Dani Pedrosa has come away from the first official 2013 MotoGP test at the Sepang International Circuit on top of the timing sheets on all three days at the Malaysian track. The Spaniard leads his compatriot and reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Valentino Rossi who were both close to the front lapping less than .5s behind Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda RCV213V.
We finished the test well and hope to continue like this in the following ones.
Behind the top four factory riders it was a similar story to the last two days with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow and LCR Honda man Stefan Bradl both battling to close the gap on the front men while Alvaro Bautista and the Go & Fun Honda Gresini was doing his best to stay ahead of British rookie Bradley Smith on the second of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machines. Smith was highly impressive on his third day finishing ahead of the Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso who rounded out the top ten respectively.
Ben Spies decided to sit out the third day of testing with his shoulder injury from last year still hampering the American somewhat and his Ignite Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone finishing up in 13th spot on the timing screens behind the Yamaha test rider Katsayuki Nakasuga in 11th and top CRT man Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics Aspar) in 12th. While HRC test rider Kosuke Akiyoshi set the 14th best time, there was a surprise in 15th place with the second of the CRT bikes on the timing sheets being that of MotoGP rookie Michael Laverty and the Paul Bird Motorsports team.
Rain in the afternoon eventually stopped the day and back at the top, Pedrosa set a best lap of 2m 0.100s – that is faster than the original race lap record of 2m 2.108s set by Casey Stoner in 2007 and the fastest overall lap of 2m 0.334s set by Lorenzo last year. This year, Lorenzo settled for a time of 2m 00.429s with Rossi recording a 2m 00.542s lap. Marquez had to settle for his best lap of 2m 0.636s while Crutchlow edged closer to the top four riders with a 2m 0.734s lap with Bradl also close behind on a 2m 1.003s lap. Bautista set a best time of 2m 1.502s for 7th with Smith in 8th on a time of 2m 2.093s with Hayden 9th (2m 2.184s) and teammate Dovizioso in 10th (2m 2.277s).
Pedrosa remained humble about his impressive lap times and spoke more about what he was testing on the final day. He said, “We can leave Sepang with a good feeling, because we had good lap times on all three days. We were able to put in a lot of laps and, above all, try out some important things with the engine and the bike weight to adjust to the three kilos more for this season - dictated by the new rules. Today we focused on rear tyres, in particular the new Bridgestone hard compound. It is similar to the old one with a little more grip in some areas, but it also creates more chatter. We finished the test well and hope to continue like this in the following ones.”
Lorenzo is happy with his overall progress over the three days and also completed a race simulation on the final day. “I think these three days have been positive for us,” said Lorenzo who added, “We tried many things and some of them were good. We need to reconfirm again in another track but here we were able to improve a little bit. I was able to make a simulation this afternoon, the first one I’ve done in Sepang in my GP career. I felt strong physically, mentally and riding so it was good. The other riders are also really strong so it promises to be an interesting season.”