After the Yamahas took the honors on the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test, on Saturday, it was the turn of the Hondas to shine. Alvaro Bautista set a fast time early on during the test, which was good enough stay at the top of the timesheet for the rest of the session. Stefan Bradl grabbed the second spot behind the Go&Fun Gresini Honda of Bautista, the LCR Honda man three tenths slower than the Spaniard. Aleix Espargaro once again led the Yamaha charge with a late lap, but though he came within a tenth of the time of Bradl, he was nearly four tenths off the pace set by Bautista.
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While their factory counterparts are on aircraft heading back from Phillip Island, everyone not on a factory team (that's factory, small F, not Factory Option, capital F capital O) have spent the day at their own test at Qatar. As always, the first day back at the desert track means a horribly dusty surface, which led a large group of riders to sit out the first hour or so of the test.
The five factory MotoGP riders and four Moto2 men have wrapped up the test at Phillip Island. The nine riders worked their way through the Sisyphean task of testing the vast mound of tires Bridgestone and Dunlop brought to the test, to assess compounds to be used in the race in October. The weather was very mixed on the final day, making for a more accurate reflection of the conditions likely to prevail during the race, after two days of hot, Australian summer on Monday and Tuesday.
The tire test at Phillip Island continues, with a selection of MotoGP and Moto2 riders putting new specs of tires from Bridgestone and Dunlop through their paces in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of last October. After the first day of testing, where the riders tested a large selection of various compounds and constructions, the second day of testing concentrated on the tires which showed the most promise from the short runs on Monday.
Times from Monday:
Valentino Rossi leaves the second Sepang test as fastest overall, after finding a burst of pace early in the day to crack the two-minute barrier. So happy with his progress in testing this year was the Italian that he told the press afterwards he was already seriously considering a contract for 2015 and 2016, as long as his results during race weekends improve along the same lines as his pace in testing.
Dani Pedrosa put in a blistering lap at the end of the session to lead the second day of testing for the MotoGP class at Sepang. On a track which was much improved from Wednesday, Pedrosa - still suffering from jet lag and physically weakened - put himself nearly three tenths clear of the field.
Testing is once again underway at Sepang, on a track in far from perfect conditions, due in part to some car testing done in the period after the last test, and in part due to an uncharacteristing complete lack of rain in the region. Mixed conditions gave new faces a chance to shine, with Alvaro Bautista grabbing the top spot in the dying moments of the test, when most of the riders switched to qualifying mode.
Times at the end of day 3:
Times at the end of Day 3:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, the battle continues between Interwetten's Tom Luthi and Marc VDS Racing rider Tito Rabat, with Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio giving chase. Luthi was strong all day, and though Rabat put in a late charge to head the final session, he fell just under a tenth short of the time of the Swiss rider.
Aki Ajo's teams have a firm grip on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. Jack Miller ended the day on top of the timesheets, well inside the pole record set by Alex Rins in May last year. Miller's teammate Karel Hanika grabbed second spot, the Red Bull Rookie Cup champion of 2013 making an outstanding debut in the class. Rounding out the top three was Danny Kent on the factory Husqvarna, an operation which is also run by Aki Ajo.
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, battle was rejoined once again by the two strongest men of the season so far, with Marc VDS Racing's Tito Rabat coming out on top this time. Like Jack Miller in Moto3, Rabat was on record pace, just a few hundredths off the pole record set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. Tom Luthi was forced to settle for 2nd, despite having led for a good part of the day, ending a quarter of a second behind the Spaniard, and a third of a second ahead of Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio.
After the World Superbike series wrapped up their testing in Australia, on the other side of the world the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Jerez for the second of their three preseason tests. It took a while, though, as the day started of with a track still wet from overnight rain. Track conditions had improved markedly by lunchtime, and a very full grid were soon posting very fast times indeed.
Times at the end of the final day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia: