The first day of MotoGP™ testing was a close-fought affair with the top seven riders within almost eight tenths of each other, while the top three of Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and rookie Marc Márquez were less than four hundredths apart, with Italian Valentino Rossi showing he has not lost his spark.
As teams set out to put in track time to bed in their new or upgraded bikes they were fortunate with the weather as the forecast rain did not appear, giving riders a full day’s worth of running. And it was Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa who put his RC213V top with a 2:01’157 late in the day as he set out to test the latest evolution of the bike, in particular focussing on longevity of the engine. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo, who holds the record for the fastest lap at the circuit from 2012 with a 2.00’334, had a final push with his new Yamaha, featuring a different chassis and upgraded engine, and got within 0.008 seconds of his compatriot. The upgraded machine is set to cure pumping and give better acceleration out of corners.
Yamaha and fans alike got their first real glimpse of Valentino Rossi back on the Japanese machine, with the Italian not disappointing with a time just over four-tenths off Pedrosa in fourth. He stated he was “very happy” with the Yamaha, sighting that he felt comfortable from the first lap. However, the story of the day was arguably Pedrosa’s teammate Marc Márquez, who was only 0.036s slower than Lorenzo, putting himself third, and increasing his credentials as one of the favourites this year.
It does however look like LCR Honda MotoGP’s German Stefan Bradl, who is running a RC213V with the same spec as the HRC team in Valencia last year, will also have a say this year, after ending the day in fifth, just two tenths off Rossi. He was working on a raft of things from traction control, to suspension and brakes. Behind him was Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Brit, Cal Crutchlow, who improved steadily across the day, on board his 2012 machine. And rounding out the top seven was Go & Fun Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, who continued his quest to find the best set-up with his Showa suspension, finishing 0.824s off the top.
Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga and HRC test rider Kosuke Akiyoshi put in good performances to make the top ten, in front of Ducati Team’s American Nicky Hayden, who kicked off the team’s new era by finishing tenth, over two seconds off Pedrosa though, in front of Yamaha test rider Wataru Yoshikawa.
Tech 3’s British rookie Bradley Smith was getting used to his machine, ending the day in twelfth, around 2.3 seconds off the front, in front of Ducati’s Italian hopeful Andrea Dovizioso, and the Power Electronics Aspar Team of Spaniard Aleix Espargaró and Frenchman Randy de Puniet. Pramac Team’s Italian rookie Andrea Iannone made steady progress on his Desmosedici making it into 16th by the end, ahead of US teammate Ben Spies, who put in a few hours on his new Ducati this morning, although had to stop due to shoulder pain.
HRC test rider Takumi Takahashi headed Avintia Blusens’ Héctor Barberá, who was focussing on electronics, as well as Paul Bird Motorsport’s Colombian Yonny Hernandez, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti. MotoGP™ newcomer Michael Laverty lapped on an ART bike to get used to the Bridgestone tyres and carbon discs, and was followed by Ioda’s new Czech rider Lukas Pesek, Bautista’s Australian teammate Bryan Staring, whilst NGM’s Edwards suffered bike issues and finished the day last, putting in only 25 laps.
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