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MotoGP Sepang 2 Test Day 3: Pedrosa Tops the Timesheets, But Leaves Lorenzo as Fastest

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Dani Pedrosa was once again fastest on the final day of testing at Sepang, topping the timesheets for the fifth time in six total days of testing at Sepang. Though the Repsol Honda man looks to be the pre-season favorite so far, he does not leave the test as fastest overall, however. That honor goes to Jorge Lorenzo, who put in a scorching lap on Wednesday to set the fastest time over all three days of the test.

The riders got off to a late start on Thursday, rain meaning that the bulk of the riders kept to their garages until the track started to dry out at the end of the morning. A few men put in laps in the wet, but once the track dried out, enough riders started putting in laps to clean the worst of the dirt left by the rain from the track, though track conditions were never as good as on the first couple of days.

Pedrosa soon took charge of proceedings, later knocking another half a second off his time late in the afternoon. Rookie Repsol teammate Marc Marquez impressed yet again, taking 2nd on the timesheets with his very last lap, after the final 30 minutes of the session turned into a qualifying session.

Marquez continued to concentrate on learning the ropes on a MotoGP machine, and the longer runs he put in were a little further off the pace of Pedrosa, and still not as consistent as they will need to be, but he proved with his flying lap that he will be starting from the front of the grid by the time the season starts.

Jorge Lorenzo ended the final day of the test with the 3rd fastest time, but leaves Sepang as fastest overall. Lorenzo’s best time was over four tenths slower than Pedrosa’s on Thursday, but the Spaniard spent the latter part of the day working on race set up, ending the test with a mightily impressive race simulation of 20 laps, 16 of which where in the 2:01s, most of them fast 2:01s.

Lorenzo’s race simulation follows the pattern from his championship-winning season in 2012, making a very long race simulation to test the bike and himself in punishing conditions. Less characteristic was a mistake the Spaniard made, putting in one lap of 2:05 towards the end, an anomaly among the scorching laps that surround it.

Valentino Rossi leaves the test having achieved his objective – closing the gap on his Factory Yamaha teammate – but he will not be entirely satisfied with the test. The Italian managed his best time during the manic final qualifying session, while Lorenzo had set his best time earlier in the day, and had not bothered with taking a real shot at the best time.

Rossi appeared agitated from time to time, as his team chased a set up to match the pace of the front three, Rossi spending a large part of the day around 7th spot, before his last-gasp attempt had seen him jump up to 4th. He leaves the test as 5th overall, behind Cal Crutchlow, a slightly worrying development for the Italian.

Crutchlow may have been 4th fastest overall, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man could not quite match the pace of Alvaro Bautista on Thursday, the Go&Fun Gresini Honda rider finding settings on the new Showa suspension he is using to grab an impressive 5th slot.

Bautista appears to be making progress with the Showa kit, which he is developing at the request of HRC in return for factory support – and, some Spanish sources are reporting, a contract extension through 2014. Cal Crutchlow, the man behind Alvaro Bautista, would have been delighted to have something to test, the Englishman hoping to assist the Yamaha program in developing the bike, but having only his satellite-spec machine to fine-tune.

Behind Stefan Bradl, who finished the final day and the overall test in 7th, there were more positive signs from Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso cut the gap to Pedrosa back to just over a second, though he could only manage a single lap in the 2:01s.

Dovizioso spent most of the day on the bike with revised weight distribution, the tank having been relocated under the seat, as is the practice on the Japanese bikes, but he also took the laboratory bike being tested by Michele Pirro out for a spin.

That bike has bigger changes, including a lower exhaust relocated to be under the belly pan, presumably in an attempt to move more weight to the center of the bike, and lower. The altered exhaust would also change the power delivery, but there were few visual cues from the rear exhaust, which still exits from the tail, betray exactly what they had done.

MotoGP’s other two rookies also made progress, Andrea Iannone coming on in leaps and bounds on the Ducati, ending the day just two seconds off Pedrosa, while Bradley Smith is 1.7 seconds off the pace of the Repsol Honda man. Though Smith is making steps forward on the Tech 3 Yamaha, he is starting to lag behind where Stefan Bradl was at a comparable stage last year.

Of the CRT bikes, it was Randy de Puniet who bested his teammate for the first time during testing, the Aspar rider getting within a respectable 2.3 seconds of Pedrosa, and finishing ahead of Ben Spies on the second Pramac Ducati.

Spies has had a difficult second test, finishing 14th on the final day of the test and a worrying 16th overall, behind both Aspar Aprilia men on CRT bikes, and Yamaha test rider Katsayuki Nakasuga. Either Spies’ shoulder is still preventing him from riding as he would like to, or he is having more trouble adapting to the Ducati than he had hoped.

Testing is now complete at Sepang, and the teams now head back to Europe. Most will reassemble at Jerez, for the final official IRTA test at the end of March, but the factory Yamaha and Honda teams – along with LCR’s Stefan Bradl – will assemble at Austin on March 12th for three extra days of testing at the American circuit.

Ducati will not attend, team boss Paolo Ciabatti complaining to German website Speedweek that the astronomical cost – the test is said to be costing Yamaha 350,000 euros for the three days at the circuit – made a laughing stock at other attempts to cut the costs in the series. Yamaha are believed to feel they have no choice, not being able to afford to arrive at the circuit with no experience, and giving Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez an advantage they can ill-afford to sacrifice.

Results from Day 3 of MotoGP’s Second Test at Sepang, Malaysia:

Pos. Num. Rider Team Time Diff. Prev.
1 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.562  –  –
2 93 Marc Marquez Honda 2:00.643 0.081 0.081
3 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.992 0.430 0.349
4 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2:01.062 0.500 0.070
5 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.078 0.516 0.016
6 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:01.094 0.532 0.016
7 6 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:01.309 0.747 0.215
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2:01.650 1.088 0.341
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:02.070 1.508 0.420
10 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 2:02.314 1.752 0.244
11 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 2:02.566 2.004 0.252
12 51 Michele Pirro Ducati Test 2:02.773 2.211 0.207
13 14 Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2:02.863 2.301 0.090
14 11 Ben Spies Ducati 2:03.055 2.493 0.192
15 T1 Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha Test 2:03.154 2.592 0.099
16 8 Hector Barbera FTR Kawasaki 2:03.155 2.593 0.001
17 T2 Katsayuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:03.257 2.695 0.102
18 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia ART 2:03.423 2.861 0.166
19 17 Karel Abraham Aprilia ART 2:04.066 3.504 0.643
20 5 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki 2:04.102 3.540 0.036
21 7 Hiroshi Aoyama FTR Kawasaki 2:04.512 3.950 0.410
22 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:04.546 3.984 0.034
23 52 Lukas Pesek Suter BMW 2:04.674 4.112 0.128
24 9 Danilo Petrucci Suter BMW 2:04.686 4.124 0.012
25 71 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki 2:04.718 4.156 0.032
26 68 Yonny Hernandez Aprilia ART 2:04.722 4.160 0.004
27 37 Takumi Takahashi Honda Test 2:04.749 4.187 0.027
28 67 Bryan Staring FTR Honda 2:05.313 4.751 0.564

Overall Results from all Three Days of MotoGP’s Second Test at Sepang, Malaysia:

Pos. Num. Rider Team Time Diff. Prev. Day
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.282  –  – Day 2
2 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.562 0.280 0.280 Day 3
3 93 Marc Marquez Honda 2:00.643 0.361 0.081 Day 3
4 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:00.907 0.625 0.264 Day 2
5 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2:01.062 0.780 0.155 Day 3
6 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.078 0.796 0.016 Day 3
7 6 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:01.309 1.027 0.231 Day 3
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2:01.650 1.368 0.341 Day 3
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:01.778 1.496 0.128 Day 2
10 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 2:02.023 1.741 0.245 Day 2
11 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 2:02.566 2.284 0.543 Day 3
12 51 Michele Pirro Ducati Test 2:02.773 2.491 0.207 Day 3
13 14 Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2:02.863 2.581 0.090 Day 3
14 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia ART 2:02.905 2.623 0.042 Day 2
15 T2 Katsayuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:02.946 2.664 0.041 Day 2
16 11 Ben Spies Ducati 2:03.055 2.773 0.109 Day 3
17 8 Hector Barbera FTR Kawasaki 2:03.155 2.873 0.100 Day 3
18 T1 Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha Test 2:03.257 2.975 0.102 Day 3
19 7 Hiroshi Aoyama FTR Kawasaki 2:03.990 3.708 0.733 Day 2
20 17 Karel Abraham Aprilia ART 2:04.066 3.784 0.076 Day 3
21 5 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki 2:04.102 3.820 0.036 Day 3
22 9 Danilo Petrucci Suter BMW 2:04.279 3.997 0.177 Day 2
23 37 Takumi Takahashi Honda Test 2:04.512 4.230 0.233 Day 2
24 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:04.546 4.264 0.034 Day 3
25 68 Yonny Hernandez Aprilia ART 2:04.671 4.389 0.125 Day 2
26 52 Lukas Pesek Suter BMW 2:04.674 4.392 0.003 Day 3
27 71 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki 2:04.709 4.427 0.035 Day 2
28 67 Bryan Staring FTR Honda 2:05.313 5.031 0.604 Day 3

Records and Times from Previous Tests at Sepang:

2013 Sepang 1 test Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.100
2007 Race record Casey Stoner Ducati 2:02.108
2012 Pole record Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.334
2012 Sepang 2 test Casey Stoner Honda 2:00.473

Source: MotoGP; Photo: HRC

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.

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