2019 Sepang MotoGP Shakedown Day 3 Notes

After a day of prevarication, Yamaha (with the blessing of the other factories) finally cracked down on the media presence at Sepang, locking the gates to pit lane as well as the side of the track. Anyone who wasn't a member of a team wasn't getting in, and the factories could work in peace. All except Honda, who had packed up on Saturday, giving Stefan Bradl an extra day's rest ahead of the official test starting on Wednesday.

Aleix Espargaro joined the action, riding the Aprilia RS-GP alongside test rider Bradley Smith, though Andrea Iannone sat out the day with what was reported to be a minor health issue with his teeth. Jonas Folger also took to the track for Yamaha, but as he and Yamaha's other test rider, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, swapped between the two test bikes, it was hard to tell who was setting which times. Both riders looked pretty fast, and Nakasuga was doing so with the benefit of an extra day's experience. Jonas Folger had a crash in the middle of the day, causing a red flag, though Folger continued testing after the flag appeared.

BSB rider Bradley Ray also got a brief outing on the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP machine, and was as blown away by the experience as any other rider when they first get off a MotoGP bike. The Buildbase Suzuki rider told Crash.net's Peter McLaren that he was still 'gobsmacked' by the experience. "The whole bike was just a completely different animal to anything I've ridden. It was amazing."

Johann Zarco was once again the winner of the Nicky Hayden memorial award for hard work, the Frenchman putting in 72 laps getting used to the KTM RC16. By the end of the day, he had closed the gap to his experience teammate Pol Espargaro by over a tenth of a second, and taken four tenths off his best time from Saturday. Clear signs of progress, though there is obviously still a long way to go.

Bradley Smith did a little less work on Sunday – still racking up 56 laps in the tropical heat – but his work and focus were praised by Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano. "We are absolutely super happy with Bradley," Albesiano said. "He has made a very positive contribution already with his approach to testing, his speed, his feedback… everything." The plan for Smith is to have him race as a wildcard at Qatar, and at four more races during the year. "Comparing his performance against the others in a grand prix is the best way for him to stay at a high level and keep this maximum level of motivation," he said.

Though Iannone was not on track on Sunday, Albesiano was also pleased with his feedback. Coming off two other bikes – the Suzuki and the Ducati – had provided him with invaluable and new insights which had helped push the bike in the right direction. The main focus for the RS-GP was power delivery, ensuring the power could get to the ground without the electronics having to interfere too much, he told GPOne.com.

The Sepang track is now quiet for two days, as the full-time riders and all of the MotoGP teams prepare for the first official test of the year. The 2019 MotoGP season starts on Wednesday.

Combined times from both timed days:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2:00.500    
2 Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2:00.666 0.166 0.166
3 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 2:00.924 0.424 0.258
4 Michele Pirro Ducati GP19 2:01.261 0.761 0.337
5 Bradley Smith Aprilia RS-GP 2:01.281 0.781 0.020
6 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha M1 2:01.368 0.868 0.087
7 Johann Zarco KTM RC16 2:01.401 0.901 0.033
8 Nakasuga/Folger Yamaha M1 2:01.521 1.021 0.120
9 Mika Kallio KTM RC16 2:01.859 1.359 0.338
10 Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 2:01.893 1.393 0.034
11 Nakasuga/Folger Yamaha M1 2:02.135 1.635 0.242
12 Hafizh Syahrin KTM RC16 2:02.211 1.711 0.076
13 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki GSX-RR 2:02.417 1.917 0.206
14 Takuya Tsuda Suzuki GSX-RR 2:03.701 3.201 1.284

Records:

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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