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2015 MotoGP Sepang 1 vs Sepang 2 Test Comparison: Barbera, Crutchlow And Open Hondas Show Most Improvement
While the focus of most testing is on the rider who goes fastest - that, after all, is the point of motorcycle racing - only looking at the best times does not tell the full story. If the aim of testing is to improve, then measuring improvement can reveal the shift in power, and give hints of the shape of things to come.
Comparing times between the Sepang 1 and Sepang 2 tests show Hector Barbera as the man who has got the most out of the two tests. The Avintia Ducati rider has already shown solid pace, ending the test as 8th overall on the Open Class GP14, and ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati GP15. Barbera is clearly highly motivated, and with a much more competitive bike, capable of some interesting results. After the two Sepang tests, he has staked his claim as the favorite to win the Open class in 2015, if he can translate his one-lap pace into the race.
Marc Marquez finished on top of the timesheets at the second test at Sepang, posting a fast lap early and then switching his focus to race set up. The Repsol Honda rider completed a punishing test, grinding out 73 laps in the blistering heat of Sepang, 12 more than any other rider. Marquez finished with a race simulation in the final hour of the test. Jorge Lorenzo leaves Sepang as 2nd fastest, the Movistar Yamaha rider satisfied with the work done so far, and the gap to Marquez three tenths of a second. Cal Crutchlow surprised many with a fast lap in the morning, made despite braking problems to take third slot, ahead of Andrea Iannone on the Ducati GP15. Valentino Rossi was 5th fastest, and Dani Pedrosa was one of the few riders to improve their times at the end of the day, finally cracking the two minute barrier.
The combined timesheet looks very similar to the timesheet from Wednesday, almost everyone improving their lap time on the final day. Only Andrea Dovizioso, Loris Baz and Yamaha test rider Katsuaki Nakagama were faster yesterday, the difference for Dovzioso meaning he climbs up to 9th in the combined standings.
With temperatures hotter again on Wednesday, a lot of riders got their fast laps in early on the last day of the official test, at least on Bridgestones. Marc Marquez was, unsurprisingly, the fastest, his quick lap impressive, but unable to match the record time he set at the first Sepang test. Jorge Lorenzo took 2nd, and did manage to beat his best time from Sepang 1, perhaps a sign of the progress Yamaha have made. Cal Crutchlow was 3rd quickest, and nearly a second faster than his best time at the first, though the LCR Honda rider was struggling with brake problems similar to those suffered by Marc Marquez on Monday.
Andrea Iannone was the fastest of the Ducatis, taking 4th spot aehad of Valentino Rossi, while Bradley Smith improved to takes 6th, and the last rider under the two minute mark for the moment. Dani Pedrosa has the 7th fastest time so far, ahead of Hector Barbera on the Open class Ducati, an impressive feat from the Avintia rider, though he found a wheel to follow to set the time. Aleix Espargaro is in 9th, while Andrea Dovizioso rounds out the top ten on the other factory Ducati. With temperatures starting to cool a little, riders will likely put in another attempt to improve their times at the end of the day, when track conditions are a little more conducive to fast laps.
Times at 4pm:
Marc Marquez has ended the second day of testing at Sepang on top of the timesheets, after cracking under the two minute barrier in the relative cool of the morning. With temperatures a little lower than yesterday, times were quicker, with both Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo managing to get under the two minute mark. The Ducati GP15 performed well, the two Andreas taking 3rd and 4th spots. Dovizioso set his time in the morning, while Iannone leapt ahead of his teammate in the last few minutes with lap that got him to within two tenths of Marc Marquez.
Dani Pedrosa took 5th spot, ahead of Valentino Rossi, the Honda and Yamaha riders posting fast times at the start of the day, and concentrating on testing for the rest of the day. Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow posted their fast times at the end of the session, Smith having moved up t 7th from 13th spot, while Crutchlow had already set a quick lap in the morning. Aleix Espargaro set the 9th quickest time in the morning, the Suzuki proving to be quick, and beat his brother, Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol, into 10th.
Marc Marquez tops the timesheets with a few hours to go on the second day of the Sepang test, the Spaniard clearly over his braking problems from yesterday. Jorge Lorenzo is also better than yesterday, the Movistar Yamaha man looking pale and drawn on the first day and suffering from jet lag. Lorenzo has been pounding in fast laps andi is just behind Marquez' time.
The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 may be new, but it is showing a lot of promise, Andrea Dovizioso posting a very quick time on the GP15 to take 3rd spot, just ahead of Dani Pedros and Valentino Rossi. Aleix Espargaro has confirmed the strength of the Suzuki, Espargaro being just a tenth slower than Rossi, but up among the front runners, with Andrea Iannone right behind him. Cal Crutchlow follows, having closed the gap considerably on the LCR Honda, two thirds of a second off Marquez, but just a couple of tenths behind Pedrosa. Pol Espargaro is currently 9th on the Tech 3 Yamaha, while Danilo Petrucci is a highly creditable 10th, on the older version of the GP14.
Times at 4pm:
Valentino Rossi has topped the timesheets on the first day of the second Sepang MotoGP test. In a day marked by the weather, the Movistar Yamaha rider set a quick lap in the morning, before the extreme heat became too oppressive, to finish ahead of Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda and Pol Espargaro on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
The weather played a major role all day at Sepang. The day started hot, the heat increasing towards the afternoon, causing the track to be greasy and prompting complaints of a lack of grip. That left a lot of riders stuck in their pit boxes to sit out the hottest part of the day, in the hope of doing more work at the end of the day. The weather gods were not inclined to be merciful, however, and heavy rain started falling around 4:30pm, just as riders were taking to the track once again. Rain and thunderstorms played havoc with the rest of the day, a couple of lightning strikes causing the session to be red-flagged, then restarted.
The second test at Sepang has gotten underway in sweltering conditions, the heat much greater than at the first test two weeks ago, making the track greasier and times slower. The heat has limited action, with times set during the morning, and riders taking a long break for lunch. Valentino Rossi is currently fastest, the Movistar Yamaha man leading the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa by just over a tenth of a second. In third is Aleix Espargaro, the Suzuki man very quick out of the gate on the bike.
The plan for Ducati changed at the last minute, meaning that the Ducati riders took the GP15 out today, instead of waiting until Tuesday, as was the original plan. Andrea Dovizioso's fourth quickest time was set on the GP14.3, however, the bike Ducati brought to the Sepang 1 test, while Iannone has been doing runs on the GP15, his quickest time set on the new bike.
Times at 4:15pm:
Moto2 times from the last day of testing
Improving weather saw lap times drop at Jerez, allowing lap records to fall in both Moto2 and Moto3 classes. In Moto2, it was Sam Lowes setting the pace, the Speed Up rider knocking four tenths of a second off Mika Kallio's pole record. Lowes spent most of the day using the carbon fiber swing arm the team used last year, with the aluminum swing arm still to be tried. The aluminum item is believed to be the better of the two, offering more improvement to come when the team gets a chance to try it out.
Behind Lowes, several riders made some big steps forward. Luis Salom finally beat his rookie teammate, ending the day in 2nd just a tenth behind Lowes. Johann Zarco remains fast, ending up 3rd and ahead of reigning Moto2 champion Tito Rabat, while Axel Pons had a good day to end 5th. Three tenths separated the top five, offering prospects of a very competitve season in 2015. Revelation of yesterday Alex Rins had a steadier day today, dropping down the order to finish 9th, while Alex Marquez showed good improvement, jumping up to 12th place, a second off the pace of Lowes, and just behind Mika Kallio. The battle between the two Alexes promises to be just as good as it was in Moto3.
Persistent drizzle and a wet track saw the final day of testing for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at Valencia go to waste in much the same way that the second day did. Adding insult to injury, one bike dumped oil on the track between turns one and four, causing a long delay as the track was cleaned. By that time, most of the teams had already packed up and were heading south, off to Jerez where testing continues next week.
Though the times were fairly meaningless, Hafizh Syahrin and Jorge Martin were the quickest in Moto2 and Moto3 respectively. Syahrin has already shown his mettle in the rain, the Malaysian rider taking a podium as a wildcard rider in the soaking 2012 edition of his home Grand Prix. In Moto3, Martin boosted his confidence with a strong result, the 2014 Red Bull Rookies champ making his debut this year.
The wet weather means that nobody improved their times from Tuesday, meaning that Fabio Quartararo leaves Valencia as fastest Moto3 rider, while compatriot Johann Zarco was fastest in Moto2 over all three days.
The weather meant track time was severely limited on the second day of the combined Moto2 and Moto3 test at Valencia. With a wet track, most riders preferred not to risk injury by going out for laps, with little to be learned. Times for both classes were well off normal pace, so there was little point to riding. The enforced layoff was welcomed by Efren Vazquez, who fractured the navicular bone in his right foot in a crash yesterday. With no action on track, Vazquez could recover, and consider trying again on Thursday, the last day of the test.
In the Moto3 class the Mahindra riders did spend some time on track, with seven of the nine riders on the Indian bike taking to the circuit. Given the results from the first day, Mahindra clearly felt there was still much to be learned.
Conditions are not looking favorable for the last day of the test, due on Thursday, with more rain forecast. The Moto2 and Moto3 teams will hope for better conditions at Jerez next week.
With testing for the premier class at Sepang finished, the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Valencia on Tuesday. Just about the entire field in both classes rolled out of the pits for the first test of the season, and with the weather improving as the day went on, times soon began to drop. By the end of the day, the fastest men in both classes were lapping under the official lap records.
In the Moto2 class, it was Johann Zarco who was fastest, setting a blistering pace on the Kalex. The Frenchman ended the day with a run that saw him under the pole record on four consecutive laps. Sam Lowes ended the day in 2nd, after a strong first day of testing. Lowes professed himself much happier with the changes to the bike over the winter, the Speed Up now sporting an aluminum swingarm and WP suspension. Reigning Moto2 champion Tito Rabat was third fastest, just behind Lowes, and just under four tenths off the pace of Zarco.
Alex Rins made a very strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day in 6th, ahead of his teammate Luis Salom. Former teammate and reigning Moto3 world champion Alex Marquez had a much tougher day, leaving the first day with the 26th fastest time, some three seconds behind Zarco, and over two seconds behind Rins.
Track conditions at Sepang were never as good again as they were in the morning, meaning that only a handful of riders improved their times by the end of the test, the riders choosing instead to get back to testing work and work on their long runs. That left Marc Marquez on top of the timesheets, with a new lap record and as the only rider every to have posted a 1'58 lap. Dani Pedrosa was second quickest, the Spaniard just missing out on a 1'58 lap, but not disappointed, as he made a mistake on hsi fast lap and could have gone faster. Andrea Iannone was third fastest, ahead of the two Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
Several riders ran race simulations, with Dani Pedrosa's universally judged by his competitors as the fastest. Marquez' long run was slower, but run later in the day, when track conditions were worse.
The ideal weather conditions at the start of the last day of testing at Sepang triggered a veritable qualifying war in the first hour, from which Marc Marquez emerged the victor. The Repsol Honda rider was already fast on his first run, but then went on an all-out attack, smashing the existing lap record and becoming the first rider to crack the 1'59 barrier, posting a time of 1'58.867, a whole second faster than the rest of the field.
The others closed the gap, but could not match his blistering pace. Teammate Dani Pedrosa got closest, coming up just shy of a 1'58 lap, posting a 1'59.006. Andrea Iannone was impressive on the Ducati, using the soft tire to his advantage to post a 1'59.388, ending ahead of a trio of Yamahas led by Valentino Rossi, with Jorge Lorenzo and Pol Espargaro behind. Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was the last man to lap under 2'00.
Once the madness of the first hour had passed, testing resumed a more thoughtful pace. In the second hour, the riders continued the work of testing development parts and working on set up. If the times set this morning are to be bettered, it will come at the end of the day, but the marker laid down by Marquez will be tough to beat.
Times shortly after noon:
Increased heat at the end of the day saw no changes at the top of the standings, with only the riders behind Cal Crutchlow in 8th going fastest. Several riders said they were not really chasing lap times, the fast laps having been set during the morning. Thursday was all about set up work. With the test ending on Friday, tomorrow will be the day the riders put in a real time attack. The weather is expected to stay warm and dry, and allow another full day of testing.
Times at the end of day 2: