The first official test of 2015 MotoGP got underway Wednesday at Sepang International Circuit with 30 riders testing their perspective machines.
All riders in 2015 MotoGP were present except for Pramac Racing Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, who is out with injury due to an off-season training accident.
And when the test wrapped up, the man who earned the past-two consecutive MotoGP titles – Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez – was quickest.
The 21-year-old Spaniard posted a best time of 2:00.262 on his 62nd of 63 laps at Sepang, which was 0.024 of a second faster than his fastest lap on the first day of testing at Sepang I testing last season.
During the test, Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa tested various 2015 and 2014 machines, comparing notes to achieve the most optimal results. Pedrosa finished day one of four at Sepang MotoGP testing in fifth, 0.483 of a second behind.
The Repsol Honda pilots also were able to get off on a quick note due to official Team HRC pilot Casey Stoner completing some preliminary testing on the RC213V prototypes last week; Stoner was able to test during the winter testing ban because he is not a contracted rider.
“I’m glad to finally get back on the bike. It’s been a hard day and at the same time very positive, because on the first day after the winter break you have to regain confidence with the bike and adapt to the feeling of the MotoGP machine again,” Marquez says.
“We tried three different bikes today, and this has been very important. I focused on testing them thoroughly and deciding which bike was the ideal one to continue working with at this test, and then this afternoon we focused more on one of the machines. I was able to start riding better and feel more comfortable on the bike. There are still many things to try at this test, so we have to remain calm like we did today and keep working.”
Finishing second – 0.118 of a second back – was nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. Him and his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who finished third, 0.259 of a second behind Marquez, tested YZR-M1 prototypes similar to the ones used last November at Valencia.
The Yamaha duo continued testing a shorter Akrapovic exhaust pipe that featured a “grill covering the air exit, with a view to avoid flame escapes and prevent the entry of gravel and debris.” In typical VR46 style, Rossi also wore a new special “winter” AGV lid that featured snowflakes and reindeer.
Rossi and Lorenzo’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 colleague Pol Espargaro showed good pace in sixth despite an early light crash as he begins his second year in the premier class. Espargaro’s teammate Bradley Smith lapped further down the timesheet in ninth. Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga also crashed unhurt in the morning.
The new CWM LCR Honda team duo of Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller got down to work with their RC213V and Open spec RC213V-RS packages, finishing the day 10th and 19th respectively. Miller focused on adapting to the Magneti Marelli MotoGP electronics package – the Australian aiming to achieve better performance with traction control, whilst for Crutchlow the test is simply about reacquainting himself with his new factory machine.
Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Team’s Scott Redding also got plenty of laps in on the RC213V factory prototype, finishing the day 11th.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and his new teammate Andrea Iannone used a GP14.3 – an update on the GP14.2 which features some visually different aspects and electronics upgrades. The new Ducati GP15 is due for delivery for Sepang 2, later in February.
Dovizioso was fourth overall with a 2’00.617 best lap time, nearly two seconds quicker than on the same day of action at the same test last year. Iannone tried a new front fairing and finished the day seventh.
The Factory Aprilia Gresini pair of Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri (15th and 26th respectively) worked hard on their new machines – with pneumatic valve engines – after test rider Michael Laverty carried out an early morning shakedown on the Italian brand’s evolving prototype.
There was an early mechanical fault for Bautista on new Aprilia and he needed a push from Suzuki test rider Nobu Aoki – who was watching trackside at turn 4 – to get restarted.
Aleix Espargaro appeared not to be held back too much by a knee ligament injury sustained over the winter as he and MotoGP Rookie Maverick Viñales got back to work on the Suzuki GSX-RR. Espargaro ran off without major consequence at one point and ended up 14th – just under two seconds down on Marquez. Viñales lapped just under a second behind his new colleague in 21st place on the timesheet.
Suzuki also have a shorter exhaust pipe for testing and their factory riders only got started once test rider Takuya Tsuda had given the bike a shakedown early on.
In the absence of Pramac Racing’s Hernandez, Michele Pirro (12th) worked on electronics for Ducati using the GP14.2, whilst Danilo Petrucci (13th) worked with the GP14.1 using Open software.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera (18th) and Mike Di Meglio (23rd) got used to the new Open Magneti Marelli software, as will all the riders using the new electronics package this season. Improvements to traction control and anti wheelie settings should assist the riders with their performances and set-ups.
NGM Forward Racing pair of Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz (25th) made progress on the Open Yamaha, with German Bradl impressing in eighth overall as the fastest Open rider – 1.294s off Marquez’s pace. Bradl had some electronics issues earlier in the day and was only able to produce a fast time after 5pm.
Drive M7 Aspar’s new signing Eugene Laverty was 22nd will aspire to get as close to teammate Nicky Hayden’s lap times on the Open RC213V-RS over the three days, with Hayden completing day one in 17th. AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham on the same spec bike concluded the day in 24th position.
Octo IodaRacing Team’s Alex De Angelis will reportedly move onto Aprilia’s factory spec electronics for Sepang 2, therefore still running Open Marelli software on the 2014 ART this week. He was 27th as the first day of 2015 tests came to a close.