Dani Pedrosa ended the second day of February’s second Sepang test at the top of the pile, 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 2:00.039 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 0.281 off the top – having led for much of the afternoon.
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 2:00.500 best time as he again made good use of his new Showa rear shock.
Fourth on the timesheet was Valentino Rossi (+0.566) who appears to be more comfortable with the new 2014 Bridgestone compounds than his Yamaha Factory Racing colleague Jorge Lorenzo (+1.010) 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 (0.748) with the 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 0.2 behind the Italian knowing that his teammate is his immediate benchmark – whilst Andrea Iannone was 11th on the Pramac Racing Ducati (1.134).
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 today 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 tenth respectively. The younger Espargaro was the only top ten rider not to improve on his day one time.
A 40th birthday celebration for Colin Edwards saw him make an improvement of more than 0.7 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.
Click here for full results from Sepang2.