Pedrosa tips his Honda in Turn 1. Nobody is happy with the grip yet, least of all Dani.
Working alone in a quiet garage, Bradl has made substantial progress.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Lorenzo has an easy way about him, and always has a smile for everyone in the briefing.
Pedrosa does not.
The riders testing in Austin will have several advantages when the MotoGP race is held here in April. Track knowledge and baseline setups alone must be worth the expense to ship bikes and crew halfway around the world to this new circuit. But grip remains elusive, despite elevated temperatures from yesterday, holding times to within a few tenths of yesterday's best.
With only a handful of bikes circulating, the riders to a man are acknowledging that lack of grip is holding them back. For the Yamahas, both Lorenzo and Rossi are particularly concerned with exit grip from the circuit's multiple hairpins. For his part, Lorenzo is relatively pleased with a setup breakthrough near the end of yesterday and continues to make progress. Rossi continues to enjoy the circuit, but that has yet to get him into the 2:04's.
The factory Honda riders both noted the slippery track, but their bikes seem to get better acceleration out of the corners, and Marquez continues to work through elbow protectors the way most people use up chewing gum. Pedrosa seemed less than enthused with the morning work, and continues to search for gearbox and suspension issues that will serve as a reference point. Working alone, Bradl is churning through productive laps and he is progressing along with, and sometimes in front of, the HRC machinery.
Yamaha Factory Racing issued the following press release after the first day of testing at Austin:
Yamaha Get Back To Business Texas Style
Austin (Texas, USA), 12th March 2013 - Update at 3pm local time (-6GMT)
Yamaha Factory Racing were back on track today with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi enjoying their first ever Circuit of the Americas (COTA) experience.
The Yamaha riders were at the new track in Texas for day one of the three-day private test. The first sessions were dedicated to learning the track, both Lorenzo and Rossi focusing on understanding the complex 5.5km circuit which has 20 corners and an elevation change of over 41 metres.
As expected, times have dropped substantially since the lunch break here in Austin, where the temperature is flirting with 80 degrees (F). The Hondas have made more progress in the Spring sunshine, with Marquez dropping over 4 seconds from his previous pace. The Yamahas have trimmed their times, but to lesser degrees.
It's already becoming common to see Marc Marquez atop a time sheet, although the gap of nearly half a second to Pedrosa might be worthy of a raised eyebrow or two. Stefan Bradl performed yeoman's work putting his LCR Honda in front of both factory Yamahas for much of the afternoon. A late session charge by Lorenzo carved out .7 seconds of his previous time to salvage Yamaha's position close to the HRC duo.
Today's action has been relatively clean; with so few bikes on COTA's spacious track, there are few conflicts for territory. Earlier in the day Blake Young crashed his Attack Performance CRT bike, but any on-track carnage seems to have only slowed Attack.
Rossi completed 68 laps, with all other factory riders putting in 50-ish laps. It is not for lack of trying that Rossi finds himself well back of the action at what is effectively a neutral site for all participants.
On a breezy morning in Austin, riders logged tentative laps to get a feel for the layout at Circuit of the Americas. Until the sun does more work to counteract the brisk wind, the morning track has been slippery. The riders all seem guardedly positive about the track. Comments range from Jorge's "all the track is tricky" to Marquez's note that the post T1 series of flip-flops are quite challenging. Pedrosa reserved commentary on the layout until he gets more time on a warmer track.
With the 2013 MotoGP season due to start in just four weeks' time, it's time to take a trip down memory lane and get ourselves excited about this season's racing. To do so, over the next few weeks, we will be running an occasional series of shots by MotoMatters.com star shooter Scott Jones, taken at some of the rounds he attended last season. His stunning photos are a reminder of why we love motorcycle racing so much. Remember also to check out the special offers Scott has on signed photos, including riders such as Casey Stoner, Cal Crutchlow and Nicky Hayden. Not long to go now...
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the final day of testing at Sepang:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Sepang:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of the second test at Sepang:
After an absence of some three weeks or so, the MotoGP teams once again return to action at Sepang for the second official test of the preseason. The intervening period has seen a flurry of activity in the factories in Japan and Italy, and at CRT team headquarters around Europe. The data accrued on the first visit to the Malaysian circuit has been analyzed, assessed, and more modifications made and ideas worked out for the second Sepang test. So what can we expect to see in Malaysia for the next three days? And what are the key details to keep an eye on?
The results of the first visit to Sepang went much as expected: Dani Pedrosa continued on the upward path that saw the Repsol Honda rider dominate the second half of the MotoGP season in 2012. Jorge Lorenzo kept Pedrosa honest, the factory Yamaha man sticking close to Pedrosa on all but the last day of the first test. Valentino Rossi demonstrated that he is still competitive, though he conveniently left the question of whether that is going to be good enough for podiums, wins or championships up in the air. Marc Marquez lived up to expectations, though given just how high those expectations were, that is an impressive enough feat on its own. Cal Crutchlow confirmed that he is the best of the rest, though Stefan Bradl ran him close; Bradley Smith made the kind of transition to MotoGP that validated his team boss' faith in the young Briton; and the Ducatis proved just how deep a hole they find themselves in, by finishing the test two seconds or more off the pace.
Joy, determination and despair. If you had to choose three words to describe the first test of the 2013 MotoGP season, these are the words you would choose. Joy: for Valentino Rossi and his crew at finally having a bike that Rossi can ride and his team understand how to work with; for HRC, at seeing both their hopes and their expectations of Marc Marquez' ability confirmed; for Bradley Smith and Michael Laverty, at making such rapid progress on their early days in the class.
Determination: for Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, both working hard at preparing for their assault at a title which either could win. For Marc Marquez, focused on learning everything he can to add the consistency he needs to his raw speed, if he is to match Pedrosa and Lorenzo.
Despair: for the factory Ducati riders. Sepang showed the bike is uncompetitive, and with few avenues left to explore with the machine in its present state, despair at knowing they have many months of hard, dispiriting work ahead of them before they can even start to turn the situation around.
The MotoGP teams and Bridgestone issued the following press releases at the end of the three-day test at Sepang:
So what are we to make of the times posted after the second day of testing at Sepang? The order in which the four 2013 aliens finished was roughly as expected: Dani Pedrosa just edging Jorge Lorenzo, with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi close behind. But did this tell the whole story? Were the times down to a single fast lap by one rider, while the others were grinding out race simulations? Or is the order in which the top four finished an accurate reflection of what we can expect for the 2013 season? Is this just a testing anomaly, or is this a preview of the 2013 Championship standings at the end of the year?
Predicting the championship is a little premature on the basis of just a single day's testing, but there is still sufficient data to start trying to interpret what it all means. Thanks to the fact that the full timesheets of every lap are now available on the MotoGP.com website, we can start to dig into the numbers, and see what patterns emerge.
Just as a reminder, here is how the top four finished:
Times dropped for the MotoGP men on the second day of testing at Sepang, much as you might expect once the riders have had a night's sleep to assimilate what they have learned from the previous day's testing. Comparing the times between the first and second days of testing provides an interesting view of where improvements were found, and who had gained the most between the two days.
The average improvement for all of the riders was around seven tenths of a second between the first and second days, but there were a few truly notable exceptions. The gains - or in some cases, losses - are shown in the two tables below, the first sorted in order of the fastest times set on the second day of testing, the second table sorted by improvement.
Biggest winners of the day are Ben Spies and Colin Edwards, both gaining over two seconds over their times from Tuesday, but as both are suffering with injury - Spies is still coming back from major shoulder surgery at the end of last year, while Edwards suffered a recurrence of a neck problem - there are extra factors at play here.
Press releases after the second day of testing for the MotoGP teams at Sepang: