2014 MotoGP Sepang 1 Day 3 Times at 2pm: Marquez Posts Fastest Ever Lap Around Sepang

Halfway through the final day of testing at Sepang, and the track has fallen silent as most of the riders break for lunch. The only man disturbing the peace is Michele Pirro, grinding out the hard yards in the heat of the day, earning his keep as Ducati's test rider the hard way.

The day started bright, early and fast. Almost the entire grid went for a time attack in the first half hour after the track was open. Times tumbled, with Marc Marquez walking away with the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the circuit, setting a time of 1'59.533 and smashing Casey Stoner's record here from 2011. Marquez was not the only man under the two-minute mark, though, being joined by Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and the increasingly impressive Aleix Espargaro on the Open class NGM Forward Yamaha FTR. 

Aleix Espargaro was not the only rider to impress. Andrea Dovizioso set the fastest time by a Ducati around circuit, a couple of tenths quicker than Casey Stoner's best time from 2010. Pol Espargaro is making a strong debut at Sepang, just over a second off the leaders in 8th, while Nicky Hayden has cut his deficit to Marquez by another half a second, and eight tenths quicker than his fastest time of Wednesday.

After the early attack, several riders started a long test run, pounding out a lot of laps. Here, too, Marquez had the upper hand, running for 15 or more laps at a pace in the low 2'00. More people are expect to work on tire endurance in the afternoon, all trying long runs. The riders are also testing the new communication lights, with the circuit flags now being shown on riders' dashboards via a system of signal lights. First impressions of the system were positive on Wednesday, once it was up and running, but a more complete evaluation should be completed by the end of the day.

Times at 2pm:

Pos No   Rider Time Diff Diff previous
1 93 Marc Marquez Honda RC213V 1:59.533    
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 1:59.727 0.194 0.194
3 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1 1:59.866 0.333 0.139
4 41 Aleix Espargaro Yamaha FTR Open 1:59.998 0.465 0.132
5 6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 2:00.112 0.579 0.114
6 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2:00.223 0.690 0.111
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP14 2:00.370 0.837 0.147
8 41 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1 2:00.655 1.122 0.285
9 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP14 2:00.725 1.192 0.070
10 19 Alvaro Bautista Honda RC213V 2:00.788 1.255 0.063
11 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1 2:00.896 1.363 0.108
12 35 Cal Crutchlow Ducati GP14 2:01.060 1.527 0.164
13 69 Nicky Hayden Honda RCV1000R Open 2:01.514 1.981 0.454
14 51 Michele Pirro Ducati GP14 Test 2:01.782 2.249 0.268
15 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha FTR Open 2:02.292 2.759 0.510
16 14 Randy De Puniet Suzuki Test 2:02.486 2.953 0.194
17 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP13 Open 2:02.556 3.023 0.070
18 72 Kosuke Akiyoshi Honda RC213V Test 2:02.619 3.086 0.063
19 89 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha M1 Test 2:02.788 3.255 0.169
20 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda RCV1000R Open 2:02.819 3.286 0.031
21 45 Scott Redding Honda RCV1000R Open 2:02.973 3.440 0.154
22 70 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 2:03.187 3.654 0.214
23 8 Hector Barbera Avintia Kawasaki 2:03.444 3.911 0.257
24 23 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 2:03.810 4.277 0.366
25 63 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Kawasaki 2:04.516 4.983 0.706
26 17 Karel Abraham Honda RCV1000R Open 2:05.974 6.441 1.458


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Brilliant news for Ducati, Gig Dall'Igna seems to have made an impact already. Great news for the championship at last(be good to see Stoner back on it next year, dream on). Whilst there are many factors yet to play, the extra gallon of fuel in the open yam costing next to nothing seems to have got the bike quicker than the factories(Not convinced that Espagaro is suddenly better than Rossi and Lorenzo but on lesser equipment, yet.) The amount of money and resources wasted on saving a minimal amount of fuel when a honda fire blade does half the miles to the gallon of a BMW 318d that carries five passages seems rather idiotic. Honda's superbike, designed to deliberately go slowly is also slightly depressing, are they really all powerful? Go the old guy..

Stoner and Pedrosa were the only 2 riders to ever cross the 2'00 barrier at Sepang, today we got 4 including 3 Yamahas and that is a first for Iwata (without even mentioning the Open M1 of Aleix Espargaro!)

Hayden is progressing well on the RCV1000R and is now less than 2 seconds away from Marquez, it will be interesting to see if the improvement goes on at Sepang 2.
Regarding Open RCV1000R VS Open M1, that's A. Espargaro that is making a huge difference, Nicky is already faster on the Honda than Colin on the Yamaha but Aleix seems untouchable...he looks like the Stoner of CRT/Open, give him a bike, he'll ride it 1 second faster than his teammate.

And for 7 hundredths, I wouldn't say that Stoner's 2012 laptime has been smashed ;-)

If the 2013 Satellite-spec Yamaha M1 (that's essentially what Aleix is riding) with spec software can do laptimes within half a second of Marquez. Yamaha MUST be intrigued by the thought of using the 2014 M1 with the spec software.

Factory M1 with 2014 upgrades + seamless gearbox + 12 (unfrozen) engines + 24 liters + Lorenzo's talent = surefire Honda beater?

I don't think Yamaha has time to make a switch this year. This is for 2 reasons :
1. A section of people will say that they did it only because they couldn't fight against Honda on equal terms. This hurts their credibility.

2. Some of the critical factory Yamaha components are not built to work with the spec ECU (seamless shifter for example). The tank will need to be redesigned and things have to be moved/tweaked accordingly. Doing all this will take precious days and Yamaha will not have a chance to validate if it actually works (the last date to decide is 28th Feb).

But I think there is a plausible (and quite frankly a genius) workaround for this and it goes something like this :
1. Sign A. Espargaro for 2015-16. (He's a super hot property and has proven his talent)
2. Assure him a factory (or factory supported satellite) bike for 2015 and 2016.
3. Use Espargaro as a test mule in 2014. Give him a full-fat 2014 M1 running spec ECU and 24 liters.

What Yamaha gets :
- they can refine their "open" bike and prepare for going open class in 2015.
- Aleix Espargaro, who should be on everyone's Radar right about now.

What Espargaro gets :
- A better(??) bike this season
- A factory ride for the next 2 seasons

It's a complete no-brainer for both. You're welcome, YFR... and I am available for that opening as a consultant. ;)

It's even more complicated than that. How do they protect proprietary technology? Forward is a partner today, but who knows in a few years. Tech 3 would be best suited for this experiment, based on trust and loyalty.

The soft tires are the reason for the bike to be going so fast (in addition to it being a fully sorted factory developed bike and AE being the rider). If you look at AE's times his fast lap is over 1/2 sec in front of his next fast lap and the consistency of the aliens is not there. (yet?) The big point is the tire life is also far from sufficient for a race at that pace while the aliens are doing simulations with small variance.

Bridgestone Motorsport manager Hiroshi Yamada: "So we would like to supply same specification to all machines. However Dorna asked us to keep some advantage for the Open category."

So this is not a comparison between different bikes and ECU/ fuel strategies, it is an investigation on how tires limit lap times. The issue to be determined is whether a tire soft enough to give an advantage to the relatively weak engined proddie Honda, ART, and Kawis will last long enough with a M1 engine and crude electronics. You only have to look at WSBK where Kawasaki were able to tame their tire eating bike through electronics development to know the value of advanced electronics' ability to optimize tire use. That ability is very limited when using spec software.

>>Factory M1 with 2014 upgrades + seamless gearbox + 12 (unfrozen) engines + 24 liters + Lorenzo's talent = surefire Honda beater?

The Dorna software won't support a seamless shift trans. And if you put all the competitors on the same level of equipment the 3 or 4 top riders will still run away with it so this is all much ado for little change in the status.

And it's the tires.


Yes, they have finally caught up to four years old mark that was set on a 800. While the rest of the field is still the old one second +- in front of them.

Nice to see that Valentino is up to pace, right in front.
Agree with Hugelean what he say about Honda...! Lets hope that Yamaha can find solution for 20 litres, otherwise could be better to switch for "open". Aleix shows that its possible to be fast even without so much sophisticated electronics software.

Nakamoto is going to have a heart attack. Aleix proving all his crap wrong. Namely fuel and electronics! Please po' mo' salt in the wound Aleix.

Bring in the old two strokes with the current tyre technology and no electronic crap on the bikes and we can start racing again with or without Honda. Before anyone gets anoyed by this statement, no I ride myself a Honda but it is indeed a two stroke ;-)

Honda: if our bike is out the front, the rules are great - after all, we wrote them.

... i don't think HRC / Nakamoto will be TOO worried. They'll no doubt just relax some of the restrictions on the RCV1000R if it gets to embarassing.

Whether Marquez did this lap time on the 2013 bike or the 2014 bike? Was he using the new Bridgestones? I'm over the moon for Aleix. I bet Colin Edwards is gutted though.

Great to see 4 bikes going under the 2 min barrier. But as ever, it's day 3 of the first test of the year. Let's not get too carried away. Looking forwards to interviews later to see what the riders make of it all. I'm guessing Valentino will be "very 'appy", surprised that Dani's not gone sub 2mins though..

Over 2 seconds slower than your rookie teammate? I guess he doesn't need your development experience after all. I'm tired of waiting for you to pull the pin. Move over and let Yonny take over.

David, do you know if this was done on the new spec Bridgestones as well?

.. and I've been wondering if the M1 open would be a weapon for a little while now.

The major problem Jorge is having is fuel-related and with the open bikes that problem doesn't exist.

The 2013 spec chassis is still a pretty awesome bike. Sure the electronics aren't as complex, but without the artificially low fuel limit they probably don't need to be.

It would not surprise me at all to see Aleix on the podium several times this season.

I've read that the FTR-M1 is using a M1 frame, swing arm and factory suspension, is that so? Also read on another site that Yamaha is only supplying 5 engines per bike to NGM. I thought NGM bikes were open class which get 12 engines. So are the NGM bikes really the same as the factory machines with some different body panels?

Essentially yes, it is. Because really, what's prototype on a factory bike? Engine, frame, electronics. Everything else - brakes, suspension, wheels, tires, is largely from the same suppliers for all bikes.

Aleix is simply showing that a good rider is just as capable of controlling a motorcycle as the electronics are. You have to wonder if the electronics are actually hampering Lorenzo's and Rossi's ability to go faster.

>>Aleix is simply showing that a good rider is just as capable of controlling a motorcycle as the electronics are.

No, as good as AE's performance is a large part of it is due to the soft rear tire that the Open bikes can use. The problem is that tire may not last race distance with the additional power of a factory GP engine. AE has already expressed concern about wear even on his short stints.

>>You have to wonder if the electronics are actually hampering Lorenzo's and Rossi's ability to go faster.

No, you don't. Give them the soft tire and the gap would be back to 1+ second.


If I'm not mistaken these fives engines can rotate back to the factory for service at additional costs. If that is indeed the case, these five engines can easily be translated to ten or twelve. The key to the 5 engine rules is that the factories cannot break them open for service, introduce a new version.

I have read that the five engines (per bike) that Yamaha has leased to NGM are made up of 3 new engines and 2 rebuilds which seems to preclude additional rebuilds by Yamaha.
Also, I was under the impression that FTR was a frame builder. If that is correct why would they use an M1 frame on their bike? Any answers for me David?

I am not David and your question was days aho but on the off chance you return:

Yes FTR are a frame builder but as Motomatters reported at the time, the issue is time or rather lack of it. The specifications of machines by Yamaha and Honda, coupled with teams' funding and choices led to FTR sayong they had run out of time. In response Yamaha initially said they would help with the chassis which later changed to essentially giving them a chassis too.

The only bit I am still uncertain about is whether it is FTR built to Yamaha specs or simply a Yamaha frame.

On another note, I'm very glad that this seemingly simple technology has finally been implemented! Seems like a no brainer to me.
Although the tension of waiting to see if a rider will miss his drive thru penalty will be absent, potential dangers like Marquez' crash under the yellow flag should be more avoidable.