Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa ended up with identical lap times on the third and final day of MotoGP testing at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, the pair both clocking 1:59.999 laps to leave the test as the joint fastest riders. The two were also the only riders at the test to crack the two-minute barrier.
Rossi, though, wasn’t completely satisfied as he continues to struggle with the new Bridgestone tires. He also knows that his best was still .466 of a second slower than the lap turned in by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez during the first Sepang test in early February – though the teams were using the 2013-spec Bridgestones for that test.
“First of all I am very happy because I am in first position and I did a good lap,” Rossi said. “I was one of the only ones in the 1:59s which is positive, especially because with the 2014 tires in the first test we tried a time attack and I was more than one second slower than today. This test we have always been at the top and fighting for the first position so it’s positive. We still have some problems when it’s very hot over long distance with the new tires, so we still have to work, but we made a good step from the first test. The next test in Philip Island will be very important to understand if also there we improved a lot like here because I am more than one second faster than the second test of last year so we have been working well.”
Pedrosa’s final day also included a race simulation of 19 laps with his best lap during that run a 2:00.985 on the 15th lap. After the simulation, Pedrosa went out to try for a quick lap and he did so, matching Rossi’s 1:59.999. In total, Pedrosa did 41 laps on day three and 145 laps in total.
"Today we worked on engine mapping to improve cornering, but the most important thing that we were able to do is a race simulation,” Pedrosa said in a team release. “We also tried to improve our fast lap time attacks as well. We progressed a lot - although there is still room for improvement. Now we are off to Phillip Island to test out the new tires."
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso ended up third fastest on the day that the team announced it will compete in the Open class of MotoGP in 2014. Dovizioso lapped at a best of 2:00.067, which was .3 of a second faster than his best lap of the previous Sepang test.
“I am really pleased: we go away from Sepang having confirmed all the improvements we made three weeks ago,” Dovizioso said in a team release. “I managed to do a really good lap time, the best I’ve ever done on this track, and I did it in track conditions that were worse than in Sepang 1. This means that we went much better this time around. We also did a long run of 14 laps and I was also satisfied with that. At this moment we are probably not in a position to fight for the top places, because we are not always able to lap with this pace, but we really improved a lot in these tests.”
Fourth overall went to NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro on the Open class Yamaha M1. Espargaro’s best was a 2:00.101. Espargaro bested the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl, the German rider ending up fifth overall with a 2:00.164.
Alvaro Bautista’s best time came from day two, the 2:00.500 placing him sixth overall on the Go & Fun Gresini Honda.
Jorge Lorenzo ended the test a disappointed seventh - .620 behind his teammate Rossi and Honda’s Pedrosa.
“We found a better solution today to improve our situation and adapt these tires at this track,” Lorenzo said. “The tires are much harder in the sidewalls. At this track, with this tarmac that is very slippery, it’s not the same as Phillip Island or Mugello for example, it’s impossible for us to be competitive. This tire is much worse for Yamaha and better for Honda. Our bike is competitive, at a similar level to the competitors, but with the tire we have problems. We tried a simulation today and it was worse and worse every lap. In the edge there is a problem with no grip but also when you pick up the bike it spins. You can improve the feeling a little to get more grip but when the tire starts to drop the problems get worse and worse.”
Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow ended the test eighth, one spot better than his country man Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Moto2 World Champion Pol Espargaro rounded out the top 10 overall.
“Obviously for me the situation in these tests at Sepang was different to what I’ve been used to in the past, so I think Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] managed to benefit more from the three days because he’s on a familiar machine,” Crutchlow said. “But that’s the way it goes and I’m generally pretty satisfied with the results we’ve achieved here. I’ve been consistently able to go as fast as Dovi with used tires, but not at the start, because I’m unable to push hard right away and get enough grip into the tires. This is something we will have to improve for qualifying and the races. Overall we’ve made good progress, testing a lot of stuff here, which was the main thing, and starting to understand what the bike does with different set-ups. Now it’ll be good to go to another circuit and try something else.”
Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden completed the three days in 14th and 15th, respectively. Both of their fast laps came on the final day.
Sepang MotoGP Test Day 3 Results
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:59.999
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:59.999
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 2:00.067
4. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:00.101
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:00.164
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:00.506
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:00.619
8. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) 2:00.804
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:00.804
10. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:01.032
14. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:01.748
15. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 2:01.924