Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) took top honors for the third consecutive day of MotoGP testing at the Sepang International Circuit, cementing his dominance and making him the early favorite for the 2013 MotoGP World Championship. Team-mate Marc Márquez finished his first three-day Sepang test with the fourth fastest time after having been third fastest on the first two days, and also after concluding a successful race simulation. And Honda riders Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP) and Alvaro Bautista (GO & FUN Honda Gresini) again finished with the sixth and seventh fastest times, as they'd done a day earlier.
The test marked the first time in his career that Pedrosa had swept to honours on all three days of of a test, though that wasn't his aim. His aim was to improve his Repsol Honda RC213V, which he did through a structured and efficient testing programme. Pedrosa diligently worked through a number of development issues on the second year 1000cc machine, with an emphasis on weight distribution. By rule, the Repsol Honda RC213V weighs three kilograms more than it did last year and Pedrosa, who bore the brunt of the development work, was tasked with finding the optimal location for distributing the added weight.
He left the test satisfied and looking forward to returning in less than three weeks' time, when he hopes to test new Ohlins forks and shocks, clutch parts, and software settings.
The 19-year-old Márquez narrowly missed out on finishing third, the hypothetical front row, for the third day in row, though there was no shame in finishing fourth. Just ahead of him were two world champions, Valentino Rossi in third and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo in second.
Márquez showed dazzling speed in the first test of the new year, putting himself near the top of the order from the outset. The team studiously provided him with the tools needed to improve his efficiency on the Repsol Honda RC213V and he made the most of them. He had a brief setback in the morning when he crashed for the first time in the MotoGP class, but he was unfazed and quickly got back up to speed. His fast lap of 2m 0.636s came on the 32nd of 33 laps, at the 5.548km Malaysian circuit.
In the afternoon, Márquez did a simulated race, 20 laps at speed to learn how the motorcycle would react with a lighter fuel load and used tyres. The times were remarkably consistent, which is what Márquez and the team were looking for as they head into the season.
Stefan Bradl nearly dropped below the 2m 1s mark, missing out by .003s. The second year MotoGP rider continued to adapt to the 2013 LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V, which is the same spec as that of the Repsol Honda riders. Three days of testing produced gradually diminishing lap times, which highlighted the progress of the young German. Now the team will digest the data collected to be ready when they return here at the end of the month.
Alvaro Bautista was half a second behind fellow Honda rider Bradl ending the test. Bautista's fastest lap came on the 29th of 48 laps at the end of a three lap run. He and his GO & FUN Honda Gresini team are the only ones using Showa suspension, which meant he spent the day doing short runs to evaluate the differences in suspension setup. The work was made more difficult by scorching heat, the hottest of the three days, which made the track greasy and exacerbated chatter problems that most riders were suffering.
Bryan Staring (GO & FUN Honda Gresini) successfully concluded his first MotoGP test aboard the Honda CBR1000RR-powered FTR-framed CRT machine. The Australian admitted there was still much to learn, but added that the team had been instrumental in helping with what by necessity is a steep learning curve. Staring incrementally improved his times over the course of the test and fully expects to be more competitive when the next test commences.
HRC test team rider Kosuke Akiyoshi completed his test programme early, finishing with the 14th fastest time. Fellow test rider Takumi Takahashi was the 19th fastest rider after putting in 46 laps.
The Honda riders will return to Sepang in three weeks time, Feb. 26-28, to continue their off-season testing.