Andrea Iannone has ended the second day of testing at Sepang on top of the timesheets. The Suzuki rider took advantage of the best conditions at the end of the day to drop into the 1'59s, finishing four tenths ahead of Maverick Viñales on the Movistar Yamaha. Alvaro Bautista ended in third on the Aspar Ducati, with Valentino Rossi in fourth, just ahead of a very strong showing for Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
After four hours of inaction, as the riders waited for the track to dry, riders started to head out shortly after 2pm, to get some time in on a usable track. Times are still slow, as the track is still damp in patches, but the teams are now all pounding out the laps.
Marc Marquez is currently quickest, leading Alvaro Bautista and Valentino Rossi, but the times are not really representative just yet. Times are likely to drop as riders disperse the moisture remaining on the track surface.
On a normal day, the fastest rider at the end of a day of testing is paraded proudly in front of the press, and given his chance to explain what a good job the team and manufacturer was doing, how they were not really pushing for a lap time, and feign a certain modesty while privately gloating at how they crushed their rivals.
But this was not a normal day. The fastest man in Sepang on Monday slipped out of the circuit in virtual anonymity. After all, he is merely a test rider, and test riders don't usually talk to the media. We journalists, snobs that we are, don't waste our precious time on test riders.
In this case, however, it was not the media not wanting to talk to the test rider, it was the test rider not wanting to speak to the media. One of the reasons Casey Stoner retired from racing was because he was sick of the media circus, of spending his life living out of a suitcase and answering stupid and prying questions from idiots like me. But he still loves challenging himself on a MotoGP bike, and trying to see just how fast he can go. And Ducati are happy to pay him handsomely for the privilege. After Monday, who can blame them?
Casey Stoner remained fastest at the end of the first day of testing at Sepang. Times were unchanged from 4pm, when the rain came. A few riders went out in the rain to try the bike in the wet, but they had no impact on the timesheets.
The rain came down shortly after 4pm at Sepang, bringing an early end to proceedings. But the rain had held off for longer than the MotoGP teams had expected, and so a lot of work got done. Times were little changed from earlier in the day.
Times at 4pm:
Testing continues at Sepang, the weather still holding, but most of the MotoGP riders have now decided to take a break from the sweltering heat. At the lunch break it is Casey Stoner who is the quickest man on the day, the Ducati test rider one of only two men to crack into the 1'59s. Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso is the other, the Italian a tenth of a second off the pace of Stoner.
MotoGP testing is underway at Sepang. The weather has held, and a dry track saw a mass exodus onto the track, the riders using the opportunity to do as much testing as possible. Shortly after noon, Andrea Iannone is fastest, the Italian making a strong start on the Suzuki. He deposed Alvaro Bautista on the Pull&Bear Aspar Ducati, who had led for much of the morning. Maverick Viñales is third, always quick here, and now doubly so on the Movistar Yamaha.
Chaz Davies has ended the Portimao WorldSBK test on top of the timesheets, the factory Ducati rider quickest on both days of the test. Behind Davies, the field got an interesting shake up, with the Milwaukee Aprilias making a big step forward. After a tough couple of tests, Eugene Laverty made a major step forward with the RSV4, managing a quick pace on both race and qualifying tires. Teammate Lorenzo Savadori was third, just a fraction behind his teammate.
In a few hours time, the grandstands at the Sepang International Circuit will echo with the booming assault of MotoGP machines being pushed to their limits. The entire MotoGP grid has assembled for the first test of the preseason, meaning that the 2017 MotoGP season is about to get underway, at last.
That, at least, is the plan. The reality is that the grandstands may echo only to the sporadic rasp of a MotoGP bike being warmed up, and the occasional intrepid test rider being sent out to test conditions. The resurfaced Sepang continues to be plagued by drainage problems, water remaining on the track for a long time. In high humidity, relatively low track temperatures and without the burning tropical sun, the water left by unusually heavy rains is not evaporating. Parts of the track remain wet all day, making it impossible to push the bikes to the limit, and very risky to try.
Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio expressed the concerns shared by most teams. "You never know how many hours you can test, because the track remains wet for a long time. And if it rains a lot in the evening, maybe you have to wait a long time in the morning. So it's a little bit of a question mark now, how much you can test."
Far from sitting on their laurels after winning seven of the last eight WorldSBK races of 2016 Ducati came out of the blocks swinging at Jerez with a busy testing program. Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri had a host of upgraded parts in the Spanish sun.
Davies spent the majority of his time working on chassis development with Melandri focusing on the engine. Afterwards the Welshman gave a revealing insight into the makeup of the mindset of one of the world's top racers.