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.
The production racer version of Honda's RC213V is another step closer to reality. At Sepang, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto spoke to reporters and the MotoGP.com website about the new bike, and the progress being made on the machine which will take the place of the CRT machines from 2014 onwards.
The MotoGP teams and Bridgestone issued the following press releases at the end of the three-day test at Sepang:
Pedrosa remains on top as first test comes to an end
The first test of 2013 concluded today with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa maintaining his place at the top of the timing sheet with a time of 2'00.100. Teammate Marc Marquez finished his first test of 2013 in 4th position with a top time of 2'00.636 after experiencing his maiden crash in the premier class.
The Alstare Ducati team have today unveiled their official livery for the 2013 season, and as expected with a team that is so heavily backed by the factory, the predominant color is red. Though the Alstare effort goes without a title sponsor, four sponsors feature prominently. Energy T.I. is an Italian gas and electricity company aimed at the retail market, and also backs Andrea Iannone's half of the Pramac garage in MotoGP. Italian telecoms company TIM have defected from Ducati's MotoGP effort to join the Alstare WSBK team, while battery maker FIAMM also features heavily.
The first test of the 2013 MotoGP season is completed, and Dani Pedrosa has completed a clean sweep, topping the timesheets on all three days. The Repsol Honda man confirmed his role as title favorite by posting a fast lap under the existing pole record set by Jorge Lorenzo last year. He also opened up a serious gap to the trio who have been chasing him all test long, putting nearly a third of a second on Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha man falling just short of his own pole record.
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?
When Suzuki left MotoGP at the end of 2011, it was with a promise to return in 2014. Since then, there have been a string of news stories pointing to an imminent return, with reports gaining a massive boost once (clearly leaked) 'spy shots' of the brand new inline four MotoGP bike Suzuki is working on emerged.
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.
Press releases after the second day of testing for the MotoGP teams at Sepang:
Repsol Honda Team continue to progress in Malaysia
After the second day of the three day test in Sepang, the Repsol Honda Team remain on the top of the time sheets.
Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets once again on the second day of testing at Sepang, the Repsol Honda man getting off to a flying start and cracking into the 2'00s early in the session. He was joined there by Jorge Lorenzo, the Factory Yamaha rider once again shadowing Pedrosa, ending the day just two hundredths behind the Repsol rider. Marc Marquez confirmed his first day times were no fluke, the only other man to post a lap in the 2'00s, though the rookie was a quarter of a second slower than his teammate on Wednesday, losing a fraction of the ground.
It would be one of the larger understatements of the decade to say that the first MotoGP test of the year at Sepang was eagerly anticipated. After the anti-climactic washout that was Valencia, many big questions of the 2013 season had been left hanging in the air over the winter. Given that motorcycle racing fans hate a vacuum even more than Nature does, they filled it, with speculation, conjecture, hyperbole and not a small amount of vitriol.
Press releases issued by Honda, Yamaha, some CRT teams and Bridgestone after the first day of testing at Sepang:
Strong start for Repsol Honda Team in Sepang
The Repsol Honda Team have begun 2013 in the best possible way, with Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez finishing the first day 1st and 3rd respectively.
With the first full day of MotoGP testing behind us, we can start to compare times between this year and last year. Conditions were broadly similar, though as the CRT bikes had done a few laps over the past couple of days, there was slightly more rubber on the track than at the end of January in 2012. But discarding the difference in conditions between the two tests, a pattern emerges from the relative improvement or decline of the various riders.
Dani Pedrosa has ended the first full day of MotoGP testing at Sepang at the top of the timesheets. The Repsol Honda man was fast throughout the day, finally setting a time that would not be beaten with an hour left of the test.
It's nearly time. In a few short hours, the full MotoGP field will roll out onto the track for the first time this year, and the 2013 MotoGP season will officially get underway with preseason testing.