2018 Sepang MotoGP Test Sunday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of the Sepang test:

Dani Pedrosa tops the standings on day 1 in Sepang, Marc Marquez seventh

Dani Pedrosa set the fastest time of the opening day of the Sepang test, with a mark of 1’59.427” on his 55th lap (out of 56), while Marc Marquez ended seventh overall with a best time of 2’00.290” on his 50th lap (out of 51).

In typical Malaysian fashion, the morning dawned under heavy rain, so the asphalt was still wet when the track opened at 10 a.m.

Marquez made one run on wet tyres, Pedrosa a few more, but both riders really began working on development of the RC213V after lunchtime, by which time the track had properly dried. They completed a few laps on the 2017 bike and then went out on the prototype 2018 machines, which were using different engine specifications.

Dani Pedrosa

1st 1:59.427 (56 laps)

“Of course it’s good to start the testing with the fastest time, so we’re happy with that. We had some rain in the morning and therefore the chance to do a few laps on rain tyres, and we felt good from the beginning. In the afternoon, when the track dried, the asphalt kept improving lap by lap, and that was positive for the many changes we had to try. We have three bikes here, and they have the same setup but different engines. Basically, we worked on the engine package, trying to collect as much information as possible and to get a feeling with each different specification; that’s one of the main areas we have as a target for this test. There are still points we need to work on in order to understand more. We also need more laps on used tyres, as we didn’t get any long runs in today. Of course we’re still in the early stages but so far the feeling is good.”

Marc Marquez

7th 2:00.290 (51 laps)

"I think today was a busy day for everybody because when you get back on your bike after the winter, you need to find the rhythm again and get used to riding at a demanding track—especially here. That said, I’m quite happy with how we started because we were working on three different bikes with different engines, one from last year and two with different specifications, and therefore it was quite an intense day. We had to adjust many, many things, which is quite normal, but so far it seems the new engine is better. Of course we have two more days to improve the setup and keep working on the engine, electronics, aerodynamics, and so on. It was just the first day and the feeling and rhythm were positive already!”

Day 1 of official MotoGP testing concludes at Sepang with Dovizioso second and Lorenzo third on their Desmosedici GP18 bikes

The first day of official testing at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, taking place from today until 30 January, concluded a couple of hours ago.

The track conditions, which were damp due to the rain that fell overnight until the early afternoon, significantly reduced the useful track time for the MotoGP riders.

Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo were in any case able to get the best out of the afternoon to carry out back-to-back tests between the 2018 and 2017 versions of the Desmosedici GP.

Towards the end of the session both factory Ducati riders fitted a soft rear tyre on their GP18 machines to set their quickest times.

Andrea Dovizioso ended the day in second place with a best lap of 1’59.770 while Jorge Lorenzo was right behind in third with a time of 1’59.802.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’59.770 (35 laps)

“I’m very satisfied with the first day of testing and the feeling with the Desmosedici GP18: the new bike gives me some good sensations, especially when I come off the brakes and turn it into the corner. It’s still too early to give a definitive opinion, but I’m happy with how we have begun this test. Let’s hope that the weather in the next couple of days allows us to carry out the work schedule and the back-to-back tests we have planned.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’59.802 (38 laps)

“The feeling with the new bike was good right from the start and the first test of 2018 began positively. The GP18 is much closer to my riding style and it turns better on the gas in mid-corner. We set a really great time on what is the first day of testing on a particular circuit like Sepang, and to see four Ducatis in the top 5 is another positive sign for sure. I have the feeling we are on the right path, even though of course we still have to improve several aspects.”

Movistar Yamaha Make Positive Start to Sepang Test

After a long winter wait, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were back on track today for the first Official IRTA MotoGP Test of the 2018 season, held at the Sepang International Circuit. The first day of the three-day pre-season outing in Malaysia gave riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales a chance to get to know their new YZR-M1s and to start working through a number of test items. The teammates completed their first day back aboard their Yamahas in 6th and 13th place respectively.

The rain in the morning had Rossi venture out on track, keen on working on the wet setting of his bike and confirming the findings the team made in the Valencia and Sepang tests they held back in November. Heading out with a new 2018 pre-season helmet, he ended the morning stint in 12th place.

As his afternoon session got under way, a dry track was waiting for the Italian, who took this opportunity with both hands. With three hours remaining, he put his 2018 bike to the test and set a provisional fastest time of 2'00.799s. As his teammate and various competitors started to pick up their pace towards the end of the session, the pack got reshuffled. Rossi responded by reclaiming first place on lap 44/50, and retired to the pit early. A flurry of activity in the last 15 minutes saw him end up in sixth position with a 2'00.233s, 0.806s from first.

Viñales was also eager to get going aboard his YZR-M1 this morning, to do a race simulation and start working on the electronics and engine specifications together with his teammate. The Spaniard came prepared with a special Sepang Test helmet too, with a design inspired by the famous artist Salvador Dali, and held fourth place at the end of his morning runs.

The 23-year-old looked comfortable out on track in the afternoon and he continued to put in lap after lap. As the pace of the field started to pick up in the drier conditions, he temporarily took over top billing from Rossi, clocking an impressive 2'00.758s. The competition got more and more heated towards the end of the day, but Viñales stuck to his testing schedule. He dropped a 2'00.714s on lap 55/72, which ultimately earned him 13th place, 1.287s from the front.

Valentino Rossi

Position: 6th - Time: 2'00:233 - Laps: 50

"I'm happy, because in November we did a good job. We got a better understanding, after the confusion we had during the 2017 season. Today's chassis is a new chassis, it's an evolution that's based on the 2016 bike. When I ride with this chassis I feel better: my riding is more natural, I feel the front of the bike better, and when I push I have a good speed. After, we also concentrated on other areas. We tried two different engines to improve the acceleration and they are not so bad, also the top speed is quite good. We need to work on the electronics, especially to save the rear tyre, but the first impression is positive."

Maverick Viñales

Position: 13th - Time: 2'00.714 - Laps: 72

"I've been working really hard, especially when the temperature was higher, trying to reproduce a race day. I'm quite happy, we've improved a lot since this morning and I think we have a good package. Especially after tomorrow and the day after, I think we'll leave with a really good bike, so I'm quite happy and enthusiastic about that. Anyway, we need to keep working and need to stay on the pace. I feel good on the bike and that's the most important thing. At the moment I didn't try any different chassis, I focused on electronics and many different settings, so let's see tomorrow. As I said, I think after the next few days we're going to leave with a good package and make the right steps. I want to make laps and understand everything."

Massimo Meregalli

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director

"The first day is done, and we are pleased with the start we've made. The first test in Sepang is always important, because you want to set the tone right for the rest of the season. I knew Vale and Maverick were extremely curious to see how their 2018 YZR-M1s would perform, compared to what they tried during the tests in Valencia and Sepang at the end of last year. We were able to get in a lot of laps and had a positive day. The main focus today was to confirm our findings from November. Vale and Maverick mainly worked on the electronics and also tried two engine specifications with good feedback. Our first impression of the tyre wear has been positive too. It's very encouraging to see both riders feel comfortable on the bike already. We are looking forward to keep on working over the next two days and make further steps, if the weather allows it."


Team Suzuki Press Office - January 28.

Alex Rins: 11th - 2:00.627 (+ 1.200)

Andrea Iannone: 16th - 2:01.027 (+ 1.600)

Sylvain Guintoli: 20th - 2:01.864 (+ 2.437)

The 2018 MotoGP World Championship season kicked off under cloudy skies and rain, making it difficult for the riders to truly get to grips with their new GSX-RR machines during the early part of the day. Different feelings from the two riders resulted in mixed fortunes, but an overall positive improvement was felt heading into the next two days of testing.

As time went on the track started to dry out, allowing the riders to switch to slick tyres and try some new parts and settings. During the second part of the afternoon, Alex Rins - who put in consistently good lap times - was able to compare a couple of different engine configurations, which gave him good feelings and allowed him to build his confidence. He was able to test during the rain, the mixed conditions, and the dry.

For Andrea Iannone it was a different story and he found he was not yet comfortable under hard braking. After initially struggling with front end feel, and unfortunately suffering two crashes, he felt improvements towards the end of the day and was still able to finish the session in the mid-pack.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR test rider Sylvain Guintoli was on hand to add his input and assess many new parts, completing a productive day on the development side.

Davide Brivio - Team Manager

“Let’s say we had different feelings from the two riders today, Alex could be quite constant on lap times and thanks to this we collected good information, which I think will be useful, and we have to continue with that tomorrow. Andrea, unfortunately, was struggling all day and was not so comfortable on hard braking. We got some idea from that and we will try to work on tomorrow and see if there are some improvements setting wise. Andrea had two crashes because he always wants to try hard, despite the problems, but luckily there were no consequences. On the first day it’s important for the riders to get back on their bikes and back on the track, so let’s continue to work tomorrow.”

Alex Rins

“Well the truth is that the first day has been very positive, and so has trying the new bike. We could see how things are going so far, and we found positive parts and negative parts to work on and fine tune the bike. In the morning it was a bit wet but the feeling was good, and later on it was even better. One of the principal issues we faced last year was corner entry, but that already feels much better. There have also been improvements in the chassis. Physically I feel good, apart from the heat! Tomorrow we will continue to work with the new bike.”

Andrea Iannone

“We didn’t have a lot of time and it was very difficult to understand where the positive feelings and the not so positive feelings are. Tomorrow we have another chance and it’s possible that it will be completely different - we could be first or last! Today everything is new so when you start without a reference it becomes very important to understand the bike and the situation, and especially with the weather the track was difficult. Suzuki worked well during the winter and there are some new feelings, but it’s difficult to compare the ’17 and ’18 bikes at the moment. The priority for us is to continue this improvement. Riders try a bit harder during the tests and this means that crashes can happen, but luckily I’m OK.”

Sylvain Guintoli

“Today we had new parts and new strategies to assess, we did many laps on used tyres and it was interesting. We also tried a new chassis, and it was a good and productive day.”



The MotoGP 2018 season began today with the first day of tests in Malaysia. The Sepang circuit will have the riders busy doing three days that are fundamental for laying the foundation on which to build the new season. In the Aprilia garage, attention was focused on the début of the RS-GP in the new 2018 version, an evolution of the Italian prototype that aims to continue on the same path of growth begun last season.

Both Espargaró and Redding had a chance to ride the new bike after building confidence with the track and the MotoGP pace using the 2017 version RS-GP machines. Feedback from Aleix was positive straight away. The Spanish rider showed overall improvement and, above all, a clear margin of growth that the new configuration offers. His best time out of the total 40 laps turned (2'00.866) was done with the 2018 bike and without trying a time attack, but rather with a gradual approach, concentrating on development and the analysis of each technical detail.

Redding, who was one of the first to go out on the track despite asphalt compromised by a morning storm, took advantage of most of the day astride the 2017 bike. The final part of the test, with the new bike, did not give Scott enough time to fully explore the potential of the RS-GP. This is an operation that will continue tomorrow and the next day.


"Today was like the first day of school. The first two hours were demanding after such a long time of not riding a MotoGP bike, but step by step I regained the feeling. The first approach with the new bike was definitely positive. Especially in terms of the frame, the 2018 RS-GP lets me go into corners better and it reflects what I asked the Aprilia engineers for. We still have a lot of margin for improvement. The bike is at 75% and we will get to 100% for the Qatar tests. Tomorrow we will continue working on the 2018 bike, whereas on the third day we'll do some comparative testing to have clear ideas on development from here until the first race."


"This morning in the wet with the 2017 bike I found a rather good feeling straight away and we continued to improve on every outing, reaching a good level of feeling. The first approach with the 2018 RS-GP was just a taste. We simply moved the settings from the old bike to the new one. I felt the potential, but it is a very different bike, so we will need to work to adapt it to my needs. We'll focus on this over the next two days, both in terms of the position in the saddle and the settings."


"The new bike that made its début today was confirmation for Aleix of the good points that our tester Baiocco highlighted, as the lap time improvement demonstrates. There are positive aspects both going into and coming out of turns. This is a good starting point on a first day that was a rather introductory phase. We will have a change to analyse our performance over the coming days, where everyone will be pushing harder, but the first approach was definitely promising."

First Day at School for Zarco and Hernandez in 2018

Johann Zarco was back in the saddle today for the first official MotoGP test of the year in mixed conditions at the Sepang International Circuit. The French star used the full eight hours of testing to get used to the power and the speed of his Yamaha YZR-M1 again, finishing the day in 8th position.

Meanwhile Yonny Hernandez experienced a first taste of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 machine. Following a long absence from the premier class the Columbian rider got into a steady rhythm in the course of the day.

Johann Zarco

Position: 8th - Time: 2'00.421 - Laps: 62

"It was a good opening day. We started the day in wet conditions and my feeling was positive in these conditions. I began the day slowly and got re-used to the speed step by step. Compared to the race here in the wet, my feeling was positive and I felt competitive, plus I had a really good control of the bike. Later on, we had nearly ideal conditions, there were not many patches on the track. From last year, I feel a great potential with the used tyre. We don't have a big drop, which is fantastic news to prepare the entire season. Now we need a better performance with the new tyre to get into the 59's. Therefore, we just need to understand a few more things, but take it easy."

Yonny Hernandez

Position: 23rd - Time: 2'02.053 - Laps: 47

"This morning we had some difficult weather conditions, but later in the afternoon it was completely dry. I just wanted to try to understand the bike, the team, how the tyres work. In the end, we improved with every outing and overall, I'm quite satisfied with our work today. For sure, it's not the position I wish to be in, but for the opening day, it's ok, as I haven't sat on a MotoGP bike for two years. I just tried to build my rhythm, do some laps, to understand the bike to get to know everything. In the beginning, I used the soft tyre and we improved a little bit. For tomorrow I hope we can progress even more and I can lap faster."


PRESS RELEASE: 28 January 2017 | Sepang Test Day One

Cal Crutchlow dusted off his LCR Honda CASTROL leathers for the first time in 2018, as MotoGP pre-season testing began in Malaysia today. Conditions weren’t ideal for the 30 riders out on track in the tropical heat, with heavy rain greeting them as they arrived at the Sepang circuit and the surface not drying up until later in the day.

That limited Crutchlow to just 38 laps with his factory Honda RC213V, with a best lap of 2’00.522 coming on his 28th effort. Whilst other riders put in a new tyre and pushed hard for a lap time at the end of the day, the British rider decided against a full-on time-attack, and was happy to take ninth place on the overall timesheets, which belied his pace on this first day of three in Malaysia.

Cal Crutchlow – 9th

(2’00.522 – lap 28 of 38)

“Today was a good day. We are really pleased with the work that Honda has done over the winter and we have to thank them for that. The LCR Honda CASTROL Team worked very well as a unit too, it’s nice to be back amongst them and working together again after the off-season.

“It’s been a positive day because I was fast throughout, and we will come back and try tomorrow to see if we can improve the lap-time, but overall I’m very happy.”

New season starts for Tito Rabat and Xavier Simeon in Sepang

The 2018 season started for Reale Avintia Racing today at the Sepang International Circuit. Tito Rabat and Xavi Simeon did their first run of the year on wet Michelin tyres due to the morning rain that left the track completely damp. With high humidity and the slow drying asphalt of Sepang, it took a while until the track was completely dry, so the riders had to wait until the afternoon to have normal conditions again.

Tito Rabat worked with the harder compound of Michelin’s allocation for this test throughout the day. The goal was to get the feeling back after two months without riding his Ducati. When he grabbed a new set of soft tyres for the last hour of the day, the Reale Avintia rider immediately improved his pace. Then he crashed at turn 5 and his day was finished. It was a shame because he was fast, his feeling was very good and he felt that was capable to improve his lap times, as all the other riders did in the last part of the day. Nevertheless, he expects to make another step forward tomorrow and continue his positive progression with the Ducati Desmosedici GP17.

For Xavier Simeon, the first day at Malaysia was good. After just four days of testing in Valencia and Jerez, the Belgian rider was focused on recovering the feeling with the bike to continue his adaptation to the premier class. In every exit, he did improved his pace and the best news was that his shoulder, which he injured towards the end of last year’s Moto2 season, didn’t cause any problems and he was able to complete 47 laps.

Tito Rabat | 2'00.912 | P15

“I’m very happy to start the season and I felt very good on the bike. We worked all day with the medium rear tyre compound and at the end of the day we mounted the soft one and the feeling improved a lot. The problem is that we don’t have enough tyres and we’ll have to manage it fairly well in the next two days. It was a pity that I crashed when we started to go fast because this stopped me from improving further. But a lap time of 2’00 after the long winter break without riding the bike is pretty good and I’m very happy. The crash was silly, since I simply went too fast in that corner. But for tomorrow, I’m calm because I’ve seen that I can go fast and I feel very good with the bike”.

Xavier Simeon | 2'02.946 | P26

“I felt quite good today, but it’s true that I found it difficult to get used to the bike again on a track that is very different from Valencia and Jerez. Overall, I think we made a good step. We have been working all day with the same tyres and we just put a new set an hour and a half before the end, but although I haven’t been able to improve the pace, my feeling was good. All in all, today went a lot better than I expected. Tomorrow I hope to start from the base we have established today and improve a little more. Ten minutes from the end, when we had stopped, everyone else improved their times, but we have not reached that point yet. The important thing at the moment is to understand everything, to progress and not to make any mistakes. After so many years in Moto2 I have to change a lot of things, but with every additional lap on this bike, I feel more comfortable. I’m also happy because I worked very hard this winter to get back into shape after my shoulder injury and today the shoulder has not caused me any problem at all”.


PRESS RELEASE: 28 January 2017 | Sepang Test Day One

Takaaki Nakagami took to the track for the first time in 2018 at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia today, as the eagerly-awaited MotoGP pre-season tests got underway. Conditions weren’t ideal for the 30 riders out on track in the tropical heat, with heavy rain greeting them as they arrived at the Sepang circuit and the surface not drying up until later in the day.

As a rookie this season, Nakagami’s target is just to lap as much as possible on his LCR Honda IDEMITSU machine, and that’s why despite the tricky conditions early on, the Japanese youngster still managed to put in a mammoth 64 laps. He stopped the clock in a best time of 2’00.664 on his penultimate lap, putting him in 12th position overall – an excellent result on this first day of three in Malaysia.

Taka Nakagami – 12th

(2’00.664 – lap 63 of 64)

“It’s been a great first day for me – the first time I’ve ridden a MotoGP bike at Sepang. It was really tough conditions out there, but we managed to put in a lot of laps in the dry and build up the understanding with my mechanics about how to get the most out of the MotoGP bike.”

“We’ve made some really good progress – every outing we are making improvements and I had a good feeling on the bike. At the end of the day we tried to use the softer rear tyre for the first time for me, and the lap time was quite competitive.”

“Overall, the good thing is that I have a really good feeling with the bike and I am starting to understand the Michelin tyres a bit more. That is our target, which means it has been a good first day. Let’s see how things go tomorrow.”


Mixed start for the Spanish team: Álvaro Bautista crashes with two hours to run of the session, Karel Abraham finds time in final laps after a technical problem

The elite riders of the highest category of motorcycle racing came face to face again, after the long winter break, in the first test day of a 2018 season that looks set to be another close one. Up to eight riders today lapped within a second, and all this after Dani Pedrosa, the fastest today, clocked a 1'59.427. Only the Ducati riders, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo were able to get close with the rest of the field outside the 2'00 mark led by Danilo Petrucci, Jack Miller, Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez.

The Angel Nieto Team experienced a complicated start to preseason, with life not made easier by rain during the morning. Álvaro Bautista, in his first real test on the Ducati GP17 after the Valencia test, where he could only complete a couple of laps, managed 40 laps of the Malaysian track, with a best time of 2'01.728. However, a crash with just under two hours left until the end of the day meant an early finish for he Spaniard. Karel Abraham was able to clock up 46 laps of Sepang on his Ducati GP16, including a best effort of 2'02.088. The Czech rider, who suffered a technical problem with the gearbox of his bike this afternoon, managed to solve it with his team and returned to the track to lower his best lap time in the last few laps by almost two seconds.

19th Álvaro Bautista 2.01.728 (40 laps): "The day started with rain, so we took a few laps, mainly to gather sensations after the break. Then, as the day has improved, we have been able to continue running some dry laps. It was just a shame that we couldn't work for the whole afternoon because of a crash. Until then, I had been riding with the same tyre, so I could not put a new one in like the others so we have have fallen back a little on the timesheets. Luckily, I was just knocked about a little so tomorrow I can get back on track and continue with the work.”

24th Karel Abraham 2.02.088 (46 laps): "It was a very difficult day because the morning was completely wet and even though we managed a couple of laps as it was drying out, it took until 2pm before we could really start. I had a couple of problems with the bike, mainly with the gearbox, and I had to stop while the guys took the gearbox apart. That took about an hour and a half, so we only had around 45 minutes left to work. I managed two exits, the first I still wasn't happy with the bike but the second one was much better, and when we put some new tyres in then the last three laps were pretty good. Now I can't wait to get back on the bike and see how we can improve it further because in those three laps we found 1.5 seconds, which is pretty crazy."

Damp start for Morbidelli and Lüthi at Sepang

Early morning rain meant that the first laps of the 2018 Sepang MotoGP test for both Franco Morbidelli and Tom Lüthi were completed on a damp track.

The rain stayed away during the morning session, but damp patches remained on the track throughout and it was only after lunch that the riders were able to venture out onto a fully dry track.

For Morbidelli the wet track provided an ideal opportunity to test his Honda RC213V on Michelin's treaded wet tyres for the first time, but once the track started to dry the Italian, along with the majority of the other MotoGP riders, opted to call a temporary halt to testing and wait until the track was completely free of damp patches.

The afternoon session was held in near perfect conditions and Morbidelli was able to focus on rediscovering his rhythm after almost two months off the bike. The Italian then moved on to refining the set up of his Honda RC213V to better suit the characteristics of the wide and fast Sepang circuit.

Having missed the post-season tests in Valencia and Jerez through injury, Lüthi finally got to make his MotoGP debut this morning in Sepang, albeit in less than ideal conditions. Like his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate, the Swiss rider headed out on wet tyres for his first run and his first experience of Honda's RC213V MotoGP machine.

The better weather conditions this afternoon provided the perfect opportunity for Lüthi to start his adaptation from Moto2 to MotoGP rider, with the former 125cc World Champion declaring himself happy with the progress made during his first day in the premier class.

Franco Morbidelli: 2'01.161 – 62 Laps

"It was a good day, as we got to test in many different conditions and that gave us the chance to learn a lot. When the track dried in the afternoon we did some work on basic set up and saw some improvement, but this is MotoGP and the level is so high that we still have a lot of work to do because we need to improve a lot more. It's good to be back on the bike after the break and today was a chance to recalibrate the brain. Now, tomorrow, we need to continue looking for the improvements that will allow us to close a little the gap to the top of the timesheet."

Tom Lüthi: 2'03.732 – 58 Laps

"After missing the tests in Valencia and Jerez I was excited to finally get the chance to ride the MotoGP bike today, even if the first run was a little difficult because of the conditions. Early rain meant my first experience of the Honda RC213V was in the wet, which meant it wasn't so easy to get a feeling with the bike. But then it dried up and we could start to work with the bike. I think it's important that we keep the line; try to understand the bike, try to understand the tyres then figure out how to get the best from both to improve the lap time. Today was good, but there are still many things to learn."

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