Latest MotoGP Results
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.
Times at the end of day 3:
Times at the end of Day 3:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, the battle continues between Interwetten's Tom Luthi and Marc VDS Racing rider Tito Rabat, with Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio giving chase. Luthi was strong all day, and though Rabat put in a late charge to head the final session, he fell just under a tenth short of the time of the Swiss rider.
The top of the Moto2 timesheets showed a good spread of nationalities. Behind the Swiss leader, Spaniard in 2nd slot and Finn in 3rd, Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami grabbed 4th, veteral Italian - or more properly, San Marinese - Alex de Angelis bagged fifth, and the young British rider and World Supersport champion Sam Lowes snagged sixth spot. Lowes is adapting very quickly to the Moto2 class, despite having to deal with a lack of electronics and radically different tires.
Series tire supplier Dunlop added a note of interest to the proceedings today, announcing that as of this year, they will be marking the tire compound visibly at this year's races. This will make it possible for fans to easily identify which riders are on the soft, which on the medium and which on the hard compounds from now on. The soft tires will have black lettering on a yellow background, medium will have black lettering on a silver background, and hard will have yellow lettering on a black background.
Aki Ajo's teams have a firm grip on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. Jack Miller ended the day on top of the timesheets, well inside the pole record set by Alex Rins in May last year. Miller's teammate Karel Hanika grabbed second spot, the Red Bull Rookie Cup champion of 2013 making an outstanding debut in the class. Rounding out the top three was Danny Kent on the factory Husqvarna, an operation which is also run by Aki Ajo.
Though Miller's time was out of reach of the rest, over a third of a second quicker than the chasing mob, the group that followed was close. Karel Hanika was strong all session, Danny Kent putting on a late charge to challenge Hanika at the end of the session, ending the day just a thousandth behind the Czech rider. Italian Romano Fenati of the Team Sky VR46 squad was another four thousandths behind Kent, and his teammate Pecco Bagnaia was another two hundredths behind Fenati.
Alex Marquez was the first Honda rider, the NSF250RW showing distinct signs of improvement. Marquez ended the day just six tenths behind Miller, with Efren Vazquez and the French prodigy Fabio Quartararo a couple of hundredths behind.
Testing concludes on Thursday.
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, battle was rejoined once again by the two strongest men of the season so far, with Marc VDS Racing's Tito Rabat coming out on top this time. Like Jack Miller in Moto3, Rabat was on record pace, just a few hundredths off the pole record set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. Tom Luthi was forced to settle for 2nd, despite having led for a good part of the day, ending a quarter of a second behind the Spaniard, and a third of a second ahead of Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio.
Sam Lowes continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day as 4th fastest, just ahead of the other impressive rookie Maverick Viñales, while Takaaki Nakagami was 6th, just behind Viñales. The two Mapfre Aspar riders Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, so fast at Valencia, were well down the order at Jerez, Terol 17th and 1.6 seconds down, Torres all the way back in 30th.
After the World Superbike series wrapped up their testing in Australia, on the other side of the world the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Jerez for the second of their three preseason tests. It took a while, though, as the day started of with a track still wet from overnight rain. Track conditions had improved markedly by lunchtime, and a very full grid were soon posting very fast times indeed.
Australian Jack Miller was the fastest of the bunch, getting within a few thousandths of Luis Salom's race record set last year, and ending comfortably ahead of Isaac Viñales, the man who took his cousin Maverick's slot at Team Calvo. Danny Kent put the Husqvarna into 3rd spot, the young Briton half a second off the pace of Miller. Niccolo Antonelli, who had dominated at last week's test in Valencia, set the 4th fastest time, fractionally behind Kent but a quarter of a second ahead of fellow Italian Romano Fenati.
Efren Vazquez was the fastest Honda rider, with Racing Team Germany starting to take on some of the development of the new Honda NSF250RW now that Alex Rins has been forced to miss the test for surgery on his wrist. His replacement, the young French talent Fabio Quartararo made exactly the kind of impression many had hoped, blitzing to 11th, just behind the more experienced Alex Marquez.
Times at the end of the final day of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia: