Analysis: 10 things we learned from the Sepang MotoGP test

Following the conclusion of the first pre-season MotoGP test at Sepang, Oriol Puigdemont looks back at what we have learned so far about the 2016 season.

1. Yamaha is on a different level

That much was proved by Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who dominated the test from start to finish. The fact that the 14 quickest laps over the three days of testing were set by the Yamaha duo is testament to that.

2. Lorenzo is on a roll

The title he secured in Valencia, and especially the way in which he clinched it, has given a lift to the Spaniard, who is showing to be more confident than ever. Even on a track where he has never won, he was setting the pace effortlessly. 

According to him, Michelin's arrival has benefited him a lot, and that has been reflected both by the stopwatch and his demeanour.

3. Rossi is seeking answers

The way he approaches the season will be the same as last year: make no mistakes and wait to see what the others do. It is very likely that his performance in the first third of the season will determine whether he stays in MotoGP or goes off to do something else.

4. Honda is not listening

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa saw it coming: having struggled last year with an excessively powerful engine, now they find themselves in an even worse situation. Honda, loyal to its philosophy of downplaying the riders' feedback, doesn't appear to have listened this time.

It's all down to finding out if the current electronics can control a prototype that appears to be a wild horse. "There's a possibility that we'll arrive in Qatar without being completely ready," said Marquez.

5. Stoner is ready to race

Just a couple of days were enough to make it clear that if the Casey Stoner decides to race again, he'll need very little time to be competitive. For the moment, he's denying it, but Ducati has made it clear he has carte blanche to do it.

Despite riding the 2015 bike, Stoner left Sepang with the fastest lap for a Ducati (2m01.070s). The Southport rider will not be back on the bike until a private test in Qatar, not long before the start of the season. There, he is expected to focus on the new Desmosedici GP16. 

6. Discomfort at Ducati

The Italian marque has hired Stoner as a bait to try to lure some of the top riders. Lorenzo's interest is perennial, but it turns out even Marquez could be tempted given the problems he has found with the new Honda. Andrea Dovizioso and his namesake Iannone are starting to feel awkward about all the attention that the Borgo Panigale-based team is paying to the Australian.

7. Satellite teams are far back

Michelin's entry and the introduction of the standard ECU has made the manufacturers focus mainly on the works teams. If Honda allowed its satellite squads to test the 2016 engines, it was only out of necessity, to be able to gather more data, a fact that highlights the struggles of the Japanese manufacturer.

8. Michelin did its homework...

The Valencia test that took place at the end of 2015 generated panic among the riders. There were plenty of crashes and the verdict was always the same: "The front tyre doesn't warn you. Once you realise, you are already on the floor." At Sepang, Michelin proved it has done its homework and brought a series of compounds with a lot more grip.

9. ...But needs to get to the bottom of Baz's accident

Michelin would do well to clear the doubts as quickly as possible, and explain in a precise manner what the reasons that caused Loris Baz's rear tyre to explode on Tuesday. The consequences could have been terrible and it is not enough to suggest there could have been a problem with the tyre pressure. 

10. Phillip Island will clear the picture

In Australia we'll have look to see how the Yamaha is working. If Lorenzo and Rossi dominate again, it will be pretty clear that they will arrive in Qatar as the main title favourites again.

It will be after Phillip Island that both riders decide which bikes they will use: the hybrid prototype or the 2016 one. We'll also know if Honda is capable of controlling the power of its engine with its electronics.

Ducati will definitely need to focus on the GP16, and Suzuki will continue working on both the 2015 and 2016 chassis, trying to adapt them to the electronics and the new seamless shift gearbox.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Sepang February testing
Track Sepang International Circuit
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Jorge Lorenzo , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez
Teams Yamaha Factory Racing , Repsol Honda Team , Ducati Team
Article type Analysis