MotoGP squads just wrapped up three more days of testing at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, and while they experienced some engine trouble on day two, the Respol Honda team shows no signs of slowing.
With the second day of their test cut short when Dani Pedrosa’s Honda RC213V experienced engine trouble and had to be send back to Japan for analysis. Feedback from Japan was positive and the team was back on track for the third and final day of testing, with reigning World Champion Casey Stoner leading the charge with a best time of 2:00.473 and his teammate Dani Pedrosa a close second with a time of 2:00.648.
Factory Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies took advantage of wet conditions and Respol Honda absence during the second day of the test. Former 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was working on corner entry and felt they were closing the gap with Honda. According to the Spaniard, “We have to improve traction on corner entry. The engine development is good and we are closing the gap from Honda. Also the modifications to the chassis are working well.” On day two, the Yamaha riders were first and second on the leaderboard, with Ben Spies leading in wet conditions with a time of 2:01.285 and Lorenzo in a close second with a time of 2:01.293
On the third and final day of testing, both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies suffered crashes in the morning but were unhurt. According to Yamaha, Lorenzo spent the final afternoon engaged in a race simulation run, pleased with the results that demonstrated he could deliver consistent fast laps over an extended period around the 2’01 second mark. Lorenzo ended the test in fourth position, 0.404 seconds behind Casey Stoner, while Spies leaves Sepang in confident mood having bonded well with the 1000cc bike in both wet and dry conditions, taking his first ever wet laps of the circuit yesterday afternoon. The Texan wrapped up the test in eighth place, 0.959 seconds from first.
The Ducati team of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden appeared to be making progress testing electronics on the second day of testing, with Hayden posting a 5th best time of 2:01.748 and Rossi in 7th with a time of 2:02.130. Despite progress and closing the gap on the top-placed riders, Rossi continued to struggle on the final day of testing, finishing 10th overall 1.077 behind Casey Stoner. While Rossi appears to closing the gap, the rider appears to continue to struggle with front-end issues on his Ducati GP12 machine. More troubling, perhaps, is that Ducati satellite rider Hector Barbera managed to finish ahead of his factory teammate, in 6th place overall with a time of 2:01.231.
Time is dwindling as riders continue to test their 2012 machines in an effort to close the gap on the Respol Honda squad. One final test remains at Jerez in Spain March 23-25. After Jerez, teams will pack up and head to Qatar for the season opener of the MotoGP world championship on April 8, 2012.
Final MotoGP Sepang Test results are as follows for the third day of testing: