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Feb 4, 2014

Marquez Quickest On First Day Of MotoGP Testing At Sepang

Marc Marquez (93) in action Tuesday at Sepang.

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Sepang, Malaysia

February 4, 2014

Test Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Marc Marquez, Spain (Honda), 2:00.286

2. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yamaha), 2:00.804

3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain (Honda), 2:00.906

4. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Yamaha), 2:01.082

5. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Honda), 2:01.240

6. Stefan Bradl, Germany (Honda), 2:01.320

7. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (FTR-Yamaha), 2:01.419*

8. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Ducati), 2:01.538

9. Pol Espargaro, Spain (Yamaha), 2:01.634

10. Bradley Smith UK (Yamaha), 2:01.876

11. Colin Edwards, USA (FTR-Yamaha), 2:02.483*

12. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Ducati), 2:02.497

13. Michele Pirro, Italy (Ducati), 2:02.552

14. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Ducati), 2:02.860

15. Yonny Hernandez, Colombia (Ducati), 2:02.891*

16. Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Japan (Yamaha), 2:03.126

17. Nicky Hayden, USA (Honda), 2:03.319*

18. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan (Honda), 2:03.328*

19. Randy De Puniet, France (Suzuki), 2:03.893

20. Kosuke Akiyoshi, Japan (Honda), 2:04.267

21. Scott Redding, UK (Honda), 2:04.431*

22. Hector Barbera, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:04.922*

23. Mike Di Meglio, France (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:05.825*

24. Broc Parkes, Australia (PBM-Aprilia), 2:05.889*

25. Michael Laverty, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 2:06.070*

26. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Honda), 2:06.755*

*=Open Class

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

World Champion Marquez back on top in Sepang with Pedrosa third

The 2014 season has finally arrived with the test ban over and bikes returning on track at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa both spent time on the 2013 RC213V machine, to regain the feeling after the Winter break, before climbing aboard their 2014 bikes. It wasn’t long before the two Spanish riders were topping the time sheets with Marc setting the fastest time before lunch with a time of 2’00.767 set on lap 30 of 34. Dani was just 0.747 off him with 2:01.514 on lap 25 of 31, placing him 7th.

At 15h10 Dani went back on track to continue his testing programme which included working on the rear brake, shock, clutch and engine mappings. He completed a further 44 laps, taking his total to 75 (the most of any rider for the day) and set a fastest time of 2’00.906 placing him 3rd on the first day in Malaysia.

Marc rejoined at 16h00 working on engine mappings, clutch and also the new spec Bridgestone rear tyre and remained fastest for the day with a time of 2’00.286 on lap 52 of 62, half a second faster than second place Rossi.

Testing will resume tomorrow at 10h00 local time.


Marc Marquez
1st - 2'00.286
"I'm happy with how this first day went and to have achieved my goal of regaining my feeling on the bike. Of course, at the start I was a little stiff, but gradually I was able to pick up the pace. Today I tested the new rear tyre from Bridgestone and it felt similar to last year. Tomorrow we will continue with our plan: testing out the setup and beginning to draw conclusions from our findings. We put in a lot of laps today and I'm sure that tomorrow I will feel it; even though we train in the gym over the winter, here you work your muscles in a different way”

Dani Pedrosa
3rd - 2'00.906
"It was a very long, hard day. We put in a lot of laps and despite us being fresh as it’s the first day, I'm sure that tomorrow I'll be feeling it! It was fun, as I had not been on the bike for a long time and was curious to see how I would feel after my operation last year. In general things went well and we focused on trying out the rear brakes, clutch and engine mapping today. Tomorrow we will work on the chassis and the new tyres. The bike seems very similar to last year's model; we still need more time to work on things, but it appears as if there are no huge differences required in terms of riding style”

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

World Champion Marc Marquez topped the timesheets as this week’s Sepang Official MotoGP™ Test began today. The Repsol Honda Team rider led the way from Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, with leading Open rider Aleix Espargaro seventh for NGM Mobile Forward.

Following the usual break for lunch in the middle of the day, the final of the eight hours saw track temperatures drop which allowed riders to push for quicker lap times. This duly saw Marquez post 2’00.286, half a second up on Rossi as both the Italian and Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa jumped ahead of Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha in the final minutes of the day. The top six was completed by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl.

At Repsol Honda, this year’s RC213V features a larger air intake in an attempt to increase top speeds and improve throttle response on the exit of corners, with Marquez posting the leading effort fresh from historically claiming the title in Valencia last year. In the Yamaha garage, Rossi continued to develop his working relationship with new Crew Chief Silvano Galbusera, who first worked alongside the nine-time World Champion for the post-race test after the final Grand Prix of 2013.

Much attention was on Ducati Team, with talk continuing to circulate that the outfit could elect to race under the new Open regulations this year; this would allow up to 24 litres of fuel as opposed to the 20 of the Factory Options, as well as working on engines during the season and not being limited by the new engine freeze. Also this season, all bikes in the field are running the spec ECU hardware for the first time; however Factory Options are free to use their own software, whereas Opens must adapt the spec software as supplied by Dorna Sports and Magneti Marelli.

The leading Open representative on this occasion was Forward’s Aleix Espargaro (seventh position), with Factory Option riders Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing), Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3 team-mates) helping to complete the top ten. Colin Edwards (Forward) overcame early technical difficulties to finish 11th quickest, as Ducati Team filled spots 12 to 14 with Andrea Dovizioso, test rider Michele Pirro and Cal Crutchlow. The leading Honda RCV1000R customer bike was that of 2006 title winner Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) in 17th place.

At Paul Bird Motorsport, Michael Laverty (25th position) suffered a frustrating start to proceedings, plagued first by brake problems and then by an engine failure. All teams were present with the exception of IodaRacing, which plans to make its 2014 track debut at the second Sepang test which is to run at the end of the month.

Testing continues at the Sepang International Circuit over the next two days, again running between 10am and 6pm local time (GMT +8).

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

2014 season gets underway for Ducati Team with first test at Sepang

After a two-month winter break, the 2014 season got underway for the Ducati Team today with the first of three days of IRTA testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Following a restructuring during the winter months with the arrival of Luigi Dall’Igna as Ducati Corse General Manager and British rider Cal Crutchlow alongside Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, the Bologna-based manufacturer now has to archive a disappointing 2013 season and look to the future with confidence and renewed commitment.

In this pre-season test, the first of three scheduled for Sepang and Phillip Island in the months of February and March, the Italian team’s work will revolve around back-to-back comparison tests between the Desmosedici GP14 and the GP13; visually the new model presents revised aerodynamics, both in the front and rear fairings, in addition to improved rider ergonomics and more possibilities for chassis adjustment, as well as several new electronic solutions.

Dovizioso and Crutchlow spent the first day of activity comparing the two bikes and working on general set-up. In particular Dovizioso, entering his second season on the Desmosedici, continued to try the two versions, while the British rider, who stepped aboard the GP13 for the first time at Valencia last November, opted to continue his learning curve in the afternoon solely with the new bike.

The Ducati Test Team was also out on track with Michele Pirro, once again back in his role as test-rider. During the year however the young Italian will also have the chance to take part in at least four rounds of the world championship as a ‘wild-card’.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 12th (2m02.497s)

“Today was a bit of a strange day, the first day of testing in Malaysia should not be taken with too much importance because you have to find the right feeling again after months of inactivity. We had a different bike to test, but we were not able to do a lot of laps and test everything we had scheduled. Luckily we’ve got another couple of days here in Malaysia so it won’t be too much of a problem. It was the right decision to start with the 2013 bike to resume where we left off last season, then we immediately switched to the new bike to see the difference, but unfortunately I only managed 27 laps today. I feel sure that things will go a lot better tomorrow.”

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 14th (2m02.860s)

“First and foremost, it was good to be able to get back onto a bike after two and a half months off. We rode the GP13 in the morning and the GP14 in the afternoon, and it’s clear we have some work to do because the bikes are not too dissimilar at all. Most of the changes are cosmetic, but the feeling of the bikes is similar. The GP14 enters the corner a bit better, which is what we were looking for. We only used two sets of tyres all day so now it’s about building confidence to go faster with this bike. We also had a lot of electronics stuff to try so I never did too many runs in the afternoon. Ducati are definitely working hard and I’m excited about that.”

Michele Pirro (Ducati Test Team #51) – 13th (2m02.552s)

“Today we tried to continue the work we started in the two days here last week, when unfortunately I crashed on day 2, so today I had to get the feeling with the bike back again, focussing on some new components. All things considered it was quite a positive day, my lap time wasn’t bad but we have to improve and I’m confident we’re going in the right direction, but we need more time. Our rivals are in a better shape than we are, and for us it’s the first time we’ve put the bike on the track.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:


Sepang, 4 February: after a 2-month break the MotoGP riders and Teams descend on Sepang this week to kick off the first test session of 2014 season before the opening race in Qatar in March. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl has commenced three days of action today posting the 6th fastest lap time (2’01.320) riding his RC213V Factory Spec. in typical humid and hot conditions. Bradl took advantage of the ideal conditions lapping the circuit 61 times and getting vital data to fine-tune his 2014 machine.

Stefan Bradl: ”I always feel very excited to jump back on my bike after the winter break. The result of this first day is quite positive: I like the 2014 machine and we gained a lot of data to adjust the bike and to come up with the speed. The sixth place is not impressive but we focused in every single aspect of this new bike to improve in some areas like the traction control and the breaking stability. We have found the base set-up and now we start to fine-tune the bike to get a better pace”.

Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Team Manager): “It’s amazing to see that, after two months of break, all the MotoGP riders are lapping so fast and very close to the circuit lap record. One more time Honda has confirmed its high potential as Pedrosa, Bautista and Bradl are very close up in the standing (we all knew that Marquez would have been extremely competitive). Today we lapped on both bikes to get a first impression and, after the lunch break, we started to chase the best set-up. Personally I am very satisfied about Stefan and the crew’s job at the end of the first day”.

More, from a press release issued by Cardion AB Motoracing:

Abraham still suffering pain from injury which forced him out of 2013 season

Four months after operation of injured shoulder joint Karel Abraham appears in first MotoGP test of the season 2014. Result´s unsatisfying - the injury which forced Abraham to give up last season still complicating Karel´s ride. Czech rider rode in pain forty-one laps and he held twenty-sixth position with loss 6,469 seconds. He had to be treated in Clinica Mobile after end of the first MotoGP test day.

Karel Abraham

"It is simple: the shoulder still remains as a problem. I’m very disappointed, during working out and even it was fine in motocross trainings the injury now reappears. Honestly, it hurts as hell, especially in extreme positions and under strain. Those forty laps that I made were on limit that could be possible to manage. So back to Clinica Mobile and pray that it will get better during the night. I cannot do more now. But it is clear I will end up at doctors after this testing session. It’s a shame because the new Honda RCV1000R bike is perfect and we could do a lot of work today. I’m disappointed “

Marco Grana, Chief Mechanic Cardion AB Motoracing

"We are very satisfied with the bike, Karel feels great on it and we don’t have any bigger problem with it. At eight p.m. we are still in garage and we working on it, but it is only due to swop on a new bike, that we do not know. We have only one problem, but enormous- Karel’s shoulder. After six months when you are not on the bike it would be always difficult to begin ride fully much less when he is in pain. Karel has biggest problem when he is steering the bike from one side to another, we cannot make more laps, as we wanted. We have to hope that he will feel better tomorrow and we could start over. We have to change strategy, because it has no sense to try reach the most laps possible, because more laps Karel does, more he is tired and the shoulder hurts."

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha Factory Racing:

Sepang (Malaysia), 4th February 2014

After a long winter wait the Yamaha Factory Racing riders were finally back on track today for the first official ride of the 2014 season at the Sepang International circuit in Malaysia. The first day of the three-day IRTA test gave riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi a chance to blow off the cobwebs and stretch their muscles on a bike again as they worked through a number of test items for the 2014 YZR-M1.

Rossi, the first Factory rider to venture out on track, was also the first to find a quicker pace on his M1, slotting quickly into the top three and leading briefly before the lunch break. As the afternoon session continued the Italian was joined by his teammate Lorenzo who moved up into second, just 0.3 off front man Marc Marquez. A flurry of fast laps towards the end of the session re-shuffled the pack a little, Rossi ending the day in second, 0.518 from the top and Lorenzo in fourth, 0.796 seconds from first.

The Yamaha Factory riders were enjoying their 2014 bikes in full livery, featuring recently announced sponsors Eurasian Bank, Fiat Professional and SuisseGas.

The bikes also had a special sticker stating ‘Yamaha Lends a Hand to Yolanda Victims’ to promote Yamaha’s campaign to support victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.

The day’s testing was followed by a special press conference hosted by Yamaha Motor, introducing Yamaha’s Global 2014 Racing Program. The event was also attended by Takaaki Kimura, Senior Managing Executive Officer and Representative Director of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Valentino Rossi

2nd / 2'00.804 / 61 laps

“I’m happy about the first day, it's a good start. I feel good and I’m in a good shape. I’m happy because we’ve been very fast and always stayed in the top three positions. We worked a lot on the bike and on the new stuff to try and improve my problems. We already found something. I’m happy because I feel good with the bike and was able to go into the 2’00 minute mark, that was my target. It's a positive day.”

Jorge Lorenzo

4th / 2'01.082 / 47 laps

“As always it’s difficult to come back again in a good shape after the Winter, some months without training changes you a lot so the first day is always tough! The bike has changed quite a bit compared to last year. The new regulation of 20 litres fuel allowance makes us change quite a lot of electronics so the bike is not working exactly how I would like. I know we will find a solution in the next two days.”

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

“It has been a good first day, we were able to complete the schedule. We are for sure looking for some adjustments but we were able to get a lot of information and good results. We will study the data now and tomorrow we will proceed with our test schedule.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

“The first day is done, we tried many things, some positive and some things also to solve. For sure it’s important to start the first day without crashing so we are happy that Jorge got back into his rhythm. Tomorrow we have to solve some problems as it’s not completely where we want to be. This is of course testing and we are going in the right direction.”

More, from a press release issued by DRIVE M7 Aspar Team:

Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama complete over fifty laps apiece on new Honda RCV1000R at first 2014 shakedown

After the end of the winter testing ban the MotoGP riders were finally able to get back out on track today and face off for the first time in 2014 at Sepang, for the first day of preseason tests. With full-time and test riders present there were no fewer than 26 riders on track between 10am and 6pm. Marc Márquez clocked the fastest lap with a 2'00.286, with Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa his closest pursuers but both over half a second behind the reigning World Champion in typically hot and humid conditions at the Malaysian track.

DRIVE M7 Aspar Team kicked off the three-day Sepang session with great excitement as they looked to assess the improvements made to the new Honda RCV1000R since testing it for the first time at Valencia last November. With a new team title sponsor also on board in energy drink brand DRIVE M7 there was fresh look to the machines that Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama rode for 56 and 51 laps respectively, with both saving their best until virtually last. Both riders gave positive feedback on the handling of the chassis as they also made good steps with power delivery from the Japanese engine.

17th Nicky Hayden 2.03.319 (56 laps): “To say it's only the first day the pace here is very fast. I was happy to get back on the bike today and even though we have a lot of work ahead I can say that the electronics package is improved from what we used at Valencia, certainly in terms of the power delivery. We have to work on acceleration out of the slow corners but I really like the way this bike handles. The chassis is really stable over the bumps here. After testing a bunch of stuff we got the lap time down at the end of the day but we know this is a completely new project and we have to work hard. We are a long way off the pace at the top, partly because this is such a long track and the difference is more exaggerated. But we will try to chip away and reduce the gap. Tomorrow we will work on finding a bit more grip in corner entry and a few other basic things to try and adapt more to the bike.”

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:


The Suzuki MotoGP Test Team completed the opening day of the official MotoGP Tests at Sepang in Malaysia today satisfied with the progress made with its new Magneti Marelli electronic ignition.

Test riders Randy De Puniet and Nobuatsu Aoki switched to the new MotoGP system after a few initial runs on the 5,543km circuit with its former ignition system then spent the entire day evaluating and making further adjustments for optimum performance.

De Puniet completed 75 laps during the session as the team worked tirelessly to find the best settings, recording his fastest time of 2:03.893ms on his 47th lap.

The team has two further days of testing in which it hopes to further develop the new ignition system.

Said Suzuki MotoGP Test Team Manager Davide Brivio: “It was a very important day because, after few runs on our usual electronic system, we then switched to the new Magneti Marelli system. Suzuki is busy redesigning the all-new software and today was a kind of first real shakedown for us.

“We are quiet satisfied to have already found a good level of performance and we have spent some time on making adjustments. All our staff needs to get experience on this new system and we have to learn how to quickly adjust and use its potential.

So, as a first day, it was positive for us and we will continue over the next two days on our set-up and development. But in this Sepang test session, the electronic system development is our priority”

Sepang Test Times – Day 1: 1 Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:00.268, 2 Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.804, 3 Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:00.906, 4 Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.082, 5 Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:01.240, 6 Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:01.320, 7 Alex Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:01.419, 8 Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 2:01.538, 9 Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 2:01.634, 10 Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 2:01. 876, 19 Randy De Puniet (Suzuki MotoGP Test Team) 2:03.893.

More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

Very good start for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing at Sepang

The NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team greeted the start of an exciting new season with a productive day of testing at Sepang racetrack followed by the participation to the Yamaha Motorsport Press Conference to present their world racing programme.

It was a good start for Aleix Espargaró on board of the Forward Yamaha FTR. The Spaniard worked mainly on electronics and engine controls. At his debut on the Malaysian track, Aleix found a good feeling and was able to ride with a good rhythm from the morning. He completed 26 laps scoring the 7th best time (2’01.419) at only half a second from the podium.

A small technical issue spoiled Colin Edwards’ first day of testing. Obliged to remain in the garage after three laps, Colin was back on track in the afternoon and worked mainly on the chassis to improve his feeling with the front. He completed 26 laps, finishing 11th (2’02.483).

All in all, it was a very positive start for Aleix and Colin, who despite some technical issues worked in the right direction.

Giovanni Cuzari

Team Owner/Media Action CEO

 “I’m very happy to start this new project with Yamaha. We can count on a competitive package and we aim at finishing in the top ten. I’m very happy to face this new adventure with Colin and Aleix, together we make a very good team. I’d like to thank Yamaha for this opportunity and our partners, that have supported us in the past two years and now it’s time to pay them back with some good results. I believe that the open class represents a step forward to have more competitive bike on the grid. This season we have the potential to fight for good results and to have a very good visibility”.

Colin Edwards

“I’m looking forward to this ambitious new project with Forward, Yamaha and FTR. It’s nice for me to be back with Yamaha, I have a long history with them, my first contract with Yamaha USA was in 1986 in Motocross! I’m very happy to continue with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team. In just a few years, the team has progressed a lot and this new season represents a big step forward. Looking at the package, I don’t see why we cannot be competitive and teaming up with Aleix gives me an extra motivation. Regarding this first day of testing, all in all it was positive even if I had some technical issues and I could ride only in the afternoon. We focused on the chassis to improve the front feeling and tomorrow we will continue working in this direction”. 

Aleix Espargaro

“I’m really excited to start this new adventure with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team. We have a very good package and I aim at fighting with the factory riders. The bike is competitive and we have high expectations. Today we worked mainly on electronics and engine controls. I was comfortable on the bike from the morning and I could ride with a good rhythm. We did only 26 laps but we collect good data and I’m confident because we are working in the right direction”. 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Strong start for Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Smith and Espargaro at Sepang

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team kicked off its preparation for the upcoming 2014 MotoGP World Championship at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia today. After over 80 days away from their Yamaha YZF M1’s, both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, could not wait to get back on the 5,543 km long track which welcomed the MotoGP family with perfect weather conditions.

Today was the first of nine test days in Malaysia and Qatar, before the first race which starts on March 23rd on the floodlit track in Doha, Qatar.

It also marked the first outing this year in the MotoGP class for rookie Pol Espargaro, and the start of a second year campaign for Bradley Smith with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team.

2013 Moto2 world champion Espargaro, used the day to further familiarize himself with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZF-M1 MotoGP bike, and quickly set a consistent rhythm, completing 48 laps in total. Having previously ridden the YZF – M1 only once before, the Spanish rider explored different set ups and electronic options, before posting a personal best lap time of 2.01,634 min during the final stages of the test, as the track temperature dropped.

Bradley Smith, who returns to the Monster Yamaha Tech3 squad for his second year in the MotoGP class, pushed forward from his positive post season test in Valencia last year. The young British rider completed 55 laps on his new 2014 spec Yamaha YZF M1, experimenting with the behaviour of his bike with different electronic settings. Smith finished the first of the three test days in tenth position, with a fastest lap of 2.01,876 min and a gap of less than eight tenths from Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo.

The second session of testing will resume tomorrow at 10.00am (local time - +8 GMT) at the Sepang International circuit.

Pol Espargaro, 9th - 2:01.634

“It has been emotional today to be back on the bike and I'm really happy with how we kicked of the preparations to my first MotoGP season. Of course at this stage, my main aim has to be to learn as much as possible about the Yamaha YZF M1 and not to push it to its absolute limit. Compared to Valencia, I found it more difficult to find the right line on this track as everything is bigger and wider. But my gap to the fastest rider is similar to Valencia and the track is 1,5km longer so I have to be happy with the progress we made. For tomorrow, I really hope that it’s not as hot as today as the conditions are really demanding and especially with the bigger bike it’s hard to keep the concentration always at its maximum. I will continue trying different set up and electronic solutions with the aim to reduce to gap to front steadily”

Bradley Smith, 10th - 2:01.876

“First of all it has been a big pleasure to be back on track and I have to admit that especially after the promising result in Valencia the winter seasonlt really long and I was definitely looking forward to be back on the bike. All in all the day has been positive. Physically I felt much better than last year at this stage, so I'm happy my training seems to have paid off. I also feel very comfortable with the set up of the bike but due to the regulation changes the electronic system is different and we spent the whole day working on it, to make the bike feel it bit more like mine. In generally I'm really happy with how we started today, the majority of my laps was faster than last year as we did a lot of 2.01’s, but we clearly have to improve during the next two days as the gap to Jorge and Valentino is quite big”

More, from a press release issued by Honda:

Honda’s Marquez fastest on day one at Sepang, Pedrosa third

MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda

RC213V) started 2014 as he finished last season – at the front of the pack on the first day of preseason testing at Sepang, Malaysia. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) also made a fast start, with third quickest time of the day.

It was a busy day at Sepang, with 26 riders testing their 2014 machinery, including the four men who will race Honda’s all-new RCV1000R production racer.

Marquez was in typically impressive form. His best lap was more than a second inside his own lap record, established at last October’s Malaysian GP, and less than three tenths outside his own pole position record, also from last October. The Spaniard set his fastest time towards the end of the day, when track temperatures had dropped slightly. After starting out with his 2013 machine he switched to his 2014 RC213V, which is a logical development of last year’s bike that won the riders’, constructors’ and teams’ world titles. The only easily visible difference between the two machines is a larger air scoop in the fairing nose, designed to improve top speed and offer better throttle response on corner exits.

It was on this bike that Marquez went fastest, after some careful set-up work on engine mapping, the clutch and Bridgestone’s new rear slick. His closest opponent was seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who was 0.518 seconds down.

Pedrosa also worked hard, completing more laps than anyone else. He too got on well with the 2014 RC213V, focusing his efforts on fine-tuning the rear shock and rear brake, the clutch and engine mapping. The former 125 and 250 World Champion moved ahead of former MotoGP champ Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) during the final stages of the day. His best lap was half a second faster than his best lap in last October’s Malaysian Grand Prix and only two tenths off his best qualifying lap at that event.

Honda satellite rider Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) ended the day full of confidence after going fifth fastest, less than a second off Marquez’s pace. The Spaniard quickly found a good rhythm and got to grips with his 2014 machine.

Sixth was fellow Honda satellite rider Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V), making it four RC213Vs in the top six, suggesting that the Honda Racing Corporation’s winter of toil will pay dividends in 2014. Like his fellow RC213V riders, Bautista got back into the groove on his 2013 machine, then switched to his new bike, enabling him to make direct comparisons.

Today was a historic day for Honda, with the company commencing its 2014 testing programme with the new RCV1000R, a limited-edition production machine designed to give non-factory riders a better chance of competing closer to the front of the MotoGP pack. Following some promising test outings last year with former World Champion Casey Stoner on board, the RCV1000R was fully in the hands of its four 2014 riders for the first time today.

Team-mates Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) were the best-placed RCV1000R riders in 17th and 18th positions. Hayden – who won the 2006 MotoGP title on a Honda RC211V – and former 250 World Champion Aoyama are happy with progress so far, though they know they have some work to do to get this brand-new machine working at peak performance for the season-opening Grand Prix in Qatar on March 23.

Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) is Honda’s only MotoGP rookie this year, graduating from the Moto2 class. The youngster is still hurting from a wrist injury suffered at the end of last season but was delighted with his first full day on the RCV1000R. Tomorrow the Briton will focus on electronics set-up and braking performance.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R) was 26th quickest, struggling with the shoulder injury that forced him to make an early end to his 2013 season.

Day two of this three-day test will commence tomorrow at 10am local time.

Honda rider quotes

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1st, 2m 00.286s “I’m happy with how this first day went and to have achieved my goal of regaining my feeling on the bike. Of course, at the start I was a little stiff, but gradually I was able to pick up the pace. Today I tested the new rear tyre from Bridgestone and it felt similar to last year.

Tomorrow we will continue with our plan: testing out the set-up and beginning to draw conclusions from our findings. We put in a lot of laps today and I’m sure that tomorrow I will feel it; even though we train in the gym over the winter, here you work your muscles in a different way.”

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): 3rd, 2m 00.906s “It was a very long, hard day. We put in a lot of laps and despite us being fresh as it’s the first day, I’m sure that tomorrow I’ll be feeling it!

It was fun, as I had not been on the bike for a long time and was curious to see how I would feel after my operation last year. In general things went well and we focused on trying out rear brakes, clutch and engine mapping. Tomorrow we will work on the chassis and the new tyres. The bike seems very similar to last year’s model; we still need more time to work on things, but it appears as if there are no huge differences required in terms of riding style.”

Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 5th, 2m 01.240s “It’s been a very positive first day of testing!

It was nice to be back on a MotoGP bike after nearly three months of winter break. In the first laps I had to regain confidence with the bike, re-activate the mechanisms and find the right references, but to be honest it took me not too long, because I immediately found myself at ease with the new RC213V. Today I focused basically on regaining the right rhythm, without working on bike set-up. Tomorrow we will begin to work on the suspension together with Showa, who have brought some new parts, and also on the Nissin brakes, testing different kind of brakes to improve the braking. Speaking about the new RC213V, I loved it: I think the package of chassis, engine and suspension is already very good, an excellent base on which to work ahead of the first race.”

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda): 6th, 2m 01.320s “I always feel very excited to jump back on my bike after the winter break. The result of this first day is quite positive: I like the 2014 machine and we gained a lot of data to adjust the bike and to come up with the speed. The sixth place is not impressive but we focused in every single aspect of this new bike to improve in some areas like traction control and braking stability. We have found the base set-up and now we start to fine-tune the bike to get a better pace.”

Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar Honda): 17th, 2m 03.319s “We’d like to be quicker and closer to the front but it’s early days yet. The guys are working hard and we have improved the electronics a lot since Valencia – we’ve smoothed out a few flat spots which has helped a lot, but we still need to improve the acceleration – that’s our focus.

Tomorrow we’ve also got some stuff to try on the chassis.”

Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini): 21st, 2m 04.431 “This first day of testing was good, I was really happy to ride again at full strength, without physical problems, although it was hard for me to ride all day because of the weather conditions.

The bike was working well, I like riding it, but we need to improve on the electronic and braking.

Tomorrow we will focus on chassis set-up, in order to make the bike turn better.”

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Honda RCV1000R): 26th, 2m 06.755s “It is simple: the shoulder still remains a problem. I’m very disappointed, because during working out and even in motocross training it was fine, but now the injury reappears. Honestly, it hurts like hell, especially in extreme positions and under strain. Those 40 laps that I made were on limit that I could manage. So I go back to the Clinica Mobile and pray that it will get better during the night. I cannot do more now. But it is clear I will end up at doctors after this testing session. It’s a shame because the new Honda RCV1000R bike is perfect and we could do a lot of work today. I’m disappointed.”

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