GASGAS is a ‘go’ for 2023 MotoGP as the first official test of the year took place at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Spanish duo and world championship winners Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez wrung the throttles of their GASGAS RC16s as preparation work for the ’23 season began at pace.
The heat, humidity and speed of Sepang – home of the Malaysian Grand Prix – was the customary stage for the opening laps of MotoGP action as the off-season formally ‘ended’. The teams gathered for three days of testing for the upcoming season and GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 were the new boys in the pitlane, even if the GASGAS RC16s were still wearing their testing livery and won’t show off their fresh colors until the official team launch in Spain on March 4th.
The accomplished Tech3 crew were marshalling the efforts of Espargaro (now ten seasons in the premier class) and sole MotoGP rookie for 2023, reigning Moto2™ world champ Augusto Fernandez, as the squad analyzed chassis and electronics settings for the latest version of the prototype race motorcycle. They also checked out different aerodynamic solutions in the quest for the best compromise between top speed, downforce and handling characteristics in-and-out of Sepang’s useful mix of slow, fast, open and tight corners.
A busy schedule meant that outright lap-times was not the priority. Malaysia was the first of just two pre-season sessions before GASGAS begin their maiden year of MotoGP trailblazing and after a three-month winter hiatus the riders and brand had to get into the groove and collect as much data as possible. Espargaro ended the (occasionally showery) three-dayer with the 13th fastest effort while Fernandez continued to adapt to the bigger challenge of MotoGP and was 22nd.
GASGAS’ second bite of the MotoGP prep cherry will come on March 11-12 at the curving Algarve International Circuit in southern Portugal. The venue will also host the opening date of the 21-round world championship two weeks later.
Pol Espargaro, 13th position: “The last day was the best day. We tried the ‘bigger’ things, like engine parameters that were quite important and also aerodynamics and I was happy with what we found. I really want to congratulate the engine department in GASGAS because they have been working flat-out and the improvements are really nice. The bike is working well and I’m happy. I have the feeling that we have done our homework. We have done the right things at the right time and I hope we will show it in Portimao. The next test will be about refining the set-up and working on the small things of the bike ahead of the first Grand Prix.”
Augusto Fernandez, 22nd position: “I’m happy. We made some very good steps, improved the lap-time but also the general pace and feeling with the bike. Everything we tried in one direction is a step we are keeping, so that’s very positive. We had some time in the wet, proper rain conditions! That allowed me to understand the tires more and that’s quite a difference from Moto2. Now onto Portugal.”
Nico Goyon, GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Manager: “It was nice to get ‘back to school’ after a long winter! It was a very intense test and we’ve seen a huge effort from the factory this off-season. The list of parts was huge and when we first saw the plan we knew it would be tough to do everything but we managed to get through it all, so it was a great job by the team and the riders and a big thanks to them for that. We now have a much better idea of what will be the bike for the start of the season both for Pol as well as Augusto.”
Sebastian Risse, GASGAS Factory Racing Technical Manager: “We finished an exciting and exhaustive first test here. Of course Augusto had some extra sessions, and he has a lot of energy to do all this track time and did very well trying to understand the bike, the tires, the class. Also Pol had a very good test and is quite happy. We are also happy with how he is gelling with the bike. He brings a big contribution into the development based on his past experience. Having this pace and experience meant we could quickly dive into the test parts and make good progress towards the beginning of the season.”
- From GasGas Factory Racing