Photography by Gold & Goose
The 2014 MotoGP testing season kicked off yesterday at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and it looked a lot like the way the season ended last year. The top four were… well, the top four.
Again everyone were led by World Champion Marc Marquez, the young Spaniard starting his day on the 2013 RC213V Honda before moving to the 2014 model after shaking off the cobwebs from being off the bike for so long. It didn’t take him long to do just that and at the end of the first day he was on top of the timesheets with his best time – a 2:00.286 on his 52nd of 62 laps.
“I’m happy with how this first day went and to have achieved my goal of regaining my feeling on the bike,” Marquez said in a team release. “Of course, at the start I was a little stiff, but gradually I was able to pick up the pace. Today I tested the new rear tire from Bridgestone and it felt similar to last year. Tomorrow we will continue with our plan: testing out the setup and beginning to draw conclusions from our findings. We put in a lot of laps today and I’m sure that tomorrow I will feel it. Even though we train in the gym over the winter, here you work your muscles in a different way.”
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi had a good opening day at the test, the Italian legend ending the day second, though a tad over half a second off Marquez’s best. Rossi said that Yamaha was able to improve the braking problems he suffered through last year and that’s what made the difference.
“The only problem today, for everybody, is Marquez,” Rossi said. “He was very strong, very fast and already with a very good lap time, but we will try to go closer over the next days.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa ended up third on the day -.620 of a second behind his teammate Marquez. Pedrosa worked hard, turning in the most laps of anyone on the opening day – 75.
Fourth fastest was Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the Spaniard .796 of a second behind his rival Marquez.
Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista rounded out the top five on the opening day and he was the last rider within a second of Marquez.
The best of the Open class bikes was seventh-placed Aleix Espargaro, last year’s top CRT rider now riding the NGM Mobile Forward Racing bike with its Yamaha engine. He was a tad over a second quicker than his teammate Colin Edwards, the Texan spending a lot of the morning session in the garage with an electrical problem. Still, he ended up 11th behind the two Monster Tech 3 Yamahas of Pol Esparagaro and Bradley Smith and ahead of the first factory Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.
The best of the Ducati was the Pramac Racing Ducati of Andrea Iannone. Iannone ended up eighth – .96 of a second ahead of Dovizioso. Dovizioso’s teammate Cal Crutchlow was 14th at the end of the opening day – 2.5 seconds behind Marquez after turning in 38 laps.
Nicky Hayden didn’t have the best start in his return to MotoGP on the Open class Honda he’s riding for the Aspar team. Hayden ended up 17th – just ahead of his teammate Hiroshi Aoyama.
MotoGP Testing Results
Sepang International Circuit
February 3, 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:00.286
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.804
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:00.906
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.082
5. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:01.240
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:01.320
7. Aleix Espargaro (NGM Yamaha) 2:01.419
8. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2:01.538
9. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:01.634
10. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:01.876
11. Colin Edwards (NGM Yamaha) 2:02.483
17. Nicky Hayden (Aspar Honda) 2:03.319