Crutchlow fastest as Sepang Shakedown kicks 2023 into gear

Yamaha topped the opening day in Malaysia as new parts surfaced from several factories

MotoGP™ bikes are back on track! The 2023 campaign has resumed with test riders and our sole class rookie, Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), completing a rain-affected opening day of the Sepang Shakedown test, with Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow topping the timesheets thanks to a 2:01.146.

Augusto Fernandez, Tech3 GAS GAS Factory Racing, Sepang Shakedown MotoGP™ Official Test


Three-time Grand Prix race winner Crutchlow had three YZR-M1s at his disposal – two 2023 spec bikes and one 2022 spec machine. The main focus was pinpointed on Yamaha’s new, more aggressive engine which was a hot topic of conversation back in Valencia. However, glancing at the timesheets, it looks like the problem that arose at the end of last year has been diagnosed.

Crutchlow clocked a 330km/h top speed according to the circuit’s live timing, just a couple of kms shy of the fastest speed. In addition, looking back at the 2022 Sepang Test, Yamaha’s fastest top speed was 327km/h – early indications that progress has been made. That’ll be music to the ears of Fabio Quartararo and his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Franco Morbidelli ahead of the Official Sepang Test.

Cal Crutchlow, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ Team, Sepang Shakedown MotoGP™ Official Test


Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Fernandez was back on his GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 RC16 and having had no plans for the Valencia Test apart from trying a MotoGP™ bike for the first time, these three days will be vital for the Spaniard to start making the bike his own. The number 37 finished second on the timesheets with a 2:01.331, just 0.185s from Crutchlow’s best effort.

New KTM testing recruit, Jonas Folger, joined Dani Pedrosa on track for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as the German got to grips with the RC16 for the first time. Pedrosa, meanwhile, was working with Jack Miller’s crew on the opening day.


Stefan Bradl was lapping for HRC and the German had two RC213Vs in the box. Bradl was out on a new-look Honda machine dressed in redesigned aero, a new exhaust, two different chassis and the 2023 engine. Bradl’s best time was a 2:01.605, placing him fourth on the timesheets.

Stefan Bradl, Repsol Honda Team, Sepang Shakedown MotoGP™ Official Test


Lorenzo Savadori was on hand to give the 2023 Aprilia RS-GPs a shakedown, and it was a busy day for the Italian who had six bikes to ride. Aprilia debuted some new aero – something we’ll be seeing plenty of from the factories during pre-season – as Savadori also suffered a technical issue towards the end of the day.

Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia Racing, Sepang Shakedown MotoGP™ Official Test


Ducati’s trusted Michele Pirro was again putting in the groundwork for the reigning World Champions, who opened their 2023 account with a new fairing to show off. The Italian worked with two GP23s and posted a 2:02.115 best lap time.

With temperatures soaring in Malaysia, coupled with a dirty track surface following the winter, times were around three seconds slower than what we saw at the 2022 Malaysian GP. Expect the times to tumble the further we get into testing at Sepang, but in truth, it’s more about what the riders and teams are testing – rather than the lap times.

Michele Pirro, Ducati Lenovo Team, Sepang Shakedown MotoGP™ Official Test

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