Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
Factory teammates on top at Rain affected Sepang
Repsol Honda teammates Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa ended day one of the second MotoGP test at Sepang, Malaysia on top of the timing sheets with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo finishing his day in third place. With a thunderstorm halting proceedings in the afternoon the MotoGP riders also got their first taste of how their machines handle in wet conditions.
We would have gone a second or a second and a half faster, but the rain came out.
While Pedrosa took the opportunity to complete a few laps in the wet on the RC213V, Stoner remained in the garage following his time on track in the dry earlier in the morning. The reigning MotoGP World Champion also became a father for the first time earlier this month and while recording a best time of 2m 1.761s, Stoner admitted it wasn’t easy leaving his newborn daughter so soon.
“It was really hard to leave Switzerland, Ally woke up for a feed at the same time as I was leaving for the airport and I didn't really want to leave! The first day of testing has gone well, we started off where we left last time but the track conditions have been a little worse. We have a some work to do, this morning we managed to compare a few things back to back, we've tried a new set of brake disks to try and reduce the brake fade that I've been having at the last test so that's been an improvement.
"We're trying a few other things with set up, to shorten the wheelbase and get a little more traction. We have a couple of things we can try to change the stiffness and also move the weight around a little bit to try and upset the chatter and reduce the frequency. This afternoon I have no doubt we would have gone a second or a second and a half faster, but the rain came out and the track didn't dry up enough to warrant going out so we'll wait until tomorrow,” Stoner said.
Pedrosa focused on the chassis geometry, rider position, and power delivery of the new engine and finished with a best time of 2m 2.005s. The Spaniard also experienced a problem during his final run on the new 1000cc machine. Pedrosa had to stop on track for an engine problem that Honda technicians will analyze tonight.
Pedrosa was happy with his first day back on the RC213V saying, “It was a good test for us, we made a couple of good runs. The track was very dirty at the beginning of the practice and you could feel the grip level was not so good, but it's been improving little by little during the day and we could work through our testing program. It was much warmer than in the last test; after the first run I was sweating more than in the three days we came here last time!
Today we did some tests on the engine, to see how can we manage the power delivery, and also worked on the chassis. Also, on the rider position to work on the balance and it was positive. In the afternoon I did some laps in the rain, but on my second run it started to dry up quickly, so we finished earlier. On my last run, I had a small issue, I saw a red light on the dashboard, so I took the clutch and stopped. We have to analyze now what it was,” he added.
Lorenzo and teammate Ben Spies made the most of the dry time they had to do a final back-to-back test of different YZR-M1 engine specifications to find a good base setting for the start of the season. The focus is also on finding a solution to the chattering problem affecting all teams on the track. While Lorenzo finished in third with a time of 2m 2.436s, Spies ended up behind his teammate with his best time of 2m 2.819s.
Speaking later in the day Lorenzo said, “We started with a different engine spec to the one we used in the last test. Today it was difficult to make any comparisons as the track was in much worse condition than last time and the lap times were much slower. The rain also meant we couldn’t finish everything we wanted to today on the track so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Alvaro Bautista was next up in 5th place for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team on a best time of 2m 2.959s. Marlboro Ducati rider Nicky Hayden sits in 6th after setting a best time of 2m 3.132s. Hayden looked better on this GP12 this time around with the American still getting back to full fitness after injuring his left shoulder at Christmas time.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow finished day one in 7th with the British rider recording a best time of 2m 3.213s and ahead of Valentino Rossi on his Ducati Marlboro GP12 in 8th on a best time of 2m 245s. Following Rossi into 9th place was Hector Barbera on his Pramac Racing Ducati on a best lap of 2m 3.612s. The final place in the top ten was MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl on his LCR Honda with a best time of 2m 820s.
Andrea Dovizioso placed in an uncharacteristic 11th place with a best time of 2m 3.830s and the Italian ended the day ahead of the newly introduced CRT teams. Colin Edwards was the best of the CRT bikes again on board his Forward Racing Suter-BMW machine with a best time of 2m 5.510s. Ducati test rider Franco Battaini finished in 13th with his best time of 2m 5.563s while Ivan Silva (2m 8.479s) and Yonny Hernández (2m 8.767s) finished in 14th and 15th respectively for the Avintia FTR-Kawasaki team. The test continues tomorrow.