Ducati hit back on Day 3 as the Shakedown concludes
Pirro tops a busy final day in Sepang as factories profit from a dry day at the office
Tuesday, 07 February 2023
The Sepang Shakedown Test has drawn to a close and much to the delight of the factories and riders, the final day of action was met with dry weather. That meant plenty of work was completed ahead of the Official Sepang Test, and it was Ducati’s Michele Pirro who set the quickest time as the Borgo Panigale factory hit back on Tuesday.
Pirro – who set a 1:59.803 – was back doing most of his work with the updated aero package they’re trying for 2023. One key thing to note is that Ducati have updated their “ground-effect” side fairings from the Valencia Test, which are now much larger and have a little bit more detail. The actual side pod and the main set of wings are the same as what we saw at Valencia.
Having tested alone on Sunday and Monday, Cal Crutchlow had company on Tuesday as fellow Iwata factory test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga joined the fold. Both the British and Japanese riders were putting Yamaha’s new front fairing through its paces – the one we saw at the Valencia Test – as well as the latest mudguard.
In addition, 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was trackside keeping a keen eye on what both Crutchlow and Nakasuga were testing. The Frenchman will also have seen the speed trap numbers Yamaha were posting, which at one point displayed Crutchlow clocking 335 km/h – five more than Quartararo managed in last year’s Grand Prix, and eight more than Yamaha managed in the 2022 Sepang Test. Positive signs they’ve made a significant step with the 2023 engine?
In the KTM camp, Dani Pedrosa spent plenty of time on KTM’s new aero package. As you can see below, the front fairing shape has changed slightly. The ‘shark tooth’ serrations on the edges are no longer there, while the top set of the wings have been slightly updated, but remain largely the same. The side pod wings have received the same treatment. However, the biggest change we can see is the ground-effect side fairings have grown in size.
Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) completed a positive three days of Shakedown testing with a fourth place finish on the final day, his best time sitting at a 2:00.482. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion will be back on track for three days of official testing, where he’ll be joined by his 2023 rivals.
Test rider Lorenzo Savadori was back out on Aprilia’s new front fairing aero package on the final day, with the Italian lapping with more than one RS-GP. Savadori, as Aprilia Racing Team Manager Paolo Bonora explained yesterday, was also busy preparing the bikes for Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales ahead of the Official Test starting on Friday.
Stefan Bradl had a busy Tuesday doing back-to-back comparisons between different HRC aero packages, the latest one being something we saw at the private Jerez Test. The trusted German also spent some time comparing bikes with and without the ‘stegosaurus’ wings on the tail unit.
And that’s it from the Shakedown! It’s time for the race riders to head out next, with the Official Sepang Test set to be a busy one. That starts on Friday the 10th of February at 10am local time, and there’s plenty of coverage and content coming your way across social media and on motogp.com – including end of day After the Flag live shows from on the ground in Sepang. See you on Friday!
More, from a press release issued by GASGAS Factory Racing:
MotoGP™ Rookie Augusto Fernandez Gets First Taste of 2023 Campaign at the Sepang Shakedown Test
Track action is back for good and we love it! Newly crowned Moto2™ World Champion Augusto Fernandez started his 2023 campaign as he completed his three-day programme at the Sepang Shakedown from February 5 to 7, alongside test riders. His MotoGP™ adventure has started for good under his new colours with the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 team, with the goal to adapt as much as possible to the GASGAS RC16 before being joined by the rest of the class at the Official Sepang Test, on February 10-11-12.
Reunited for the first time with his new machine since the Valencia Test back in November, Mallorcan Augusto Fernandez started his 2023 season on Sunday, February 5. All suited in red, he went on track at around 11 am local time (GMT+8). One simple and crucial goal for the rookie: feel the bike, find his own marks and adapt as much as possible. Whilst the day was rain-affected at the end of the afternoon, the number 37 finished second on the timesheets with a time in 2’01.331, just 0,185 seconds from Cal Crutchlow’s fastest lap.
Monday was heavily affected by the rain, reducing considerably the needed track time for the rookie. However, the light rain from the morning meant that Fernandez was already able to get time in wet conditions, an experience that will be useful to him sooner rather than later, with the season set to start in Portimao, Portugal at the end of March. He was able to get 19 laps done before lunch break. With the track wet but taking time to dry, the riders had to wait until 17:30 before being able to hit the track again. The GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 rider finished the day in third, with a personal best in 2’02.770.
Back under the sun, everything was set for a hot and dry final day of the Sepang Shakedown. Halfway through the day, Fernandez had already registered 29 laps, before he continued trying different settings to find his comfort on the GASGAS RC16 in the afternoon. At the end of the day, he did his first practice starts here in Sepang, and closed the final day forth in the timesheets with a time in 2’00.482, 0.679 seconds from the best of Michele Piro.
Now, two days of rest await Augusto Fernandez to recover from the Sepang Shakedown Test. On Friday, it will be time to share the track alongside the rest of the MotoGP™ class, including his new teammate, Pol Espargaro, for three days of Official Test. We can not wait!
“The first test in Valencia was just about riding a MotoGP bike, without thinking about changing settings too much, so logically the goal of the Shakedown was to get the job started properly and build my base. I am happy to have had three days to get used to the MotoGP bike, and I already feel like I am starting to understand why everything is happening, and how to ride this machine. We got a lot of information over the last three days, both in dry and wet conditions, and it is going to be very important to understand what I need to do to go faster in the next few days. The team did a very good job so I would like to say thank you to them. I am looking forward to Friday at the Sepang Test.”
“Augusto Fernandez reunited with his bike here in Sepang after the first test in Valencia back in November. These three days of Shakedown Test were really constructive, although the weather was not helpful. The positive is that he was able to ride already in a lot of different conditions, which is crucial for a rookie: he rode in wet tyres on full wet track, in wet tyres on a drying track, in slick tyres on a mixed track, and of course in slicks on a dry track. The third day was the most intense day as it was fully dry, and he did some very interesting lap times. He did not crash at all, which means that we have a good margin to improve. He has a very good attitude, his comments are positive and constructive, so everyone in the box and at the Pierer Mobility Group is happy with him. We look forward to continuing the work with Augusto on Friday for the Sepang Test.”