Sepang, Malaysia

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Open season on the factory teams

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Open season on the factory teams

No doubt who was the star of last week’s Sepang tests, even if Marc Márquez did stun his rivals with a ridiculously fast race simulation on the final day.

Márquez’s ominous speed on Honda’s latest RC213V wasn’t entirely unexpected, whereas the pace of Aleix Espargaró on his Open-spec Yamaha M1 had a few jaws dropping up and down pitlane. The young Spaniard’s best lap was less than half a second slower than Márquez and within a couple of tenths of factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

Espargaró’s speed suggests that the best Open-class bikes will have a chance of fighting for podiums this year, especially at thirstier tracks where their 20 per cent extra fuel may give them a real advantage over factory bikes. It also confirms that Dorna’s control software – mandatory on Open bikes – is working pretty damn well.

Gresini Press Release: Bautista's And Redding's Crew Chiefs Analyze The Sepang Test

The Gresini press office today issued a press release containing quotes from Antonio Jiminez, crew chief of Alvaro Bautista, and Diego Gubellini, crew chief of Scott Redding, looking back at what they learned at the first MotoGP test of 2014 at Sepang. The work for Bautista, on the Factory Option Honda RC213V, was focused on getting the Bridgestone tires to work with the Showa suspension, while Redding was concentrating on learning to ride a MotoGP bike, and setting up the spec electronics on the Honda RCV1000R. Below is the press release:


SEPANG MOTOGP TEST DEBRIEF WITH ANTONIO JIMENEZ AND DIEGO GUBELLINI

The first 2014 MotoGP Official Test, carried out at Sepang International Circuit from 4th to 6th of February, saw the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini making the first important preparations for the first Grand Prix of the season, scheduled in Qatar on March 23rd. Alvaro Bautista’s work was focused on Showa suspension, in order to adapt the set-up of the Honda RC213V to the new 2014 tyres developed by Bridgestone, while on the other side of the garage Scott Redding was able to deepen his knowledge of the new Honda RCV1000R working mainly on setting and electronics.

Year: 
2014

Analyzing Braking Stability: Why Is Honda So Much Better Than Yamaha?

One of the great privileges which holding a MotoGP media pass allows is to stand behind the armco and watch and listen to the bikes as they go past. At the Sepang test, I made full use of that opportunity, and wandered over to Turn 3 – the glorious, fast right hander, where the riders get sideways driving through the turn and onto the short straight to Turn 4 – to enjoy the spectacle of the best riders of the world showing off their skills.

There is more to be learned from watching at track side than just how spectacular MotoGP bikes are through fast corners, though. The careful observer can pick up clues to what both the riders and factories are doing. With electronics such a key part of MotoGP nowadays, the track is one of the few places where updates are visible. Updated vehicle dynamics algorithms may be invisible from pit lane (or nearly so, with the occasional addition of sensors or torque gauges the only visible clue), bike behavior on the track will sometimes betray them.

At the end of 2013, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had asked for more stability under braking, and some more corner speed. Listening to the bikes at Sepang gave a possible clue as to how they had achieved that. The differences in engine note between the various bikes were instructive of the varying levels of electronics, engine braking strategies, and gearbox function.

That Honda have been working on braking and corner entry was audible at Sepang. Though the RC213V always sounded smooth under braking, braking for Turn 4 the improvement was noticeable. As they braked and downshifted for the corner, the Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa sounded more like a big scooter with a constantly variable transmission than a racing four stroke with six separate gears. Engine revs decreased smoothly, downshifts barely perceptible. There was no popping or crackle of extra fuel burning off, just a smooth, booming descending tone.

Repsol Press Release Interview: Dani Pedrosa Happy With Honda RC213V After Sepang Test

The Repsol Media Service have released the second of two interviews with the Repsol Honda teams riders. After Friday's interview with Marc Marquez, today they issued a press release with Dani Pedrosa. In the interview, Pedrosa talks about how he assesses his fitness after the first test, how he spent his winter, and how the test went. Pedrosa reports that Honda have made great steps forward with the bike, and his wish list of improvements is now very short indeed. The press release interview appears below:


“This year we have improved the rear grip a lot. We have taken steps forward”

Spanish rider feeling fit and ready after three days of high intensity testing at Malaysian circuit of Sepang.

Repsol Media Service - Malaysia, Sepang Circuit - Saturday 02/08/2014

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa used last week’s Sepang test to improve his 2014 Honda RC213V. He leaves Malaysia tired after three days of intense work and very hot conditions, but is pleased with how his body responded to the demands. Pedrosa says that his machine features better rear grip, and that what he picked up most last year was an ability to stay focused under maximum pressure.

How was your winter?

Amateur Spy: David Emmett's Out-of-Focus Shots From The Sepang Test, Part 2


The fastest bike in the world around Sepang


This bike racked up the miles in Sepang, as Ducati test rider Michele Pirro had a lot of work to do


Big Data: racing's newest god

Amateur Spy: David Emmett's Out-of-Focus Shots From The Sepang Test, Part 1


Big changes at Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso shows off the new tank cover housing a revised electronics position.


Here's another part: the rear seat unit is wider, and features larger air scoops


New frame, new tank, new seat, new fairing, new handlebar grip position... the list goes on

Repsol Press Release Interview: Marc Marquez On The Winter Break And The Sepang Test

With the MotoGP preseason well underway after the first test at Sepang, the busy men and women of the Repsol Media Service are hard at work once again. Their first job this year is an interview with reigning world champion Marc Marquez. In the interview, Marquez talks about training during the winter, how the tests went, defending his title and racing against some of his former rivals in Moto2. The Repsol Media Service have also posted a video on Youtube of Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa from the test at Sepang. The press release interview appears below:


“This year there will be pressure, but I work well under those conditions”

Repsol Honda’s reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, has started 2014 as he ended 2013: On top in MotoGP.

Repsol Media Service - Malaysia, Sepang Circuit - Friday 02/07/2014

Marc Marquez began his preseason in the best possible fashion, preparing for his second season in MotoGP and his title defence. The Repsol Honda rider dominated all three days of the Sepang test, breaking the circuit record on the final day. His time of 1:59.533 bested Casey Stoner’s previous record, set in 2012.

You haven’t stopped this winter. Can you not stay away from racing?

“This has been a winter of two parts. The first was dedicated to events and press, and the second part to a bit more fun and things like Dirt Track racing, driving cars or karting. It is always good to keep active.”

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Round Up: Marquez' Consistency, Lorenzo's Speed, And Ducati's Open Dilemma

On Thursday, the riders opted almost unanimously to go out first thing in the morning. It was a wise choice, conditions proving ideal to see the fastest ever lap around the circuit set, beating Casey Stoner's time from 2011. The name of the rider that took Stoner's record from him? Marc Marquez, the man brought in by Honda to replace the departing Australian.

Marquez' time was impressive, but he was not the only man to get under the two minute mark. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and the continually surprising Aleix Espargaro also cracked the barrier, though none were quite capable of getting under Stoner's old record. The first 30 minutes of testing had produced a scintillating start to the day, whetting the appetite of all in the paddock for more.

While Marquez' time is without doubt a fantastic lap, perhaps the most impressive time was set by Jorge Lorenzo. His fastest time, and the fastest time of the test up until that point, was set on his first flying lap of the day. It was, if you like, a simulation of the start of the race: firing off the line from pit lane exit, getting up to speed immediately, and then going on to set a lap record. Normal fare for Lorenzo, whose flying starts have become something of a trademark. What made it truly incredible was the fact that this was done on new tires, on his very first laps of the day. On race day, Lorenzo has the morning warm up to get up to speed, but not today. Fast straight out of the starting blocks, then following it up with another 1'59.9. If you ever needed proof of Lorenzo's metronomic ability, this was surely it.

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Press Releases

Press releases from the teams and from Bridgestone after the final day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2014

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Final Times: Marquez Stays Ahead Of Three Yamahas

Times at the end of the third and final day of testing at Sepang:

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Times at 2pm: Marquez Posts Fastest Ever Lap Around Sepang

Halfway through the final day of testing at Sepang, and the track has fallen silent as most of the riders break for lunch. The only man disturbing the peace is Michele Pirro, grinding out the hard yards in the heat of the day, earning his keep as Ducati's test rider the hard way.

The day started bright, early and fast. Almost the entire grid went for a time attack in the first half hour after the track was open. Times tumbled, with Marc Marquez walking away with the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the circuit, setting a time of 1'59.533 and smashing Casey Stoner's record here from 2011. Marquez was not the only man under the two-minute mark, though, being joined by Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and the increasingly impressive Aleix Espargaro on the Open class NGM Forward Yamaha FTR. 

Aleix Espargaro was not the only rider to impress. Andrea Dovizioso set the fastest time by a Ducati around circuit, a couple of tenths quicker than Casey Stoner's best time from 2010. Pol Espargaro is making a strong debut at Sepang, just over a second off the leaders in 8th, while Nicky Hayden has cut his deficit to Marquez by another half a second, and eight tenths quicker than his fastest time of Wednesday.

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 2 Round Up: Fuel And Tires Favoring Honda, Ducati Improves, Hayden Suffers

Motorcycle racing championships are like a pendulum, flowing back and forth between one rider and another, between one manufacturer and another. One year, Yamaha is on top, the next, it's Honda. One year, Yamaha manages to exploit the rules best, the next year it's Honda.

On the evidence of the first two days of testing – scant evidence indeed, but all we have to go on at the moment – conditions appear to favor Honda. With a liter less fuel to play with, and the new tires being introduced by Bridgestone, it looks like the tide is flowing Honda's way, while Yamaha is set to suffer. For the Factory Option entries at least; in the Open category, the tide is flowing very firmly in the other direction, with Aleix Espargaro and the NGM Forward Yamaha blowing Honda's production racer out of the water.

That the fuel reduction would favor the Honda was expected, but the advantage might be bigger than Yamaha would like to admit. After a tough first day of testing, Jorge Lorenzo spent all of Wednesday trying to recover his confidence in the bike, as his crew searched for a set up that would smooth power delivery and give him the precise throttle control his high-lean-angle – and high risk – strategy demands. They were successful, at least in renewing Lorenzo's confidence in the bike, he told the press.

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 2 Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Sepang:

Year: 
2014

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 2 Times Final: Marquez Pulls Big Gap Over Field

Final times for the second day of testing:

2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 2 Times At 2pm: Marquez Fastest, Aleix Shines, Ducatis Improving

Marc Marquez tops the timesheets halfway through the day at Sepang, with the track gone quiet in the heat of the day. The Repsol Honda man punched in a very fast lap shortly before 2pm to break into the 1'59s, the first rider to do so this test. Marquez' time is still 0.3 off the fastest ever time around the circuit, set by Casey Stoner back in 2011.

Marquez is now four tenths ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, who had led for most of the session. Stefan Bradl is just three thousandths of a second slower than Pedrosa, making it three Hondas topping the timesheets. An armada of Yamahas follow the Hondas, with Valentino Rossi fastest, ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the Open class Yamaha FTR, Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, and Jorge Lorenzo on the second factory Yamaha. Times are close, however, with less than three tenths separating Pedrosa in 2nd from Lorenzo in 7th.

8th is Andrea Iannone, the Pramac Ducati rider continuing his impressive run at the test. Iannone's time of 2'00.855 is the fastest a Ducati has been around the Sepang circuit since the test here in Sepang in February 2010, when both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden were quicker. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow are also more competitive than Ducati riders in the past, Dovizioso's time in the low 2'01s quicker than at previous tests.

Syndicate content

GTranslate