Finally getting a full day of sunshine, MotoGP took to the Sepang International Circuit for its third and final day of testing at the Malaysian track. MotoGP’s second test at Sepang this off-season, riders and teams will have one more opportunity to prepare for the 2012 season at the IRTA test in Jerez later this month. Sidelined yesterday with safety concerns over the RC213V’s engine, Honda’s four riders were back on the track, with the HRC factory riders once again taking the top honors on the results page.
Leading the pack was again Casey Stoner, followed by teammate Dani Pedrosa. Surprisingly leading the Yamaha contingency was Andrea Dovizioso, who was just under a tenth of a second quicker than Jorge Lorenzo. Also bucking the factory-dominance trend was Hector Barbera, who took the honors as the fastest Ducati of the day, while Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden languished down in 10th & 11th place respectively — over a second slower than Stoner’s best time.
“Again we’ve been unable to profit from the full three days of the test here in Sepang,” admitted Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner. “The first day we only managed about 16 laps before the rain came and then yesterday we weren’t able to get out at all. So today it’s been good to have some nice weather, get out on track and find some different solutions on the bike. We’ve been trying a few different things with electronics to have the engine character the same way we like it. We’ve also tried shortening the wheelbase, aiming to reduce the chattering and we’ve been successful in decreasing it slightly, but at the moment we’re unable to eliminate it completely, so we still have quite a lot of work to do. The chassis balance feels good as does the traction on the bike; it’s turning well, but we really need to get rid of the chatter. In general we are happy with the bike.”
On Wednesday, both Factory Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies suffered crashes in the morning, but were unhurt from their falls. For the afternoon, Lorenzo spent his time in a race simulation run, putting down consistent 2’01 second laps. Meanwhile, Spies spent more time setting up the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1, focusing on the bike’s electronics and suspensions.
“Well, this afternoon was one of the hardest race simulations of my career because the 1000 is more tiring to ride and the rear tyre seems to drop a lot after three or four laps,” commented Jorge Lorenzo. “After this the feeling stays the same but it’s very different to last year, it’s almost like racing in the rain trying to control the rear in the corner exits and acceleration. I managed to finish the simulation with a good pace so all in all it has been a very positive test, thank you to Yamaha for their hard work.”
Affected the most by the inclement weather, Ducati Corse had a largely less-enthusiastic opinion of the week. With the factory riders well down the time sheet, the Italian team will certainly be searching for some more answers in the next few weeks ahead of the Jerez test. With many riders finding the asphalt today, Nicky Hayden had a low-speed off in Turn 1 of the Malaysian track. The American was uninjured from the crash.
“One small positive note to the day is that we reduced the gap to the front a little bit,” said Valentino Rossi. “It was 1.2 seconds, and now it’s 1 second. It’s also nice that the new electronics work well, but it hurts being down on the timesheets compared to all the others. We tried a bunch of things in order to take a step forward from the first test, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it and were actually worse. It was harder for me to ride well compared to three weeks ago, especially my corner speed. It’s true that this test was more difficult in terms of weather and track conditions, but it seemed to affect us more than the others.”
“Honestly, I expected to do better than tenth. We were also unfortunate because at the best part of the day, when I did a 2:01.5 and we had some tyres to try to lower the time further, we had a problem with the fork that cost us some time,” continued Rossi. “Maybe without that we would have cut another three or four tenths and been further up, but our pace is still about seven tenths back. Honestly, that’s not a huge amount, but anyway we’re still behind. We’re not pleased with how it went this time, but we have to try and work hard and see what happens at Jerez, where the track is very different than this one, with much different weather and temperatures. We’ll see how we do there.”
Test Results from Day 3 at the Second Sepang Test in Malaysia:
|Pos.||Rider||Team||Time||Diff.||Diff. to Leader||Laps|
|1||Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda Team||2:00.473||–||–||34|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||2:00.648||+0.175||+0.175||40|
|3||Andrea Dovizioso||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:00.802||+0.154||+0.329||54|
|4||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha Factory Racing||2:00.877||+0.075||+0.404||51|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:00.986||+0.109||+0.513||54|
|6||Hector Barbera||Pramac Racing Team||2:01.231||+0.245||+0.758||66|
|7||Alvaro Bautista||San Carlo Honda Gresini||2:01.275||+0.044||+0.802||51|
|8||Ben Spies||Yamaha Factory Racing||2:01.432||+0.157||+0.959||28|
|9||Stefan Bradl||LCR Honda||2:01.492||+0.060||+1.019||54|
|10||Valentino Rossi||Ducati Team||2:01.550||+0.058||+1.077||57|
|11||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Team||2:01.609||+0.059||+1.136||44|
|12||Franco Battaini||Cardion AB Motoracing||2:03.490||+1.881||+3.017||39|
|13||Colin Edwards||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||2:03.681||+0.191||+3.208||43|
|14||Yonny Hern?ndez||Avintia Racing||2:06.632||+2.951||+6.159||48|
|15||Ivan Silva||Avintia Racing||2:06.785||+0.153||+6.312||53|
Ducati Corse Testing at Sepang II – Day 3
HRC Testing at Sepang II – Day 3
Yamaha Racing Testing at Sepang II – Day 3
Source: MotoGP; Photos: Ducati & Yamaha