Dani Pedrosa (above) and new teammate, Marc Marquez, (below) posted the first and third-fastest times, respectively, during the first day of testing at Sepang.
The 2013 MotoGP season is officially underway following the first day of testing at Sepang. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa showed that time away from competition hasn’t dulled his ability on the RC213V, posting the fastest lap of the day. Trailing just eight-thousandths of a second behind was 2012 MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha Factory Racing. Pedrosa’s new teammate, Marc Marquez, rounded out the top-three with a lap-time of 2’01.201, a mere 0.044 seconds off Pedrosa’s pace. Valentino Rossi made his much anticipated return on the Yamaha M1 with a fourth-fastest time. Though fears of rain showers cast an air of uncertainty around proceedings leading up to the test, fair conditions prevailed and riders were able to take advantage of a full day on track.
“It’s the first day back testing after the winter break,” said Pedrosa. “We’ve spent three months off the bike and the feeling from the first day testing is positive. The track was in good condition and we were able to put in a lot of laps at a good pace, thanks to it not being especially hot. I haven’t ridden since the November test in Valencia, so today has been a first step to getting back on the pace. We didn’t play about with the setup today, but we will move onto that in the remaining two days of testing.”
Marquez added, ““I’m very happy with how the first day went, because you always have a few nerves after a couple of months out. I thought that I would take a little longer to get back ‘on it’, but right from the opening laps I felt very comfortable on the bike. We picked up confidence from the start, although obviously we can still improve.
“I don’t think the result today should be used as a reference point, because we are all trying out new things. I focused on simply finding a good setup and getting comfortable on the bike. I tried to put in a good time so that the day’s testing had a purpose.”
One rider that showed obvious improvement over his days aboard the Ducati was returning Yamaha Factory rider, Valentino Rossi. The Doctor came out swinging, posting the fastest lap times early on and holding position at the top of the timesheet for much of the session. As others picked up the pace toward the end of the test, Rossi slipped down the rankings a bit, but at the end of the day he placed fourth, just half a second off Pedrosa’s top time.
Valentino Rossi looked very comfortable on the YZR-M1, placing fourth on Day 1 of testing at Sepang.
“I’m very happy about the first day of testing with the M1. After two seasons away I was able to come back on the bike and remember the good feeling I always had with it. I am also happy because I was quite fast from the morning. We worked on the settings to make some improvements and we made some good steps. In the afternoon we started to work on the new parts for the season. It’s just the first test but the potential is high and I am in a good position, I am in fourth place but not far from the other three guys. I am very positive that we can improve over the next few days but I’m happy with the start.”
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl kept pace with the front runners, taking fifth just slightly behind Rossi. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came through in sixth, taking the testing opportunity to reacquaint himself with the YZR-M1 and try some improvements to his riding style before making any changes to the bike.
“It was good to be back on the bike again after a couple of months away,” said Crutchlow. “I’m happy enough because initially it is all about getting the feeling back after a while off the bike. It is difficult for me coming to Sepang because it is not my favorite circuit but I am pleased and it has been a good start. I haven’t got too many updates to try on the bike but hopefully I’ve got some things to try later this week. I’ve been working more on tweaking my style a bit more today, particularly in the braking area to get the bike stopped better, which was an area I know I have to improve on for this season. It is clear looking at the top of the timesheets that it is going to be a fantastic season in MotoGP. I think any of us that finished in the top seven today will have a shot at winning a race and I think the fans are going to be treated to some fantastic racing.”
“All I’m doing is learning and trying to gain some confidence before we try and make any big steps with changes, which we probably won’t until the next test back in Sepang at the end of the month,” said new Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith.
Trailing Crutchlow, Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista posted the seventh-fastest time, followed by Yamaha Factory test rider Katsayuki Nakasuga in eighth. Team HRC test rider Kosuke Akiyoshi placed ninth, followed by Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden in 10th. Nakasuga’s fellow Yamaha test rider, Wataru Yoshikawa, took 11th ahead of Crutchlow’s new teammate, Bradley Smith, while factory Ducati’s most recent addition, Andrea Dovizioso, placed 13th.
“When I started getting warmed up this morning at 9am and it started raining, my heart sank and I thought it was going to be a Valencia experience all over again,” said Smith. “Luckily it didn’t last and I got out on track and I am very satisfied with how today went. The idea for this test is to keep it very simple and be consistent, so each time I go out I learn, understand and enjoy it and get some confidence. This test is all about me learning how to ride the M1 rather than worrying about anything else like big set-up changes and we made good progress with every exit.”
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro trailed Dovi in 14th, leading the CRT charge at Sepang. His teammate, Randy de Puniet, grabbed 15th with Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone and his teammate, Ben Spies of Ignite Pramac Racing, taking 16th and 17th respectively.
Bridgestone came equipped with new tires designed specifically for the CRT class. Over the winter break, the tire manufacturer created a softer rear slick which was seen on track for the first time during testing at Sepang. Factory and satellite bikes were provided with hard and medium compound tires, also newly designed, to see if the changes could improve performance. The “revised hard rubber compound, is slightly softer in composition moving it close to the medium specification compound in character,” according to Bridgestone PR. It remains to be seen whether the new tire options will be available for competition as both Dorna and the FIM need to review information gleaned during testing before a final decision is made.
Though rain remains in the forecast, testing is scheduled to run a total of three days, ending in the evening on Thursday February 7th, 2013.
MotoGP Sepang Test Day 1 Results 2013:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2’01.157
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2’01.165
3. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2’01.201
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2’01.584
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2’01.789
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2’01.881
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2’01.981
8. Katsayuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2’02.968
9. Kosuke Akiyoshi (Honda) 2’02.972
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2’03.336
11. Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha) 2’03.456
12. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2’03.460
13. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2’03.535
14. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 2’03.782
15. Randy de Puniet (ART) 2’04.283
16. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2’04.500
17. Ben Spies (Ducati) 2’05.086
18. Takumi Takahashi (Honda) 2’05.154
19. Hector Barbera (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’05.469
20. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 2’05.656
21. Karel Abraham (ART) 2’05.694
22. Danilo Petrucci (Suter-BMW) 2’05.753
23. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’05.919
24. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’06.426
25. Michael Laverty (ART) 2’06.507
26. Lukas Pesek (Suter-BMW) 2’07.015
27. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 2’07.044
28. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’08.206