The MotoGP paddock was once again greeted with some pretty extreme weather as they returned for the second day of the penultimate preseason test at the Sepang International Circuit.
It turned out to be an all action morning, as with the temperatures due to reach the high 90’s later on in the day, teams tried to make the most of the relatively cooler weather before the levels of grip worsened at the Malaysian track. Many of the teams ran race simulations through the afternoon, although a sudden drop in temperature with only a few minutes to go resulted in a number of riders taking advantage of the extra grip available to post much quicker times.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez reestablished himself at the top of the time sheets after a first day that his team admits was a complete write-off, due to brake problems he experienced on his RC213V which meant they could not do any meaningful testing until Tuesday. Whatever the issue was though, it was clearly no concern for Marquez this morning, as the young Spaniard was one of only two riders to break the 2 minute mark, registering a 1:59.844 lap and claiming the top spot.
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Only 0.058s behind the reigning World Champion was Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, who was extremely pleased with his pace after admitting on Twitter he is still experiencing quite a few problems around the Malaysian circuit:
It was an excellent day for the Ducati Team, with Andrea Iannone being one of the riders able to put in a late flying lap, managing to post a time good enough for 3rd, and just 0.254s off the pace of Marquez. His teammate Dovizioso set his best lap earlier on in the day, which was over a second quicker than his time from the previous day which he set on the GP14.3 machine, highlighting just how much an improvement the new GP15 is an improvement over the older bike.
Dani Pedrosa had to settle for 5th after spending the day tweaking his suspension to try and get more feedback from his RC213V, although he did manage to shave 0.3s off his time from yesterday.
After leading the time sheets in the early part of the morning, Valentino Rossi, who was evaluating 2 different types of front forks on his Movistar Yamaha YZF-M1, couldn’t quite match the pace of his team mate Lorenzo as the day wore on. Rossi finished in 6th with a 2:00.308 that, while an improvement on his time from day 1, was 0.4 seconds back from Marquez.
Heading out late in the day to set his fastest laps, Bradley Smith launched himself from outside the top 10 up to 7th in the final minutes of the session on his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, beating his teammate Pol Espargaro in the process and improving by almost a whole second from day to day. He also managed to finish ahead of compatriot Cal Crutchlow on the CWM LCR Honda who set a 2:00.509, good enough for 8th place on the leaderboard, but more importantly for Crutchlow was that he seems to be finally getting to grips with wringing the best out of his RC213V on fresh tires, having set his fastest lap on a brand new set.
It was another good day for the Factory Suzuki team as they continue to develop their GSX-RR bike, with Aleix Espargaro knocking another half a second of his day 1 time to end up in ninth with a 2:00.409. He also managed to score bragging rights over his younger brother Pol on the 2nd Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, whom he managed to out pace by almost three-tenths of a second, relegating him to 10th.
Showing a dramatic improvement in 10th was Danilo Petrucci who took 1.5s off his time from the previous day for Pramac Ducati, as he continued to fine tune his suspension and chassis set up. His teammate Yonny Hernandez managed to get within 1.168s of Marquez as he continued his comeback from the injury that forced him to miss Sepang 1.
Maverick Viñales on the second Suzuki managed to get within 0.9 seconds of Marquez in 12th, finishing just ahead of an improving Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda, who stated that he is pleased with the way he is closing the gap to the leaders.
Forward Racing’s Stefan Bradl finished in 16th place, half a second faster than the Drive M7 Aspar Honda RC213V-RS of Nicky Hayden, while the American’s new team mate Eugene Laverty will be happy with his days work as he managed to improve his pace from yesterday by almost a second to claim 19th.
Loriz Baz escaped an early crash at turn 14 without injury to end up 24th, after complaining yesterday of not having a great feeling on his Forward Racing bike, while the rookie Aussie Jack Miller was another to take advantage of the improving conditions late in the day on his RC213V-RS, to post a 2:03.006 and end up 22nd.
Alex De Angelis could not quite match his day 1 pace down in 25th as he continued development of his Octo Ioda ART machine and it was a disastrous day for the Aprilia Racing team Gresini as they seemed to take a step backwards with both Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri slower than they were on day 1. Bautista managed a disappointing lap time of 2:02.221 which was only good enough for 23rd, although he still faired better than his teammate Marco Melandri who, despite trying a chassis more like the one he was used to on his Aprilia World Superbike on Tuesday, was dead last, almost 4 and a half seconds behind Marquez.
The teams return Wednesday for the final day of the official Sepang 2 test, with live timing on motogp.com.