Pre-season test lap times aren’t a precise barometer for how the 2012 MotoGP Championship season will go, but Yamaha has to feel good about its results after this week’s testing at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit.
Last February at Sepang, Honda riders were the talk of the preseason session, taking three of the top four lap times on each day of the test. That pattern repeated itself in the final championship standings with Casey Stoner taking the championship, Dani Pedrosa finishing third and Andrea Dovizioso fourth. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished second despite missing the last few rounds due to injury while teammate Ben Spies rounded out the top five.
This year, Stoner continues to look to be the man to beat but Lorenzo and Spies, along with Tech 3 Yamaha satellite rider Cal Crutchlow have also put up good lap times.
Lorenzo finished Day Three of the test with a lap time of 2:00.198, almost six-tenths of a second behind Stoner but still good enough for second overall. Spies’ best time was 2:00.495, just 0.239 seconds behind Pedrosa for fourth overall. Crutchlow was seventh overall at 2:01.108 but he was among the top five on the first two days, while his teammate Dovizioso was eighth with a time of 2:01.257.
The factory team worked the balance of the Yamaha M1 race bikes while also tweaking the electronics.
“I’m really, really satisfied, I have improved on my best record here in Sepang. We tried a lot of things; some have been a lot better, especially one major improvement. We also know where we have to improve in the future. The electronics are not perfect yet, we still need to make it smoother but the bike has so much potential we are very optimistic. The Yamaha engineers have worked really hard so they have done a good job. I made my best time today at midday which is the hardest time with the conditions so it was pretty good. Let’s see what we can do when we come back.” – Lorenzo
Except for a crash on Day Three, Spies says he was pleased with the test.
“It’s been a good test, we’ve got a lot of things accomplished, we’re definitely moving in the right direction with my bike. I tried the Yamaha test rider’s bike today which had a slightly different set up to make a fair comparison with mine. I made a small mistake, losing the front but that’s testing; it can happen when you’re working out the good and bad! All in all it’s been great and I’m really happy and looking forward to coming back and seeing what’s new.” – Spies
Crutchlow also had a front-end spill early in the day but continued to ride in the afternoon. Teammate Dovizioso is still hampered by a broken collarbone but still managed to log 40 laps of the final day of testing. Making things trickier is trying to adapt his riding to the M1 after several years on Honda’s RC212V.
“You can do a lot of good work here even if it is very bad for my body, but I am happy because I could ride on each day and my feeling with the Yamaha is coming much better than the first time I tried the bike in Valencia. I understood much more about this bike here and what I realise is that I have to change my style more. There is a big difference in the characteristic of the Yamaha and the Honda I rode for the last four years, so I have to learn to use the good points of the M1 more.” – Dovizioso