MotoGP Test: Bautista Quickest Tuesday on Slippery Sepang Circuit

GO&FUN Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista at Sepang

2014 Sepang II MotoGP Testing Wednesday Results

The second preseason MotoGP test of 2014 got underway Wednesday with less-than favorable track conditions at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Due to recent storms, the track was dirty and slick, not having the grip that the riders encountered in the February MotoGP testing sessions.

Regardless, the riders still got in much testing at the final preseason test that will see both the prototypes and Open-class machines on the same track.

Leading the way was GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista on the satellite RC213V. The Spaniard posted a best time of 2:00.848. This was 1.3 seconds slower than the top February time set by the reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez, who was forced to miss the Sepang II tests due to breaking his leg in a dirt-training accident. Marquez will also miss the Phillip Island Bridgestone tire test.

Bautista spent the day finely tuning his Showa suspension, along with the new hard rear Bridgestone tire. He put in 61 laps on Wednesday.

Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V MotoGP) says: “It’s been a very positive first day of testing! We worked very well on the rear end, an area that earlier this month gave us some problems, getting excellent results: Showa has developed a new shock absorber somewhat different compared to the one we used so far, which is suitable for our needs.

“In addition to the good lap times, even though the track was worst than the first test, I am especially pleased because my feeling with the new Bridgestone tires has improved so much and now I feel comfortable when riding. We are on the right path: tomorrow morning we will continue to work hard, focusing also on the front end, while in the afternoon if we get the chance we would like to try a first long run.”

Finishing a mere 0.052 of a second behind Bautista was Open-class pilot Aleix Espargaro. The Spaniard, who led for a few laps at the end of the session, has taken the top Open-class time aboard his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Yamaha.

Espargaro tested the softer-rear tires that are available to the Open-Class machines. The problem with a softer tire is durability throughout a race. As testing continues, teams will tune to improve durability.

Also on top was Espargaro’s brother, the rookie Pol. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha (satellite YZR-M1) was 0.151 of a second off Bautista’s time. During the testing, Pol tested electronics, different wheel sizes and various engine parts. As for his teammate, Bradley Smith finished ninth, 0.796 of a second behind Bautista. Smith was the final rider to post within a second of Bautista.

Andrea Dovizioso was the quickest Ducati Team rider, the Italian finishing fourth quickest. As he tested the GP14, he was 0.181 of a second off the top time.

Dovizioso and new teammate Cal Crutchlow, who finished 11th, are working on overall set-up and engine characteristics at the test. Ducati is also set to define whether they will run “Open” class or prototype (MSMA) entries in 2014 before they depart from Malaysia.

Double MotoGP title winner Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fifth, with the Yamaha Factory Racing team focusing on refining set-up for the new harder rear tire option. The team believe that the 20-liter fuel limit for MSMA entries this year will not cause them fuel consumption issues, as has been speculated, though they need to verify those findings in this test after some positive results last time out.

Dani Pedrosa had a somewhat anonymous visit to Sepang last time and he has added responsibility this week as the only Repsol Honda rider present. He was sixth on day one, with his main task at this test being confirmation of which chassis works best for him, with RC213V evolution well underway for 2014.

Valentino Rossi was second overall at Sepang 1, but he ended Wednesday in seventh spot, continuing his preparations for his 15th season in the premier class. He was 0.5 of a second off the pace at the end of the day, with 65 laps undertaken.

LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl completed the day in eighth place, working on braking stability by modifying suspension, geometry and electronics. The German rider has some small parts from HRC to test in the absence of fellow Honda man Marquez.

Andrea Iannone was ninth on the Pramac Ducati, whilst in 15th spot Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez carried out additional crucial data gathering with the new Magneti Marelli software.

It was a mixed day for the DRIVE M7 Aspar team, with the key point for their riders being new suspension settings, as this is the first time they have properly tested the softer option rear tyre for the “Open” class. Nicky Hayden was tenth and Hiroshi Aoyama was ‘unlucky’ 13th as he suffered a light crash early in the day.

Team Suzuki MotoGP are again present at this test, with Randy de Puniet and Nobuatsu Aoki in attendance. De Puniet carried out a considerable 73 lap workload on Wednesday for the manufacturer who have an eye on returning to MotoGP racing in 2015.

After a check-up on Wednesday afternoon with Dr. Mir in Barcelona, it was advised that Marquez takes this opportunity to rest, rather than risk further injury, in order to prepare for the Qatar GP, which will begin in just three weeks.

“I’m obviously disappointed that I’m not in Sepang at the moment and to miss Phillip Island is also unfortunate, but we believe it is the best decision,” declared Marquez. “After my meeting today with Dr. Mir, although he was happy with the general situation of my leg after only seven days since the accident, he advised against taking unnecessary risk. So I will take time to rest and get myself as fit as possible to return to Qatar for the first race in the best shape possible.”

2014 Sepang II MotoGP Testing Results, Wednesday:

PosRiderTeamFastest lapLead. GapPrev. GapLapsLast lap
1BAUTISTA, AlvaroGO&FUN Honda Gresini2:00.84860 / 61
2ESPARGARO, AleixNGM Mobile Forward Racing2:00.9000.0520.05228 / 31
3ESPARGARO, PolMonster Yamaha Tech 32:00.9990.1510.09953 / 57
4DOVIZIOSO, AndreaDucati Team2:01.0290.1810.03046 / 47
5LORENZO, JorgeYamaha Factory Racing2:01.1580.3100.12954 / 56
6PEDROSA, DaniRepsol Honda Team2:01.1600.3120.00246 / 47
7ROSSI, ValentinoYamaha Factory Racing2:01.3490.5010.18928 / 65
8BRADL, StefanLCR Honda MotoGP2:01.4910.6430.14232 / 50
9SMITH, BradleyMonster Yamaha Tech 32:01.6440.7960.15347 / 54
10HAYDEN, NickyDrive M7 Aspar2:02.2271.3790.58353 / 55
11CRUTCHLOW, CalDucati Team2:02.3191.4710.09245 / 48
12IANNONE, AndreaPramac Racing2:02.3341.4860.01530 / 51
13AOYAMA, HiroshiDrive M7 Aspar2:02.7091.8610.37557 / 59
14EDWARDS, ColinNGM Mobile Forward Racing2:02.7431.8950.03429 / 47
15HERNANDEZ, YonnyEnergy T.I. Pramac Racing2:02.8231.9750.08045 / 50
16BARBERA, HectorAvintia Racing2:02.9752.1270.15245 / 47
17DE PUNIET, RandyTeam Suzuki MotoGP2:03.3412.4930.36666 / 73
18REDDING, ScottGO&FUN Honda Gresini2:03.5532.7050.21250 / 51
19PIRRO, MicheleDucati Test Team2:03.9913.1430.43837 / 40
20NAKASUGA, KatsuyukiYamaha Factory Test Team2:04.1653.3170.17441 / 45
21DI MEGLIO, MikeAvintia Racing2:04.8854.0370.72027 / 59
22ABRAHAM, KarelCardion AB Motoracing2:05.6384.7900.75331 / 36
23AOKI, NobuatsuTeam Suzuki MotoGP2:07.3026.4541.6643 / 10