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Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) made the most headlines for Honda at the Sepang test, topping Day 1 and ending the third day with the second quickest time. He’s also the pole lap record holder at the Malaysian venue, and won the final race of 2017 – so it’s somewhat of a roll. The ‘Little Samurai’ was therefore understandably positive following the final day of track time.
“We’re happy with the final day,” says Pedrosa, “and also because we worked a lot overall. After the first two days, we picked up the best for today and we worked on that. We had good pace in almost all race distance, and also worked on a fast lap. We worked with the soft and the hard tyres, on the suspension…many laps! I think the team did a very good job, the plan was very good. Overall it’s a positive test.”
#SepangTest: Riders' reactions from Day 3
The positivity was also shared on the other side of the Repsol Honda box. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez was also happy with the work they did.
“I’m very, very happy. If you look at the times you can say ‘oh, but you’re seventh’ but I’m very happy because we’ve worked very hard,” explains the six-time World Champion. “We know here in the morning it’s easier to do the laptimes, but then we were trying few things. But during the day we worked quite well and I did a run of 15 laps at around 3pm, when track temperature is higher. The pace was good, I’m happy and in the afternoon I did a few runs to try a few different things.”
Pedrosa also put in a longer run on Day 3. “We tried a little longer run just to understand more the engine, and to see how it’s reacting on the tyres, on the track…how the beginning how and the end of the race is. We will have to analyse the data more deeply but the feeling was there so I could explain to the technicians. From there we will try to improve the feeling.”
The engine was a key focus for Honda, not just for the Repsol-liveried riders but also HRC test rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol).
“We did a great job with the engine,” affirms Marquez. “It’s still not 100%, but all three Honda riders – me, Dani and Cal –were working in a different way to get more information. I think we did a great job, and in the last part of the day I was feeling good on the bike, so I’m happy.”
New Honda aerodynamic fairing breaks cover in Sepang
Another key point of interest at Sepang was the new aero-fairing tested out by Honda. It’s a much more aggressive design and a much more visible one, but both Repsol Honda riders say they need more time to analyse it fully.
“We have some doubts and question marks about the fairing,” says Marquez, “and we need to test it on another circuit because it’s quite extreme. And the rules say you can only homologate one fairing for the first half of the season, so that’s more difficult.”
Pedrosa agrees it needs further investigation, but says that it’s an easier thing to modify than their bigger focus at Sepang: “At the moment with the fairing it’s difficult to say,” says Pedrosa. “We need to go on different tracks. With the engine as well, but of course the engine is clearer because you can always modify the fairing, but you can’t really modify the engine as much.”
Different tracks for the paddock first means Buriram in Thailand, with the second Official Test of 2018 just around the corner in February.
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