2019 Sepang MotoGP Shakedown Day 2 Notes: Track Gets Busier As Yamaha Objects To Media Attention

The second day of the MotoGP shakedown test at Sepang was a busier affair than the first, with a Yamaha and the factory and satellite KTM riders joining the testers who had seen action on Friday. Hot, dry weather made life relatively easy, the riders able to get a lot of laps in with no interruptions for rain.

The honors for most laps during the day were shared by Johann Zarco, Bradley Smith, and Pol Espargaro. Zarco topped the endurance charts with a grand total of 67 laps on the Red Bull KTM, Aprilia test rider Smith racked up 62 laps spread between four different bikes, while Pol Espargaro bagged the fastest time in the process of lapping Sepang 60 times. To put that into perspective, it is three times race distance, in temperatures of over 30°C, and track temperatures rising to over 50°C in the middle of the day.

All six factories took to the track on Saturday, with Katsuyuki Nakasuga finally turning laps on the Yamaha M1. Stefan Bradl was there for Honda, as was Bradley Smith for Aprilia, Michele Pirro for Ducati, and Sylvain Guintoli and Takuya Tsuda for Suzuki. KTM had the biggest contingent, with factory riders Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco, and Tech3 riders Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin joining test rider Mika Kallio on track.

Pol Espargaro set the fastest time at the end of the day, leapfrogging past Stefan Bradl, while Bradley Smith was third fastest. Kats Nakasuga was fourth quickest, ahead of Michele Pirro and Johann Zarco. Full times are available here. For comparison to the lap record, see the table below.

From the photos which have emerged from the test, there is little obviously visibly different at the test. But one thing which is obvious is KTM's new strategy. Miguel Oliveira had one of the new fairings tested by Mika Kallio on his Tech3 satellite machine, KTM clearly using the Tech3 squad intensively as a testing resource. The Austrian factory needs to start making much faster progress if it is to compete at the front, and having four bikes and four riders gathering data should vastly accelerate that progress.

On Sunday, the track will be even busier, as more riders join the testing fray. Yamaha test rider Jonas Folger will be on track with the M1, and Aprilia's two factory riders, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone, will also start work ahead of next week's test. Suzuki BSB rider Bradley Ray will also get a brief outing on the bike.

The shakedown test may not be official, but it is also garnering much more media attention than in recent years. This is much to the displeasure of Yamaha, who rented the track and are sharing it with the other factories. Though media present is limited – just three journalists are in attendance: Crash.net's Peter McLaren, and Paolo Scalera and Marco Caregnato from Italian website GPOne.com – Yamaha management has already tried to bar them from pit lane, and has been politely complaining about their presence. Paolo Scalera has an entertaining blog (in Italian) about the situation on the GPOne website.

Of course, Yamaha only have themselves to blame. If they were not holding their official factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team launch in Jakarta in neighboring Indonesia on Monday, there would be far fewer journalists present, and Yamaha would have an easier job than in the past. But the importance of the Indonesian market has left Yamaha to be hoist by its own marketing petard, with journalists combining covering the shakedown test with the launch and the official test, at only marginally higher cost. If they had launched in Spain or Italy, things would have been a great deal easier for Yamaha.

Times from Saturday:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2:00.812    
2 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 2:00.924 0.112 0.112
3 Bradley Smith Aprilia RS-GP 2:01.281 0.469 0.357
4 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha M1 2:01.368 0.556 0.087
5 Michele Pirro Ducati GP19 2:01.754 0.942 0.386
6 Johann Zarco KTM RC16 2:01.791 0.979 0.037
7 Mika Kallio KTM RC16 2:01.859 1.047 0.068
8 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki GSX-RR 2:02.430 1.618 0.571
9 Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2:02.795 1.983 0.365
10 Hafizh Syahrin KTM RC16 2:03.583 2.771 0.788
11 Takuya Tsuda Suzuki GSX-RR 2:04.960 4.148 1.377

Lap records at Sepang:

Year No Rider Bike Time Event
2018 99 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati GP18 1:58.830 Sepang Test
2015 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 1:59.053 Qualifying
2015 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1 2:00.606 Race

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