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The wait is almost over. The MotoGP™ paddock are about to go testing again as 2019 track action begins at the official Sepang Test on Wednesday 6th February.
What's new in 2019 and what will they be testing in Sepang?
The third official 2019 test is vital for each manufacturer and team as the opening race under the lights in Qatar is just over one month away – so big decisions will be made as to what direction each team want to follow. But what should we be looking out for?
Repsol Honda Team boasts a formidable lineup in 2019 but most of the development work looks to be falling on Stefan Bradl’s shoulders. The HRC test rider is stepping in to replace the injured Jorge Lorenzo, while Marc Marquez and LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow continue to ease themselves back in after their respective injuries.
Can the Repsol Honda "Dream Team" live up to expectations?
In Valencia and Jerez, Honda tried a new 2019 engine, as well as new airbox, chassis, a relocated steering damper and a new fairing. Expect the reigning triple crown holders to continue with these developments in Sepang.
It’s no secret that 2019 is a huge year for the Iwata factory, with the initial 2019 tests before the winter break looking fairly positive. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) had a new seat unit fitted at the end of 2018, with both he and teammate Valentino Rossi putting their main focus on the new YZR-M1 engine. The duo tested two 2019 engine specs in Valencia and Jerez and will need to make a decision – if they haven’t already – as to which one to go with.
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2018 saw the Bologna factory try updated chassis and front fork aero packages, with a new gearbox and updates to their engine for 2019 firmly on their schedule during the initial preseason tests. In addition, we saw Ducati debut new links and swingarm extensions at the Jerez Test, with test rider Michele Pirro putting a pressurised linkage to the test in a Valencia private test and in Jerez. Furthermore, the Italian manufacturer was seen testing aero wings on the tail of the GP19 – which of these features will we see at the Sepang Test?
Can 2019 be the year of the Ducati?
A successful 2018 saw the Hamamatsu factory debut a carbon reinforced chassis, which is still being used alongside a new 2019 chassis that test rider Sylvain Guintoli, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and rookie Joan Mir have all been trying. One of the main focus points for Suzuki is to improve their engine for the 2019 season, which Guintoli first tested at the Japanese GP. Rins then put it through its paces in Valencia and Jerez, with Mir getting a chance to try it in Jerez also. Can Suzuki find that extra top speed they’re looking for?
Get a first look at Team Suzuki Ecstar's 2019 livery
At the post-GP Brno test, Aprilia tested a new exhaust pipe, fuel tank and seat unit. In Misano, the Italian factory then put a new engine to the test, while an updated chassis was used by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) at the Australian GP. New test rider recruit Bradley Smith gave an updated carbon swingarm a go during the Valencia Test, with the British rider putting plenty of hours ahead of the Sepang Test. It will be interesting to see where Aprilia sit compared to their competitors as an incredibly important year gets back underway for them.
Massimo Rivola: "Aprilia's victorious past can return"
2018 saw the Austrian factory make several updates to their chassis, while Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has been laying down the rubber testing new fairings and a new engine – one that is potentially contra-rotating. Expect more parts to be tested by both Espargaro and Johann Zarco across the three days in Sepang, with the duo joining test rider Mika Kallio on track for the Shakedown Test prior to the official test.
Zarco continues adapting to KTM's RC16
Don’t forget, you can keep track of everything that happens during the Sepang Test with motogp.com. Reports, reactions, interviews, highlights and an After the Flag episode will be brought to you at the end of each day.