After the round at PI in WSBK yesterday the boys over at MotoGP took back to testing at Sepang 2. Day 1 yet again went underway as I got ready for bed which pains me to want to stay up into the wee hours seeing the action unfold in real time, or Twitter time. So what’s new for this round of testing you ask? How about the unveil of Ducati’s GP15 machine last week making a one-day earlier debut than expected or the fully seamless up AND now down shift that Yamaha have brought to their boys Vales and Jorge or maybe how many bikes Repsol Honda actually brought for their two man team to test this time around. The rest of the field was pretty much getting acquainted to their bikes, teams or new parts as evident.
No shocker was the weather. It was the usual Sepang Intense Humid and Sweaty Balls Olympics as one of the mechanics like to put it. Being in the tropical zone added to this the chance of it raining, which it did unfortunately. This only means hampering the time sheets and those actually willing to go out and ride. All in all a testing session in the rain not only provides ample data for when a wet race actually occurs but the riders are able to get a better feel of conditions for a race in the wet while testing, nothing to lose over learning.
Ducati, as mentioned above, gave each of their factory riders one GP15 to test at this round but was going to hold off until tomorrow to give it to them. In an over night decision they did forth with handing each theirs today to test. The times, albeit wet, didn’t really show what the GP15 was capable of. The game plan was to have their test rider, Pirro, work out all the bugs on day one so that on day two they can get right to testing. But in all honesty with a brand new bike that was going to be a hard task to tackle either way. I foresee the Ducati duo spending the rest of the test period getting acquainted with their new steed and trying to break the 2’00” barrier.
Yamaha’s new gearbox made their debut at this test and right off the bat Rossi was already showing form continuing from the last test, finish the day on top. Gains with this new gearbox won’t be apparent every lap but rather over the course of race distance. As explained by those in charge of development the hopes for the new gear box is to save tire life, making it easier to ride and ultimately cut overall race time by two seconds. With his feet wet what can we expect from the legend and the new upgrade come time for Qatar?
At the last test Honda brought quite a few bikes for their riders to try. That test ended up being one of ‘which do you like better?’ This testing will be small refinements in the bike they have chosen. Changes in chassis and grip/grunt issues will be the main topic of conversation while they remain at Sepang to test. Another notable mention is the fellas over at the Suzuki camp who will be working on their refinement. Although having reliability issues in the previous wildcard round at Valencia, the engine(s) blowing up, they have seem to remedy that since the last test. Now able to focus on gaining that drastic horsepower boost they desperately need.
More images from the test of day one:
Times from day one courtesy of David Emmett of MotoMatters.com: