.518
21. Danilo Petrucci (Suter-BMW) 2’05.518
22. Karel Abraham (ART) 2’05.838
23. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 2’05.908
24. Hector Barbera (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’06.062
25. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’06.306
26. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 2’06.730
27. Lukas Pesek (Suter-BMW) 2’07.991