In the heat of the afternoon, the riders who haven't already packed up and gone home are trying race simulations, or at least longer runs. At Yamaha, meanwhile, Maverick Viñales will be getting to test the new holeshot device which has previously been tried by the test team.
Not much has changed on the last day of the Sepang MotoGP test since noon, despite a flurry of activity on the track. That looks like being the last burst of real activity, as teams start to pack up and head toward the airport. At 2pm, there are only a few riders putting in race simulations in the heat, including Jack Miller, Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo.
The final day of the test has started in ideal conditions, with cool track temperatures and almost the entire grid out on track. Fabio Quartararo is once again fastest, dipping ever closer to his pole record set at the race last year. Cal Crutchlow is second, under a tenth behind the Petronas Yamaha rider, and just ahead of Alex Rins on the Suzuki.
It is becoming a familiar pattern. Whenever MotoGP bikes gather for a timed session, Fabio Quartararo usually finds a way to get his name to the top of the list. Usually by using the cunning strategy of riding his motorcycle that little bit faster than anyone else. It happened with increasing frequency during the 2019 season. It happened again on the first day of the Sepang test in 2020. And it was no different on the second day.
It didn't look that way at the start of Quartararo's first day on the Factory Spec Yamaha M1. (As I explained to MotoMatters.com subscribers on Thursday, there are now two different specifications of Yamaha M1 – the Factory Spec ridden by Quartararo, Maverick Viñales, and Valentino Rossi; and the A Spec, ridden by Franco Morbidelli.) For most of the day, Quartararo's name was some way down the timesheets. But at the end of the day, as track temperatures dropped back into the zone where grip makes a reappearance, Quartararo banged out a lap faster than the rest, leapfrogging past Jack Miller to finish the day as fastest.
Times plummeted at the end of the second day of testing at Sepang, the riders using the cooler temperatures and ideal track conditions to chase a quick time at the end of the day. Fabio Quartararo came out on top, setting the quickest time of the day and coming up a quarter of a second short of his own qualifying record. The Petronas Yamaha rider spent almost all of his day on the 2020 Factory Spec Yamaha M1, and set his quickest time on the bike.
The riders have restarted after taking a long break to avoid the extreme heat of the afternoon. So far, there have been no real changes. Jack Miller still leads, ahead of Joan Mir, Franco Morbidelli, and Maverick Viñales. The riders have two more hours to finish their test program, and with the weather looking like it will cooperate, they should get all their testing done.
Times at 4pm:
Times at 2pm:
One of the most keenly watched figures at the Sepang MotoGP test is the top speed of the Yamahas. That was the reason that Yamaha couldn't compete at a number of circuits. Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo found themselves coming up short against Marc Marquez in a number of races, Marquez using the speed of the Honda to drive past the Yamahas, or stay with them, at crucial points, negating the superior handling of the Yamaha.
So all eyes in Sepang are on the top speed figures of the Yamaha. Have they improved enough to be competitive?
But how important is top speed really? Even Gigi Dall'Igna, MotoGP's unofficial king of horsepower, is aware of the limits power can bring. It is an advantage, but only as an added extra. "It’s important to have the power in the pocket," Dall'Igna said at the launch of Ducati's 2020 MotoGP project. "When you have it in the pocket you can make the decision if you want to use it or not. If you don’t have the horsepower in the pocket then you cannot use that."
Jack Miller is currently fastest as noon approaches at Sepang, the Pramac Ducati rider demonstrating the sheer outright speed of the Desmosedici GP20, clocking a top speed of 338.5 km/h, nearly 7 km/h quicker than Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati.
The first day back after the winter break is always tricky. Bodies are sore after riding a MotoGP bike for the first time. That uses muscles which are impossible to train, and so soreness quickly sets in. Then there are the unforeseen hiccups which always arise when prototype machinery first hits the track. Parts don't quite work as expected, they don't fit as easily and as quickly as hoped, and there is always a nasty surprise lurking somewhere. But then again, that's why you go testing, to iron out the details before racing starts in earnest.
Andrea Dovizioso was just one of many riders hindered by such hiccups. "The first day you have to try a few things and a few things can happen which make you lose time," the Italian said. "You can't follow exactly the plan. That's what happened today. It didn't work a lot but we had to fix a few small problems – nothing bad."
Or it can rain. As it did for an hour in the afternoon, and then again shortly before the end of the test. With the track taking time to dry, that meant the riders lost probably two and a half hours of track time on Friday. But all of these things are just a part of testing, and something everyone has to deal with.
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