With the excitement of MotoGP bikes being back on track subsiding to more manageable levels, the riders and teams were back hard at work again on Wednesday. The track had improved sufficiently to see times start to drop to where they might reasonably be expected to be.
With almost everyone at Sepang improving their times on the second day of the MotoGP test, it is once again worth comparing times with test times from the same test last year. Below is both a list containing the full ranking, including times from the second day of the 2011 test at Sepang and the second day of the 2012 Sepang test, and a list showing the amount by which each of the riders have improved.
The Althea Ducati World Superbike team launched their assault on the 2012 World Superbike championship today, announcing new sponsors and a two-man team consisting of 2011 World Superbike champion Carlos Checa and 2011 FIM Superstock 1000 champion Davide Giugliano. After the event, they issued the following press release and photos:
ALTHEA RACING OFFICIALLY PRESENTS ITS 2012 SUPERBIKE TEAM AHEAD OF THE SEASON'S OPENING ROUND
The Yamaha MotoGP team issued a press release in a slightly different form today: A video in which Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis talks about his expectations for 2012. Here's what Jarvis had to say:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Sepang:
Yamaha Keep Up the Pace in Sepang
Yamaha Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies continued to show promising form today in the second day of the Sepang test, the first official 1000cc MotoGP test of 2012. Having spent yesterday getting back into the rhythm of riding, today was spent focusing on comparative testing in a number of areas.
Casey Stoner was back on the bike at Sepang and immediately topped the pile. The Repsol Honda rider got his first taste of the RC213V on Wednesday, after missing the first day of testing with a recurrence of an old back problem, and was soon up to speed, ending the day on top of the timesheets and around three quarters of a second faster than Jorge Lorenzo's best time from Tuesday.
The MotoGP bikes are finally back on track - though it took a little longer than expected, after an overnight rain shower left the track damp in the morning. Much had been expected of this test, and it has delivered already, after just a single day. In fact the test has been almost perfect, real bikes running on a circuit putting an end to the intrigue and subterfuge that play such a major role in every winter break, whilst raising enough new questions to pique the interest of anyone with a passion for motorcycle racing.
The second day of testing at Valencia for the Aspar and Speed Master teams saw all three Aprilia-mounted riders improve their times significantly, despite conditions being much worse. Temperatures dropped significantly from yesterday, and a cold wind picked up making the track too cold to ride during the morning, the riders only taking to the track at noon.
The press releases issued after the first day of testing at Sepang by the MotoGP teams:
Positive Start to 2012 for Yamaha Factory Racing in Sepang
MotoGP 2012 finally got underway today with the first of three days of testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Yamaha Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies took their first ride on the 1000cc YZR-M1 since last year. Both riders blew the cobwebs off quickly and settled down to an impressive pace, Lorenzo proving to be the fastest man on track with his team mate always close behind him.
With the first results of MotoGP testing in 2012 in, it is worth making a comparison with the times from previous times set at Sepang, though just as at Valencia, conditions were hard to compare, as the day started on a damp track. Below is a set of three comparisons, comparing times set during the first day of the 2012 test at Sepang with time set on day 1 of the Sepang test in 2011, and with times set during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix in October, the race that was cancelled after the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli in a second-lap crash.
Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest man after the winter break at Sepang, the factory Yamaha rider the only man to crack the 2'02 barrier. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa ended the day in 2nd, a third of a second behind Lorenzo, while Monster Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow impressed on his return to a MotoGP bike by ending the day in 3rd, over half a second behind Lorenzo, but just ahead of the factory Yamaha of Ben Spies.
So the day that MotoGP fans have been waiting for throughout the long, dark, bikeless winter break has nearly arrived. In a few short hours time, the MotoGP bikes will be tearing up the track in Malaysia once again in preparation for the 2012 season. Indeed, all day Monday, a few MotoGP bikes - the cynics and naysayers would refute that the Aprilia CRT bike is a MotoGP bike, but they are wrong - have been howling round Valencia, but as that is a private test it has not impinged upon the consciousness of MotoGP fans as much as Sepang has.
MotoGP is back at last, and while the factory bikes are being unveiled in the tropical heat of Malaysia, ready for the first day of test at Sepang on Tuesday, the Aprilia CRT bikes of Aspar and Speedmaster took to a much colder track at Valencia. By the end of the first day, Randy de Puniet - who has experience of the bike, having ridden it at Jerez at the end of last year - set the fastest time, with a lap of 1'35.3, his Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro 1.4 seconds behind de Puniet, while Speed Master's Mattia Pasini was 2.5 seconds off the pace of the Frenchman.
With the MotoGP testing season kicking off at Valencia with the private CRT test, and the factory bikes starting on Tuesday at Sepang, Bridgestone issued a press release containing information on their 2012 tires for MotoGP. The tires have been changed from 2011, the carcass is now less rigid with the aim of helping the tires warm up faster and provide better feedback. Only the riders at Sepang will have the new tires for the moment, while the Aprilia CRT bikes will be using the "old" 2012 tires as debuted at Valencia in November.
On the eve of first official Sepang MotoGP test of the year, the Repsol Honda team held the traditional launch of the 2012 season at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, HRC presented the Honda RC213V MotoGP bike, while Casey Stoner unveiled the #1 plate he will be running.
The press release after the launch is below, while the official launch photos (courtesy of Honda Racing) appear underneath the press release:
Repsol Honda Team return to centre stage in Malaysia