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Reigning MotoGP™ Champion Marc Marquez once again topped the time sheets after a busy morning on the final day of the Sepang 2 test.
Riders and teams were greeted by another hot and humid morning in Malaysia for the final day of the Sepang 2 MotoGP™ test. The weather conditions have played a huge part during this test, with track temperatures approaching 60 degrees at the peak of the day. This means that there simply hasn't been the same levels of grip around the 3.4 mile circuit as compared to Sepang 1.
With that in mind, and with most teams having used the last couple of days to settle on their best set ups, todays focus was going to be a little different. Instead of trying to change too much on the bikes, they will instead used the first hour of the day to try a “time attack”, where the riders head out on soft tyres to try and set a flying lap.
Then as the day wears on and the temperatures start to rise, they will focus on long runs and race simulations to try and gather as much data as possible.
With the first hour offering the best chance to set a quick lap, the riders wasted no time in heading out on track. It was CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow who posted the first lap under the 2 minute mark, as the British rider looks to re-establish himself as a potential race winner. His lap of 1’59.658 was the fastest of the test at the time and an improvement by over a half a second from yesterday. His young Australian teammate Jack Miller was showing signs of improving on the Open class Honda RC213V-RS, as he posted a time just under 2.5s slower than Marquez, which see him in 22nd place.
Marc Marquez, having put the disappointment of the wasted first day behind him when he experienced brake issues, set about reclaiming top spot. Gaining no meaningful data because of those issues on day one, the reigning MotoGP ™ Champion is one of the few who still had some development to do. His Repsol Honda team bringing two different chassis to the track for him to evaluate today.
Despite this, Marquez managed to respond to Crutchlow’s time by putting in a series of “hot” laps, the fastest a blistering 1’59.115. That put him half a second quicker than the rest of the field, and only 0.3s down on his record lap time set at Sepang 1. His teammate Pedrosa could not match his pace, and is currently sitting in 7th almost a second off the top spot.
Jorge Lorenzo responded on his Movistar Yamaha YZF-M1 and set a 1’59.437 which moved him up into 2nd, and was not only his fastest time of the last three days, but actually quicker than his best lap from Sepang 1. Valentino Rossi is currently in 5th place, 0.7s behind Marquez and has already put in over 35 laps in the Malaysian heat as he attempts to see how his bike will perform during a race.
One of the success stories of this test has been the launch of the Luigi Dall’Igna designed Ducati GP15. The visibly smaller machine, which has had its engine moved further back in the chassis, seems to have finally answered the understeer problems experienced by the older GP14 variants. Iannone was another of the riders under the 2 minute mark and he occupies 4th place on the timesheet, over 7 tenths ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on the other Ducati currently in 10th.
Bradley Smith, encouraged by the pace he set late on during day 2, attacked the Sepang circuit with a renewed vigour this morning. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider seemingly having recovered from the ankle injury that was bothering him, and showing a new found confidence on his factory spec YZF-M1. On just his 9th lap of the morning he set his fastest lap, a 1’59.883, which was an improvement of half a second from yesterday and good enough for 7th. Pol Espargaro was 6 tenths further behind his teammate in 11th, after a crash this morning at turn 7.
Hector Barbera was once again the fastest Open class rider on his Avintia Ducati, 1.1s behind Marquez, on his GP14.2 bike running the Magnetti Marrelli ECU.
For Team Suzuki, it was another good start to the day, with Aleix Espargaro finding an extra 3 tenths from yesterday to post the 9th fastest time. The impressive Maverick Viñales, who it is easy to forget is making his debut in MotoGP™ after making the move up from Moto2™, is less than 0.4s behind on the other GSX-RR.
Scott Redding’s aim for today was to try and improve the feeling of the front end of his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing RC213V. Therefore his focus would have been more on longer runs and not so much on a flying lap, but he still managed to improve his time from day 2 slightly and is currently 15th on the timesheet.
Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden posted a time of 2’00.813, good enough for 16th, with his teammate Eugene Laverty a further second back in 23rd, as they continue to develop the Honda RC213V bike.
Petrucci followed up his improved showing yesterday for the Pramac Ducati team with a performance that sees him in 12th place, over half a second quicker than Yonny Hernandez on the other Pramac GP 14.3 machine.
Stefan Bradl experienced a brief off this morning at turn 4 on his way to posting a 2’00.685 on the Forward Racing Yamaha. His teammate Loriz Baz was quite a bit off the pace back in 24th, almost 2 seconds slower than the German.
It was another disappointing morning for Marco Melandri, the Italian, who has struggled to get anywhere near the pace during this test was forced to pull off the track with a fault at one point, leaving him 4.4 seconds behind Marquez. His Aprilia Racing Gresini teammate Alvaro Bautista faired better with a 2’01.310 in 19th.
You can follow all the action from Sepang 2 via the live timing screens here.
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