Dani Pedrosa ended the second day of February’s second Sepang MotoGP test at the top of the pile on Thursday, with track conditions somewhat better than on Wednesday.
In the continued absence of his injured World Champion teammate Marc Marquez, who will not return to testing before the season opener at Qatar, Pedrosa shoulders the responsibility in finalizing Repsol Honda’s preparations for the 2014 season. He stepped up to the plate late on Thursday with a 2:00.039s best effort as the track cooled in the early evening.
Pedrosa had struggled with jet lag on arrival in Malaysia but the best time of the week so far put him ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who impressed again with his sheer pace to end the day 0.281s off the top – having led for much of the afternoon.
Pedrosa attributed his afternoon improvement in Sepang on Thursday to some “big changes” on his bike and a tweaked front end set-up. The Spanish rider had been stranded in the unfamiliar territory of 11th spot on the timesheet earlier in the day and was uncomfortable on the RC213V.
“Things went well this afternoon,” reflected Pedrosa. “Even though this morning we were still having some issues and I wasn’t able to ride comfortably. I had to stop early in order to make some big changes to the bike, and when we restarted after lunch I felt more comfortable and put in better laps.
“We focused on the front end and were able to find a good setup. Tomorrow we will focus on making progress with the rear, because we have to get the new tire working better and increase grip. If all goes well, then perhaps tomorrow we will be able to do a race simulation.”
Like many of the riders Espargaro’s focus switched to race simulation in the afternoon and those longer runs will continue on Friday before the test concludes.
Wednesday’s top man Alvaro Bautista was third, finishing with a 2:00.500s best time as he again made good use of his new Showa rear shock.
Fourth on the timesheet was Valentino Rossi (+0.566s) who appears to be more comfortable with the new 2014 Bridgestone compounds than his Yamaha Factory Racing colleague Jorge Lorenzo (+1.010s) who was ninth. Lorenzo’s issue is with edge grip which affects corner speed, previously a strong point and something he will look to improve before Qatar.
Andrea Dovizioso repeated his impressive recent pace in fifth (0.748s) with the Ducati GP14 showing real signs of improvement.
Down the timesheet in 19th Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro put in the laps with Magneti Marelli software as the Ducati ‘Open’ decision gets closer. Dovizioso’s colleague Cal Crutchlow made a late jump to seventh and was less than 0.2s behind the Italian knowing that his teammate is his immediate benchmark – while Andrea Iannone was 11th on the Pramac Racing Ducati (1.134s).
Stefan Bradl put in a solid and consistent run for LCR Honda, following another long run he did on Wednesday. His best time was half a second better on Thursday and he finished sixth.
The new seamless gearbox was well received by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith on Wednesday – and a second day of ultra-smooth upshifts for those two saw them finish eighth and 10th respectively. The younger Espargaro was the only top 10 rider not to improve on his day one time.
A 40th birthday celebration for Colin Edwards saw him make an improvement of more than 0.7s as he focused on improving cornering technique on his new ‘Open’ class NGM Mobile Forward Racing Yamaha.
The ‘Sepang2’ test concludes on Friday, before Ducati Team, Repsol Honda and Yamaha Factory Racing head to Phillip Island for a three-day test starting on Monday.
- 1 PEDROSA, Dani Repsol Honda Team 2:00.039 55 / 57
- 2 ESPARGARO, Aleix NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:00.320 0.281 0.281 39 / 41
- 3 BAUTISTA, Alvaro GO&FUN Honda Gresini 2:00.500 0.461 0.180 52 / 55
- 4 ROSSI, Valentino Yamaha Factory Racing 2:00.605 0.566 0.105 9 / 60
- 5 DOVIZIOSO, Andrea Ducati Team 2:00.787 0.748 0.182 8 / 48
- 6 BRADL, Stefan LCR Honda MotoGP 2:00.902 0.863 0.115 4 / 52
- 7 CRUTCHLOW, Cal Ducati Team 2:00.952 0.913 0.050 50 / 52
- 8 ESPARGARO, Pol Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:01.027 0.988 0.075 12 / 47
- 9 LORENZO, Jorge Yamaha Factory Racing 2:01.049 1.010 0.022 30 / 57
- 10 SMITH, Bradley Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:01.098 1.059 0.049 57 / 60
- 11 IANNONE, Andrea Pramac Racing 2:01.173 1.134 0.075 23 / 49
- 12 HERNANDEZ, Yonny Energy T.I. Pramac Racing 2:01.658 1.619 0.485 7 / 50
- 13 EDWARDS, Colin NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:01.996 1.957 0.338 25 / 45
- 14 HAYDEN, Nicky Drive M7 Aspar 2:02.088 2.049 0.092 55 / 59
- 15 DE PUNIET, Randy Team Suzuki MotoGP 2:02.139 2.100 0.051 59 / 60
- 16 BARBERA, Hector Avintia Racing 2:02.149 2.110 0.010 43 / 45
- 17 REDDING, Scott GO&FUN Honda Gresini 2:02.652 2.613 0.503 38 / 54
- 18 AOYAMA, Hiroshi Drive M7 Aspar 2:02.786 2.747 0.134 70 / 72
- 19 PIRRO, Michele Ducati Test Team 2:02.799 2.760 0.013 25 / 45
- 20 NAKASUGA, Katsuyuki Yamaha Factory Test Team 2:02.802 2.763 0.003 47 / 48
- 21 DI MEGLIO, Mike Avintia Racing 2:03.946 3.907 1.144 50 / 51
- 22 ABRAHAM, Karel Cardion AB Motoracing 2:05.198 5.159 1.252 4 / 25
- 23 AOKI, Nobuatsu Team Suzuki MotoGP 2:07.462 7.423 2.264 19 / 20