MotoGP: Pedrosa Leads Pol Espargaro in Thursday Sepang Testing

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa

2014 Sepang II Preseason MotoGP Test Results, Thursday

With MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez sidelined due to a broken leg, his teammate Dani Pedrosa has full responsibility of finalizing Respol Honda’s preparations ahead of the season opener at Qatar March 23.

And though he was off the top pace Wednesday due to suffering from jet lag, the Spaniard placed the RC213V on top during the second day of preseason testing at Sepang (II).

Pedrosa worked Thursday on tuning in the front end of the RC213V, and also engine mappings. He completed 57 laps, putting in a best time of 2:00.039.

“Things went well this afternoon, even though this morning we were still having some issues and I wasn’t able to ride comfortably. I had to stop early in order to make some big changes to the bike, and when we restarted after lunch I felt more comfortable and put in better laps,” Pedrosa says.

“We focused on the front end and were able to find a good setup. Tomorrow we will focus on making progress with the rear, because we have to get the new tyre working better and increase grip. If all goes well, then perhaps tomorrow we will be able to do a race simulation.”

Aleix Espargaro continued to impress aboard the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Yamaha – the quickest Open-class machine throughout the preseason. He finished second, 0.281 of a second off Pedrosa’s time.

Espargaro spent the day in race-simulation mode, monitoring tire wear and engine performance. His teammate Colin Edwards, who turned 40 Thursday, knocked 0.7 of a second off his Wednesday time. The American finished 13h, almost two seconds off the top time. The NGM Mobile Forward team reports it will continue race-simulation testing on Friday, the final day of Sepang II testing.

Wednesday’s leader, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, finished the day in third, 0.461 of a second behind Pedrosa. The Spaniard continues to tune the Showa rear suspension, achieving better and better results.

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi was next, the nine-time world champion finishing fourth quickest, 0.566 off the top time. Rossi seems to be coming to grips with the new Bridgestone tire compounds, though it’s not the same scenario for teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

The two-time MotoGP Champion Lorenzo continues to struggle with grip that affects corner speed – a previous strongpoint for the YZR-M1. Lorenzo ended Thursday ninth quickest, 1.010 seconds off the top time.

The top Ducati was once again the Ducati Team GP14 piloted by Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian finished fifth, 0.748 of a second off the top time. Ducati will decide if it will only field machines in the open class as the season opener gets closer, but it’s all contingent on development.

Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow improved, finishing seventh quickest, 0.913 off Pedrosa’s pace. The British rider finished just behind the sixth-place finisher, satellite LCR Honda pilot Stefan Bradl.

As for Ducati Team Test Rider Michelle Pirro, he tested a GP14 with Magneti Marelli software, and finished 19th – 2.760 seconds off the top pace. The other Ducati on the grid – the satellite Pramac Racing machine piloted by Andrea Iannone – was 11th quickest, 1.134 behind Pedrosa.

Pol Esparagaro was the final rider to post within a second of Pedrosa, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha pilot finishing eighth, 0.988 of a second off the top time. Him and his teammate Bradley Smith – who finished 10th – worked with a new seamless gearbox, which the team reports was a positive experience.

The other American on the grid, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden, finished 14th, 2.049 off the pace. The 2006 MotoGP Champion continues to struggle with the RCV1000R, though his times are improving.

Suzuki also continues to develop its inline-four machine for its 2015 return. The top time was posted by Randy de Puniet at the controls of the 1000cc GP racer; the Frenchman finished just behind Hayden, 2.1 seconds off Pedrosa’s pace.

The Sepang II MotoGP test concludes Friday.

2014 Sepang II MotoGP Preseason Test Results, Thursday:

PosRiderTeamFastest lapLead. GapPrev. GapLapsLast lap
1PEDROSA, DaniRepsol Honda Team2:00.03955 / 57
2ESPARGARO, AleixNGM Mobile Forward Racing2:00.3200.2810.28139 / 41
3BAUTISTA, AlvaroGO&FUN Honda Gresini2:00.5000.4610.18052 / 55
4ROSSI, ValentinoYamaha Factory Racing2:00.6050.5660.1059 / 60
5DOVIZIOSO, AndreaDucati Team2:00.7870.7480.1828 / 48
6BRADL, StefanLCR Honda MotoGP2:00.9020.8630.1154 / 52
7CRUTCHLOW, CalDucati Team2:00.9520.9130.05050 / 52
8ESPARGARO, PolMonster Yamaha Tech 32:01.0270.9880.07512 / 47
9LORENZO, JorgeYamaha Factory Racing2:01.0491.0100.02230 / 57
10SMITH, BradleyMonster Yamaha Tech 32:01.0981.0590.04957 / 60
11IANNONE, AndreaPramac Racing2:01.1731.1340.07523 / 49
12HERNANDEZ, YonnyEnergy T.I. Pramac Racing2:01.6581.6190.4857 / 50
13EDWARDS, ColinNGM Mobile Forward Racing2:01.9961.9570.33825 / 45
14HAYDEN, NickyDrive M7 Aspar2:02.0882.0490.09255 / 59
15DE PUNIET, RandyTeam Suzuki MotoGP2:02.1392.1000.05159 / 60
16BARBERA, HectorAvintia Racing2:02.1492.1100.01043 / 45
17REDDING, ScottGO&FUN Honda Gresini2:02.6522.6130.50338 / 54
18AOYAMA, HiroshiDrive M7 Aspar2:02.7862.7470.13470 / 72
19PIRRO, MicheleDucati Test Team2:02.7992.7600.01325 / 45
20NAKASUGA, KatsuyukiYamaha Factory Test Team2:02.8022.7630.00347 / 48
21DI MEGLIO, MikeAvintia Racing2:03.9463.9071.14450 / 51
22ABRAHAM, KarelCardion AB Motoracing2:05.1985.1591.2524 / 25
23AOKI, NobuatsuTeam Suzuki MotoGP2:07.4627.4232.26419 / 20