Sepang, Malaysia

2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Preview: A Comprehensive Look At Who Is Doing What, And Who Will Succeed

The Sepang MotoGP test is always a key moment in the MotoGP season. It is the first time the riders get a look at all the hard work that has gone on over the winter. It is the first time the engineers get to see if the ideas they extracted from the data from the November tests have any value, or were just wasted effort. The Sepang MotoGP test is the place where the dreams of riders and engineers careen headlong towards the iron wall of reality. It is where they learn if they will destroy the wall, or the wall will destroy them.

This year, the Sepang test is even more important. With so many riders out of contract this year, the outcome of the test will heavily influence any decision about their future. The lucky ones will get to make a decision on their own future based on their results, and the result of the bike. The unlucky ones – the reader should regard "unlucky" as a synonym for "slow" here – will end up having decisions made about them, whether the fault lies with them or elsewhere.

Why are the first three of nine full days of testing, and still months away from the first actual race, so important? Silly Season grows ever more precocious, starting earlier and earlier, factories now regarding it as normal to make a decision before the season proper has even got underway.

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Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig Interview: On Rider Contracts, Honda's Focus, And A New Role

In many ways, the appointment of Alberto Puig as Repsol Honda team manager is both surprising, and a logical choice. Puig was both the obvious person to run the Repsol Honda team, as an experienced team manager with a long association with Honda, but someone with a complicated history with the team's existing riders, having previously managed Dani Pedrosa, and crossed swords with Marc Márquez' manager Emilio Alzamora.

The Sepang test was the first time the Spaniard had a chance to talk to the racing press since his appointment. In a press conference with some of the assembled media who had turned up early, Puig addressed a broad range of topics. He talked about the challenges he sees in the Repsol Honda team, and his new role as its manager. He gave his perspective on managing relationships with the riders.

But Puig also shared his vision on racing, and the key ingredients in racing success. He spoke about how he sees the rider contract situation developing. And he also talked about Honda's main focus at this particular MotoGP test, telling us that the main objective will be to choose an engine for the rest of the season.

Here is what Puig had to say:

Q: Were you surprised when Honda appointed you manager?

Alberto Puig: I've been many years with Honda, so it was a possibility that people who are already involved can do more jobs in the future. So I was there at that time, and this is it. It's nothing new or something that couldn't happen. Normally I think that when you are in an environment and you have some years of experience in some areas, you have a possibility to get new opportunities and new challenges. This is what I think.

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Sepang Private MotoGP Test Update: Stoner Fastest, New Aero For Honda And Yamaha, Suzuki Riders Get To Play

The the 2018 MotoGP season does not start officially until Sunday the 28th January, when the contracted riders take to the track for the first time after the enforced winter break, bikes are already out on track at Sepang. MotoGP's six factories have their test teams at the circuit, and are doing some preparation work ahead of the start of the year.

After the two days, the first in relatively mixed conditions, the second in better conditions, it comes as no surprise that Casey Stoner is still fast, and pretty much on race pace according to the unofficial timings posted by GPOne.com. Stoner was nine tenths quicker on the Ducati than Honda test rider Hiroshi Aoyama, and over a second quicker than KTM's Mika Kallio and Honda's other former MotoGP rider at the test, Stefan Bradl. Just how far the times can be trusted is open to question: there is no official timing at the track yet, and all times are self reported by factory staff.

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Yonny Hernandez To Test For Tech 3 At Sepang - Decision On Full-Time Replacement To Follow After Sepang

The Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez is to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team at the Sepang test. The move had been widely anticipated, though officially denied. Hernandez has recent MotoGP experience, having spent five years in the class between 2012 and 2016, most of those years on a Ducati. He returned to Moto2 in 2017, and had decided to make the switch to WorldSBK for 2018.

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Motorcycle Racing Gets Nearer: Testing For WorldSBK And MotoGP Starts This Week

With the holiday season receding into the rear view mirror, that means that we are getting closer to seeing bikes on tracks. Testing starts this week for both the MotoGP and WorldSBK paddocks, and before testing, the Movistar Yamaha team will present their 2018 livery later on this week as well.

The action starts on Tuesday in Jerez, where virtually the entire WorldSBK paddock is gathered for a two-day test. The Andalusian track will see the first real test of the 2018 WorldSBK machines, with the teams all having had the winter break to develop their bikes under the new technical regulations - new rev limits, and better access to cheaper parts.  

All eyes will once again be on triple and reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, the man who dominated at Jerez in November. Rea was seemingly unaffected by the new rule changes, saying less top end merely made the bike easier for him to ride. Teammate Tom Sykes will be hoping to match Rea's pace, and adapt to the new character of the bike.

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Yamaha Step Up MotoGP Testing To Counter 2017 Form Crisis

In a sign of how difficult Yamaha's 2017 season has been, they have a busy testing schedule ahead of them in the next few weeks. After the traditional two-day test at Valencia, both the Movistar Yamaha and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team will be heading to Malaysia, for a private test at Sepang.

The testing schedule for Yamaha means that Michael van der Mark will not be taking part in the two-day test at Valencia. Yamaha need the resources from the Tech 3 team to assist Maverick Viñales, Valentino Rossi, and Johann Zarco get through their program. "They have so much to test here that they need my team to help prepare everything," Van der Mark told the media on Thursday.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer's Rider Insights On Sepang, Rider Mental Attitude, And Championships

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

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2017 Sepang Moto2 & Moto3 Post-Race Press Releases

Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Sepang:


Franco Morbidelli is the 2017 Moto2 World Champion

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli was crowned the 2017 Moto2 World Champion at the Sepang International Circuit today.

Morbidelli secured the title even before the start of the 20-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.

With Morbidelli’s main rival Tom Lüthi declared unfit on Sunday morning it meant that the 22-year-old Italian could not be beaten for the title.

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