The long offseason of waiting is finally over: MotoGP roared back into action this week at Sepang, where a full grid of riders commenced their 2017 preparations for the new season, which gets underway in Qatar on March 26.
Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) was in typically strong form, running towards the front throughout the three days and finally ending up a very close third quickest, just over a tenth behind fastest man Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) and a fraction behind Andrea Iannone (Suzuki).
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) was also very much on the pace: fourth fastest and a mere two tenths of a second behind the fastest rider.
Much of the three-day test was interrupted by rain and a track surface that remained stubbornly wet for hours after each downpour. This was frustrating for teams and riders who were forced to wait in the pits waiting for the track to dry evaluate their new bikes and new settings.
Rain was also forecast for today but only a few spots fell, so many riders were able to run a lot of laps. Testing continues at Phillip Island, Australia, on February 15/16/17 and at Losail, Qatar, on 10/11/12 March.
Twenty-three-year old Marquez rode more laps than anyone today - 85 laps of the 5.5km/3.4 mile Sepang circuit, or 460km/290 miles of on-the-limit riding in debilitating 32-degree and 90 percent humidity. The effort, however, was worth it because the three-time MotoGP World Champion believes HRC have all the data they need to keep moving him forward during the final two preseason tests.
Pedrosa (31) was also in good form, lapping a tenth slower than his team-mate and also gaining vital data and set-up information that will be invaluable, especially at the early races. The former 125cc and 250cc World Champion was happy with the progress he had made as he worked towards contesting a 12th consecutive MotoGP season with Repsol Honda. Both team rivals are now on their way to Jakarta, Indonesia, where they will take part in an official team launch on February 3.
Briton Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) was another rider who put the mostly dry third day to extra-good use, riding 71 laps in the grueling conditions. Last year Crutchlow won two MotoGP races and finished the campaign as top independent rider. Once again this season he will be boosted by help from HRC, who are impressed with his speed.
Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) ended the three days 17th fastest, exactly one second off the fastest guys. The Australian and his team focused on front grip and mid-corner speed, in preparation for his race outing on home on asphalt knows.
Miller’s team-mate was much less fortunate. Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS RC213V) crashed heavily on day two, the accident leaving him unable to ride for the rest of the session. The former Moto2 World Champion suffered a lacerated left knee, toe injuries and a wrist injury.
Marquez and Pedrosa travel to Jakarta, Indonesia, for the team launch on February 3.
|1||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|2||Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|3||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|7||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|8||Casey STONER (Ducati Test Team)|
|9||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda)|
|10||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|11||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|12||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|13||Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|14||Danilo PETRUCCI (Octo Pramac Racing)|
|15||Jonas FOLGER (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|16||Hector BARBERA (Reale Esponsorama Racing)|
|17||Jack MILLER (Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|18||Karel ABRAHAM (Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|19||Scott REDDING (Octo Pramac Racing)|
|20||Loris BAZ (Reale Esponsorama Racing)|
|21||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|22||Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|23||Sam LOWES (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|24||Michele PIRRO (Ducati Test Team)|
|25||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA (Yamaha Factory Test Team)|
|26||Takuya TSUDA (Suzuki Test Team)|
|27||Kouta NOZANE (Yamaha Factory Test Team)|
|28||Tito RABAT (Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS)|