Dani Pedrosa has taken up at the second Sepang MotoGP test where he left off after the first. The Repsol Honda man led for most of the day, having set a fast time fairly early in the morning. His rival at the Factory Yamaha squad did much the same, Jorge Lorenzo taking 2nd a couple of tenths behind Pedrosa.
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 Red Bull KTM team is following the trail blazed by the Repsol Media Service by supplying press release interviews with their riders. Today is the turn of young Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who is racing in Moto3 with the Red Bull KTM team. Khairuddin has been making steady progress since ascending to the Grand Prix paddock, impressing many in 2012 by scoring a pole position and two podiums, his first podium coming at Sepang in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
The opening race weekend of the year was at a freshly-resurfaced Phillip Island, a job that's needed doing for a while that required building an asphalt batching plant on the island. This 3 million Australian dollar undertaking that required 5,000 tonnes of secret Phillip Island recipe asphalt even carried on into the weekend as support staff were seen pumping seams of epoxy resin into newly formed gaps at the edge of the track after the stresses of the first race.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the series organizer, after the first round of WSBK at Phillip Island:
FLASH - Aprilia monopolise the podium with Guintoli on top
Carlos Checa was unable to start race two, moving Eugene Laverty into pole position and promoting Tom Sykes to the front row. Everyone knew how the tyres would work, freeing them up to just get on with the racing.
Running only fifteen laps, the race started late as Araldite was pumped into fresh cracks on some corners; The battle between asphalt and tyre turned out different to expectations in the Superbike race.
Kenan Sofuoglu had his work cut out for him, with Sam Lowes blitzing qualifying. His title defence would start as second-favourite for the race and with the shortened distance, he would have to get a better start than Lowes as if he let the Englishman get the slightest lead, he would never catch him.
Twenty two dry laps in Australia where tyre wear was a concern before the race started, but in the end, the Pirellis lasted the distance.
It feels like a blessing to be able to start a report without having to discuss the weather and how it adversely affected the sessions. Here’s hoping that the rest of the year follows suit as 2012 may have provided us with entertaining weather, it did get a bit much at times, to the point of being dangerous.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the series organizer, after qualifying on Saturday at Phillip Island:
BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team - Phillip Island - Superpole
On Sunday, the World Supersport race will be reduced to a 15-lap race due to concerns over the longevity of the Pirelli tyres available on the resurfaced track. The final qualifying session was completed without any major incidents or stoppages.
This year, only 15 riders qualify for Superpole with three eliminated after the first of the three sessions. This is due to the switch to MotoGP-like three bike wide grids. There are three twelve minute sessions with three riders eliminated after each of the sessions with the last session determining the grid positions for the first three rows. As it was last year, each rider gets two Pirelli qualifying tyres to use across the three sessions.
The session was red-flagged when Leon Haslam's radiator hose split, and there were crashes from Marco Melandri and Michel Fabrizio. Melandri was able to finally get to the top of the timing screen, just before he crashed. Sylvain Guintoli was the only other man in the 1'30s, ahead of Carlos Checa and Tom Sykes. With the Superpole entrants already decided, riders were able to use the session to chase settings. Eugene Laverty, Michel Fabrizio, Leon Camier and Marco Melandri were able to peel off strings of 1'31 laps, with Laverty even recording 15 laps at that pace.
Sam Lowes topped the timing screen again, albeit not with as fast a time as he recorded in timed qualifying, and again Kenan Sofuoglu was the only man able to get close. Michael Van Der Mark shows once again that he was an inspired signing by Honda, while Vladimir Leonov demonstrated that Lowes isn't the only fast Yamana man. Roberto Rolfo again made an unexpected appearance near the top, behind Kevin Coghlan. Fabien Foret was absent from his usual region due to an early crash.