Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa topped the time sheets at the conclusion of the second MotoGP test at the Sepang track in Malaysia. Both clocked identical times of 1:59.999 to become the only riders to dip under the two minute mark the entire test.
The hot and humid conditions in Sepang meant times wouldn’t be faster than they were in the first test here only a few weeks prior, and indeed, Rossi and Pedrosa’s time is 0.466 second slower than the fastest lap Marc Marquez set at the last test. Still, Yamaha men Rossi and former champ, Jorge Lorenzo, aren’t pleased with the new specification hard rear tire Bridgestone is introducing this season. Lorenzo appears to be struggling mightily, as his 2:00.619 was only seventh fastest of the test.
Perhaps the surprise of the test was Andrea Dovizioso, aboard the Ducati GP14, as his time of 2:00.067 placed him third fastest. Of course, the bigger news of the day was Ducati announcing all its riders would be running in the Open class this season, allowing the team a 12-engine allocation (instead of five for Factory teams), with the ability to constantly improve the engines throughout the season. The Open classification also allows for 24 liters of fuel (vs. 20 liters), and the option to use a softer Bridgestone tire.
Says Pedrosa of his test times, “Today we worked on engine mapping to improve cornering, but the most important thing that we were able to do is a race simulation.” Pedrosa managed a string of 15 laps under 2:02, with his quickest just a tick above 2:00.
Rossi was obviously happy with his performance as he fought for the top position all day, “especially because with the 2014 tires in the first test we tried a time attack and I was more than one second slower than today.” He did express concern with the new specification Bridgestone tire, noting, “we still have some problems when it’s very hot over long distance with the new tires, so we still have to work…”
Dovizioso, understandably, was very happy with his performance, delighted he was able to lap around Sepang faster than he ever has, “and I did it in track conditions that were worse than in Sepang 1.” Dovi was another rider to perform a long run, his 14 laps leaving him pleased with the direction Ducati are going. However, he admits, “at this moment we are probably not in a position to fight for the top places, because we are not always able to lap with this pace…”
Meanwhile, Americans Colin Edwards (who celebrated his 40th birthday at the test) and Nicky Hayden could only manage a best of 14th and 15th quickest, respectively, aboard their Open class machines. Both riders are still working on finding optimum setups and dialing the electronics on their new rides this year. Edwards has complained of front end feel on his Forward Yamaha, while Hayden has had trouble on the brakes aboard his Honda RCV1000R.
Testing resumes at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia for tire safety testing on Monday. Marc Marquez, who missed the second Sepang test, will not be in attendance in Australia as he recovers from a broken leg suffered in a training crash. However, he intends on being fit to compete at the season opener at Qatar, March 23.
Final Sepang testing times:
1. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yamaha), 1:59.999
2. Dani Pedrosa, Spain (Honda), 1:59.999
3. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Ducati), 2:00.067
4. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Yamaha), 2:00.101
5. Stefan Bradl, Germany (Honda), 2:00.164
6. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Honda), 2:00.500
7. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Yamaha), 2:00.619
8. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Ducati), 2:00.790
9. Bradley Smith, UK (Yamaha), 2:00.804
10. Pol Espargaro, Spain (Yamaha), 2:00.999
11. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Ducati), 2:01.173
12. Randy De Puniet, France (Suzuki), 2:01.430
13. Yonny Hernandez, Colombia (Ducati), 2:01.497
14. Colin Edwards, USA (Yamaha), 2:01.748
15. Nicky Hayden, USA (Honda), 2:01.924
16. Michele Pirro, Italy (Ducati), 2:02.029
17. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan (Honda), 2:02.070
18. Hector Barbera, Spain (Kawasaki), 2:02.149
19. Scott Redding, UK (Honda), 2:02.228
20. Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Japan (Yamaha), 2:02.802
21. Mike Di Meglio, France (Kawasaki), 2:03.499
22. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Honda), 2:04.304
23. Nobuatsu Aoki, Japan (Suzuki), 2:06.482