Archive - Race Or Practice Result
March 9th, 2014
Aleix Espargaro has stamped his authority on the final day of the test for non-factory teams at Qatar, blitzing to a remarkable time of 1'54.874 on the Open Forward Yamaha, less than two tenths off the pole position set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race. Aleix led an Espargaro 1-2 and a Yamaha clean sweep, ending just ahead of brother Pol on the Tech 3 Yamaha, and fifteen hundredths ahead of the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith.
It was not all good news for the Espargaro brothers, however. Pol crashed towards the end of the evening, falling heavily and breaking his left collarbone. The Spaniard is flying to Barcelona tonight and will undergo surgery to fix the collarbone, in an attempt to be fit for the season opener which takes place in two weeks' time. Pol was not the only rider to crash; both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista had offs, though neither rider suffered any injury.
After the Yamahas took the honors on the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test, on Saturday, it was the turn of the Hondas to shine. Alvaro Bautista set a fast time early on during the test, which was good enough stay at the top of the timesheet for the rest of the session. Stefan Bradl grabbed the second spot behind the Go&Fun Gresini Honda of Bautista, the LCR Honda man three tenths slower than the Spaniard. Aleix Espargaro once again led the Yamaha charge with a late lap, but though he came within a tenth of the time of Bradl, he was nearly four tenths off the pace set by Bautista.
Bradley Smith led the Monster Tech 3 team, just behind Aleix Espargaro but once again frustrated at not being the fastest Yamaha. Once again, however, Smith's pace was consistently fast, posting a lot of laps in the high 1'55s and very low 1'56s. Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro was 5th, a quarter of a second behind Smith and seven tenths off the pace of Bautista, while Andrea Iannone was the first of the Ducatis on the timesheet, the last rider to get within a second of the time of Bautista.
While their factory counterparts are on aircraft heading back from Phillip Island, everyone not on a factory team (that's factory, small F, not Factory Option, capital F capital O) have spent the day at their own test at Qatar. As always, the first day back at the desert track means a horribly dusty surface, which led a large group of riders to sit out the first hour or so of the test. Once the more eager of the riders - none more so than Danilo Petrucci, keen to get back on a bike for the first time after the winter layoff - had cleaned the track a little, and the track had cooled after the sun had gone down, the full pack headed out for the final test before the season started.
It came as no surprise to see Aleix Espargaro topping the timesheets a the end of the day. The NGM Forward rider has been fast all pre-season, Espargaro extracting every last ounce of performance from the Forward Yamaha, taking full advantage of the softer rear tire made available to the Open class machines (and now nicely color-coded to make tire choice more visible.) There is however no more mention of FTR in the Forward garage, the bikes appearing as Forward Yamahas on the entry list, and Colin Edwards admitting to Motorcycle News that he did not expect to see a chassis from FTR this year. The rumors of unpaid bills appear to have some weight behind them, despite the official denial issued by FTR in February.
The five factory MotoGP riders and four Moto2 men have wrapped up the test at Phillip Island. The nine riders worked their way through the Sisyphean task of testing the vast mound of tires Bridgestone and Dunlop brought to the test, to assess compounds to be used in the race in October. The weather was very mixed on the final day, making for a more accurate reflection of the conditions likely to prevail during the race, after two days of hot, Australian summer on Monday and Tuesday.
Jorge Lorenzo was fastest man on the day, as he has been throughout the test, though the focus on the final day was on race simulations. Lorenzo did almost complete race distance at a very constant pace, though his teammate Valentino Rossi was faster over a shorter, half race distance run. Dani Pedrosa was forced to cut his race simulation run short with neck pain, brought on by having spent six of the past eight days testing a MotoGP bike. Cal Crutchlow also had to call an early halt to his race simulation, as his front tire suffered problems at the end of 17 laps. The front tires were not an issue at the race last year, this tire test having been called because of issues with the rear tire.
The tire test at Phillip Island continues, with a selection of MotoGP and Moto2 riders putting new specs of tires from Bridgestone and Dunlop through their paces in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of last October. After the first day of testing, where the riders tested a large selection of various compounds and constructions, the second day of testing concentrated on the tires which showed the most promise from the short runs on Monday.
Though Jorge Lorenzo was fastest on the day, his time was still over a second off the lap record set by Marc Marquez in October. But fast times were less important than tire enduranc, and Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow all posted long runs towards the end of the day. Pedrosa managed 20 laps, or just over two-thirds race distance, while Rossi and Crutchlow both did runs of half race distance. Lap times were consistent, with little drop off towards the end. Bridgestone were very happy with the data, and have narrowed the selection down to three possible tires, and hoping to leave with just two options for development ready for the race in October. Jordi Torres did a race simulation on the Moto2 Dunlops, but the tire did not produce the lap times which Dunlop had hoped. The data was useful nonetheless, as it provides further input for development.
Times from Monday:
Valentino Rossi leaves the second Sepang test as fastest overall, after finding a burst of pace early in the day to crack the two-minute barrier. So happy with his progress in testing this year was the Italian that he told the press afterwards he was already seriously considering a contract for 2015 and 2016, as long as his results during race weekends improve along the same lines as his pace in testing.
Dani Pedrosa took second spot, finishing with the same time as Rossi after chasing a time at the end of the day. But the Repsol Honda man had to cede top spot to Rossi, as Rossi had posted faster times during the day. The clear progress Ducati have made with the GP14 was evident from Andrea Dovizioso's time, the Italian setting the fastest ever time on a Ducati around the Sepang circuit. Clear improvement on braking and corner entry have made a big difference to the performance of the bike. Dovizioso set his best time using the factory software, though he later did a long run using the Open configuration, running a string of laps in the high 2'01s and low 2'02s.
Dani Pedrosa put in a blistering lap at the end of the session to lead the second day of testing for the MotoGP class at Sepang. On a track which was much improved from Wednesday, Pedrosa - still suffering from jet lag and physically weakened - put himself nearly three tenths clear of the field.
Second slot was once again filled by Aleix Espargaro, proving that the Open Yamaha can put in fast single laps with ease. Whether Aleix can maintain that pace over a full race is still uncertain, as the elder of the two Espargaro brothers has yet to put in a race simulation. Yesterday's fastest man Alvaro Bautista was quick once again, grabbing third just under half a second off the time of Pedrosa. The new Showa rear shock is proving consistently better for the Gresini Honda man. Bautista also put in a race simulation, but was slower than the other satellite Honda, Stefan Bradl also having put in a race simulation. Though Bradl was only 6th on the timesheets, his race run was strong, consistently posting laps in the low 2'01.
Testing is once again underway at Sepang, on a track in far from perfect conditions, due in part to some car testing done in the period after the last test, and in part due to an uncharacteristing complete lack of rain in the region. Mixed conditions gave new faces a chance to shine, with Alvaro Bautista grabbing the top spot in the dying moments of the test, when most of the riders switched to qualifying mode.
Bautista's Showa-shod Gresini Honda was followed closely by the Forward Yamaha Open bike of Aleix Espargaro, and the Tech 3 Yamaha of younger brother Pol. The Espargaro brothers were strong at the first test, and have continued to shine in the second. Andrea Dovizioso was fourth fastest on the factory Ducati, still in Factory Option configuration, rather than as Open, while Jorge Lorenzo set the 5th fastest time, three tenths off the pace of Alvaro Bautista.
Dani Pedrosa ended the session in 6th, though the difference with Lorenzo was negligible, just two thousandths of a second. Valentino Rossi was a couple of tenths slower, ending in 7th ahead of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and the second Tech3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith. Nicky Hayden rounded out the top ten, having closed the gap a great deal to the front, Hayden now just 1.4 seconds behind the leader, rather than nearly 2, which happened at the first test.
Surprises are the only thing that can be safely predicted about motorbike racing, and Phillip Island is unique enough to deliver them in spades. The long gap, dseven weeks before the second race, gives Phillip Island the air of pre-season testing … with points.
The last race of the day was dry at 22°C.
The World Supersport race took part in a dry, 19°C day.
The first race of the season was dry, at 21°C
Now we have seen the new format for qualifying and the changes are not as drastic as they may have seemed on paper. Familiarity with the way the MotoGP system worked helped, as did the fact that the new format isn’t that different from the old one.
World Supersport qualifying took a few minutes longer than it should, being red-flagged briefly.