Exciting start to 2013 MotoGP season at Sepang test

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Factory teams pick up where they left off with sizzling pace

The 2013 MotoGP season officially got underway at the Sepang International Circuit today and the day got off to a promising start for the majority of the factory teams with the top riders back on the pace within a couple of hours. With reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo being joined once again by the returning Valentino Rossi with the Yamaha Factory Racing team and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa teaming up with rookie Marc Marquez, the opening day of the three-day test was highly anticipated and has set up an exciting next two days.

We've spent three months off the bike and the feeling from the first day testing is positive.

Dani Pedrosa

The top riders didn’t take much time at all to get back on the pace and, silencing al of his critics over his difficult two years at the Ducati Team, Rossi was leading the way early on. While Pedrosa and Lorenzo were also hot on the heels of Rossi in the morning, Marquez was stunning all around him with his sheer pace. While the top four riders swapped places within milliseconds of eachother, some of the satellite riders were also close to the front with Stefan Bradl and his LCR Honda lapping at a sizzling pace and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow also quick to get back on the pace.

By mid afternoon any cobwebs of the winter break that remained were well and truly blown away with the Malaysian circuit’s ultra fast straight’s and the top four riders remained the same with Pedrosa and Lorenzo now fighting it out with Marquez for bragging rights on day one with Rossi keeping these within half a second in fourth. While Crutchlow and Bradl continued to swap times for fifth, Alvaro Bautista (Go & Fun Honda Gresini) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) were the only other satellite riders in the top ten with the remainder of the positions taken up by Yamaha test rider Katsayuki Nakasuga and HRC Test Team rider Kosuke Akiyoshi.

The CRT teams were happy to get back out on track today after the two days previous that was set aside especially for those using the new standard ECU unit yielded little or no results for the majority of the teams. Lapping outside the top ten was Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Bradley Smith along with the Ducati Team’s new rider, Andrea Dovizioso. The Ignite Pramac Racing Team was not in the position where they would have liked on day one with riders Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone also outside the top ten. The best of the CRT riders came once again from last year’s top team, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro and Randy De Puniet.

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Hazrin Yeob Men Shah

Back at the front Pedrosa and Lorenzo continued to circulate inside the 2m 1s mark with Marquez also close behind with Rossi likewise. Pedrosa eventually finished on top with a best lap of 2m 1.157s to that of Lorenzo’s 2m 1.165s with Marquez clearly stating his intentions in setting the third fastest time of 2m 1.201s. Rossi was also well within striking range finishing with a 2m 1.584s lap. Bradl ended up with fifth in the timings with his best lap of 2m 1.789s just marginally faster than Crutchlow’s 2m 1.789s. Bautista ended day one with a best time of 2m 1.981s ahead of Nakasuga (2m 2.968s); Akiyoshi (2m 2.972s) and Hayden rounding out the top ten with a best time of 2m 3.336s.

Pedrosa was happy to be back on his RCV213V and after setting the fastest time of the day he said, “It's the first day back testing after the winter break. We've spent three months off the bike and the feeling from the first day testing is positive. The track was in good condition and we were able to put in a lot of laps at a good pace, thanks to it not being especially hot. I haven't ridden since the November test in Valencia, so today has been a first step to getting back on the pace. We didn't play about with the setup today, but we will move onto that in the remaining two days of testing.”

The gap between the fastest riders is already shrinking at a furious pace and Lorenzo acknowledged this. He said, “This morning I had to get the feeling again for the MotoGP bike but it didn't cost me so much time as it did last year. When I got up to a good pace we tried some things we couldn't try in Aragon, we need to work on it more. Some parts I liked, some things need more work. Tomorrow we are going to keep trying the things we tried today and also some new parts. Times are very close between Yamaha and Honda so we will try to improve our bike to be even better. We are still working on acceleration, we improved a lot last year but it’s still not our strongest point. I think now at this point consistency is one of my strongest points and I hope to continue that this year.”

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Hazrin Yeob Men Shah

Marquez’s sheer pace will have many heads spinning and speaking after his first day he said, “I’m very happy with how the first day went, because you always have a few nerves after a couple of months out. I thought that I would take a little longer to get back 'on it', but right from the opening laps I felt very comfortable on the bike. We picked up confidence from the start, although obviously we can still improve. I don't think the result today should be used as a reference point, because we are all trying out new things. I focused on simply finding a good setup and getting comfortable on the bike. I tried to put in a good time so that the day's testing had a purpose.”

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Testing report
Tags featured, hatch, honda, lorenzo, marquez, pedrosa, rossi, yamaha