At last a full day of testing: though Thursday started out overcast, the rain that threatened through the final day of the Sepang MotoGP test never really came in earnest, with only a few drops of rain keeping the riders off the track for an hour or so in the afternoon. After two days which were largely lost to the weather, worked was stepped up to an almost frantic pace to make up for lost time.
With the three days of testing at the MotoGP class' second visit to Sepang now over, some preliminary conclusions can be drawn on the progress or otherwise that the teams have been making over the course of the two tests. Below are two comparison tables: the first one compares the improvement shown by the riders over the three days of the Sepang 2 test, while the second table compares the best times from the Sepang 1 and Sepang 2 tests, and the difference between the two.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the final day of the Sepang 2 MotoGP test:
Yamaha Complete Successful Second Sepang Test
Yamaha Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies today completed the final session of the three day IRTA test at the Sepang International circuit in Sepang. The second outing for the 2012 1000cc YZR-M1 proved to be a great success with the riders getting the opportunity to work through a number of updates including chassis, electronics and set up in both wet and dry conditions.
Casey Stoner leaves Sepang once more on top of the timesheets, after a brief hiatus on Wednesday. The Australian leads a Repsol Honda one-two, with teammate Dani Pedrosa just under two tenths behind, the Spaniard followed by a veritable Armada of Yamahas. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest of the Yamahas on the satellite machine, just sneaking ahead of Jorge Lorenzo on the factory bike, though Lorenzo spent his day working on a race simulation (completed at an impressively constant and rapid pace) rather than chasing a fast time.
It never rains but it pours. That old proverb applies both literally and metaphorically to the MotoGP test at Sepang, with rain - a solid, heavy, tropical downpour - once again confining the riders to their garages at the Malaysian circuit, for the second day in a row, and severely limiting track time. A couple of good dry hours in the morning, and that was it. From then on, the only testing that went on was in the wet, and though useful, it is not what the MotoGP field came to Malaysia for.
Press releases from the teams that rode on the second day of the MotoGP test at Sepang:
Repsol Honda Team miss today's test but is ready for tomorrow
Due to an engine failure on Dani Pedrosa's RC213V machine yesterday, HRC sent the engine to Japan for analysis.
The feedback after the investigation was positive, however it arrived after lunch when the Sepang circuit was drenched by heavy rain, so unfortunately the Repsol Honda riders were unable to take to the track.
Yamaha's Ben Spies topped the second day of testing at Sepang, but the session was once again badly affected by rain. While vastly improved track conditions in the morning saw most riders take over a second off their times from yesterday, heavy rain started after just a couple of hours, calling a premature halt to the proceedings for everyone. Once the downpour eased off a little, track action resumed as the teams started work on the wet setup of their bikes.
The justification for flying halfway around the world to go testing in Sepang is simple: While Europe is still dealing with the after-effects of winter, plagued by cold, wind and rain, the temperature at Sepang is reliably warm, and despite the usual tropical storms in the afternoon, the chance of having a dry track to test on is very good.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after day 1 of the second test at Sepang. Included is a video lap of the Sepang circuit, shot from on-board Casey Stoner's Honda RC213V:
Casey Stoner sits on top of the timesheets at the end of a weather-affected first day of testing at Sepang. The Repsol Honda man ended the day ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, with the factory Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies behind. Alvaro Bautista put the satellite Gresini Honda into 5th, ahead of Ducati's Nicky Hayden, while Cal Crutchlow ended the session in 7th, just ahead of Valentino Rossi. Pedrosa and Lorenzo were the only riders to get within a second of Stoner's best time, however.
Where the first MotoGP test at Sepang at the end of January was an emotionally-charged affair - returning to the Malaysian circuit for the first time since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, and with massive anticipation of the brand new GP12, designed and built in record tempo over the winter break - the second test there seems almost humdrum in comparison.