2012 Sepang 1 MotoGP Test Day 1 Times: Lorenzo Fastest As CRTs Struggle

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.

The new Ducati GP12 appears to be working well, with Valentino Rossi posting the 5th fastest time, just under three quarters of a second off Lorenzo. The bike - containing what appears to be an engine which has been rotated backwards to make the bike more compact - has been on track only once previously, with Carlos Checa and test rider Franco Battaini at Jerez, and the team will need to work on a lot of data, but the debut appears promising.

Andrea Dovizioso finished the day in 6th, but was later reported as feeling unwell. The Monster Tech 3 man finished just ahead of Hector Barbera on the Pramac Ducati - the satellite Ducatis are basically the same bike as used by Valentino Rossi at the test in Valencia in November - who was in turn just a few hundredths faster than Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, the Yamaha clearly performing well. Alvaro Bautista made a strong debut on the Gresini Honda, finishing in 9th, just ahead of Nicky Hayden on the Marlboro Ducati, the American still suffering after fracturing his shoulder blade in a training accident during the winter.

The main absentee was Casey Stoner. The Australian had an old back injury play up, tweaking the muscles in his back as he warmed up ready for action in the morning. Exactly the same thing happened at Estoril earlier this year, and it took some time for that injury to subside. Stoner spent the day undergoing physiotherapy to relieve the problem.

The bad news at Sepang was for the CRT bikes. Colin Edwards could manage only a 2'08.240 on the BMW Suter, but the Texan was sidelined with electronics problems for part of the day. The BQR bikes of Ivan Silva and Jordi Torres showed the gap that could exist with some of the slowest riders on CRT machinery, with neither man having impressed on a world stage previously, and questions over the suitability of the Kawasaki engine as the basis for a CRT machine. With times that are slower than the Moto2 bikes set during qualifying last October, much progress will be needed. 

Results, courtesy of MotoGP.com:

Pos Rider Team Time Diff. Diff Previous Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 2:01.657     30
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2:02.003 0.346 0.346 48
3 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.221 0.564 0.218 32
4 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 2:02.234 0.577 0.013 28
5 Valentino Rossi Ducati Team 2:02.392 0.735 0.158 43
6 Andrea Dovizioso Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.751 1.094 0.359 20
7 Hector Barbera Pramac Racing Team 2:02.773 1.116 0.022 41
8 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Factory 2:02.829 1.172 0.056 32
9 Alvaro Bautista San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:02.869 1.212 0.040 45
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 2:03.151 1.494 0.282 33
11 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 2:03.668 2.011 0.517 44
12 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 2:03.781 2.124 0.113 45
13 Franco Battaini Ducati Team 2:04.986 3.329 1.205 35
14 Kousuke Akiyoshi Repsol Honda Team 2:07.163 5.506 2.177 4
15 Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2:08.240 6.583 1.077 21
16 Jordi Torres Avintia Racing 2:10.671 9.014 2.431 42
17 Ivan Silva Avintia Racing 2:11.267 9.610 0.596 12

 

2012
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Comments

Spies returns from a long layoff after the concussion he suffered at Sepang last year, which forced him to miss the final race at Valencia

Spies almost won this race, am I right ?

I can't believe I wrote that. I was thinking about injuries, and who had been hurt and when, and got myself confused. Hopefully, this will be the worst mistake of the year, and it won't happen again. I've deleted that sentence now...

with 1 factory Honda on track instead of 4 like last year, Yamaha seems much more competitive ;-)

Good to see Ducati in better shape than last year, but that's the only possibility really.
Anyway that's gonna be exciting if Vale can get in the mix, the more the merrier. We'll have to see how it goes for them in Europe with colder temperatures.

Nakasuga is a really good test rider, only 1 second from Lorenzo!

CRT's prowess will depend first on the riders, as already mentionned BQR riders haven't really had a chance to shine on the world's stage so that's a big ask for them. Obviously "matured" CRT bikes such as ART (most of the CRT) and Suter-BMW will have more chance to challenge the satellite bikes, I believe Colin can improve a great deal and Randy will be there from the start (he will eat up a satellite Duc in the first 3 or 4 GPs).

But to see where everybody stands at this moment, we have to wait up for the last day of this test and see what laptime can run Casey, he is the yardstick for 2012.

The wait is over!

I have to say, I'm stunned that Ducati has had such a solid showing on day 1. For a bike that's 3 months old (much less than that outside of a computer) to be within a second of the fastest time...that's something they really couldn't do all season last year.

The biggest indication for me, however, is Rossi's comments that the base setting is comfortable for him, confidence inspiring. The riding position, the weight distribution, the confidence and feel of the front end...all things they struggled with last year, and all things basically locked to a large extent by the design of the bike and the associated series rules....and all things that seemingly have been improved upon in leaps and bounds.

..and perhaps the most important factor is Rossi's comments that adjustments equated to better lap times. That's the entire point of a base setting, something from which you can improve consistently from track to track, condition to condition.

I'm very excited...and I have to give a nod to Yamaha as well. All but forgotten through the hype of the off-season, and there they are right at the top. And for all of the talk of MX and cross training, Ben Spies did not swing a leg over a motorcycle once since Valencia. Hmmmm. :)

Forty eight laps! More than any other rider. 50% more than Lorenzo or Spies. I know there are many factors that go into the decision to turn laps, including the fact that he may have done some extra data capturing because Stoner was out, but still.

Yes disappointing indeed BigChrome. Seems both were just used as data gathering mules at Valencia.

Perhaps Barbera enthused a little too much about the GP Zero and Abrahams was a little too close to the time of the Nr.1 factory rider.

The factory / satellite distinction is an odd one. Especially given it's the satellite teams that are forking out the big wedge to lease the machines. For a few mill' you'd expect machinery performance parity. More politics at play.