2016 Sepang MotoGP Monday Test Times at 12 noon - Lorenzo Leads Usual Top Four

The 2016 MotoGP season is now well underway, with bikes on track for the last two hours, under clear skies and hot temperatures. Despite the major changes in technical regulations, the top four remain exactly the same. Reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo leads, the Movistar Yamaha rider the only man to get into the 2'01s. Dani Pedrosa leads the Repsol Honda pairing, three tenths behind Lorenzo and three tenths ahead of Marc Marquez, while Valentino Rossi rounds out the top four, 0.840 behind his Yamaha teammate.

Behind the top four, the Ducatis reign supreme, Danilo Petrucci leading Andrea Dovizioso, Hector Barbera, Yonny Hernandez, Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone filling out the top ten. Six Ducatis in the top ten is a sign of the strength of the Italian manufacturer this season.

The new front tire which Michelin have brought to the test appears to have made a big improvement. So far, only Bradley Smith has suffered a crash, the rest have all remained upright. Michelin have brought five different front tires for the riders to evaluate, a mixture of different compounds and constructions.

Times at 12 noon:

Pos Time Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1 2:01.814    
2 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2:02.125 0.311 0.311
3 93 Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2:02.443 0.629 0.318
4 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2:02.654 0.840 0.211
5 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP15 2:02.666 0.852 0.012
6 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP16 2:02.695 0.881 0.029
7 8 Hector Barbera Ducati GP14.2 2:02.760 0.946 0.065
8 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP14.2 2:02.916 1.102 0.156
9 45 Scott Redding Ducati GP16 2:02.922 1.108 0.006
10 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati GP15 2:02.972 1.158 0.050
11 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2:03.154 1.340 0.182
12 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha M1 2:03.166 1.352 0.012
13 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha M1 2:03.177 1.363 0.011
14 41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR 2:03.407 1.593 0.230
15 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR 2:03.463 1.649 0.056
16 6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP 2:03.978 2.164 0.515
17 53 Tito Rabat Honda RC213V 2:04.140 2.326 0.162
18 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP 2:04.182 2.368 0.042
19 50 Eugene Laverty Ducati GP14.2 2:04.284 2.470 0.102
20 76 Loris Baz Ducati GP14.2 2:04.455 2.641 0.171


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Obviously, times will come down by quite a bit as the track cools in the later afternoon, gets swept, compatible rubber laid down etc.

However, I wonder how many of those riders tucked into their Big Mac and chips for lunch quietly chewing on the fact that one guy who has been out of the game for three years plus, did a 2.02.1. just two days earlier? On last year's bike (and possibly, last year's Michelins?)

The top Duc riders should be able to find quite a bit better than half a second this afternoon, but those who don't, are going to be a wee bit miffed, methinks.

So if the unofficial 2'02.1 attributed to Stoner on Saturday is accurate, he could potentially be running top three so far today... maybe Marquez was correct in keeping him off Pedrosa's bike last year.

Yeah I know, different track and ambient temps etc. etc.

... being timed by a guy at the side of the track by eye with a stop-watch, I'd argue that it could be up to 0.6 either side of that...

0.2-0.3 human reaction time as he passes the first time
0.2-0.3 human reaction time as he passes for the timed lap

Maybe that's a bit big of a swing, but you get the idea. A guy with a stop watch isn't going to be anywhere near as accurate as a transponder setup.

... that the people trackside who are in the habit of 'unoficially' recording laptimes are probably pretty switched on, regarding how to accurately use a stopwatch.

0.6 is waaay outside the margin of error for them.

0.06 is probably closer to the mark.

.. Rossi 0.8 off the pace - has he only done a few laps, typical Italian Leisurely start?
Dani very fast as I expected
Dovi in front of Ianonne?
Petrucci top ducati!

No idea how many laps all the riders have done, which could explain some of the discrepancies...

Surely Sepang has to be the worst option for wasting one of the few testing schedules in the series.
High humidity, high temps and high costs, I really don't see how helpful it can be for the other 17 rounds when it is so far removed from the average conditions throughout the season.
Am I missing something here?

I don't know for a fact, but here are some possible reasons :

1. Snow/Extreme cold in Europe, extremely cold surface = less grip.

2. Sepang weather is nearly as good is gets around Jan/Feb, so it's not unbearable like in Sep/Oct. Track has a large range of grip based on the time of the day.

3. Chances of rain (but not too much rain), possibility to test in rain, semi-wet and wet.

4. Free entrance to grandstands, free marketing (asian market is huge for all these companies, EU not so much).

As well as the accurate points mentioned by Ayush, there's also its proximity to Phillip Island, where they will be going for the second test (17-19 Feb). Going from any other continent to Australia just for a test doesn't make a lot of sense.

Sepang and PI offer a good mix of testing scenarios - a Tilke track, and a more organic flowing track - so data obtained there can be usefully applied at other tracks around the world.

The third test is at Qatar on 2-4 March, and I imagine all the bikes and gear will be left there until the season opener on 20th March.