Bautista Leads Sepang MotoGP Drills

Alvaro Bautista (MotoGP photo)
Alvaro Bautista (MotoGP photo)
Alvaro Bautista (MotoGP photo)

SEPANG, Malaysia — GO&FUN Honda Gresini man Alvaro Bautista registered the quickest lap time as the second round of MotoGP testing kicked off today at Sepang Int’l Circuit.

With less favorable track conditions than the previous test, Bautista’s best lap time of 2 minutes and .848 seconds was 1.3 seconds slower than the marker set down by world champion Marc Marquez in the previous Sepang test.

Despite track conditions described as dirty and slippery, riders and teams carried out crucial development and data gathering exercises in the tropical heat, with pace man Bautista working heavily with the rear of his GO&FUN Honda Gresini bike.

Another solid day of work from Aleix Espargaro left him in second, just 0.052 seconds behind his compatriot Bautista.

Espargaro and his fellow riders on ‘Open’ class machines have a softer specification rear tire available, so having demonstrated his sheer pace and the potential of his Forward Yamaha over shorter runs the challenge for the rider from Barcelona is now to prepare for racing.

Espargaro’s brother Pol also impressed, slotting the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike up into third with a late best time 0.15 seconds off Bautista’s pace. The younger Espargaro worked with on electronics, tried different a wheel size and tested small engine parts. His teammate Bradley Smith was ninth.

Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was again the fastest representative of the Italian factory on track, concluding the afternoon in fourth, undertaking development work on the GP14 from the base setting put in place at Sepang 1.

Dovizioso and incoming colleague Cal Crutchlow — 11th — are working on overall setup and engine characteristics at the test, whilst Ducati are set to define whether they will run ‘Open’ class or ‘MSMA’ entries in 2014 before they depart from Malaysia.

Double MotoGP title winner Jorge Lorenzo ended the day fifth with the Yamaha Factory Racing team focusing on refining set-up for the new harder rear tire option. The team believe that the 20-liter fuel limit for ‘MSMA’ entries this year will not cause them fuel consumption issues, as has been speculated, though they need to verify those findings in this test after some positive results last time out.

Dani Pedrosa had a somewhat anonymous visit to Sepang last time and he has added responsibility this week as the only Repsol Honda rider present with Marquez absent after breaking his leg last week. He was sixth on day one, with his main task at this test being confirmation of which chassis works best for him, with RC213V evolution well underway for 2014.

Valentino Rossi was second overall at ‘Sepang1,’ but he ended Wednesday in seventh spot, continuing his preparations for his 15th season in the premier class. He was 0.5 seconds off the pace at the end of the day.

LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl completed the day in eighth place, working on braking stability by modifying suspension, geometry and electronics. The German rider has some small parts from HRC to test in the absence of fellow Honda man Marquez.

Andrea Iannone was ninth on the Pramac Ducati, whilst in 15th spot Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez carried out additional crucial data gathering with the new Magneti Marelli software.