Der erste IRTA-Test der MotoGP-Saison in Sepang ist gelaufen. Wieder in Schwung kommen, vorjährige Technik mit Neuentwicklungen vergleichen und das mehr denn je sprießende Flügelwerk testen stand im Vordergrund. Am ersten Tag war Dani Pedrosa (Honda) der Schnellste, am zweiten Tag hatten Vinales und Valentino Rossi für Yamaha die Nase vorn und am dritten Tag erzielte Jorge Lorenzo auf der Ducati die Bestzeit. Vierzehn Piloten schaffen Rundenzeiten unter der 2-Minuten-Grenze, beim Malaysia-GP letztes Jahr nur einer. Die komplette Zeitenliste findet sich ganz unten nach dem Durchscrollen durch den Bilderbogen.
Fotos von Micheln, Ducati, Repsol Media, KTM und Yamaha Factory Racing.
The first official MotoGP test of 2018 concluded this afternoon at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. In the morning Jorge Lorenzo lapped in a time of 1’58.830 to establish an unofficial new track record, and the Spaniard ended the day, and the three-day test, at the top of the timesheets. Andrea Dovizioso also put in a good performance today with a time of 1’59.169, which propelled him to fourth place both today and in the combined standings. The two factory Ducati riders today focussed mainly on notching up the laps on their Desmosedici GP 2018 machines and, despite both having harmless crashes late in the morning, they were able to successfully finish the work programme defined with their respective teams. The MotoGP field will be back on track from 16th to 18th February in the second official test session of 2018, for the first time in Thailand, at the Buriram circuit,.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’58.830 (1st – 48 laps today)
“I leave Sepang very satisfied with the work that we have done over the last three days, not only because of the time that I set today, but also because I’m convinced that many aspects of the bike have improved since last year. Now I feel it’s better adapted to my riding style and I feel more at home when I’m riding it, but we still have to understand a few things to be able to get the best out of its potential. We are only at the start of the year but the sensations are already good and now it will be important to confirm them in the next test in Thailand.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’59.169 (4th – 51 laps today)
“These were three very interesting days of testing and we go away from Sepang with really good feelings. This morning’s crash complicated today’s programme a bit, but in the end we went out again for another run with the Desmosedici GP17 and were able to compare some data that confirmed the improvements of the new bike, especially in mid-corner. To be honest I didn’t expect such a clear improvement in this first test, and now we have to confirm that we are on the right path at the next tracks we go to.”
The Repsol Honda Team concluded a positive first test of 2018 in Malaysia, with Dani Pedrosa second-fastest with a best lap time of 1’59.009” and reigning World Champion Marc Marquez just over 3 tenths of a second behind him in seventh place, with a best lap of 1’59.382”. The Repsol Honda men made the best of a day blessed by bright sunshine, each completing (among their other work) one 15-lap long run. Dani’s was in the late morning, and Marc’s was after lunch, around the usual race time. Over the three days, Marc completed a total of 194 laps, Dani 170, collecting useful information for the HRC engineers and the team who will now prepare for the next test, scheduled at the new-entry track in Buriram, Thailand, 16-18 February.
Marc Márquez: „Today I feel very happy because we worked hard and quite well. We even did a long run of 15 laps around three o’clock, when the temperature on track was very high, and our pace was good. In the afternoon we kept trying different things and ultimately didn’t really make a time attack, but I felt very good on the bike. We need to check the new aerodynamics better, and on another circuit, as we want to make the right choice. On the other hand, I think we did a great job on the engine, even if we’re still not at 100 per cent with the setting. Generally speaking, I think Dani, Cal [Crutchlow], and I were working in slightly different ways, and we gathered a lot of information that will be useful for Honda to prepare a good base.“
Dani Pedrosa: „I think we had a positive final day, and a positive test in general here in Sepang. The team did a very good job, as we correctly planned the work schedule for each day. Today we put together all the best aspects from the previous two days and worked on our speed, improving our fast lap and our pace, and completing a long run of almost race distance on a good rhythm. We worked on the engine, aerodynamics, suspension, and tyres—both soft and hard specs. You could say we addressed more or less every area of the setup, and we got a good general feeling and collected a lot of data. We have to analyse everything more thoroughly, but the feeling was there. Now we look forward to confirming everything on other tracks.“
Pol Espargaro: “I feel lucky because I had a big crash on Day 2 and I hit the wall at more than 250 kmp/h. I’m happy not feeling too bad physically but I’m in pain from rolling through the gravel. I had some x-rays and nothing is broken but I have pain when I move so if I am still in pain when I get home I will have some further checks. Even though I couldn’t ride on the final day it was still good to be with the team and able to work with them in the background. It’s a shame to miss Day 3 and not to be able to test what we planned but Mika was able to ride my bike. It’s good because I trust his feedback 100% and it means we were still be able to get a lot of work done here in Sepang.”
Bradley Smith: „Obviously it’s a busy test schedule here in Sepang and after Pol’s crash it has meant that myself and Mika have had to work through a lot. It’s been a chance for us to evaluate a lot of different things and to give us a direction on what to do. On Day 3 the grip was a little less and that means that it’s good conditions for us to test in. Usually when the track gets grippy and hot we struggle a little bit so it’s been good to have these conditions. I’m generally quite pleased with what we’ve tested because I think that we’ve got a good base to work with at the Thailand tests in a few days time.”
Mika Kallio: „The biggest job for me was to compare the 2017 and 2018 bikes. We have both here so I was able to back to back both bikes. I was working mostly on the electronics and new WP front forks this week. Conditions were quite good this week and even at the two day private test just before I was able to get a lot of work completed. In the official test I crashed twice so it was more difficult for me. I crashed in the heavy braking zone twice and that’s unusual for me so we need to analyse the data and see why I have a slightly different feeling on the new bike compared to the previous model. We will go through the data to understand carefully what is the next step for the development of this bike because Pol and Bradley had similar comments about the feeling from the front.”
Valentino Rossi „It was hard work today, but also good work. First of all, we tried everything and we have pretty clear ideas, but today was the most difficult day. We suffered a little bit more because of a lack of grip and that made us lose a bit in positions, but compared to last year we’ve improved the pace, also on used tyres. We know it’s hard work, we have to improve, but the test at the end was quite positive.“
Maverick Vinales: „Honestly, we worked quite well. Today it’s been difficult. I don’t know why we lost time, especially in the afternoon – in the morning it went quite well. Anyway, we worked hard, trying to improve, so now we have to check the data and see what we can improve on in Buriram, there we’ll know more. I think the new fairing is really positive, because I felt an improvement in acceleration, so let’s see. I think the circuit in Buriram has many points of acceleration, so we can test it even better there.“
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager: “In these three days we did so much testing, we had many items to test and we could make back-to-back comparisons with all the riders. My thanks to the crew and all the riders for their intense work. Today Alex improved his lap time and did well in the classification, but also did a sort of race simulation which marked a fast pace. This makes us happy because it means the direction is the correct one. Andrea worked hard but he is still looking for the final opinion on which of the options he prefers, but this doesn’t worry us as it is a normal development process and it is important for us that he makes the choice when he is 100% confident. We will continue this process in Thailand and Qatar, in order to finalise the final package for the debut in the Qatar race.”
Alex Rins: “I’m really happy because we finish these three days after a lot of work and it was very productive, today has been great. We tried many things during the three days and one of them was the engine and I think we improved in acceleration and top speed. There were also more things that we tried which were positive. We tried a race simulation and it went well, good race pace, and this is important not only for confidence but for giving good feedback to Japan about their work. We tried new forks and they were also good and we worked in the electronics area as well.”
Andrea Iannone: “Today as well has been a constructive day where we worked step by step with further comparisons and analysis. We’re still missing some information before being able to define a final package, this is a very important moment as we are setting up the development for the future so we need to make sure we take the right choices. The items we had to test were various and we could compare with the feeling we had also in the test last year, to have a comparison with tracks that are very different is useful to put together a package that can help us to be competitive for the whole championship.”
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Tom Lüthi declared themselves satisfied with the progress made during the first test of the new season at Sepang, after again improving their lap times on the third and final day. Morbidelli lost time this morning after experiencing pain in his left hand as a result of his crash yesterday. The reigning Moto2 World Champion had the injury assessed at the medical centre, but an x-ray of the fingers revealed no fractures and he was able to return to testing having been prescribed painkillers.
Morbidelli spent the afternoon getting a better feel for Michelin’s medium compound tyre, before heading out late in the session for a time attack. The Italian was unable to improve on his time from the morning however, as the expected increase in grip failed to materialise in the cooler conditions. While Morbidelli got his first MotoGP crash out of the way yesterday, Tom Lüthi waited until the third and final day before experiencing the same; going down in a low speed crash this morning after losing the front into turn four.
Uninjured, and with the bike suffering little damage in the low side tumble, Lüthi quickly resumed his testing program. The Swiss rider spent most of the day on used tyres, to get a feel for how the bike demands to be ridden towards the end of a race when tyre performance has dropped off. Both riders will return to testing action on 16th February at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, a new addition to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season.
Franco Morbidelli: „When I rode the bike for the first this morning I had some pain in the fingers on my left hand as a result of the crash yesterday, but I was able to continue with some painkillers. This afternoon we made some work with the medium tyre and I was happy with the results. I was able to make a lot of laps and the time was around 2’01 low, which is not so bad with this tyre. Finally we wanted to try a time attack, but the conditions weren’t as good late in the session as they were this morning and I wasn’t able to improve my time. It was the first test of the year, we managed to get a lot of things done and I felt good working with my crew, so I leave here satisfied and looking forward to Thailand.“
Tom Lüthi: „A good day again today, with another step made with the bike and tyres. The conditions were different today; normally it’s fast in the morning and then again in the afternoon when the temperature starts to drop, But today the grip level wasn’t there this afternoon, with no real fast times at the end. Today we worked mostly with old tyres, to understand better how to ride the bike towards the end of the race when the tyres start to slide. This was quite interesting and I think I learnt a lot today. I also got my first MotoGP crash out of the way, after losing the front at turn four. I almost saved it but then the rear went away and down I went. So now I know what that feels like too.“