These are in from Sepang:
Ducati vs Aprilia on Day 3: the timesheets tighten at Sepang
Marini top, Bagnaia second, Viñales third as Ducati & Aprilia shine on Sunday – with Marquez leading the resistance
Sunday, 12 February 2023
Slow start, hectic middle, steady end. That was the story of the third and final day of the Official MotoGP™ Sepang Test as we saw times tumble in between a couple of small rain showers that hampered the start and end of testing. Coming out on top of the timesheets was Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) thanks to a blistering 1:57.889, as reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) also broke the 1:58 barrier. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) rounded out the top three, the Spaniard 0.147s off Marini’s table-topping effort at the close of play.
With not too many more tech updates to discuss that we haven’t delved into already over the past couple of days, Sunday was also about having a closer look at the timing screens. Only two riders didn’t manage to improve their best times from Friday and Saturday, they were Miguel Oliveira (RNF MotoGP™ Team) and 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), as most of the full-time premier class stars did a few time attack laps.
Here’s a rundown and first… ain’t it good to see bikes on track (and some sunny skies!)?
Reigning Champion Bagnaia was so close to the top, and he had the new aero on both bikes but had the downwash ducts instead of the “ground-effect” side fairings, reportedly preferring them. Teammate Enea Bastianini had the new aero on both bikes but one with the downwash ducts and one with the “ground-effect” lower side fairings. The Beast was fourth overall and at the end of the day said they were still only at 70-75% of the potential of the new bike…
Ducati Lenovo Team Manager Davide Tardozzi was also pleased overall, but he did also stress that the details of the whole new bike will be decided in Portimão. He also reported that Bagnaia said there were good points to the ‘23 machine, but still “one weak point” compared to the GP22, so that will be one to ask about.
At Prima Pramac Racing, Jorge Martin was especially vocal about the step forward with the 2023 engine, and he was fifth at the end of play. Teammate Johann Zarco was also spending time on the ground effect lower side fairings, and he finishes the test in P16.
With Marini on top enjoying the still very much sublime GP22, Mooney VR46 Racing Team make it two days of three they’ve stolen some headlines at Sepang after teammate Marco Bezzecchi was also quickest on Day 1. Bezzecchi was eighth on Sunday, just 0.019 behind Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) on another GP22. New Ducati rider Alex Marquez was just behind Bezzecchi, and by just we mean 0.022s.
Both of the Aprilia Racing stars – Aleix Espargaro and Viñales – had 2023 aero packages on them on the final day, and both bikes in each of their boxes were the 2023 machines. It looks like Aprilia have made a promising step with their new package, as both riders improved their overall lap times ahead of lunch time on Sunday.
Viñales was the busier of the two riders in terms of laps. Top Gun clocked 56 laps in total and had an enjoyable afternoon, as we saw the number 12 sling himself to the top of the timesheets. His 1:58.036 was at some stage the third fastest lap we’ve ever seen at the Sepang International Circuit, before Marini slammed in his 1:57.889 and Pecco joined his VR46 Academy counterpart in the 1:57s.
Espargaro set 32 laps on the final day and eventually ended the three-day outing in sixth place, 0.4s from top spot, but the Spaniard was happy with how Aprilia’s Test has gone. It’s “too early” to properly evaluate the 2023 package, but it’s so far, so good for the Naole factory. There’s also a newer engine spec and a few more things expected for the next test, too.
Positivity was seemingly running through the RNF MotoGP™ Team box as premier class sophomore Raul Fernandez climbed to P7 overall, but as others also improved, Fernandez eventually finished P11. His 1:58.710 was over a second quicker than he managed in qualifying at the 2022 Malaysian GP, while teammate Miguel Oliveira continued to show impressive pace on the RS-GP. The Portuguese star ended the Test in P15, his best time coming in at a 1:58.839, and said a lot of focus was on the rear of the bike and setting it up so he felt more comfortable.
Viñales ended the test in third
And Aleix Espargaro was sixth
In the Honda camp, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) managed to better his overall best laptime ahead of lunch time and sat comfortably in the top 10 for a while. After having four bikes in his box for the first two days, there were only three on his side of the factory HRC garage on Sunday – and one of them had a cover on it. The two bikes the eight-time World Champion was out on were the 2023 development bikes, they each have a different chassis, but look very similar from the outside. It seems notable that Marquez and Honda concentrated mainly on the 2023 development bikes on the final day, not on the experimental bike that he was seen out on a few times this weekend.
At the end of the three days, the number 93 was P10 on the timesheets having completed a further 55 laps on the final day. Marquez was 0.777s off Marini’s pace, with teammate Joan Mir a solid P12 – just over a tenth of Marquez’s effort. Mir got another valuable 45 laps under his belt as he continues his adaptation to the RC213V.
Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig admitted Honda are “clearly” not where they want to be yet, but commented how positive Marquez’s physical condition is. Puig was also full of praise of Mir’s progress, with Mir also pleased that he’s feeling better on the bike “everyday”. Marquez on Marquez, meanwhile, was full of positives. The number 93 said the most important thing to him in the test was to assess his physical condition and he was very happy with the outcome, saying there was some tiredness in the arm on the final day but it was completely normal. Rivals, beware…
Elsewhere at Honda, Alex Rins’ (LCR Honda Castrol) best time of the test was a 1:58.932, placing him P19, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) 1.6s off top spot in P21 as he continued his testing duties for the Japanese factory.
Marquez was the only non-Italian bike in the top ten
And Mir seems to be settling in, just over a tenth off MM93
That different engine noise overheard from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing earlier in the test was overheard from Pol Espargaro’s GASGAS RC16 on Sunday. He was P13 overall too, just thousandths ahead of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Rookie Augusto Fernandez seemed to be out testing one of the newer chassis, taking on a few more parts too.
Pol Espargaro was back to work on the RC16
Augusto Fernandez was starting to test more
At KTM, Binder was back out testing the aero update that broke cover at the Shakedown, and the engine questions roll on. The South African was 0.015s behind Pol Espargaro in a GASGAS-KTM RC16 sandwich, in P14 after another half century of laps.
On Jack Miller’s side of the Red Bull KTM garage, both bikes looked the same as they have over the previous two days – with the Valencia aero update. He was back on the “old” engine on Sunday, and ended the day P18 after another 54 laps of settling in. He says that’s his focus, playing with geometry and finding his feet with the RC16. He also crashed at Turn 1, rider ok.
Binder as back out on the fairing first seen at the Shakedown
Miller was in fact not first out on Sunday. But he was quick out
In terms of tech, there wasn’t much more to report from the Iwata factory on Day 3 that hasn’t already been discussed over the past couple of days. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was seen testing a bigger version of Yamaha’s new aero that we saw his teammate Fabio Quartararo trying in Valencia, but the latter hasn’t lapped with it in Sepang.
The timesheets didn’t make pretty reading for Yamaha, but Team Manager Maio Meregalli confirmed that both Quartararo and Morbidelli like and agree on what 2023 engine was best for the upcoming season. That’s a huge positive. The rain meant Yamaha couldn’t get through all their items that “need to be evaluated” before the season, according to Meregalli, so expect the Iwata factory to be busy with chassis and swingarm testing in Portimao.
At the end of the three-day Test, Quartararo was P17 and Morbidelli was P20. Don’t read too much into that at this stage, but improvements will be sought after at the two-day Portimao Test – especially on new tyres. Quartararo branded their pace a “disaster” on new tyres, and a “complete reset” will be needed heading to Portugal in that particular area so they can get qualifying and Sprint ready.
Quartararo’s top speed prayers = answered?
Morbidelli agreed with FQ20 on engine choice
That’s a wrap on Sepang and we’re now officially more than half-way through pre-season! We’ve learned a fair bit so far but there’s plenty more to be revealed as the countdown to the first Grand Prix continues.
Positive feelings for Bagnaia and Bastianini in the first official 2023 MotoGP test at Sepang (Malaysia)
Luca Marini (VR46 Racing Team) ends the Sepang test on top
Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini concluded the first pre-season test of 2023 at the Sepang International Circuit this afternoon. During the three days at the Malaysian track, the two Ducati Lenovo Team riders could continue the development work on the 2023 version of the Desmosedici GP, which had already begun with official test rider Michele Pirro in the shakedown earlier in the week.
Despite the scorching temperatures and less-than-optimal track conditions, both Bagnaia and Bastianini covered numerous kilometres. On Friday, the only day in which the track was consistently dry, the two Ducati factory riders first completed a few runs with the bikes in 2022 configuration before moving on to test the new items developed by the Ducati Corse engineers over the winter, which, in addition to an evolution of last year’s engine, also included two new aerodynamic packages.
After initial positive feedback in the dry, Bagnaia and Bastianini confirmed their sensations in the wet on Saturday afternoon. At the same time, the rain that fell during the night between Friday and Saturday, and then between Saturday and Sunday, did not allow them to take full advantage of the morning of the last two days. At the end of Sunday’s final session, Pecco closed the test in second position (1:57.969) with a total of 136 laps completed, while Enea, 4th in 1:58.149, completed 128 laps over the three days.
Francesco Bagnaia (#1, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:57.969 (2nd)
“I’m happy and proud of the work completed in this test. After the lunch break today, we made a modification to the new bike that allowed us to bring it up to the same level as last year’s. That was my goal, so we can only be satisfied. Of course, we have to continue working to improve other aspects of it and make it more rideable, but we still have two more days of testing in Portugal to do that. In Portimão, it will also be important to try the two aerodynamic solutions tested here again. I already have a preference, but I also want to try them on a different track. In Portimão, we will definitely focus on developing the GP23, and we will also have to try to simulate a Sprint Race, so the last two days of testing will be very important.”
Enea Bastianini (#23, Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:58.149 (4th)
“It was a very demanding three days of work, but also very productive, and I am satisfied with the work completed over these three days. In the beginning, I struggled to adapt to the new bike, but this afternoon, we understood what needed improvement, allowing me to be fast on the time attack and the race pace. Pecco had the same feeling as me, making it easier to compare data and speak with the engineers. We still haven’t decided which fairing we will use this year from the ones we tried here at Sepang, and we will try them again at Portimão. It will be the last test before the opening race of the season so it will be crucial. We have yet to reach 100 per cent of our potential, but we’re very close to it”.
The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will have two more days of testing from 11th- 12th March at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão before tackling the first GP of the season at the same track from 24th-26th March.
Sepang speed gets 2023 MotoGP™ off to a flyer
2023 MotoGP Sepang test
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing once again convened at the Sepang International Circuit and in the hot and sweaty Malaysian climate to increase the intensity of their preparation work for 2023 MotoGP. After the three-day official test, Brad Binder rested 14th fastest while new recruit Jack Miller was 18th as the team diligently threaded through an analysis program of setup for the ’23 KTM RC16.
The two-and-a-half month MotoGP winter break ended with engines refired in the sweltering pitlane of Sepang; host of the nineteenth round of 21 on the 2023 schedule. Although the threat of rain showers was typical for this time of year in Malaysia Red Bull KTM were able to give racers Brad Binder and Jack Miller plenty of work and food for thought as the crew waded through configuration options for the KTM RC16 and before the homologation window closes for the season.
The KTM Factory Racing test squad had already been busy for three days in the ‘shakedown’ test prior to the arrival of the Grand Prix race teams but both Binder and Miller had many options and evaluations to make through Friday, Saturday and Sunday where they accrued over 300 laps of the varied circuit.
The South African ended the overall session 14th fastest and less than a second from the top spot, while Miller continued his adaptation to the KTM RC16 and was close behind, only a few tenths from his new teammate.
KTM and the rest of the factories will now have one month to fabricate the second round of components and possible solutions for the 2023 settings. The final test of the MotoGP pre-season will take place at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal on March 11-12.
Brad Binder: “We got through a lot of different of things, a lot of different parts and on the last day we had something new every time we left the pitlane. So, we accumulated a lot of information going forward and data for the engineers to go through. I think we narrowed down our options quite a bit and we are getting closer to our package that we’ll start the season with. My goal in Portimao is to continue that process and I want to start the first Grand Prix with the best possible combination from all the new material we’ve tried so far. The boys worked hard here to get as much done as we can. We had good track time and so far, so good.”
Jack Miller: “By the last day we were at a point with the bike where we were making good steps with the setup and we were looking how I could get more comfortable. We continued to tweak the geometry and the last adjustment allowed me to feel decent with used tires. I was very happy with the new engine and I’m getting much more understanding of the bike and what I need from it. That’s the process. We’ll continue with that in Portimao and I think we ticked as many boxes as we could here in Malaysia.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “We did a massive amount of work here and everybody involved made an incredible effort. We collected all the information we could and we need to continue working as hard as we can in the next weeks to find the next step for the second test in Portugal. We’d like to find a few more tenths of a second. We had enough tires here to work on bike setup but not so much on bike development as we were restricted to quite short runs and the weather didn’t help so much, especially on the second day. Anyway, we are full gas to give our riders the best possible package, so we are happy but we know we can still do more.”
Sebastian Risse, Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP: “A very productive test here where we had many new ideas, new riders and new staff! Overall, I think we did a really good job. The bike has made a step forward and we have a clear idea of where to go now. We now need to check how the package works on what will be quite a different track and in quite different conditions in Portugal. We have more work to do in the next month but we’ll be ready for the first race.”
Sepang Official Test final combined times
1. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati 1:57.889
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.080
3. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Aprilia +0.147
4. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.260
5. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.315
14. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.923
18. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.012
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP CONCLUDE SEPANG TEST WITH FULL-ON DAY 3
Sepang (Malaysia), 12th February 2023
SEPANG MOTOGP OFFICIAL TEST
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP wrapped up the first official IRTA test of the 2023 season today at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli ended the outing with an intense final day of testing. They finished 17th and 20th respectively in the overall standings.
LOCAL TIME: 18:00 GMT+8
AIR TEMPERATURE: 30°C
TRACK TEMPERATURE: 40°C
WEATHER: CLOUDY / HUMIDITY 75%
MORE CIRCUIT INFO
1’58.897 / 58+34+63 LAPS
1’58.986 / 59+44+44 LAPS
Pictures for editorial use only. Copyright © 2023 Yamaha Motor Racing Srl
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli put in loads of effort on the third and final day of the Sepang MotoGP Official Test. It was all hands on deck today to make up for lost time on Day 2 due to rainy conditions. The third consecutive eight-hour practice session was crucial to collect some final data in preparation for the 2023 season. They ultimately took 17th and 20th place respectively in the overall test results.
Quartararo showed his typical determination and dedication today. He completed 63 laps in total on Day 3, more than any other rider, in an effort to gather as much data as possible on the final testing day in Sepang. His best time, a 1‘58.943s, set on lap 48 put him in 19th position in today‘s timesheets, 1.054s from first. His faster Day-2 time, a 1‘58.897s, saw him finish the test in 17th place overall, 1.008s from the top.
Similar to his teammate, Morbidelli used the final day in Malaysia to work on completing his testing programme as much as possible to help the Yamaha engineers gain further insights about the updated items. His fastest lap was a 1‘58.986s, set on lap 38/44, that had him end the day in 20th place in both the Day-3 rankings and the combined results, 1.097s off the fastest time.
The team will now return to Europe whilst the Yamaha engineers in Japan process the testing data. The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will regroup in Portugal from 11-12 March for the Portimão MotoGP Official Test.
This test was very important for us. We had a lot of items to evaluate over the last three days. It was a shame that rain cut into our track time over the course of the Sepang Test. We worked as much as we could and gathered a good amount of data, but it has not been easy to evaluate all those items in a really short time. Fortunately, we could decide on the most important items that we needed to assess during this test. For other items, like some parts of the aero package and chassis, we were not able to decide on them here, and we will have to try them again in Portimão. We are happy with the improvement we have made in terms of top speed. But unfortunately we couldn’t finish the entire testing plan. The list of items to test was so long, and the dry track time was so short, that we weren’t able to get the job done entirely. We will now go over all the data that we couldn’t analyse here to prepare for the last and very important test in Portimão in March.
I’m very happy with the top speed. This is something I asked for for a long time. We had many things to try, and I’m happy about that too, because we asked for this as well. Overall, the pace on used tyres is good, I’m feeling super happy, but we need to improve on riding with new tyres. Today, the feeling wasn’t great during the time attack. We will have a look at all the data and then have a think on how to ’reset‘ for Portimão. Let’s see if we can make a big step.
So, finally, we ran through the aero options. We really needed to do that, and we found some interesting stuff that we will need to confirm in Portimão. We back-to-backed some other things that we needed to test consecutively. Finally, we also did a time attack, but that wasn’t so positive. So, we need to dig deeper on that side. We will work on that and arrive more prepared in Portimão.
Busy end to the Sepang Test for focused Repsol Honda Team
With a total of 283 laps between them, Marc Marquez and Joan Mir completed a productive three days in Malaysia and set the tenth and 12th fastest times respectively.
The final day of testing at the Sepang International Circuit saw a later start to proceedings as the field waited for the track to dry. A shower of rain in the closing hour of action reduced running by only a marginal amount.
A third day of riding produced 55 laps for Marc Marquez as he gathered yet more data for Honda HRC ahead of the Portimao Test. Continuing to experiment with a number of setups and technical pieces, the #93 helped to define a clear direction of work for the coming weeks. A fruitful test, Marquez ended the event as the tenth fastest rider thanks to a 1’58.666 set on the final day – 0.777s behind Luca Marini, quickest at the Sepang Test.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage, Joan Mir completed his fourth day on the Honda RC213V. A time of 1’59.832 from the first day improved to a best time of 1’58.784 on Sunday, over a second faster. Mir and his team are aware that there is still work to be done in the coming test and across the opening races, but the double-World Champion is content with the progress made in three days of running in Malaysia. Mir leaves Sepang as the 12th fastest rider.
The engineers now return back to Honda HRC’s base in Japan to continue development and progressing through the pre-season plan. The Repsol Honda Team will next be on track at the Portimao Test, March 11 – 12, for the final test before the season begins.
“It was a more positive day today, it was the first day where I was able to start working in the smaller areas. This is when I was able to start getting faster, step by step. But we still had to continue on the schedule and keep trying new items and new things. I want to say thanks to the team for organising everything well and working well all weekend. Today was a big day for testing concepts as well. We did everything that we needed to and the feeling did improve, but we still need to make a step.”
“I’m happy with how we have progressed at this test and I have felt strong every day on the bike. The bike feels more like my bike and I am able to ride in a better way than yesterday – this is what is important. My Repsol Honda Team has worked really well across all these three days. For sure we need to make progress, but every day we are making steps forward and getting closer and more comfortable. I am adapting more to the Honda style and I am enjoying riding like this, I’ve learned a lot across these three days.”
GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 riders Espargaro and Fernandez Complete Sepang Test with Success
After a tricky Saturday in Malaysia which saw the testing being disrupted by the rain, the sun was back in full force on Sunday for the third and final day of the MotoGP™ Sepang Test. However, having rained overnight, the track was still in its drying process at 10:00 (GMT+8), meaning that none of the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 riders Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez were able to go on track within the first two hours. Spanish rookie Fernandez was the first in the pit box to head out on track, just before midday, followed shortly by his teammate Espargaro.
Having made significant progress on Saturday following the trial of a new chassis and a new aero on the GASGAS RC16, Tech3’s number 44 started the day with a new set of tyres on a dry Sepang circuit, after a warm up run in used tyres. Quickly the lap times went down and his thirteenth lap of the day in 1’58.797 placed him fourth with five hours to go. After lunch break, he returned to work under some rather threatening clouds. The focus was on doing a couple of time-attack laps to confirm the settings developed over the last two days, before ending the day with the trial of a different fork. After thirty-seven laps, the Spaniard finished thirteenth in the timesheets, 0.908 seconds from the fastest man of the day, Luca Marini.
After three days of Shakedown Test and another two days of Official test, a sixth and final day was awaiting Augusto Fernandez in Sepang. In the need of as much dry time as possible, the rookie had a busy day to conclude his February testing programme. Within the first hour, he managed to go under the bar of the 2’, registering a fast lap in 1’59.883. As he continued his adaptation and preferences of settings emerged, he was able to improve again in the afternoon to 1’59.660. Step by step. He also tested aero parts and chassis, like his teammate. The MotoGP™ rookie concludes his final day of the test in Sepang twenty-seconds in the timesheets, 1,771 seconds from the top.
That’s a wrap for the preseason tests in Sepang for Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez. Important information was gathered by the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 squad over the last couple of days. One month of analysis and work awaits the team until the next and last official preseason test, to be held in Portimao on March 11-12. By then, you will have discovered our new livery. Keep an eye on our team’s presentation, on March 4, 2023.
“Today was the best day for us. We tried various key things such as engines, some important parameters, aerodynamics, and all of them worked very well. I would like to congratulate the Pierer Mobility Group because the improvements made over the last few years are incredible. We have a bike working well, and I am happy. Of course today we ended up P13 because lap times exploded within the last hour, but we were in the top 5 all day. What matters anyway will be lap times in Portimao GP, not during the tests. It is very easy to make a fast lap after three days of testing, but it does not really mean much. Last year, I was amongst the fastest here with one the best rhythms. Same in Mandalika, and 2022 was still a disaster. Anyway, I am happy with the homework done in Sepang, and I can’t wait to head to Portimao in one month to make the final adjustments before going racing.”
“I am going home with a positive feeling. Over the last three days, we made a lot of progress, including the base, the feeling on the bike, and we did good lap times. I really needed dry track time so I was happy about the weather today. We did as much as we could until the rain arrived. I managed to go under 2’, but I still have a lot to work on. Every little step matters, and I have learned so much every day. I feel more confident on the bike and I am starting to feel like a MotoGP rider! I will check carefully all the data, mine, but also the ones from the other riders. Next we will go testing in Portimao, and it will not be easy with a MotoGP machine. We will continue working, try to be patient and do things smartly.”
“It was nice seeing our two riders back to school after the winter. Sepang holds the traditional preseason test, and I have to say that it has been a very intense one for the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 team. We saw big efforts from the Pierer Mobility Group staff during the winter. There were a lot of items to test and we did almost all our homework, so the riders did a great job. Pol Espargaro had a lot of different items to test: engines, aero parts, chassis parts, and he went through all of them, which gives us a better idea of the bike we will have for the season. Augusto Fernandez needed to learn the bike, get to speed, and he also had aero and chassis items to test, which were positive for him. He improved his lap time today, although he ended up being caught by the rain towards the end of the day. Thank you to both of them for their work over the last three days. I would like to finish with saying thank you to the crew because they worked incredibly hard over the last week, with late night shifts and not much sleep, just so we can be ready each day. It has been one of the most difficult tests, but we did it, and we head home with a lot of positive comments. Thank you to all the team.”