While unable to complete as many laps over the three-day test as normal, Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team leave pleased with progress made.
Finally the Sepang Test has come to a close, Marc Marquez completing a total of 105 laps while evaluating the various new parts for the 2019 Honda RC213V and his shoulder. With his recovery from shoulder surgery still continuing, his running over the three days was limited but the seven-time world champion remained able to set competitive times and completed his testing programme.
Starting early each day, Marquez diligently assessed the most important parts developed over the winter by Honda. Improving his overall time by half a second, Marquez finished the Sepang Test with a 1’59.170. Although he ended the test as the 11th fastest rider, Marquez and the entire Repsol Honda Team remain pleased with the progress made over the three days.
Official Test Rider Stefan Bradl ended the final day in 13th place with a fastest time of 1’59.368.
The Reigning World Champion will now visit Indonesia. Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team will next be on track for the Qatar Test, February 23 – 25, where Jorge Lorenzo is scheduled to return from injury.
Friday, 08 February 2019 18:31 Published in Rider and Team Releases
The opening chapter of the 2019 MotoGP year closed today as three days of official IRTA testing at the hot Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia introduced a sizzling early pace into the pre-season period. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 as well as test rider Mika Kallio completed a busy and comprehensive programme during the IRTA sessions as well as two days of private work to make pleasing progress in their preparation for the Grand Prix campaign ahead.
Continued high temperatures and improving grip around the long Sepang layout saw lap-times tumble into new record territory on the third and final day of work in Malaysia. Pol Espargaro, Johann Zarco and Miguel Oliveira were able to increase their pace to find lap-time in the 1min 59 bracket as the riders wearily notched almost 200 laps between them in what was their fifth day circulating Sepang.
Espargaro - entering his third year with the KTM RC16 - signed-off a hectic agenda of experimentation and successfully banished memories of his heavy crash twelve months earlier at the same venue that caused a setback to his 2018 season. Zarco continued his adaption to his new racebike – only his second for his third term in the premier class – and was satisfied with the gains he could make for front-end feeling and confidence. Oliveira was the surprise package of the day among the ‘orange’ group and his time attack showed real promise from the MotoGP rookie. Mika Kallio forged ahead with his testing regime while Hafizh Syahrin struggled a little with fatigue today but was still able to grasp a feeling of progress once the eight-hour period was chequered flagged.
The MotoGP quartet will now travel back to Europe and to the KTM factory in Mattighofen for the 2019 Grand Prix presentation on Tuesday 12th February. The second and final pre-season test will take place at Losail in Qatar from 23rd-25th February.
Pol Espargaro: “We made an amazing rhythm today. On the first day we couldn’t, and then yesterday I was half a second slower than today. The pace was very, very nice and I was comfortable doing it. The fast lap was not what I expected – I found [Franco] Morbidelli in the way in the morning and could not improve – but this is a test and we go home with the knowledge we have done a good job. It is the first time we felt this big improvement from just one test. We have had five hot and hard days here but I think the whole team and factory did an amazing job: all the guys were super-focussed.”
Johann Zarco: “I tried this morning to improve further but I did not expect all the others to be going that fast! It was quite incredible. I’m pretty happy to be able to do many laps under two-minutes. We are happy with what we did, but we still have a lot of work. Overall I have improved my feeling and my control of the bike over five hard days. We will see what I can do in Losail. It will be interesting to see if we can adapt quicker in Qatar than we did here. The lap-time was better than I expected and we reached good points in our plan.”
Mike Leitner, Team Manager: “We have been testing so many things these days, from chassis to suspension to aerodynamics and we had three riders in the 1min 59s by the end. We could not really manage the super-fast single lap but on the longer runs people are quite happy and we are very consistent. We have a good feeling about the test. It was super-important. We worked many days and made steps that were very big. We took the time to make ‘basic’ work on our bikes where the focus is not always the lap-time. We will go to Doha now and hope to use this good information. A big thanks to all our five riders here in these demanding conditions: they worked through many ideas that came up in the factory during the winter and the guys in Austria have been pushing hard. We still need to fine-tune some things but we are going in the right direction.”
Sebastian Risse, Technical Director: “All-in-all it was a long test for us and a lot of things have piled up in all areas of the bike over the winter. So it was an intense test, also with Tech3 structure here now also that allowed us to get even more information. I think we can be very happy with our progress and we made huge steps with our new riders in terms of getting confidence in the bike and setting and development. Looking at what we have done and the pace compared to previous years we are happy. The speed was quite incredible today and our positions are not quite what we were looking for. We know our competitors are strong and are developing their motorcycles quickly but we have to be even quicker! That was the challenge here. I think we did it…but we also have a long way to go. We will have to prepare our priorities well now for the last test and make sure we make another step forward in performance.”
Miguel Oliveira: “The lap time was ok. It was not as fast as I expected because I couldn’t match the best configuration of the bike with the best tyres in the best moment, but in any case, I’m very close to the two KTM factory riders, closer than everybody expected. We have been really competitive with used tyres, which is good for the race. At the moment, I can see a clear step forward, so I think it’s about going to the Qatar test, taking the experiences from these three days and just trying to be another step better.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “We improved a lot compared to yesterday. The lap time is significantly faster than before, but still a bit far from the top. During this last day, I felt really good with the bike, but my physical condition was not ideal. After four full days of riding, the muscles in my arms were too hard and I was lacking some power. To be honest, I am a bit disappointed about myself for this, as the bike was truly great for this last day and I couldn’t fully use it. Anyway, I’ll try to do my best during the Qatar test before the start of the season, we are on a positive way and for sure we can be better.”
IRTA test overall standings after Day 3
1. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati 1:58.239
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Ducati +0.063
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +0.127
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati +0.299
5. Maverick Viñales (SPA), Yamaha +0.405
17. Johann Zarco (FRA), KTM +1.401
18. Pol Espargaro (SPA), KTM +1.512
19. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM +1.710
22. Mika Kallio (FIN), KTM +2.284
23. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), KTM +2.527
Friday, 08 February 2019 18:22 Published in Rider and Team Releases
The Mission Winnow Ducati team archived the first official MotoGP tests of 2019 at Sepang (Malaysia). In the third and last session, all riders tried to set their fastest time in the morning – with cooler temperatures and, consequently, faster track conditions – and both Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso were able to break the previous, unofficial best lap (1:58.830) posted by Jorge Lorenzo one year ago as a factory Ducati rider.
Petrucci clocked 32 laps, posting a phenomenal 1:58.239, which put him in first position. Dovizioso finished in fourth position, with a personal best of 1:58.538, 0.299 seconds behind his teammate with 36 laps to his tally. The riders also tried a new fairing with a different aerodynamic profile, giving positive feedback.
The strong performances by Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, respectively second and third on Pramac Racing Team's Desmosedici GP bikes, further underscored Ducati's overall competitiveness during this test.
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:58.239 (1st)
"Today we started off on the right foot: I was supposed to try two 'time attacks' but one attempt, done with a medium rear tyre, was enough. When I saw the lap time on the dashboard, I was really happy. After that, we resumed our work on some new items. Unfortunately, however, I crashed while I was trying a new fairing around midday. Given the fact that I was also experiencing some issues with blisters in my hands, we decided to stop a bit ahead of schedule to recover and make sure we're at our best in the next tests in Qatar. Overall, it's been a really positive test."
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:58.538 (4th)
"All in all, this test has been positive. It was important to push to the limit again today because we only have another test before the season starts, and we managed to post a competitive time even on a flying lap after being really consistent in yesterday's race simulation. Also, to see so many Ducati bikes at the front confirms that we have a good base. We also tried a new fairing, with positive feedback. It's still early to draw conclusions, but I'm happy with the work done here and now we'll look for more ways to improve ahead of Qatar."
The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action at Losail (Qatar) for the second and final pre-season MotoGP test, scheduled for February 23-25.
Friday, 08 February 2019 18:18 Published in Rider and Team Releases
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) got within just 0.067 of Jorge Lorenzo’s fastest ever lap of Sepang on Day 2 of testing, with the 1:58.830 set by Lorenzo last season – although not an official lap record – now surely under threat on Day 3. Viñales had been hovering in third for much of the latter part of the day and left his vie at record-breaking late as the final few minutes saw time attacks light up the timesheets. More than three tenths up before the final sector, the Spaniard eventually crossed the line 0.527 ahead of nearest rival Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), setting both a supreme lap and a serious benchmark.
That built on a positive first day on the timesheets for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP and Valentino Rossi in sixth added to the good vibes. The veteran Italian did 51 laps and was only two tenths off second, although the distance to his teammate stretched out from there. The Iwata marque confirmed they have a busy agenda, with different winglets and chassis items on the menu. Happy with progress since November, Team Director Massimo Meregalli says the biggest focus from Sepang is the last part of the corner and specifically, acceleration.
Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli ended the day in P14 and P15 respectively – and they both completed a valuable 58 laps.
Alex Rins was the man who lost his top spot to Viñales after seeming set to end the day fastest, but the Spaniard’s 1:59.424 was nevertheless an incredible lap time and he did 61 laps on Thursday. Team Manager Davide Brivio said it’s going well and they have different swingarms, new aerodynamics with both riders and some different combinations; engine mapping, clutch, “things like that” – as well as an exhaust to try on Day 2. The Italian said their focus is fitting together the “puzzle” correctly for the first race, and the timesheets seem to bode well for Rins despite the Hamamatsu factory losing their concessions in 2019. Rookie teammate Joan Mir ended the day in P21 after 64 laps.
On Rins’ tail was the fastest Ducati on Day 2 and once again it was an Independent Team rider – this time Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing). The Australian was a late mover like those above him and was only a tenth off Rins by the end of play, putting in 49 laps. Just behind him came Andrea Dovizioso, who was the fastest Mission Winnow Ducati and looked set to top the day’s action until the late flurry of fast laps saw him pushed down to fourth. Initially, the number 04 was working on frames and Team Manager Davide Tardozzi confirmed that teammate Danilo Petrucci was focused on finding a better connection between the throttle and the rear tyre – working on the electronics and engine. Roles were then reversed, and Tardozzi also confirmed the Borgo Panigale factory also had some work on aero planned. That’s expected tomorrow. Today, it was two red machines in tandem as the two were on track together on some longer runs in the afternoon, with Petrucci saying he has “more to learn” than his teammate and ending the day in ninth. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) pipped him on his GP18 to end Thursday in P7, with Francesco Bagnaia fastest rookie in P12 for Alma Pramac Racing.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) put in a good showing on Thursday to take fifth overall and end the day as fastest Honda. The Brit is returning from a badly broken ankle sustained at Phillip Island last season but managed 53 laps to end the session within just 0.004 of Dovizioso. He also suffered a crash; Rider OK. Next up for Honda was eighth-placed Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who downed tools early once again and put in 37 laps on Day 2 – although some of those were a longer run in the afternoon. The team confirmed they’re on schedule despite the lighter lap load for the reigning Champion, too – with Marquez routinely having done over 90 laps per test day last season – and were working on the new bike, new engine and electronics, with a lot to get through including some different fairings. Crutchlow’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) took P10 after 60 laps, with Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) taking P16 after 59 laps.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing saw some tables turned on Day 2 as Johann Zarco ended the day as fastest Austrian machine for the first time since his switch to the marque. He said he outstripped his expected progress for the day and it made him smile to dip below the 2 minute mark for the first time, and he ended the day in P11 after 58 laps. Teammate Pol Espargaro was P17 and just over three tenths off. KTM test rider Mika Kallio was a couple of places back, and just pipped Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Miguel Oliveira. Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin had a tougher day, outside the top twenty.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, meanwhile, had a race simulation fairly early on Day 2 for Aleix Espargaro as Andrea Iannone remained focused on adaptation. Bike balance, electronics and torque control were a focus for the Noale factory. Espargaro ended the day in P13 after 54 laps, Iannone in P18 after 39. Romano Albesiano, Technical Manager, also confirmed that it’s not just the immediate future the marque are working towards, with plans made to make some big changes in testing in order to set up some more radical development later in the season.
Thursday, 07 February 2019 13:13 Published in Reports, Results & Points