After the excitement of two great WSBK races last weekend at Phillip Island, the second Sepang MotoGP test seems at times like watching latex paint dry. Lap, lap, lap, repeat. Lap, lap, lap and issue innocuous quote. Repeat.
The rain-abbreviated opening day of the second Sepang test had a familiar look: Dani Pedrosa was quickest on his Repsol Honda, followed by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his Yamaha. Rookie sensation Marc Marquez was third on his Repsol Honda.
Pedrosa and Lorenzo ended up one-two at the first Sepang test Feb. 5-7, and Marquez held the third spot until he was edged by Valentino Rossi's Yamaha on the final day.
Don't expect this order to change much. What you see is what you're probably going to get in 2013.
The second year of the 1000cc era of MotoGP probably won't deviate much from the first year or the five preceding seasons of 800cc machinery. This is the era of electronics and tires in the premier class. Honda and Yamaha have their black boxes dialed in pretty close to optimum, even in the preseason, and teams are forced to use whatever tires exclusive supplier Bridgestone provides them.
Days of significant technical jumps and spills during the season are over.
Everything now is about incremental change, especially with only five engines allowed for the season. Durability is just as important as horsepower, so engine design boffins aren't going to take huge chances.
Ducati attempted to change the paradigm in frame design and construction from 2009-11 by hanging carbon-fiber frame structures on the engine as a stressed member. Other than seven wins by Casey Stoner in 2009-10, every MotoGP fan knows how well that experiment fared.
That failure only will reinforce the cautious, evolutionary nature of MotoGP engineering these days. No revolution is going to upset the proverbial apple cart, especially as cost-saving becomes more and more vital in an arid sponsorship market and troubled world economy.