MotoGP Sepang Test – Day 5: Hat-Trick for Pedrosa

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The first test of the 2013 MotoGP season is completed, and Dani Pedrosa has completed a clean sweep, topping the timesheets on all three days. The Repsol Honda man confirmed his role as title favorite by posting a fast lap under the existing pole record set by Jorge Lorenzo last year.

He also opened-up a serious gap to the trio who have been chasing him all test long, putting nearly a third of a second on Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha man falling just short of his own pole record. However, what may worry Lorenzo more is the fact that Pedrosa declared at the end of the day that his objective was not to be fastest, but test the bike.

Valentino Rossi closed the gap to his teammate, ending the test a tenth from the time set by Lorenzo, though still four tenths from Pedrosa’s best lap. Rossi also leapfrogged over Marc Marquez, finally finishing ahead of the Repsol Honda rookie after ending the first two days behind him. Marquez finished as 4th fastest, six tenths behind Pedrosa, and the young Spaniard also had his first crash of the season, losing the front end on the way into the final corner. Marquez walked away unhurt, his Repsol RC213V did not fare quite so well.

Cal Crutchlow picked up his speed on the final day, closing to within a tenth of Marquez, and less than two tenths behind Valentino Rossi. Despite having a bike which is virtually unchanged since 2012, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man has closed the gap to the front runners, and looks on course to bag a few more podiums this season.

Stefan Bradl was the fastest of the satellite Honda riders, the LCR Honda man nine tenths slower than Pedrosa, and a quarter of a second behind Crutchlow, and the last man within a second of the leader Pedrosa. Alvaro Bautista continued to work on the Showa suspension of his Gresini Honda, while Bradley Smith ended his first full test on the Yamaha M1 in good shape, 1.9 seconds behind Pedrosa.

The Ducatis continue to make slow progress, but still remain two seconds off the pace. Nicky Hayden was once again fastest, his teammate Andrea Dovizioso closing to within a tenth of a second of the American. Both factory Ducati men finished ahead of the Yamaha and Honda test riders once again, but behind all eight Honda and Yamaha factory and satellite machines.

Slightly more worrying will be the fact that Aleix Espargaro closed the gap significantly to the Ducatis. The Aprilia ART bike, entered as a CRT machine, was less than a third of a second behind Dovizioso, and a quarter of a second quicker than Andrea Iannone on the satellite Pramac Ducati. The new tire Bridgestone brought especially for the CRT machines is proving to be a real improvement, and in the CRT bikes are showing serious improvement in their second year of competition.

Perhaps even more impressive than Espargaro’s time on the Aprilia is that of Michael Laverty on the PBM Aprilia. The Irishman ended the day as second fastest CRT rider, ahead of MotoGP veteran Randy de Puniet, and just 3.774 seconds slower than Pedrosa.

Making this such an impressive ride was the fact that it was Laverty’s first outing on the Aprilia, his first time on the spec-Bridgestone tires, his first time with carbon brakes, and his first time at Sepang. Laverty is riding the Aprilia ART machine at Sepang, but will be switching to an Aprilia-powered British-made chassis once the season gets underway.

Testing is now complete at Sepang, and the riders and teams all head home for a few weeks. The paddock will reconvene at the end of February, for another three-day test starting on 26th of February, and ending on February 28th.

Results from Day 5 of MotoGP’s Test at Sepang, Malaysia:

Pos. Num. Rider Team Time Diff. Prev.
1 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2:00.100
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.429 0.329 0.329
3 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.542 0.442 0.113
4 93 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team 2:00.636 0.536 0.094
5 35 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:00.734 0.634 0.098
6 6 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda MotoGP 2:01.003 0.903 0.269
7 19 Alvaro Bautista Go & Fun Honda Gresini 2:01.502 1.402 0.499
8 38 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.093 1.993 0.591
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 2:02.184 2.084 0.091
10 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Team 2:02.277 2.177 0.093
11 T2 Katsayuki Nakasuga Yamaha Factory 2:02.616 2.516 0.339
12 41 Aleix Espargaro Power Electronics Aspar 2:02.628 2.528 0.012
13 29 Andrea Iannone Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team 2:02.864 2.764 0.236
14 72 Kosuke Akiyoshi HRC Test Team 2:03.082 2.982 0.218
15 33 Michael Laverty Paul Bird Motorsport 2:03.874 3.774 0.792
16 14 Randy de Puniet Power Electronics Aspar 2:04.066 3.966 0.192
17 T1 Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha Factory 2:04.137 4.037 0.071
18 8 Hector Barbera Avintia Blusens 2:04.211 4.111 0.074
19 37 Takumi Takahashi HRC Test Team 2:04.288 4.188 0.077
20 9 Danilo Petrucci Came IodaRacing Project 2:04.531 4.431 0.243
21 17 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 2:04.766 4.666 0.235
22 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia Blusens 2:04.915 4.815 0.149
23 71 Claudio Corti NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:05.107 5.007 0.192
24 52 Lukas Pesek Came IodaRacing Project 2:05.321 5.221 0.214
25 68 Yonny Hernandez Paul Bird Motorsport 2:05.407 5.307 0.086
26 5 Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team 2:05.913 5.813 0.506
27 67 Bryan Staring Go & Fun Honda Gresini 2:05.970 5.870 0.057

Lap records and 2012 Sepang 3 times:

Pole Record 2012 Jorge Lorenzo 2:00.334
Lap Record 2007 Casey Stoner 2:02.108
2012 Sepang 1 Day 3 fastest Casey Stoner 1:59.607
2012 Sepang 1 Overall fastest Casey Stoner 1:59.607

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Honda Racing

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