Ducati Team test rider and double MotoGP™ World Champion Casey Stoner led the way at the top of the timesheets on the first day of the first Official Test of 2017 – ahead of Ducati race rider and 2016 Malaysian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso as the Italian factory locked out the top. Behind the two red machines was Maverick Viñales in P3, showing his teeth once again after topping timesheets first time out on his new Movistar Yamaha machine in Valencia. Rain cut the day short as it began around two hours before the end of the session, putting paid to any attempt to better times.
Stoner put in 32 laps with a best of 1:59.680, ‘DesmoDovi’ 29 laps with a best of 1:59.797. The two men were the only riders below the two-minute barrier. New arrival in red Jorge Lorenzo was further down the order in P17; a 2:01.349 on a 2016 machine, before rain put paid to any further advances. One of the Ducati Team’s most high-profile additions in Malaysia is a strikingly-new exhaust, something that proved a key focus in the initial stages of testing for the factory as the red machines were put through their paces.
Viñales’ 2:00.129 in P3 was his best over 54 laps on his first track day of 2017, with teammate Valentino Rossi on a 2:00.694 to go P8 - a second down on Stoner after 27 laps – with new additions left off the agenda for the first day back on track for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP. Both Rossi and Viñales also tested at Sepang late in 2016 in a private test shared with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookies Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco. Fastest rookie on Day 1 was Folger in an impressive P7, who was up the timesheets from the off. The German’s best of the day was a 2:00.643 after 40 laps, with his French teammate putting in a best of 2:01.224 over 69 laps. Both premier class newcomers got in some wet track time late in the afternoon.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was the early leader as the day began and finished up the session in a notable P4 as he moves to the team to pilot a Ducati for the first time, with new teammate Karel Abraham further down the timesheets as he returns to MotoGP™ from a year in WorldSBK. Bautista also got in some running in the wet later in the session, and ended the day after 53 laps with a best of 2:00.134.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s charge was led by Andrea Iannone on day 1 as the Italian put his new MotoGP™ machine up into the top five. The ‘Maniac’ put in 44 laps, with an impressive best of 2:00.489. Rookie teammate Alex Rins, who is getting back to full strength following a crash in testing in Valencia, was down in P20 with a 2:01.890, but showed a clear progression – and ventured out even after the rain started.
LCR Honda Team’s Cal Crutchlow was the quickest Honda as he finished day 1 in P6, with a 2:00.569 his best time after 44 laps. Repsol Honda Team got 2017 in gear in P9 and P13, with reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez leading teammate Dani Pedrosa by two tenths. Marquez did 56 laps with a best of 2:00.738, Pedrosa 44 laps with a top time of 2:00.970. EG0,0 Marc VDS Honda duo Jack Miller and Tito Rabat had a slightly tougher day at the office, with the Assen 2016 winner on a 2:01.943 and the former Moto2™ World Champion a further four tenths back. Honda were another manufacturer with a new exhaust as one of their key points of investigation for the test, and both Marquez and Pedrosa also took to the track in the rain.
Hector Barbera rounded out the top ten for Avintia Racing with a 2:00.743 out of 38 laps, with Octo Pramac Yakhnich duo Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding in hot pursuit. Petrucci, on the 2017 Ducati, clocked a best of 2:00.850 – with his teammate on the 2016 machine a mere three-thousandths in arrears on a 2:00.853.
Aleix Espargaro led the Aprilia charge for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in P15 with a 2:01.272, with the Noale machines sporting a new fairing. Rookie teammate Sam Lowes did a best of 2:02.943, but did get a significant amount of track time – 50 laps - something important after the Brit sat out some previous sessions in Valencia and Jerez following some big crashes. Espargaro completed 36 laps.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith got back to work on their 2017 project as full factory riders for the first time, with Espargaro putting in a 2:01.338 and Smith a 2:03.033. The younger of the two Espargaro brothers also ventured out in the rain in the final part of the session as KTM prepare to go racing full time in the premier class, eager to test out the bike – which sports some key differences to its competitors such as the tubular steel chassis – in different conditions.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made the timesheets fantastic reading for his new home Suzuki on Day 2 of the Sepang test, as he smashed Ducati test rider Casey Stoner’s Day 1 pace to set the fastest lap of the test so far. A 1:59.452 saw the Italian an incredible four tenths clear of the man in P2, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Impressing once again, Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was third.
Rain and damp conditions were the early headlines of the second day, with no real action until the final few hours of the session as it began to fully dry. Once conditions allowed riders to push, the first crasher of the season was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), with Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Loris Baz (Reale Esponsorama Racing) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) the other fallers on day two. Rabat’s incident at Turn 11 briefly brought out the Red Flag with an hour to go, and the Spaniard was sent to hospital in Putrajaya for further examination following the crash. He suffered a fracture in his hand, wounds to his left knee as well as his right foot and both wrists having taken heavy impacts in the incident. He is set to return to Barcelona for further examination and will not take part in the final days of testing.
Iannone, who also impressed on day one as he settles into life at Suzuki, led for some time until losing the top spot and then going red in every sector to take it back. The Italian has been focusing on a new engine as a point of exploration throughout his 40 completed laps, and rookie teammate Alex Rins increased the good vibes for the Hamamatsu factory as he improved on his Day 1 efforts to go P13.
Johann Zarco was the fastest rookie of Day 2. After a solid first time on track on Monday, the Frenchman took back that honour from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Jonas Folger. Zarco lined up an incredible P5 – after having also briefly topped the timesheets for the first time in the premier class – and put in a 2:00.343 after 50 laps. Folger continued his impressive run with a 2:00.495 after 43 laps, ending the day P9.
Hector Barbera (Reale Esponsorama Racing) impressed on day two to join Alvaro Bautista in the top echelons of the timesheets on an Independent Team Ducati. Bautista in P3 did a 2:00.218, with Barbera in P6 posting a best of 2:00.352. The two men led the charge on day two for the Borgo Panigale factory, with the Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo slotting into P7 and P8.
Dovizioso had a good day one in Malaysia as he was the quickest race rider behind timesheet-topping tester Casey Stoner, and the Italian ramped up the workload on day two to put in an increased 42 laps with a best of 2:00.441 – around half a second down on his Day 1 pace. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who ended day one in P17, took a leap up the timesheets as he gets used to life in red and ended second day in eighth – only 0.043 off his new teammate. The ‘Spartan’ put in an impressive 66 laps despite the time wasted by the weather, and finished the day a second off Iannone’s fastest lap of the session.
Reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez rounded out the top ten, as the Repsol Honda Team ended Day 2 in P10 and P14 with Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa. Marquez also suffered a stoppage on track at Turn 12, but put in a best of 2:00.531 during the course of his 33 laps. Pedrosa was only a few tenths back, with a 2:00.886 his fastest lap after 44 circulations of Sepang.
Aleix Espargaro was P11 for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini despite his crash, with a 2:00.609 to narrowly head LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow’s 2:00.691. Behind Rins and Pedrosa, the final rider in the top 15 was Scott Redding, who did a best of 2:00.972 after 36 laps.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith put in 37 and 32 laps respectively, and ended the day in P20 and P25 as they make progress through the incredible amount of testing work for the Austrian manufacturer – including three different chassis - ahead of their full-time race debut at Losail International Circuit in March.
First it was Ducati test rider Casey Stoner, then Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone – but it was the fastest man from the Valencia test, Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who hit back on Day 3 to head the timesheets. Fastest in the session and setting the quickest lap on combined times over the three days of testing, Viñales put in a 1:59.368 to go P1 from Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was third.
Despite a small shower in the latter half of the session setting back track action, the final day of testing at Sepang International Circuit was a productive one, averaging the most laps set by rider – although the brief rain did put paid to most attempts at a race simulation. One high profile crasher was Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – who went fastest on Day 2, rider ok - and Hector Barbera (Reale Esponsorama Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also suffered incidents on the third and final day.
Maverick Viñales, who went fastest once again after topping the timesheets first time out on his Yamaha in Valencia, put in a mammoth 72 laps on Day 3, setting his best time on his 40th circulation of the track. Teammate Valentino Rossi, after debuting Yamaha’s new fairing featuring “internal winglets” yesterday, ended the day in P5 and just over two tenths of a second in arrears. The Italian legend put in 62 laps, with a best of 1:59.589.
Reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the man closest to Viñales on the timesheets. After spending much of the Sepang test in the latter half of the top ten, the Spaniard shot up the timesheets on Day 3 and closed out the action in P2. Marquez did the most laps of any rider – 85 – with a best of 1:59.506. Teammate Dani Pedrosa similarly catapulted himself up the timesheets late in the test, with the three-time World Champion setting a 1:59.578 to take P4 – only hundredths off Marquez’ best. Splitting the Repsol Hondas was Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso.
‘DesmoDovi’ has been a key presence on the timesheets for much of the Sepang test and did 56 laps on Day 3. The Italian, who won the Malaysian GP in 2016, was the fastest race rider on Day 1 of testing and ended the third day in third. After 56 laps, Dovizioso’s best was a 1:59.553. New teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who had a difficult day one as he adjusts to the Ducati, maintained his impressive progress on the third day. Shaving off a lot of time on Day 2, the ‘Spartan’ got down to a 1:59.766 on Day 3, and got in another 66 laps of experience.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was again a key presence on Day 3, and top Independent Team rider. After ending the second day of action in the top three, Bautista maintained his pace to close Day 3 in sixth. The Spaniard put in a best of 1:59.628 after 64 laps – a tiny margin ahead of Ducati test rider Casey Stoner in seventh, who did a 1:59.639 and 46 laps. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) ended Day 3 in P8 with a 1:59.728, completing 71 laps.
Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was again the fastest rookie on Day 3, continuing his impressive performance after the second day of testing. The Frenchman did a 1:59.772 as the last man below the two minute barrier, completing the top ten. Teammate Jonas Folger was outside the top ten for the first time in Day 3; in P15 with a 2:00.312.
Andrea Iannone ended the third day in 11th following his off-track excursion, unable to better his previous times and setting a 2:00.045. Teammate Alex Rins was the second fastest rookie on Day 3 – just behind his experienced teammate, in P12 – and finished his Sepang track action with an impressive 2:00.057. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) completed the top 15, in P13 and P14 respectively.
Red Bull KTM Factory racing pair Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith continued their long program of work on the third and final day of testing, setting a combined total of 129 laps despite Espargaro’s crash. The Austrian factory line up full time for the first time in 2017 and have been testing something new or different on every exit of the pits.
See All interviews Flipbook here