Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa remained on top as MotoGP™ pre-season testing continued in Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit today as him and rookie teammate Marc Márquez sandwiched the Yamaha Factory Racing bike of world champion Jorge Lorenzo.
The day started off dry at Sepang but rain after 2:30pm local time resulted in much of the pack waiting in their garages. Pedrosa, who had aimed for a long stint and is now targeting that goal on Wednesday, topped the timesheets with his 2’01.580 lap time. Valentino Rossi had also intended for efficient race-distance runs but will also have to wait, having placed his Yamaha fifth. This he set with the 2012 spec Yamaha, as engine problems on the latest 2013 model stopped him from getting a run on it.
The conditions confirmed that LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was fourth overall, continuing to analyse the two setup options he first trialled at the earlier test. With his best dry time just 17 thousandths of a second slower than the slowest factory Honda racer, less than a second covered the top seven; that particular group was rounded out by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, with British rookie Bradley Smith ending the day firmly inside the top ten despite a small crash as he lost the front. Crutchlow and Smith are both left with no parts to test, and are focussing solely on set-up and riding style.
Ducati Team also saw both of its runners finish inside the top ten, as Andrea Dovizioso and 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden managed eighth and ninth positions. The Audi-owned squad grabbed attention early on as it rolled out its machines with brand-new fuel tanks. Dovizioso cited he was pleased with getting more time on the bike, and said that the upgrade, despite being small, was a positive step. Further down the order, test riders from all three factory outfits worked on an assortment of programmes, with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Waturu Yoshikawa pairing up for Yamaha while Ducati ran Michele Pirro and Honda Takumi Takahashi.
At Ignite Pramac Racing Team, Ben Spies fought to 13th place as he continued to battle a shoulder injury, whereas teammate Andrea Iannone evaluated two engines in order to assess the weight distribution of his Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team machine.
Once again, the Power Electronics Aspar of Aleix Espargaró set the pace in the CRT class, escaping a minor incident at Turn 1 when the ART had slid away from the Spaniard. Teammate Randy de Puniet was 18th, completing 22 laps in comparison with Espargaró’s 28. Racking up most mileage was the aforementioned Hayden’s factory Ducati, as the American completed 46 tours.
17th fastest Hiroshi Aoyama was the leading Avintia Blusens representative on their FTR-Kawasaki bike, with teammate Héctor Barberá seven places further back. Colin Edwards’ day finished in 20th position for NGM Mobile Forward Racing, edging out Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who this year has switched to a CRT from a prototype Ducati.
The field was completed by Claudio Corti on the second Forward Racing machine, plus Gresini’s Bryan Staring and Ioda’s Lukáš Pešek. Just ahead of this trio was the Paul Bird Motorsport ART of Yonny Hernandez, although teammate Michael Laverty was unable to run on the new in-house PBM bike as the team continued to install the Magneti Marelli ECU.
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