Preparations for the 2017 MotoGP season continued at Phillip Island this week, with four Honda riders completing a successful three-day official test in hot and sunny conditions.
Honda’s fastest men - Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) - made it three RC213Vs in the fastest five, confirming impressions from the opening Sepang tests that they have speed in abundance and consistency to match.
In contrast to the Sepang outing earlier this month, riders and teams enjoyed three days of near perfect weather, with track temperatures exceeding 40 degrees each afternoon. And Phillip Island’s succession of high-speed curves gave riders ample opportunity to test the handling and stability of their 2017 machinery.
Reigning World Champion Marquez completed the tests a close second fastest, demonstrating excellent speed and fantastic consistency while preparing his latest RC213V for the 2017 season, which gets underway in Qatar on March 26.
The Spaniard, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday, rode a staggering 107 laps on the second day, including two long and impressively fast runs. He rode another 96 laps on Friday, with many in the 1m 28s to 1m 29s range.
Over the three days, only Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) was faster, and no one was as consistent. Even more impressive was the fact that Marquez was working without crew chief Santi Hernandez, who was absent due to illness.
Pedrosa was third fastest and just 0.19s slower than his team-mate after jumping up the order late on the final day. Pedrosa managed the improvement despite having to overcome a throat infection, which caused him to sit out much of Thursday morning.
Pedrosa, working well with new crew chief Giacomo Guidotti, adapted his electronics set-up and experimented with a succession of different settings through the three days. The Spaniard didn’t complete a long, race-simulation like Marquez but was nonetheless more than content with his progress.
Crutchlow returned to the scene of his 2016 Australian Grand Prix victory, finishing the test fifth overall, only half a second off the fastest lap. It took the 30-year-old Briton some time to adapt electronics settings to the character of his 2017 engine, but he was fast across the three days. Also, the long run that Crutchlow completed on Friday was sometimes as fast as those of Vinales and Marquez, demonstrating the strength of the LCR Honda squad’s technical package.
Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS RC213V) continued his strong preseason form by ending the test a promising ninth quickest. The Australian felt the benefits of new front forks and improvements to electronics and chassis performance. The winner of last year’s Dutch TT now feels he has a strong base setting as he prepares for his third season in MotoGP.
Miller’s team-mate Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS RC213V) didn’t attend the test due to injuries sustained in a crash at Sepang. The former Moto2 World Champion underwent surgery at the start of the month and hopes to be able to ride at the next tests.
The third and final preseason test will take place at the Losail Circuit in Qatar from on March 10/11/12.
Honda MotoGP rider quotes
|1||Maverick VIÑALES(Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|2||Marc MARQUEZ(Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Dani PEDROSA(Repsol Honda Team)|
|4||Jonas FOLGER(Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW(LCR Honda)|
|6||Alex RINS(Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|7||Andrea DOVIZIOSO(Ducati Team)|
|8||Jorge LORENZO(Ducati Team)|
|9||Jack MILLER(Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|10||Aleix ESPARGARO(Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|11||Alvaro BAUTISTA(Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|12||Valentino ROSSI(Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|13||Andrea IANNONE(Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|14||Danilo PETRUCCI(Octo Pramac Racing)|
|15||Johann ZARCO(Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|16||Hector BARBERA(Reale Esponsorama Racing)|
|17||Pol ESPARGARO(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|18||Loris BAZ(Reale Esponsorama Racing)|
|19||Bradley SMITH(Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|20||Scott REDDING(Octo Pramac Racing)|
|21||Karel ABRAHAM(Pull&Bear Aspar Team)|
|22||Sam LOWES(Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|