Sepang MotoGP Test Wraps Up: Rossi Fastest Of The Non-Fab-Q Yamahas!

Another diary entry by Hervé Villechaize


MotoGP Press

Full house: Quartararo remains untouchable on Day 3
Frenchman fastest despite the timesheets tightening up – and some long runs raising a few eyebrows
Sunday, 09 February 2020
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) made it a full house at the Sepang Test as he topped the timesheets once again on Sunday, with the Frenchman putting in a 1:58.349 to end the session close to the fastest ever lap of the Malaysian venue. He had some close company, however, with LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow taking second place, 0.082 off, and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) taking third within 0.101 of the top. All manufacturers ended the test within 0.345.

The weather was on side again on Sunday, with only the last half hour or so affected by rain – but a few finished a little early whether by design or mishap. For Quartararo it was a shorter day than Saturday, as the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider put in 57 laps, setting his fastest on his 17th. Teammate Franco Morbidelli, on his “A-spec” machine, did 58 laps and ends the test in P13.

Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was actually the second fastest Yamaha rider on Sunday. His best was a 1:58.541 and that puts him in fifth after just over a half century of laps. Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales, meanwhile, was way down the timesheets yet positive about the test; his best a 1:59.169 in P18 – but after a whopping 83 laps and some impressive long run pace. On Saturday evening, the Spaniard was especially impressed by the top speed improvement from the new engine.

Test rider Jorge Lorenzo was out on track on Sunday too, with the Spaniard adding another 46 laps to the Iwata marque’s program and proving a key point of interest. But Yamaha had another slightly different talking point too – something that looks very much like a holeshot device, spotted on Viñales’, Rossi’s and test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga’s machinery.

Honda’s test program workhorse Cal Crutchlow kept them in the hunt for the top on Day 3. The Brit’s best was a 1:58.431 and, predictably, he was one of the most prolific on track, completing 69 laps. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez did 47 laps and was P12, his day ending in a mishap at Turn 15 – rider ok. The Spaniard also reported in his debrief that he’s more focused on getting the technical side of the new season sorted, rather than worried about his shoulder recovery.

His rookie teammate Alex Marquez was 16th and did 49 laps, ending the test less than half a tenth off getting into the 1:58s. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) did a best of a 1:59.860 a bit further back, completing 48 laps.

Alex Rins was back in charge of the Suzuki teammate battle for supremacy on Sunday. The number 42 almost made it three bikes in a tenth but for a single thousandth, and he did an apt 42 laps, downing tools a little early. Teammate Joan Mir was P10 after 32 laps, his best a 1:58.736 despite a crash at Turn 9. The positivity from the Hamamatsu factory seems positively brimming after the test, and some impressive long run pace in the mid 59s made for good reading too.

Ducati, meanwhile, saw their top position on the timesheets taken over by Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as the Italian put in a 1:58.502 to secure P4 – only 0.052 off Rins. Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci was sixth with a 1:58.606, and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) eighth… but just 0.010 behind the Italian. Bagnaia and Miller both crashed at Turn 15, riders ok.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was a little further down in P14 with a best of 1:58.859, with every GP20 rider putting in around 50 laps each on Sunday. But Dovizioso sounded pretty satisfied, working on setup and feeling on the new tyre in the morning – and pointing out that both he and Miller set their best on the medium…

Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing), meanwhile, continued his improvement on the GP19 and ends the test 15th on Day 3, getting down to a 1:58.951 after 42 laps. Teammate Tito Rabat did a best of 1:59.549.

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) finishes the Sepang test in a similar position to where he started it, in seventh, but the number 44 was nearly a second quicker on Day 2. He only put in 34 laps on Sunday, but was also at the shakedown with KTM. His teammate Brad Binder had a pretty solid Sunday too as he remained close to fellow rookie Alex Marquez on the timesheets; the South African shaving nearly a second and a half off his Day 1 best.

Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira, meanwhile, impressed on Day 3, putting in a 1:58.764 as he returns from injury – and slotting into P11 just ahead of reigning World Champion Marc Marquez despite doing only 22 laps. Oliveira’s teammate Iker Lecuona put in just 23 laps as well, but the Austrian factory also fielded test rider Mika Kallio as the Finn took over from Day 2 hero Dani Pedrosa. Kallio suffered a crash at Turn 15, rider ok.

Aprilia also leave Sepang securely belonging in the top ten, having hit the ground very much running with the new RS-GP. Aleix Espargaro led the way for the Noale factory once again as he took ninth with a 1:58.694, putting in 45 laps – and saying there was also more to come from a single lap, which was proving a challenge to maximise. And that’s borne out in the awesome long run pace the number 41 laid down, with a host of mid 59s. Test rider Bradley Smith was also on duty once again, adding 61 laps for the Italian marque.

That’s it from Sepang, now it’s time to head for Qatar for the second – and final – pre-season test. That starts in a couple of weeks on the 22nd of February, with the grid now facing just three days of track time before the season begins in earnest. Keep up to date with everything on motogp.com in the meantime!

Ducati

Sixth Petrucci and fourteenth Dovizioso on the final day of testing in Sepang

The third and final day of first 2020 Official MotoGP Test has ended today at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

After a Friday that featured mixed track conditions due to the rain and a Saturday that welcomed on-track action under bright skies, the Ducati Team riders where able to take advantage of the dry conditions on Sunday until the final half-hour of free practices when the weather again deteriorated.

Both Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci took it to the track just after 10 AM committing part of their test program to understand how to use the new Michelin tyres and working also on the ideal setup for their Desmosedici GP20 bikes.

In the morning, Petrucci was able to stop the clock on the 1:58.606, which was also his personal best of the weekend, ending sixth of the day and sixth in the combined classification.

It has been a positive day for Dovizioso too. Despite having ended the day just 14th and 15th overall at the end of the three days, he was able to finish only 0.510 seconds behind the pacesetter founding a good race pace in the mini long run (10 laps) that he did late this morning.

Before the opening Grand Prix of the 2020 MotoGP season that will be held on the 8th March in Qatar, the Ducati Team will head at the same Losail International Circuit from 22nd-24th February to complete the final session of winter testing.

Danilo Petrucci (#9, Ducati Team) – 6° (1:58.606)
“It has been a busy three-day test. Today we worked on different setup solutions, and even if we still have a few aspects that we still need to improve, I am satisfied because we were able to find a good race pace and make another step forward. I discussed a lot with Andrea, and together we identified a few aspects that for sure will be helpful during the races. We still need to understand how to use well the new tyres, but we still have the Qatar Test to complete our work”.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04, Ducati Team) – 14° (1:58.859)
“I am quite satisfied with the work we have done today. This morning we were able to put in several laps, improving the bike setup and also my feeling with the new tyres. It had not been easy because I had to adapt my riding style, and I was struggling a lot with this in the beginning. Danilo and I did a few laps together: the pace was good, but the tyre performance dropped quite a lot. We still need to understand how they will work on a race distance and here in Sepang, where the conditions are peculiar due to the high temperatures, is really difficult to make a complete evaluation. Now we still have a test before the opening round of the season in Qatar. I am sure that the final classification of these three days doesn’t completely reflect what will happen in the Championship this year”.

 

Monster Yamaha

MASSIMO MEREGALLI
TEAM DIRECTOR

We were able to get what we were after: we definitely got the confirmation that the 2020 bike is a step forward and from now on we will be focusing on this model. We noticed an improvement in top speed, grip, and tyre life. Maverick completed a race simulation today in very hot and critical conditions, and he showed great consistency from beginning to end. Vale didn‘t do the race simulation but focused on testing all the items that we needed to try here, and he also did a good hot lap. It‘s his first 1‘58s lap, so that‘s another positive sign that we are moving forward as a team. For Maverick, when the time came to do his time attack, it started raining, so this compromised his position in the Day-3 and overall standings. But we can certainly say that this has been a good three-day test, and we hope that all the information we have been able to collect will be helpful to make another improvement at the next Qatar test.

VALENTINO ROSSI

We are happy with these three days. Today was a good day because I did a very good lap time in the time attack. It‘s the first time for me to be in the 1‘58s, so this is positive, also because we are in P5 and very close to the top. We worked a lot, also on the pace, and we tried different things. Some were good, others weren‘t. We have to work hard because everybody is so fast, but the test was positive.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

I‘m feeling very positive, because today we improved the bike quite a lot, especially the race set-up. I didn‘t have enough time left to make one hot lap but, doing things like this, I kept a bit calmer. We were really concentrated on working on the feeling and it seems to be good. On race tyres with a race set-up we had a good pace, I felt quite competitive. But we also noticed points that we are going to try to improve in Qatar. I didn‘t set up for one lap just yet. For me, at this test it was really important to concentrate on the feeling and understand what I need to improve on. We are now going to work very hard to accomplish those improvements and we will see if the bike works the same way in Qatar as it did here.

Tech 3

Red Bull KTM Tech3 concludes Sepang test on a high note

Miguel Oliveira broke through the 1:59 mark today at the scorching Sepang International Circuit to finish the first official test in 2020 impressive 0.415 seconds to the top. Yet, the Portuguese youngster was missing 1.710 seconds to the fastest rider exactly one year ago. Meanwhile Red Bull KTM Tech3’s new addition Iker Lecuona likewise completed Sunday with his fastest time at the Malaysian venue, eager to follow his positive learning curve in less than two weeks at the final preseason test in Qatar.

Miguel Oliveira

Position: 11th

Time: 1:58.764

Laps: 22

“This morning, we mainly focused on a time attack and doing this with the best setup, we found of parts together. We had a very good lap with our normal tyre allocation, which was surprising. When I put a softer tyre on the rear, I couldn’t improve, but overall, I’m very happy with our pace and all the work we have done during the three days of official test here. In the upcoming two weeks I still have some work to do, physically, building some more muscles and trying to remove as much pain as possible on the shoulder in order to have a good first race weekend in Qatar.”

Oliveira – 2020

Iker Lecuona

Position: 23rd

Time: 1:59.898

Laps: 23

“My goal was to have a small gap to the front, but today I didn’t improve as much as I wished, although I managed reach the 1:59’s. I tried some new tyres today and I know, that I still need to be faster, plus after all these days on track here, I’m physically exhausted, to be honest. Overall, I have to admit, that I’m not totally happy about today. I will continue to learn in Qatar. For now, we have a good base with the bike, which I like, my general feeling is great. I just need to learn and understand more and more things about this machine.”

 

Hervé Poncharal

Team Manager

“Finally, after a long stay in Malaysia, the first 2020 test is over. For Red Bull KTM Tech3 it was a tough mission, because we didn’t only test three days with the whole grid, but also had the great possibility to do the shakedown, which was another three days prior to the official test. After a long winter break without any MotoGP riding, if was clear, that the bodies of both riders are suffering, especially during the last two days. Anyway, it was a very, very productive test. Honestly, I have to state, that I’m amazed by what KTM did during the winter, about what the entire racing department brought to Malaysia and everything we were testing from chassis over aerodynamics to electronic was a big step forward. Compared to last year at the Sepang test, especially when we take a look to the gap of Miguel to the fastest, KTM was clearly much, much closer to the front, not only on a single fast lap, but also in terms of race pace. This is, what I would like to emphasize more than anything, that KTM has become a real strength for a top 5 finish or hopefully even more within only 12 months. Miguel is very positive about the outcome of this test, also about his own physical condition. Together with Pol (Espargaro) and Dani (Pedrosa) they are really the top guys, KTM can truly rely on to further develop the bike. On the other side, Iker did a great job, was improving every day and because he is a fighter, he was not satisfied with this, but either way, we can be proud of him. He is the youngest rider on the grid and was already under two minutes, which is a good lap time in Sepang. His physical condition was suffering towards the end, but all of this is what you need to become a good MotoGP rider. I’m sure he will go back to Spain with a lot of data in his head, ready for Qatar. I want to thank Miguel for his great work and also our rookie did a good job, overall, we are positive. I think we have a decent line-up. We don’t make headlines at the moment, but if people look closer inside the data, they will see, that the orange division is coming. Now everybody should go back home and get some rest until Qatar is going to be the final shakedown for the first round.”

Repsol Honda

Three days of testing draw to a close for the Repsol Honda Team in Malaysia

The final day of testing in the Sepang heat provided tantalisingly close times for fans and more valuable data for riders and engineers.

Maximising his time on track without over working his shoulder, defending MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez completed 47 laps on the final day of testing in Malaysia. Each day has allowed Marc to test not only the 2020 bike but also test his shoulder, the Honda rider pleased with progress made in both areas. The final day came to a slightly premature end as Marc fell at the final corner, again avoiding any further injury. A best time of 1’58.772 saw the eight-time World Champion finish within half a second of Fabio Quartararo who topped the test.

Sunday was another day of steady and constant progress for rookie Alex Marquez who improved his best lap time throughout the day. Cutting over half a second off his previous best, Alex leaves the Sepang test with a best time of 1’59.042 and edged out Brad Binder to finish the test as the top MotoGP rookie. The test has been an extremely positive one for Alex and his Repsol Honda Team, able to accomplish everything they set out to do at the start of the three days. Finishing the day within two tenths of his teammate and 0.693s back from the fastest rider of the test is testament to the work done in Sepang.

Across the three days of testing the Repsol Honda Team have completed 284 total laps with Alex leading thanks to his 153 laps across the three days.

Cal Crutchlow finished the test as the fastest Honda, setting the second fastest time aboard his LCR Honda during the third day of running.

Teams and riders will enjoy a brief break before once again heading out for three final days of testing in Qatar on February 22 – 24. For both riders, this gives them a chance to rest and undergo their final preparations to be in the best shape for round one of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

Marc Marquez
1’58.772

“I finished the day with a good feeling as this morning we had a good rhythm and I put in the most effort today. I had a small crash at Turn 15, but this was down to physical condition. It’s good to know where the limit is, of course it would have been better to not crash but I am OK after it. Today I did 47 laps again, but it was with a different rhythm. I tried a few things but there is still work to do. The runs today were a little longer today but our speed was still good.”

Alex Marquez
1’59.042

“The general feeling everyday was better, we were faster and felt better. This is the most important thing. There are only three more days of the pre-season left to be ready for the Qatar GP but we are closer every day. Still we need to learn more but every time we ride my knowledge is growing and I’m pleased with everything we’ve achieved. For Qatar our aim is to continue to understand the setup of the bike for myself and in various conditions. We’ve tried a lot this test so I leave happy.”

 

Suzuki

SUZUKI ECSTAR WRAP UP A SUCCESSFUL SEPANG TEST

Team Suzuki Press Office – February 9.

Alex Rins: 3rd – 1:58.450 +0.101
Joan Mir: 11th – 1:58.731 +0.382
Sylvain Guintoli: 25th – 2:00.100 +1.751

The first official test of 2020 has drawn to a close, with Team SUZUKI ECSTAR enjoying plenty of strong laps and gleaning a lot of information from the three-day stint on track.

Alex Rins continued working on the new chassis and various different setups. He also tried the new tyres supplied by Michelin. Rins felt happy with the progress made over the three days.

On the other side of the garage, Joan Mir spent this final day fine tuning his settings and working on electronics and tyres. He used the remaining time to complete a race simulation and admitted that he feels better with his new GSX-RR every day.

Sylvain Guintoli began the third day of testing but later handed over to fellow Test Rider, Takuya Tsuda. The pair confirmed many of the parts tested by Alex and Joan.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR will be back on track in Qatar on February 22nd.

Ken Kawauchi:

“For this first test of the year, we brought many parts; chassis, swingarm, electronics cowlings and some engine updates. Before the start of this test I was worried that we wouldn’t have time to go through everything, but we managed to do it and we found a good direction. This test was about trying these new parts, and then at the next test we’ll work to confirm the package more precisely and finalise everything. We’re pleased with how everything went here and the work we’ve done, and I’m confident about the Qatar Test.”

Davide Brivio:

“It was a very good test; we did a lot of work and completed our planned program. We confirmed the new engine, tested the chassis, the aerodynamics, and the electronics and so on. We found improvements and positive things which can improve our overall package. The riders worked hard here, and they are both in good shape with good pace, so everything went well. In Qatar we’ll check a few things to confirm if they work equally well there and finalise the package, and then we’ll prepare for the first race. When we get to the first race we’ll truly know how well the testing went.”

Alex Rins:

“Today was the last day of the test, and we’re happy how all three days went. We tested everything we had on the list and now we go to the Qatar Test with a better bike than last year. I improved my rhythm and race pace here, and also my best lap time, so I’m happy with that. We’ll continue working and see how things are in Qatar, when we arrive there we will try the new parts again to compare how they work on a different track layout.”

Joan Mir:

“I feel really good on the bike, it’s better every day. In the morning I tried the new soft tyre, but in the end I improved my lap time without the soft tyre so that was something positive. We’ve found good things in this test and we have strong potential, I think in Qatar we will take another step forward, and then we’ll be closer to the front. It will be interesting to try the bike on a different circuit.”

Sylvain Guintoli:

“It’s been a busy few days! I was riding at the ‘shakedown test’ for three days before this, so I’ve now done six days of riding and completed around three hundred laps! So, we’ve got loads of work done and it’s been really interesting. We tried different aerodynamic packages and chassis settings, and we’ve completed our planned program, so we’re really pleased. The bike is feeling good and Suzuki is doing a great job with all the work, and the atmosphere in the team is incredible.”

Combined classification after Day 3:

1 Fabio QUARTARARO Petronas Yamaha SRT 1:58.349 Day 3 Session
2 Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda CASTROL 1:58.431 0.082 0.082 Day 3 Session
3 Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:58.450 0.101 0.019 Day 3 Session
4 Francesco BAGNAIA Pramac Racing 1:58.502 0.153 0.052 Day 3 Session
5 Valentino ROSSI Monster Energy Yamaha Moto 1:58.541 0.192 0.039 Day 3 Session
6 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati Team 1:58.606 0.257 0.065 Day 3 Session
7 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:58.610 0.261 0.004 Day 3 Session
8 Jack MILLER Pramac Racing 1:58.616 0.267 0.006 Day 3 Session
9 Dani PEDROSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:58.662 0.313 0.046 Day 2 Session
10 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:58.694 0.345 0.032 Day 3 Session
11 Joan MIR Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:58.731 0.382 0.037 Day 2 Session
12 Miguel OLIVEIRA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 1:58.764 0.415 0.033 Day 3 Session
13 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1:58.772 0.423 0.008 Day 3 Session
14 Franco MORBIDELLI Petronas Yamaha SRT 1:58.831 0.482 0.059 Day 2 Session
15 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1:58.859 0.510 0.028 Day 3 Session
16 Maverick VIÑALES Monster Energy Yamaha Moto 1:58.893 0.544 0.034 Day 2 Session
17 Johann ZARCO Reale Avintia Racing 1:58.951 0.602 0.058 Day 3 Session
18 Alex MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1:59.042 0.693 0.091 Day 3 Session
19 Brad BINDER Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:59.104 0.755 0.062 Day 3 Session
20 Tito RABAT Reale Avintia Racing 1:59.549 1.200 0.445 Day 3 Session
21 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha Test Team 1:59.697 1.348 0.148 Day 3 Session
22 Bradley SMITH Aprilia Factory Racing 1:59.841 1.492 0.144 Day 3 Session
23 Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 1:59.860 1.511 0.019 Day 3 Session
24 Iker LECUONA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 1:59.898 1.549 0.038 Day 3 Session
25 Sylvain GUINTOLI SUZUKI Test Team 2:00.100 1.751 0.202 Day 3 Session
26 Mika KALLIO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2:00.148 1.799 0.048 Day 3 Session
27 Yamaha TEST 3 Yamaha Test Team 2:00.791 2.442 0.643 Day 2 Session
28 Yamaha TEST 1 Yamaha Test Team 2:00.920 2.571 0.129 Day 2 Session
29 Yamaha TEST 2 Yamaha Test Team 2:01.744 3.395 0.824 Day 1 Session
30 Lorenzo SAVADORI Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2:03.150 4.801 1.406 Day 1 Session
31 Takuya TSUDA SUZUKI Test Team 2:03.674 5.325 0.524 Day 3 Session

 

LCR Honda

Cal Crutchlow enjoyed another progressive session on the third and final day of the official pre-season practice at the Sepang International Circuit. The Briton again worked his way through a long list of parts and settings and also managed to post the second fastest time on Sunday – and in the overall combined times – as he wrapped up a hugely productive three days in Malaysia.

With conditions staying fair, aside from a rainy final 30 minutes, Crutchlow took full advantage to rack up a total of 69 laps as he continued to gather valuable feedback for the 2020 RC213V factory Honda. He exchanged top spot on the timesheets with Fabio Quartararo in the opening hour, although the Yamaha rider would again finish on top of the pile, as he did on Friday and Saturday. Cal’s best lap was his 14th of the day, although the 34-year-old was pleased with his consistent pace throughout.

There is now just one more official test before the season gets underway in Qatar and Crutchlow is looking to continue improving ahead of the 2020 curtain-raiser.

Cal Crutchlow – 2nd
(1’58.431 – lap 14 of 69)

“We had a good and positive third day to get through a long list of items that we needed to test for ourselves and Honda. We had some test items on there throughout the day and also some geometry settings. I felt good today with the pace, although I still didn’t feel fantastic with the bike. We need to improve the pushing on the corner entry and the turning of the bike for me to feel more comfortable. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that at the Qatar test, but thank you to my team for such hard work over the last three days here in Sepang.”

 

KTM

KTM stride forwards with 2020 MotoGP prep after long Sepang test
MotoGP 2020 IRTA test Sepang (MYS)

KTM’s Red Bull MotoGP teams and test riders completed almost a week of work at the Sepang International Circuit in what was a busy but immensely productive first stage of dialling-in the new works KTM RC16 for the 2020 season.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 completed six days and hundreds of laps of the Sepang International Circuit in the first MotoGP testing schedule of the year. Pol Espargaro, Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona were joined by test riders Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio in both private and official IRTA sessions as work towards refinement of the KTM RC16 gathered pace.

Espargaro evaluated many components and technical ideas – chiefly engine and electronics and chassis mods – and concentrated on different swingarms and the new Michelin tyre allocation today. He clocked a best lap just over two tenths of a second away from the top of the time sheets and from a final classification that saw eighteen of the twenty-six riders on track split by less than one second.

Binder pushed to gather more mileage and understanding of the MotoGP machine and was content to be just half a second behind Espargaro by the time of the end of the test. Dani Pedrosa demonstrated his exceptional skills still remain firmly in place by clocking the 3rd fastest lap on day two. Mika Kallio ran the latest spec of the KTM RC16 in the final outing.

Red Bull KTM Tech3 pairing Oliveira and Lecuona continued their respective agendas in Sepang. The Portuguese was reacclimatising to the MotoGP machinery ahead of his second term in the class and after missing the last two rounds of the 2019 calendar due to shoulder surgery. The Spaniard, the youngest rider on the grid, gained more valuable laps at just his third circuit with the RC16.

Both Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 will unveil their 2020 racing colours in a special online presentation on February 18th.

MotoGP moves onto the second and final three-day test at the Losail International Circuit on February 22nd. The opening round of twenty in the 2020 campaign takes place at the same facility in Qatar on March 8th.

Pol Espargaro: “We’ve done a lot these six days! Today was successful: we tested the new Michelin tyres and we made our conclusions. We also worked on the swingarm because we felt we were losing grip in hot conditions from the soft tyres so we wanted to understand why. We learned a lot actually. We have more horsepower and the electronics are working smoother which allows you to open the throttle earlier in the corners and is important here in Sepang and what we were missing before. Overall it feels very good. In Qatar we will restart. We might have different problems and we’ll have different tyres so we’ll begin again and hopefully have the same results.”

Brad Binder: “In the first two tests I was 2.1 off and now I am 0.7. It’s a big step forwards for us. The feeling and the comfort on the bike is way-better but we have a long, long way to go. I need to keep working and it will pay-off soon. If you look at the position then it is dissatisfying but the main thing is the gap. A couple of tenths have made a good difference in the standings. I have seen that it’s not too difficult to make a fast lap but I need to do twenty of them! It’s been a positive six days. We’ve progressed every day. We can reset and start again in Qatar.”

Miguel Oliveira: “This morning we mainly focused on a time attack and doing this with the best set-up. We had a very good lap with our normal tyre allocation, which was surprising. When I put a softer tyre on the rear, I couldn’t improve, but overall, I’m very happy with our pace and all the work we have done during the three days of official test here. In the upcoming two weeks I still have some work to do, physically, building some more muscles and trying to remove as much pain as possible on the shoulder in order to have a good first race weekend in Qatar.”

Iker Lecuona: “My goal was to have a small gap to the front but today I didn’t improve as much as I wished, although I managed reach the 1:59’s. I tried some new tyres today and I know, that I still need to be faster, plus after all these days on track here, I’m physically exhausted, to be honest. I will continue to learn in Qatar. For now, we have a good base with the bike, which I like, my general feeling is great. I just need to learn and understand more and more things about this machine.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “After six days we can be positive about our test programme and that is different compared to last year and the rainy conditions because we had ideas on the table that we could not try. It meant we had quite a big operation to bring over here to Sepang and some late decisions. So, the test has been really important and necessary and the feedback from the riders has been good. There are people in the company working so hard on this bike – including the whole test team – and they have done a great job this winter. We have confirmed ideas and changes and it was nice to see that in the long runs we are quite strong and the fast laps are acceptable. We can see that we have made another step. The riders had a lot to do and we have two rookies in the group in Brad and Iker and they did very well with a lot of laps and building up their knowledge of MotoGP with the riding style and small changes. Pol, Miguel and Dani had to do many laps, many runs and go through a big list and they stayed focussed and did it in a great style. It is also positive to leave here with everybody healthy. Small details make the difference and eighteen riders are split by one second so we know the season will be tough and very competitive. Let’s go to Qatar now and see how we look.”

Sebastian Risse, Technical Coordinator MotoGP: “What we are using here is completely different to last year’s bike. We were using a basic package at Valencia and Jerez at the end of last year and then went back home in the winter break to analyse the pluses and minuses and to smooth it out. Basically, there are hardly any parts from last year’s bike. We had the opportunity to check single items in order to make sure that every piece of the puzzle brings a positive impact and now we are very confident. We look much better than we did at the same time last season. Of course, everybody has moved closer together but we have moved even closer. The lap-time looks much better and the consistency is very good. The tyre specification has changed and the combination with our new bike seems to be very competitive around here. We have been working on the engine and different chassis configurations and a lot with aerodynamics because this is something we need to homologate for the entire season; this is a high speed track so it presents an opportunity to understand that better. Now we are looking forward to see how this all works at another track with a different character and different tyre allocation to understand where we are for the season.”

Sepang IRTA Test Day Three final times

1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 1:58.349
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), Honda +0.082
3. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +0.101
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Ducati +0.153
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha +0.192
7. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +0.261
11. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.415
17. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM +0.755
22. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.549
25. Mika Kallio (FIN), KTM +1.799

 


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