In the absence of his teammate Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa made sure the factory Repsol Honda was back at the top of the timesheets on the second day of testing at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, the Spaniard taking 1.3 seconds off his best from yesterday to lead the way.
Pedrosa worked on engine mapping and front-end setup and turned in his best lap at the end of the day.
“Things went well this afternoon, even though this morning we were still having some issues and I wasn’t able to ride comfortably,” Pedrosa said. “I had to stop early in order to make some big changes to the bike, and when we restarted after lunch I felt more comfortable and put in better laps. We focused on the front end and were able to find a good set-up. Tomorrow we will focus on making progress with the rear, because we have to get the new tire working better and increase grip. If all goes well, then perhaps tomorrow we will be able to do a race simulation.”
Pedrosa’s best was a 2:00.039 as he jumped from sixth best on day one to best on day two. His day-two lap time was also better than his best from the previous test at Sepang when he lapped at 2:00.223 (Marquez led the three-day test with a 1:59.533).
NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro continued to impress, the Spaniard ending day two with the second best time – a 2:00.320. Espargaro had ended the last test at Sepang ranked fourth with a best of 1:59.998 on the Open class Yamaha M1.
“Today we worked on the set up of the two machines and I’m very confident because last year I never succeeded to have the same confidence on both bikes,” Espargaro said. “Here in less than two days I have found a good feeling and I’m very satisfied. In the afternoon I tested the new Magneti Marelli software, which is a step forward especially when the tires start to drop. I hope we can do a long run tomorrow and check how the bike work on the race distance.”
Alvaro Bautista slipped from first on day one to third on day two, the Go & Fun Gresini Honda rider taking .348 of a second off his best time from day one but not going fast enough to match Pedrosa and Espargargo.
Fourth fastest on day two was Valentino Rossi, the factory Yamaha rider turning in a 2:00.605 during his 60-lap day and still struggling with grip from the new Bridgestone tires. The Italian legend isn’t happy.
“The main issue for this test is to try and improve our M1 with the new 2014 tire,” Rossi said. “We tried some things, but at the end of the day we are not very happy. I am in fourth place, the lap time is quite good but we are half a second behind the other guys. We are suffering with this tire; our bike becomes difficult to manage. Tomorrow we will try again, but we have not so many options. Every track has a different story, but we are quite worried because it looks like we are in trouble with this tire. We hope that in other tracks we will have less problems but here in Sepang, especially compared to the first test, it is more difficult.”
If Rossi was unhappy, imagine what his teammate Jorge Lorenzo must be feeling. Lorenzo ended day two ninth fastest – and a tick over a second slower than Pedrosa.
“Today I am very disappointed, especially in the tire behavior,” Lorenzo said. “Nothing has changed compared to yesterday. I still don’t have the confidence to ride as I want to. Tomorrow is another day, we still have eight hours to find the right way so we will work hard and hopefully by the end of tomorrow we will have solutions.”
Andrea Dovizioso put the factory Ducati fifth fastest on a day in which he also tested the Open-class spec bike.
“Today was again positive, the track is not as quick as the Sepang 1 tests so the times are a reference only to a certain point, but it’s always important to make comparisons with the others,” Dovizioso said. “We can say that we closed the gap to the front-runners and I am very pleased with the improvement over these two days. We’re refining the set-up of the bike, at this moment there isn’t much new material to try but we’ve managed to find something interesting. I really didn’t expect that and it’s a positive thing to experience this sensation. Today we also tried out the ECU with the Open software, there are a few different controls with it and it obviously doesn’t work as well as our factory software, but tomorrow we’ll do some more tests.”
Sixth best was LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl followed by the second Ducati ridden by Cal Crutchlow, who actually was one of a few who improved over the first test at Sepang a few weeks ago.
“We made some progress this afternoon as well, we were on similar settings to yesterday,” Crutchlow said. “I never felt comfortable until lunchtime really, then we started to make some changes to the bike and it felt a lot better at the end of the day. Things are coming better, again me and Dovi have gone quicker, me quicker than at the last test, even though the track conditions are not so good. We’re making progress, but we’ve still got a lot to do.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro, Lorenzo and Espargaro’s teammate Bradley Smith rounded out the top 10.
Colin Edwards showed improvement over yesterday, the NGM Mobile Forward Racing rider ending up 13th and ahead of his countryman Nicky Hayden.
“I’m satisfied of the work done today,” Edwards said. “I could improve my feeling with the front and I could make the bike turn better, but there is still a lot of work to do. I think I need to adapt my riding style to the new bike and also to get closer to the style used nowadays by the youngest riders in order to enter and exit the corners as I like. Anyway in the middle of today’s test session I could do my best lap time and I want to thank the team for the great job.”
Day 2 Sepang MotoGP Test Results
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:00.039
2. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:00.320
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:00.500
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.605
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:00.787
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:00.902
7. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 2:00.952
8. Pol Espargarò (Yamaha) 2:01.027
9. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.049
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:01.098