Marquez quickest as testing begins in Malaysia

Sepang 1 Day 1 midday report
Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Amid dry conditions, the long-awaited pause in track action was over as the Factory Option and Open specification machines looked to share the Sepang International Circuit for the first MotoGP™ test session of 2014.

Starting from this season, all bikes are equipped with the spec ECU hardware, with Factory Options able to run their own software with 20 litres of fuel whereas Opens are obliged to run the spec Dorna software but anything up to 24 litres of fuel across a race distance. All MotoGP™ teams are present in Malaysia with the exception of IodaRacing, which plans to be in action for the first time at the second Sepang test towards the end of the month.

Repsol Honda Team’s Marquez and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi traded top times across the opening four hours, but as the habitual lunch break arrived it was the former who led the way with a best lap time of 2’00.767, complete with a larger air intake on this year’s Honda RC213V in a bid to increase top speeds and enhance throttle response on the exits of corners. Rossi - continuing work with new Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera - was demoted to third, as team-mate Jorge Lorenzo went second and just over three tenths of a second down on Marquez. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista completed the top five. Leading Open rider Aleix Espargaro was sixth on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR-Yamaha, six and a half tenths down and running with full Yamaha factory suspension for the first time.

Following an initial team photo for Yamaha Factory Racing, with Rossi presenting a helmet design portraying eyes in the back of his head, the pit lane was a hive of activity as technicians and mechanics experienced with various fuel load and setup combinations. At Forward Racing, Colin Edwards suffered what the American described as ‘tiny’ technical problems and is hoping to post more significant lap times after the lunch break, having been the only one of the 26 riders to have been on-track without posting a lap time. In 25th spot, Paul Bird Motorsport’s Michael Laverty managed only a handful of shakedown runs and like Edwards will be planning for more laps in the afternoon period.

Perhaps the biggest talking point this week is whether Ducati Team – with Gigi Dall’Igna now at the helm as the new General Manager of Ducati Corse – will elect to switch its bikes to Open specification, with a decision expected after this test. They ended the morning in 11th and 12th places for Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, although the Englishman parked up his bike shortly before half past 12. Although a Sepang marshal attempted to assist in bump-starting the machine, Crutchlow was forced to find alternative means of transport in returning to the pit lane. Gresini’s Bautista had the track to himself on the minutes running up to two o’clock, with others electing to take time out for eating.

Testing now continues for a further four hours, with the same time schedule of 10am-6pm local time (GMT +8) remaining for Wednesday and Thursday.

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TAGS 2014

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