These just in:
Ducati domination on Day 3:
Petrucci, Bagnaia set the pace
Borgo Panigale machinery locks out the top four on the final day of the Sepang Test
Friday, 08 February 2019
After Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) missed out on setting the fastest ever lap of Sepang by just 0.067 on Thursday, Friday saw action in Malaysia end on a high as not one but six riders went quicker than Jorge Lorenzo’s quickest effort in 2018. The quickest of them all, however, was Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) as the Italian stormed the timesheets with an awe-inspiring 1:58.239 after 32 laps – with rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Alma Pramac Racing) hot on his heels and only a fitting 0.063 in arrears after 21 laps. Next came his teammate Jack Miller only another small margin further back, the Aussie doing 47 laps and quick despite a crash, with Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) completing the top four, three tenths off the top. All in all, a stunner of a day for Ducati machinery.
Dovizioso was positive after the day, although he said there’s still room to improve mid-corner, and Team Manager Davide Tardozzi continued the positivity. The Italian said the riders seem happy with many of the updates brought to the test, including chassis updates and a new fairing, and the long run pace of Day 2 bodes well. Alma Pramac rider Miller put in a long run on Day 3 too, with a good number of laps in the 2:00 and 2:01 bracket. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was a little further back on Day 3, but completed a positive test in P14.
After the Ducati lock out at the top, it was Viñales who remained close. The Spaniard put his newly-numbered number 12 into fifth on the timesheets, setting a 1:58.644 as his best of a whopping 79 laps. Viñales’ long run pace was also electric – with the Yamaha rider putting in 20 laps in the 1:59 and 2:00 brackets. Teammate Valentino Rossi was tenth on the timesheets after more than 60 laps, and it was a positive test for the Iwata marque overall.
Team Director Massimo Meregalli said focus was on taking the different parts and feedback and trying to create a “whole plan”, but that both riders chose more or less the same things and gave similar feedback. Engine decisions have also been made, the two riders remain in discussion about the aero-fairing, and now they’re hoping to reconfirm the results at Qatar.
Petronas Yamaha SRT, on their 2019 spec machines, also had another good showing on the timesheets. Franco Morbidelli was the second quickest Yamaha in P8 after 66 laps, with rookie teammate Fabio Quartararo in P16 after a mammoth 77 laps – just 0.011 behind rookie rival Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Behind Viñales, the final man to beat the 2018 fastest lap was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) as the Brit took P6 overall and was fastest Honda once again despite returning from injury. The three-time Grand Prix winner crashed on Day 3 once again but managed an increased 61 laps – a positive showing after so much time away – and did a best of a 1:58.780. His teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), meanwhile, impressed once again as he completed Day 3 in P9 and in the top ten – making that three days in a row. The Japanese rider was happy after the test and put in 61 laps on Friday.
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) seemed relieved on the third day of testing to see the condition of his shoulder improved after a tough Day 2. The number 93 again finished work a little early to aid his recovery, but he did 39 laps with a best of a 1:59.170 and ended the day in P11 – just 0.015 off Rossi. Honda Test Team rider Stefan Bradl also added more than 50 laps to the count for the Japanese manufacturer, ending the day in P13, and tested a new aero fairing, as did Marquez.
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was another who put in a stunning performance on Day 3, ending the session in seventh and only just outside Lorenzo’s quickest 2018 lap. He did 52 laps. Technical Director Romano Albesiano was positive about the laptime and the performance of the electronics and chassis, saying it’s been a positive winter and six days of testing so far are encouraging. Espargaro’s teammate Andrea Iannone, meanwhile, sat out the action due to illness.
Team Suzuki Ecstar had a more low-key day on Friday, on the timesheets at least, with Alex Rins the highest-placed Hamamatsu machine in P12, 0.010 off Marquez but putting in 75 laps. Rookie Joan Mir made a big move up the rankings on Day 3 though, ending the session in P15 and only three tenths off his teammate. Rins had positive things to say about Friday and especially about the test overall, with Suzuki aiming to keep their stunning 2018 form despite now having lost concessions for this season.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing saw Johann Zarco once again the fastest Austrian machine as the Frenchman took P17 with a 1:59.640 after 44 laps – but he only pipped teammate Pol Espargaro by just over a tenth. The Spaniard was P18, with Miguel Oliveira putting his Red Bull KTM Tech 3 machine just behind the two factory bikes. Chassis, suspension and aero were all being worked on, and long run pace was a positive for the Austrian factory. There were several versions of the aero package from KTM, and further testing will take place at Qatar before a decision is made.
The Mission Winnow Ducati team concludes the first MotoGP tests of 2019 with Petrucci in 1st position (new unofficial lap record), Dovizioso 4th
The Mission Winnow Ducati team archived the first official MotoGP tests of 2019 at Sepang (Malaysia). In the third and last session, all riders tried to set their fastest time in the morning – with cooler temperatures and, consequently, faster track conditions – and both Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso were able to break the previous, unofficial best lap (1:58.830) posted by Jorge Lorenzo one year ago as a factory Ducati rider.
Petrucci clocked 32 laps, posting a phenomenal 1:58.239, which put him in first position. Dovizioso finished in fourth position, with a personal best of 1:58.538, 0.299 seconds behind his teammate with 36 laps to his tally. The riders also tried a new fairing with a different aerodynamic profile, giving positive feedback.
The strong performances by Pecco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, respectively second and third on Pramac Racing Team’s Desmosedici GP bikes, further underscored Ducati’s overall competitiveness during this test.
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:58.239 (1st)
“Today we started off on the right foot: I was supposed to try two ‘time attacks’ but one attempt, done with a medium rear tyre, was enough. When I saw the lap time on the dashboard, I was really happy. After that, we resumed our work on some new items. Unfortunately, however, I crashed while I was trying a new fairing around midday. Given the fact that I was also experiencing some issues with blisters in my hands, we decided to stop a bit ahead of schedule to recover and make sure we’re at our best in the next tests in Qatar. Overall, it’s been a really positive test.”
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:58.538 (4th)
“All in all, this test has been positive. It was important to push to the limit again today because we only have another test before the season starts, and we managed to post a competitive time even on a flying lap after being really consistent in yesterday’s race simulation. Also, to see so many Ducati bikes at the front confirms that we have a good base. We also tried a new fairing, with positive feedback. It’s still early to draw conclusions, but I’m happy with the work done here and now we’ll look for more ways to improve ahead of Qatar.”
The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action at Losail (Qatar) for the second and final pre-season MotoGP test, scheduled for February 23-25.
Marquez leaves Sepang Test feeling positive
While unable to complete as many laps over the three-day test as normal, Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team leave pleased with progress made.
Finally the Sepang Test has come to a close, Marc Marquez completing a total of 105 laps while evaluating the various new parts for the 2019 Honda RC213V and his shoulder. With his recovery from shoulder surgery still continuing, his running over the three days was limited but the seven-time world champion remained able to set competitive times and completed his testing programme.
Starting early each day, Marquez diligently assessed the most important parts developed over the winter by Honda. Improving his overall time by half a second, Marquez finished the Sepang Test with a 1’59.170. Although he ended the test as the 11th fastest rider, Marquez and the entire Repsol Honda Team remain pleased with the progress made over the three days.
Official Test Rider Stefan Bradl ended the final day in 13th place with a fastest time of 1’59.368.
The Reigning World Champion will now visit Indonesia. Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team will next be on track for the Qatar Test, February 23 – 25, where Jorge Lorenzo is scheduled to return from injury.
“Day three was very positive, especially with my physical condition – I’m feeling much better. Yesterday I was a little worried about riding today, but I woke up and felt better. We were able to try many things for Honda today and I felt really good on the bike, comfortable and consistent. Everything we had planned to do this test, we have done. Of course I would have liked to ride more but we had to take it a bit easy. Even so, I’m happy because I was riding easy, not in my riding style but I was able to ride more. I didn’t crash and we tried the most important things for the Repsol Honda Team, I am happy because of this.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP wrapped up the first official IRTA test of the 2019 season today at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi had a lot of work to do. They spent the three days trying a number of testing items as well as new Michelin tyre compounds. The team-mates secured fifth and tenth place respectively in the overall standings.
1’58.644 / 79 LAPS
1’59.155 / 62 LAPS
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi have completed their testing programme at the Sepang International Circuit today. The third and last eight-hour session was crucial to collect some final data, as the team-mates tried new aero parts. They rode until the very end of the session, not letting any time go to waste. They ultimately took fifth and tenth place respectively in today‘s timesheets as well as in the overall 2019 Sepang MotoGP Official Test results.
This morning Viñales picked up where he left off, working on the race spec of his YZR-M1 and the acceleration. He was quick to show the bike‘s nimble character again, dropping a 1‘58.644s on lap 8, to slot into provisional fourth place in the rankings.
As the session progressed, the order changed slightly with the Spaniard being pushed to fifth in the second hour of riding. However, Viñales was more concerned with finalising his testing programme than putting in a time attack. He completed a 20-lap race simulation and kept riding until the very end when the chequered flag came out. The no. 12 rider completed 79 laps in total and held his fifth position in both today‘s and the overall results.
Rossi filled the final day of riding in Malaysia with further evaluating new tyres for Michelin and continued working on the stability in braking and the smoothness of the acceleration, and in the process he also improved on his best time from Day 2 by nearly half a second.
Similar to team-mate Viñales, the Doctor was solely putting his attention towards enhancing his bike‘s setting. His fastest lap was a 1‘59.155s, set on lap 9, putting him in tenth place for the majority of the day, 0.916s from the top. With a little more than 14 minutes on the clock, the Italian was committed to improving his position in the timesheets but was unable to do so and stayed in tenth place in today‘s and the combined timesheets.
The team will now return to Europe whilst the engineers return to Japan to process the data and take their 2019 MotoGP preparation another step further. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will regroup in Qatar from 23 – 25 February for the second preseason test of 2019.
“It has been a very positive and productive test, under extremely hot conditions. We had three days without problems, during which we could evaluate all the items that were prepared over the winter. Most of them gave positive results, improving the smoothness of the acceleration, the stability on braking and accordingly the turning. Our speed, pace, and consistency has been there for both riders throughout the entire test and this is very significant for us. Maverick was able to do an impressive race simulation. An important aspect is that both he and Vale are improving and are working in the same direction. Another significant aspect is that we deliberated on the engine specification. It will be important to get the same response in Qatar in two weeks‘ time, where for sure, based on this test, we’ll have another update available to us.”
“The test was really good. I actually missed one time attack in the morning which I planned to make in the afternoon, but finally it was so hot that the tyre was sliding a lot, so I couldn‘t improve my lap time from the morning. Anyway, I‘m happy because on the race simulation I felt really good. I was really tired, but I felt good on the bike. Day by day the bike was working pretty similar, as in the last test. You always get positives and negatives testing new items. Now we have to come to a conclusion to see if we should bring the new fairing to Qatar. I also made some laps behind our rivals, so I could compare how our bike is working, and it‘s not bad. There are just some small details left and that‘s the most important. Last year they were some steps ahead, and now we are closer.”
“I’m half happy because some things worked well and we improved our performance, other things from which we expected a lot unfortunately didn’t bring us what we need. So, for me, it’s good, because it’s the first test and we improved some things, but we have a lot of work to do. The gap is quite big, so we need time. I’m happy about the atmosphere and especially about the ideas inside the garage, it looks like Yamaha are very much concentrated on improving, so this is important.”
First step to 2019 MotoGP complete as long Malaysian test stint finishes in Sepang
MotoGP 2019 IRTA test Sepang – Day 3 (MYS)
The opening chapter of the 2019 MotoGP year closed today as three days of official IRTA testing at the hot Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia introduced a sizzling early pace into the pre-season period. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 as well as test rider Mika Kallio completed a busy and comprehensive programme during the IRTA sessions as well as two days of private work to make pleasing progress in their preparation for the Grand Prix campaign ahead.
Continued high temperatures and improving grip around the long Sepang layout saw lap-times tumble into new record territory on the third and final day of work in Malaysia. Pol Espargaro, Johann Zarco and Miguel Oliveira were able to increase their pace to find lap-time in the 1min 59 bracket as the riders wearily notched almost 200 laps between them in what was their fifth day circulating Sepang.
Espargaro – entering his third year with the KTM RC16 – signed-off a hectic agenda of experimentation and successfully banished memories of his heavy crash twelve months earlier at the same venue that caused a setback to his 2018 season. Zarco continued his adaption to his new racebike – only his second for his third term in the premier class – and was satisfied with the gains he could make for front-end feeling and confidence. Oliveira was the surprise package of the day among the ‘orange’ group and his time attack showed real promise from the MotoGP rookie. Mika Kallio forged ahead with his testing regime while Hafizh Syahrin struggled a little with fatigue today but was still able to grasp a feeling of progress once the eight-hour period was chequered flagged.
The MotoGP quartet will now travel back to Europe and to the KTM factory in Mattighofen for the 2019 Grand Prix presentation on Tuesday 12th February. The second and final pre-season test will take place at Losail in Qatar from 23rd-25th February.
Pol Espargaro: “We made an amazing rhythm today. On the first day we couldn’t, and then yesterday I was half a second slower than today. The pace was very, very nice and I was comfortable doing it. The fast lap was not what I expected – I found [Franco] Morbidelli in the way in the morning and could not improve – but this is a test and we go home with the knowledge we have done a good job. It is the first time we felt this big improvement from just one test. We have had five hot and hard days here but I think the whole team and factory did an amazing job: all the guys were super-focussed.”
Johann Zarco: “I tried this morning to improve further but I did not expect all the others to be going that fast! It was quite incredible. I’m pretty happy to be able to do many laps under two-minutes. We are happy with what we did, but we still have a lot of work. Overall I have improved my feeling and my control of the bike over five hard days. We will see what I can do in Losail. It will be interesting to see if we can adapt quicker in Qatar than we did here. The lap-time was better than I expected and we reached good points in our plan.”
Mike Leitner, Team Manager: “We have been testing so many things these days, from chassis to suspension to aerodynamics and we had three riders in the 1min 59s by the end. We could not really manage the super-fast single lap but on the longer runs people are quite happy and we are very consistent. We have a good feeling about the test. It was super-important. We worked many days and made steps that were very big. We took the time to make ‘basic’ work on our bikes where the focus is not always the lap-time. We will go to Doha now and hope to use this good information. A big thanks to all our five riders here in these demanding conditions: they worked through many ideas that came up in the factory during the winter and the guys in Austria have been pushing hard. We still need to fine-tune some things but we are going in the right direction.”
Sebastian Risse, Technical Director: “All-in-all it was a long test for us and a lot of things have piled up in all areas of the bike over the winter. So it was an intense test, also with Tech3 structure here now also that allowed us to get even more information. I think we can be very happy with our progress and we made huge steps with our new riders in terms of getting confidence in the bike and setting and development. Looking at what we have done and the pace compared to previous years we are happy. The speed was quite incredible today and our positions are not quite what we were looking for. We know our competitors are strong and are developing their motorcycles quickly but we have to be even quicker! That was the challenge here. I think we did it…but we also have a long way to go. We will have to prepare our priorities well now for the last test and make sure we make another step forward in performance.”
Miguel Oliveira: “The lap time was ok. It was not as fast as I expected because I couldn’t match the best configuration of the bike with the best tyres in the best moment, but in any case, I’m very close to the two KTM factory riders, closer than everybody expected. We have been really competitive with used tyres, which is good for the race. At the moment, I can see a clear step forward, so I think it’s about going to the Qatar test, taking the experiences from these three days and just trying to be another step better.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “We improved a lot compared to yesterday. The lap time is significantly faster than before, but still a bit far from the top. During this last day, I felt really good with the bike, but my physical condition was not ideal. After four full days of riding, the muscles in my arms were too hard and I was lacking some power. To be honest, I am a bit disappointed about myself for this, as the bike was truly great for this last day and I couldn’t fully use it. Anyway, I’ll try to do my best during the Qatar test before the start of the season, we are on a positive way and for sure we can be better.”