Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi returned to work today as the second Sepang test of the 2014 MotoGP pre-season schedule got underway in Malaysia.
The riders were able to further test developments from the first Sepang session a few weeks ago along with some work on the new Bridgestone tyres. Unfortunately the Sepang circuit was much dirtier than the first test following some four-wheeled activity on the track, making it difficult for the riders to replicate their form from the previous visit.
Lorenzo ended the first day in fifth position, 0.310 seconds from first and less than satisfied with the new rubber. The Mallorcan will return to the track tomorrow determined to find a way to make the 2014 tyres work effectively with the YZR-M1.
Following from a very successful first test, Rossi was hard at work today, putting in an impressive number of laps whilst working on improving the balance of his M1. The Italian led the session briefly earlier on, slipping to seventh overall, 0.5 seconds from the front as he too explored set up options with the 2014 tyre choices.
With two further days of testing to come, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team and riders proceeded with their preparations for the impending start of the season. With the first race on the 23rd March at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, less than a month away, both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro tested various aspects of the Yamaha YZF-M1 MotoGP bike, predominantly the new seamless gearbox, and aimed to make as much use of the testing time as possible.
The weather itself was hot and humid, with Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Smith and Espargaro waiting until the afternoon for the track to cool, to set quicker lap times on the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit, located 50kms south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Pol Espargaro began his third testing programme today, as he gained experience with the Yamaha YZR- M1, which he will contest his first season of MotoGP with. The 2013 Moto2 World Champion, closely working with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, built on the positive progress already made at the preceding test. Espargaro tested the new seamless shift gearbox today, which the young Spaniard responded very positively to. He amassed over 57 laps on the first day of testing, and finished the session in a superb 3rd position with a time of 2:00.999, and only 0.151 of a second behind leading Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista.
Young British rider Bradley Smith, who is entering his second full time season in the premier class, sampled a new seamless gearbox for the Yamaha YZR-M1, in preparation for the 2014 MotoGP season. This was a new feature for the British rider, who seemed overly satisfied with the outcome. The Oxfordshire rider followed on with completing over 54 laps, and finished today’s session in 8th position, with a best lap time of 2:01.644.
The first day of the second MotoGP test session of the 2014 season saw Aleix Espargaró scoring the second fastest lap time with 2’00.900, only 52 thousandths of a second behind Alvaro Bautista, the fastest rider today.
Cautious during the morning, when the track was quite dirty, the Spaniard of the NGM Forward Racing Team improved his pace in the afternoon. In total Aleix completed 31 laps and for a good part of the afternoon session was on top of the time sheet.
It was a good start also for Colin Edwards, who was the fastest Open on track this morning. Colin worked on the bike set up, completing 47 laps, scoring a positive lap time of 2’.02.743
5th / 2'01.158 / 56 laps
“The new rear tyres, both the soft and the hard, are not working properly on our M1. We tried many things but for the moment we haven’t found any solutions. Tomorrow we are going to try something different with the electronics that worked last year to try to improve a little bit because we are not so good today. The tyres don't give me any confidence in the corner entry, in the middle of the corner and on acceleration. It seems Bridgestone will not be providing different tyres this year so we have to adapt to the situation.”
7th / 2'01.349 / 65 laps
“The track is not fantastic. Especially if you compare it to the first test where it was very good. A lot of cars have used the track and there is some oil in some places, the track is very dirty so it is more difficult to get to a good lap time. In the end we were coming better though. We worked a lot on all aspects; we tried to find a right balance, concentrating on the braking. Especially we tried to make the best setting for the new tyres because in the first test we used old tyres from 2013 that were good for the M1. We have a problem with the 2014 ones so we have to concentrate to take the maximum benefit from them but already at the end of today it was not so bad.”
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The first day is done, we tested a lot of material today to improve our package. The track conditions were not that good so I think we will improve step by step and we will reconfirm tomorrow. There was quite some oil on the track so the circumstances were quite difficult to compare stuff. This upsets the riders a bit as you need to compare things to the last test and it was difficult to be precise. We still have a lot to do over the next two days!”
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It has been a long day’s work and we were able to put together a lot of information. We are still focused on making the new tyre work properly on our bike and we found something interesting compared to the last test that needs to be adjusted. I think we are in the right direction to fix this problem. We have two more days so we expect by the end of the last day we will provide a good performance.”
3rd / 2'00.999 / 57 laps
“This morning the track was not in the best condition, so we weren’t able to start straight away. Near the end of the day the track improved and we managed to get quite a good time. However, we didn’t get things wrong, even though I don’t think the factory teams pushed to the limit and Marc is also not here, but it’s still nice to finish the first day in third position. I want to say thank you to Yamaha as today was the first day we could use the new seamless gearbox, and the feeling is just amazing. We have a bit more power in every gear and it helps you in many different areas, for example, in the middle of the corner or with the anti-wheelie, it takes a lot of work away from the rider. Altogether it has been a really good day today and the feeling with the bike was just great.”
9th / 2'01.644 / 54 laps
“Today was the first day of using the seamless shift gear box. I am really thankful for Yamaha, because it was really beneficial for us. It is a very nice system to use, and I think the biggest advantage of the gearbox with be on old tyres in the second half of the race. We have continued working on ideas from the first test, and have found a great front setting which will probably be our base setting for the season. We still need to work a little more with the electronics, and the rear grip. The Bridgestone tyres seem to be better than last time, even though the track conditions were not so great. We also changed the geometry of the bike which consistently works better with the tyres. Tech3 are doing a brilliant job, and I am pleased with the results. I think the track conditions will improve and on day 3 we’ll try a race simulation. “
2nd / 2'00.900 / 31 laps
“I’m happy of today’s result. It was important to work on the set up of the second bike and we did it. During the morning session I did only few laps because I couldn’t push as I wanted. We worked also on the electronics and things improved in the afternoon. This is just the first day, tomorrow we will continue working on the second bike.”
14th / 2'02.743 / 47 laps
“The track was very dirty this morning and I couldn’t push as I wanted. This afternoon the track conditions were better but I couldn’t find a good feeling and I was not so comfortable entering the corners. We tested several solutions, but I couldn’t improve my lap time. We will continue working later today to find something to make a step forward tomorrow.”