What did we learn from the first day of testing at Sepang? Exactly what we expected to learn. Some riders have adapted quickly, others less quickly. The Michelins have made a big step forward, and the teams have started to understand the Michelin tires better. The spec electronics still need plenty of work, but are pretty usable in their current form (and well liked by the riders). Yamaha and Ducati have adapted well, Honda not very well at all, with the possible exception of Dani Pedrosa.
Press releases after the first day of testing at Sepang:
Tech3 pair back on track as 2016 preparation kicks off
Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith were back on board their Yamaha YZR-M1’s today at the first day of action in Malaysia as they rode their first laps of the year after the winter break which lasted for two months. Both riders eagerly began working on setting up this year’s Yamaha MotoGP bike together with the new electronics package and the Michelin tyres, with the opening findings being positive.
Final times at the end of testing on Monday:
Testing continues at Sepang, though the teams have now all stopped for lunch, and to sit out the intense heat of the middle of the day. There are a few changes at the top of the standings, the most significant being the influx of Ducatis into the top of the timesheets. Jorge Lorenzo leads, though, with an impressive time nearly a second faster than the rest of the field. In second place, Danilo Petrucci has put on an imposing showing on the Pramac Ducati, leading the factory bike of Andrea Iannone.
The 2016 MotoGP season is now well underway, with bikes on track for the last two hours, under clear skies and hot temperatures. Despite the major changes in technical regulations, the top four remain exactly the same. Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo leads, the Movistar Yamaha rider the only man to get into the 2'01s. Dani Pedrosa leads the Repsol Honda pairing, three tenths behind Lorenzo and three tenths ahead of Marc Marquez, while Valentino Rossi rounds out the top four, 0.840 behind his Yamaha teammate.
The hour of truth is at hand. On Monday morning, MotoGP fans will get their very first look at how the 2016 season is really going to look like. We got a glimpse at Valencia, but it was not a uniform picture. Though the 2016 electronics and Michelin tires made their debut at the two-day test after the final race of 2015, there were still too many variables. Everyone was on the Michelins, but some riders were on the spec electronics, others were on the old proprietary software they had been using for the 2015 season, and the factory teams were using a mixture of both.
Press release previews of the Sepang MotoGP test from Avintia Ducati and Repsol Honda:
Repsol Honda Team ready to start the first pre-season test session in Sepang
The first official test of 2016 will start tomorrow at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit where Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are looking forward to getting back in action on their RC213V after two months of test ban.
Ducati issued the following press release after Michele Pirro completed the second day of Ducati's private test at Sepang, in preparation for the main test which starts on Monday:
Michele Pirro continues development work for Ducati Team at Sepang
Casey Stoner's return as a test rider for Ducati has captured the imagination of fans and generated a huge amount of attention from the media. Given Stoner's role at Ducati is one of both test rider and brand ambassador, his return can be judged a success, no matter what the times set on the track.
Stoner spoke to the media after the first day of the private test at Sepang, used by the factories to prepare for the main test which starts on Monday. Being a private test, rather than an official MotoGP test run by Dorna and IRTA, Dorna do not hold the exclusive video and audio rights at the test. This allowed our enterprising friends over at GPOne.com to video the entire media debrief, where Stoner spoke the press present at the track.
Casey Stoner got the first testing miles of his return to Ducati under his belt on Saturday. The Australian started slowly and steadily doing a lot of short runs to get a feel for the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, on which he spent most of the day, before upping the pace later in the afternoon. Journalists present at the test said Stoner looked a little stiff in his early laps, not getting either elbow or knee down, but soon started to relax, and look more like his old self.