Malaysia Test draws to a close with Stoner quickest
The first on-track MotoGP™ action of the year concluded on Thursday at the Sepang International Circuit, with the new 1000cc machines noticeably quicker than the 800s of last year as the top four paced under the circuit’s best lap set by Valentino Rossi in 2009. Casey Stoner was half a second clear of the rest of the field on his Repsol Honda RC213V, with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa his closest challengers the first part of the day, however an afternoon rain storm halted any attempts to catch up with the World Champion and times from the morning remained the same.
Stoner was the pace man laying down a time of 1’59.607 on just his second lap of the day, over a second quicker than his best lap from yesterday. He and team-mate Dani Pedrosa focused on testing shock settings and the new Bridgestone tires, with the Spaniard setting the 3rd fastest lap of the day with 2'00.256, an improvement of 1.252 from Wednesday.
Factory Yamaha riders Lorenzo and Ben Spies successfully found base set ups for their YZR-M1s, focusing on chassis balance and electronics to manage the increased horsepower of the 1000cc bikes. Lorenzo’s best effort was 0.591s behind the top time of Stoner, with Spies landing fourth and 0.888s from first before ending the day early following a minor crash on one of the Yamaha test bikes.
The Test concluded on a high note for the Ducati Team with Valentino Rossi moving up two spots in the ranks to fifth fastest, bettering his time by over a second from yesterday and happy with the changes to the front end of the GP12 thus far, as confirmed by Ducati Corse General Manager Fillipo Preziosi, who stated: "This test was mainly focused on understanding if this bike is better in the front and I can say that it is."
Nicky Hayden was only able to complete a couple of laps in the afternoon due to weakness in his injured shoulder hindering his ability to hold onto the 1000cc bike with any corner exit headshake. The American confirmed that he will ride at the Jerez Test along with the CRT prototypes before the second Official Test at Sepang later this month.
The Pramac Racing Team wrapped up a successful Test with rider Héctor Barberá, who bettered his time from yesterday by eight tenths, breaking into the 2 minute mark with a best lap of 2’00.929.
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) made a handful of laps in the afternoon after his morning crash, and new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso wrapped up his second successful test aboard the 2012 Yamaha M1.The pair were 1.5 and 1.6 seconds of the lead time, respectively.
Álvaro Bautista was satisfied with the three day test, and today quickened his pace on the Honda of the Gresini Team by sixth tenths, while newcomer Stefan Bradl put in another solid day’s work on the LCR team’s Honda, the Moto2 Champion concluding his third day of test in Malaysia with the 11th fastest time (2'01.894) while testing out the new Bridgestone tires as well as making one more back to back chassis test after a full day comparing chassis’ yesterday.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) put in the 12th quickest time while testing tires on his GP12, while CRT progress continued with Colin Edwards (NGM Mobile Forward Racing ) working out chatter issues on the BMW/Suter machine, and Iván Silva (Avintia Racing) Recovered from the broken engine from yesterday on the FTR/Kawasaki.