2013 MotoGP Sepang 2 Test, Day 3 Times: Pedrosa Tops Timesheet, But Lorenzo Leaves As Fastest

Dani Pedrosa was once again fastest on the final day of testing at Sepang, topping the timesheets for the fifth time in six total days of testing at Sepang. Though the Repsol Honda man looks to be the preseason favorite so far, he does not leave the test as fastest overall, however. That honor goes to Jorge Lorenzo, who put in a scorching lap on Wednesday to set the fastest time over all three days of the test.

The riders got off to a late start on Thursday, rain meaning that the bulk of the riders kept to their garages until the track started to dry out at the end of the morning. A few men put in laps in the wet, but once the track dried out, enough riders started putting in laps to clean the worst of the dirt left by the rain from the track, though track conditions were never as good as on the first couple of days. Pedrosa soon took charge of proceedings, later knocking another half a second off his time late in the afternoon. Rookie Repsol teammate Marc Marquez impressed yet again, taking 2nd on the timesheets with his very last lap, after the final 30 minutes of the session turned into a qualifying session. Marquez continued to concentrate on learning the ropes on a MotoGP machine, and the longer runs he put in were a little further off the pace of Pedrosa, and still not as consistent as they will need to be, but he proved with his flying lap that he will be starting from the front of the grid by the time the season starts.

Jorge Lorenzo ended the final day of the test with the 3rd fastest time, but leaves Sepang as fastest overall. Lorenzo's best time was over four tenths slower than Pedrosa's on Thursday, but the Spaniard spent the latter part of the day working on race set up, ending the test with a mightily impressive race simulation of 20 laps, 16 of which where in the 2:01s, most of them fast 2:01s. Lorenzo's race simulation follows the pattern from his championship-winning season in 2012, making a very long race simulation to test the bike and himself in punishing conditions. Less characteristic was a mistake the Spaniard made, putting in one lap of 2:05 towards the end, an anomaly among the scorching laps that surround it.

Valentino Rossi leaves the test having achieved his objective - closing the gap on his Factory Yamaha teammate - but he will not be entirely satisfied with the test. The Italian managed his best time during the manic final qualifying session, while Lorenzo had set his best time earlier in the day, and had not bothered with taking a real shot at the best time. Rossi appeared agitated from time to time, as his team chased a set up to match the pace of the front three, Rossi spending a large part of the day around 7th spot, before his last-gasp attempt had seen him jump up to 4th. He leaves the test as 5th overall, behind Cal Crutchlow, a slightly worrying development for the Italian.

Crutchlow may have been 4th fastest overall, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man could not quite match the pace of Alvaro Bautista on Thursday, the Go&Fun Gresini Honda rider finding settings on the new Showa suspension he is using to grab an impressive 5th slot. Bautista appears to be making progress with the Showa, which he is developing at the request of HRC in return for factory support - and, some Spanish sources are reporting, a contract extension through 2014. Cal Crutchlow, the man behind Alvaro Bautista, would have been delighted to have something to test, the Englishman hoping to assist the Yamaha program in developing the bike, but having only his satellite spec machine to fine tune. 

Behind Stefan Bradl, who finished the final day and the overall test in 7th, there were more positive signs from Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso cut the gap to Pedrosa back to just over a second, though he could only manage a single lap in the 2:01s. Dovizioso spent most of the day on the bike with revised weight distribution, the tank having been relocated under the seat, as is the practice on the Japanese bikes, but he also took the laboratory bike being tested by Michele Pirro out for a spin. That bike has bigger changes, including a lower exhaust relocated to be under the belly pan, presumably in an attempt to move more weight to the center of the bike, and lower. The altered exhaust would also change the power delivery, but there were few visual cues from the rear exhaust, which still exits from the tail, betray exactly what they had done.

MotoGP's other two rookies also made progress, Andrea Iannone coming on in leaps and bounds on the Ducati, ending the day just two seconds off Pedrosa, while Bradley Smith is 1.7 seconds off the pace of the Repsol Honda man. Though Smith is making steps forward on the Tech 3 Yamaha, he is starting to lag behind where Stefan Bradl was at a comparable stage last year.

Of the CRT bikes, it was Randy de Puniet who bested his teammate for the first time during testing, the Aspar rider getting within a respectable 2.3 seconds of Pedrosa, and finishing ahead of Ben Spies on the second Pramac Ducati. Spies has had a difficult second test, finishing 14th on the final day of the test and a worrying 16th overall, behind both Aspar Aprilia men on CRT bikes, and Yamaha test rider Katsayuki Nakasuga. Either Spies' shoulder is still preventing him from riding as he would like to, or he is having more trouble adapting to the Ducati than he had hoped.

Testing is now complete at Sepang, and the teams now head back to Europe. Most will reassemble at Jerez, for the final official IRTA test at the end of March, but the factory Yamaha and Honda teams - along with LCR's Stefan Bradl - will assemble at Austin on March 12th for three extra days of testing at the American circuit. Ducati will not attend, team boss Paolo Ciabatti complaining to German website Speedweek that the astronomical cost - the test is said to be costing Yamaha 350,000 euros for the three days at the circuit - made a laughing stock at other attempts to cut the costs in the series. Yamaha are believed to feel they have no choice, not being able to afford to arrive at the circuit with no experience, and giving Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez an advantage they can ill-afford to sacrifice.

Times at the end of day 3:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Prev.
1 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.562    
2 93 Marc Marquez Honda 2:00.643 0.081 0.081
3 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.992 0.430 0.349
4 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2:01.062 0.500 0.070
5 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.078 0.516 0.016
6 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:01.094 0.532 0.016
7 6 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:01.309 0.747 0.215
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2:01.650 1.088 0.341
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:02.070 1.508 0.420
10 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 2:02.314 1.752 0.244
11 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 2:02.566 2.004 0.252
12 51 Michele Pirro Ducati Test 2:02.773 2.211 0.207
13 14 Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2:02.863 2.301 0.090
14 11 Ben Spies Ducati 2:03.055 2.493 0.192
15 T1 Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha Test 2:03.154 2.592 0.099
16 8 Hector Barbera FTR Kawasaki 2:03.155 2.593 0.001
17 T2 Katsayuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:03.257 2.695 0.102
18 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia ART 2:03.423 2.861 0.166
19 17 Karel Abraham Aprilia ART 2:04.066 3.504 0.643
20 5 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki 2:04.102 3.540 0.036
21 7 Hiroshi Aoyama FTR Kawasaki 2:04.512 3.950 0.410
22 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:04.546 3.984 0.034
23 52 Lukas Pesek Suter BMW 2:04.674 4.112 0.128
24 9 Danilo Petrucci Suter BMW 2:04.686 4.124 0.012
25 71 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki 2:04.718 4.156 0.032
26 68 Yonny Hernandez Aprilia ART 2:04.722 4.160 0.004
27 37 Takumi Takahashi Honda Test 2:04.749 4.187 0.027
28 67 Bryan Staring FTR Honda 2:05.313 4.751 0.564

Overall times from all three days:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Prev. Day
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.282     Day 2
2 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.562 0.280 0.280 Day 3
3 93 Marc Marquez Honda 2:00.643 0.361 0.081 Day 3
4 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:00.907 0.625 0.264 Day 2
5 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2:01.062 0.780 0.155 Day 3
6 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.078 0.796 0.016 Day 3
7 6 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:01.309 1.027 0.231 Day 3
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2:01.650 1.368 0.341 Day 3
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:01.778 1.496 0.128 Day 2
10 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 2:02.023 1.741 0.245 Day 2
11 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 2:02.566 2.284 0.543 Day 3
12 51 Michele Pirro Ducati Test 2:02.773 2.491 0.207 Day 3
13 14 Randy de Puniet Aprilia ART 2:02.863 2.581 0.090 Day 3
14 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia ART 2:02.905 2.623 0.042 Day 2
15 T2 Katsayuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:02.946 2.664 0.041 Day 2
16 11 Ben Spies Ducati 2:03.055 2.773 0.109 Day 3
17 8 Hector Barbera FTR Kawasaki 2:03.155 2.873 0.100 Day 3
18 T1 Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha Test 2:03.257 2.975 0.102 Day 3
19 7 Hiroshi Aoyama FTR Kawasaki 2:03.990 3.708 0.733 Day 2
20 17 Karel Abraham Aprilia ART 2:04.066 3.784 0.076 Day 3
21 5 Colin Edwards FTR Kawasaki 2:04.102 3.820 0.036 Day 3
22 9 Danilo Petrucci Suter BMW 2:04.279 3.997 0.177 Day 2
23 37 Takumi Takahashi Honda Test 2:04.512 4.230 0.233 Day 2
24 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:04.546 4.264 0.034 Day 3
25 68 Yonny Hernandez Aprilia ART 2:04.671 4.389 0.125 Day 2
26 52 Lukas Pesek Suter BMW 2:04.674 4.392 0.003 Day 3
27 71 Claudio Corti FTR Kawasaki 2:04.709 4.427 0.035 Day 2
28 67 Bryan Staring FTR Honda 2:05.313 5.031 0.604 Day 3

Lap records and times from previous Sepang tests:

2013 Sepang 1 test Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.100
2007 Race record Casey Stoner Ducati 2:02.108
2012 Pole record Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.334
2012 Sepang 2 test Casey Stoner Honda 2:00.473

 

2013
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Comments

Jorge's problem is that he was devastatingly metronomic in the second half of last season and he got hammered and I haven't seen anything this test that makes him look any closer. I suspect his bike is as sorted as it will get without upgrades.... Dani not showing his true pace as usual, though Marquez isn't helping his sandbagging by showing just how quick the honda is with a rookie on board, albeit a very good one. Yamaha I suspect have quite a bit of work to do. Dani's poor start last year saved them, 2nd place won't be enough for Jorge this season, it might not even be possible.. Good work from Cal again and hope he can translate it into race pace this year. Rossi needs not to get frustrated if Jorge's bike doesn't come to him immediately he's not at Ducati now there will be a fix.
As for Ducati, was Dani pushing to the limit the way casey does?? probably not, I suspect they are slightly further away than last year in reality even with Dovis new frame(surely not done in a fortnight?). Hope they make progress for the sake of Motogp.

Yamaha should be concerned. Pedrosa has been testing suspension, electronics, and I don't think he's been concerned with lap times yet. HRC have done their homework, and Yamaha haven't closed the gap from latter 2012 - 2013. They are going to need that seamless gearbox to compete with Honda out of the corners.

Dani knows this year is his best chance to grab a title. His team mate will need a year to acclimate and he has the better bike to start the season with. Yamaha shouldn't panic but they should be slightly worried.

Dani may or may-not be sandbagging, but they are carrying extra weight from last year, which would have some effect on lap times. Casey's lap from 2012 Sepang-1 still stands as the marker, but even he couldn't duplicate that, after the "surprise" changes.

"Ducati will not attend, team boss Paolo Ciabatti complaining to German website Speedweek that the astronomical cost - the test is said to be costing Yamaha 350,000 euros for the three days at the circuit - made a laughing stock at other attempts to cut the costs in the series."

+1. The cost of this test alone would nearly pay for one of the Honda proddie racers.

I think Yamaha should start to look deeper. Their chassis seems to work fine corner wise. But acceleration is all Honda territory. They get off the corners and make the Yamaha look slow. Lorenzo and Rossi spoke about this. Lorenzo wants more power, Rossi says more traction is needed for the acceleration. It is probably the only weakness of the Yamaha. A seamless gearbox would seem to be the cheapest way to resolve the issue, (compared to developing a more powerful engine), but I will wait to see the yamaha vs honda on a straigt together. Honda seem to as good or very close to Yamaha in the corners, so when they accelerate out the yamahas just start losing ground.

Just what I have seen from my couch chomping on various junk food that us Americans get fat off of.

I have put all the best times from the 6 days of testing this year compared to the 6 days in 2012 testing. I will leave it to everyone to comment.

  2013   2012   Variation
Casey Stoner Honda   Honda 1.59.607
Dani Pedrosa Honda 2.00.100 Honda 2.00.256 -0.156
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2.00.282 Yamaha 2.00.198 +0.184
Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2.00.542 Ducati 2.00.824 -0.282
Marc Marquez Honda 2.00.636 Honda
Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2.00.734 Yamaha 2.00.986 -0.252
Alvaro Bautista Honda 2.01.078 Honda 2.01.275 -0.197
Stefan Bradl Honda 2.01.389 Honda 2.01.894 -0.505
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 2.01.650 Yamaha 2.00.802 +0.848
Nicky Hayden Ducati 2.01.778 Ducati 2.01.609 -0.169
Bradley Smith Yamaha 2.02.023 Yamaha
Andrea Iannone Ducati 2.02.566 Ducati
Ben Spies Ducati 2.03.002 Ducati 2.00.495 +2.507

For better formatting go link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aihk1aFX6uGsdEE4TVFSaTBoWW1...

Editor's note: added formatting. Thanks for the times!

Spies on a Ducati in 2012? Wow that's why it was always breaking down ... they thought it was a Yamaha!!! :)

I am with many others re appreciating the quality of multiple perspectives here. Thanks folks. I am less interested in my perspective than thoughtful exploration. Whorida, chomping couch snacks with you my friend.
Jerez remains the season opener in my mind, more of what is actually going on for the season. Now this first GP at Austin/COTA on the other hand, we are in for something really special there potentially. An old racer buddy of mine is there this wknd doing timing and scoring (hi Brad #62!). COTA is quite a roller coaster and sure to become a rider favorite. Keep an eye on the hill of T1, and the tight S's of T4-T7. This place is the real deal. New track will bring out some surprises of course.
Back to the 'actual' picture of the bikes and season we might see at Jerez, there is so much to be seen in the braking zones & entry...the drive out of Sito Pons (how much motor HAS yamaha developed this season?). Then can the braking stability and turn in of the Yamaha be exploited well such that Lorenzo can keep a 'dry sack' in his leathers? Those last 3 corners will illuminate a lot too, and drive onto the straight.
Pondering: where has Pedrisa's racecraft gotten to? With multiple riders pressuring from the rear? It has been a LONG time since the old 250 scrapping days and it isn't clear to me that Pedrosa can outdo Lorenzo in a scrap esp one with a 3rd rider upsetting the applecart.
Bricktop I agree w you that the gearbox upgrade would be an important development for Yamaha now. Also love your call that Preziosi will be grabbed up by Aprillia. Awkward and unfortunate that he is an all out pariah at Ducati now, as there is clearly more to it than just he dragging them down. A slow and unenlightened response to spec tires after the B-stone marraige was so strong for them. Same re an attachment to Stoner's outlayer of a performance w their bike fostering adherence to their chassis development/power delivery development strategy. I would not want to stick around there either!
The Audi/Ducati 'we will have slow steady development unlike last year' might not be the case, eh? Good job with gains at Sepang! Dovi ahead of Hayden already? And lapping on a development bike with multiple (while focused) changes? Don't abandon belief in Ducati just yet.
This Honda vs Yamaha approach re development and support w satellite teams is compelling. Bradl going to practice at COTA on strong equipment. Beautista development help. Contrast this with the uncapitalized upon resources Crutchlow could bring the factory wih a strengened relationship w the satellite team. Remember Guintoli spinning around at the back on Dunlops? Totally uneccessary lose-lose situation. Let's hope the economy of scale available w Ducati's new Jr team plan shows a lesson for Yamaha. Spies and his disaster transition to the factory comes to mind as reflective of this unfortunate dynamic. That is one outlayer I will perhaos never comprehend.

(Good lord, typing on my phone is like...riding Edward's CRT bike?).
Awaiting more comparison of Marquez's rookie season to Lorenzo's. Lorenzo's rookie season is a really interesting one. And his 'constitution' as a racer compared to say, Pedrosa's. Look at the dramatically different trajectory of their evolution as a rider. Pedro's constitution is one of a steady building. He has even kept his father figure around with him in the pits. Contrast this with Lorenzo, who entered the GP with hubris. Will Marquez end up with a 'gold helmet' period like the brash Lorenzo? He is showing great flexibility and passion, riding from the heart. Has Pedro steadily built his fire to blaze now, and when specifically needed as moments demand? Lorenzo's prideful flaring head of fire has wonderfully sublimated...look at his unparralleled precision! A clock. And here comes the hearts of last passionate surge Rossi and fresh glowing Marquez. We get to see a rare treat here. A focused passionate Rossi is a joy to behold. Interesting tale beginning here for the season.
Last thougt coming to mind is an agreement re Yamaha's need for concern. Last year the softer compounds Bstone provided brought quite a nasty chatter to the Honda, and that sort of outlayer is nowhere to be seen for 2013.

Paolo Ciabatti has a point re alleged money saving. Testing on three continents! WTF? Carbon brakes, corner by corner traction control (also of no use to anyone else), vast hospitality suites, seemless shift gearboxes and so much more. Bunging a few back markers on and calling it saving money does not make it so.

The primary problem it seems is that Honda simply don't want to spend less. They have a reputation for great tech but really the reputation should be for being able to out-spend the other teams. It has been so for decades. Yamaha either don't want to spend less or, as seems more likely, can't afford not to if they want to compete with their long time arch rival.

(sorry drifted a bit off topic!)