Wednesday to Friday will be a critical three days as MotoGP™ pre-season
testing continues at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. This will
mark the last time before the opening race that all Factory teams share
a track with their rivals, although Marc Marquez will not be attending…|
Immediately after Sepang, the Official riders of Repsol Honda, Yamaha
Factory Racing and Ducati Team are set to travel directly to Phillip
Island for their next test before the rest of the teams regroup for the
Qatar test that same week. In the meantime, Sepang is the venue as the
riders look to resume their programmes from the earlier test at the
start of February.
The first off-track surprise has already come. World Champion Marc
Marquez will be absent from the Malaysian gathering, having broken his
right fibula in a dirt track crash on Wednesday. The 21-year-old will
now be resting for two weeks and could also miss the Phillip Island
test. His chief priority will be to return to full fitness before the
season-opening Qatar GP on Sunday 23 March.
Perhaps Marquez’s unfortunate incident will work in the favour of
team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi,
who will crucially be capable of continuing with their testing
programmes while Marquez is out of action.
Ducati Team, on the other hand, has a big decision to make and the
outcome could well be revealed at Sepang: will the Factory be switching
all of its bikes to Open specification? Since the earlier Malaysian
test, the Italian outfit has been heavily analysing all of the data
collected from the Open Pramac Racing machine of Yonny Hernandez. Should
it decide to go Open, Ducati – now under the technical leadership of
Gigi Dall’Igna – would be able to make numerous modifications to its
engines during the World Championship season, unlike the Factory
Elsewhere in the Open ranks, those riding the new customer Honda
RCV1000R will be more than keen to reduce the gap to the front – not
least Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden, who was particularly vocal last
time out with regards to a lack of power. NGM Mobile Forward Racing, on
the other hand, is out to go even quicker than it did when Aleix
Espargaro finished the last test in a highly impressive fourth place.
Amongst all of them will be the Factory Option satellite competitors;
just how close will the Opens be to the likes of LCR Honda MotoGP’s
Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, as well as
Pramac and Monster Yamaha Tech3?
Not all will be in attendance at Sepang. PBM has confirmed that the
team will continue preparations in its British workshop before
regrouping at Losail, while IodaRacing Project still looks to enjoy its
first track outing of 2014. Elsewhere, riders will continue to test the
new dashboard warning system, which is used to alert competitors of
signals previously only shown via trackside flags and lights.
Testing will take place from 10am-6pm local time (GMT +8) between Wednesday 26 and Friday 28 February, with www.motogp.com on-hand to offer live timing and reports as well as regular video updates and features across the three days.