MotoGP: Official Pre-Season Testing Starts Friday At Sepang

MotoGP: Official Pre-Season Testing Starts Friday At Sepang

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

#SepangTest: the class of 2023 saddle up!

We saw a sneak peek at the Shakedown. Now get ready for our first full event of the season as our 2023 grid gets back on track in Malaysia

Thursday, 09 February 2023

We’ve seen some team presentations and liveries, we’ve seen three days of Shakedown action and we’ve seen our 2023 rookie, Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), start to settle in. Now it’s time to get a look at the whole grid, and maybe a few test riders too, as the Official Sepang Test gets in gear.

WHEN + WHERE?

The test runs from the 10th to the 12th of February and takes place at Sepang International Circuit. Normal track action starts at 10:00 local time (GMT +8) every day and lasts until 18:00. Then, from 18:00 until 18:15, there’s a Practice Start session in which riders can do just that, and only that. Check the time zone here.

HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE ACTION?

There’s Live Timing on motogp.com throughout the sessions so you can stay on top of who’s where, as well as plenty of other information about their lap times and different runs. There’ll also be videos and report coverage making sure you don’t miss any key happenings, and timesheets will be sent out!

Then, from 17:30 local time every day until 19:00, After the Flag will be live to provide a host of updates and reports from on the ground. Pitlane reporter Simon Crafar will be joined by eagle-eyed tech reporter Jack Gorst in Malaysia, and the show in Barcelona will be anchored by commentators and presenters Louis Suddaby and Neil Morrison. After the Flag will analyse all the action and bring you exclusive interviews with riders and key personnel throughout!

 

Streaming Video Is The Way To Go For Motorcycle Racing Fans

What’s new for 2023? More MotoGP™!

21 Grands Prix, 18 countries, the MotoGP™ Sprint and a whole new season of rivalries are just around the corner

2023 CALENDAR

2023 TIME SCHEDULE

We’re on the verge of an action-packed, blockbuster season. More race weekends than ever, two new destinations, and the debut of the MotoGP™ Sprint across the calendar mean we’re in for quite a ride in 2023, but that’s not all! We also welcome GASGAS as a new brand on the premier class grid, and there are, of course, some rider switches and swaps that already have us chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the class of 2023.

 

BAGNAIA AND THE BEAST

The biggest headline in the rider changes is the arrival of Enea Bastianini to partner the reigning Champion, Francesco Bagnaia, at Ducati Lenovo Team. The two have already staged some incredible duels, and now they share a garage… setting the scene for the best kind of fireworks.

Then, at Prima Pramac Racing, Jorge Martin has a point to prove having missed out vs Bastianini for that very seat, and the others in the Ducati armada will want to share the spoils. Meanwhile, Alex Marquez arrives on Ducati machinery with Gresini and will be an interesting watch. Trophies don’t grow on trees and AM73 has a few.

 

THE BALANCE OF POWER

A big talking point heading into 2023 is Yamaha’s engine. Can they find that balance between a little more top speed and retain the manoeuvrability of the inline-four? On the timesheets at the Shakedown the signs looked good in terms of top speed gains.

Quartararo, for one, was vocal about needing to find that power, so we await his comments. His Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Franco Morbidelli will also have plenty of eyes on him, needing to take a few steps forward in 2023.

 

WET WINS ARE NOT ENOUGH

In 2022, KTM’s victories were both in the wet. Glorious performances and points, but the Austrian factory are here to win whatever the weather and if they can take a step forward with the machine, we already know Brad Binder will pull every drop of potential from the bike. And now, he has a new teammate.

Jack Miller has won on two other machines in the premier class, and he’s won with KTM in Moto3™. It’s an exciting prospect to see him begin a new adventure at Red Bull KTM and he already had a fair grin after his first taste of the RC16 in Valencia. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro was also grinning at the Valencia test and his experience should be an asset to the RC16 project as he saddles up with GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 too.

 

GUNNING FOR GLORY

Glorious as it was, that single 2022 Grand Prix win is not enough for Aprilia. After a title campaign that was on course until late in the season, Aleix Espargaro wants to fight for even more in 2023 and teammate Maverick Viñales wants to beat him to it.

Now, we have four Aprilias as RNF field two piloted by Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez. Oliveira’s class has been clear throughout the Grand Prix classes and now he’s at the start of a whole new adventure – having already featured high up the timesheets in the Valencia Test. Raul Fernandez, meanwhile, also has a fresh start after the promise of a record-breaking rookie season in Moto2™ turned into a tougher debut season in MotoGP™. Now it’s time to show what he’s got.

 

THE QUEST FOR (MORE) SUCCESS

Marc Marquez wants to win. And so do Honda. The two biggest mountains of the past few seasons are arguably shared between the two: Marquez with his injury struggles, surgery and comebacks; and Honda with their search for steps back towards the top. Winning is what it means to be Honda. They are the last factory to win the triple crown before Ducati’s 2022 success, after all, and their long history in the sport sparkles with trophies. Can they add more?

They’ve certainly added a few interesting pieces to the puzzle already. 2020 World Champion Joan Mir partners Marquez at Repsol Honda, and Alex Rins arrives at LCR. Both offer some serious firepower. They also retain the experience of Takaaki Nakagami, and of test rider Stefan Bradl, in their quest for more success… whilst adding the know-how of new Technical Manager Ken Kawauchi, too.
DUCATI

Michele Pirro was on track for all three days for Ducati, ahead of the return of reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and new teammate Enea Bastianini. The Borgo Panigale factory debuted updated aero at the Shakedown, and Pirro’s had two machines on Tuesday with different versions of the tail exhaust – a large one and a short one.

On the final day of the Shakedown, the Italian spent most of his time working with the updated aero package. The biggest thing of note was an update to the “ground-effect” side fairings from the Valencia Test, which were much larger and more detailed. The actual side pod and the main set of wings were the same as what we saw at the Valencia Test.

Ducati will now have Bagnaia and Bastianini out at the Sepang Test, and of course there’s a whole armada of Borgo Panigale machinery throughout the grid. What more will we see at the Sepang Test proper?

YAMAHA

A main topic of conversation heading into the Sepang Test will be Yamaha’s 2023 engine, and promising steps seem to have been made during the Shakedown. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was trackside on the final day of the Shakedown Test too, and the Frenchman will have seen the speed trap numbers Yamaha were posting, which at one point displayed Cal 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.

Both Quartararo and teammate Franco Morbidelli will be putting Yamaha’s new front fairing through its paces – as they did in the Valencia Test. Both Crutchlow and Japanese test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga were running with the fairing on the final day, handing Quartararo, Morbidelli and Yamaha some valuable information ahead of the three-day Sepang Test.

APRILIA

Aprilia Racing Team Manager Paolo Bonora confirmed that the Noale camp have something “innovative” on the front fairing. We saw from photos of Lorenzo Savadori that this innovation sits at the top of the front fairing, as seen below.

Aprilia have taken advantage of time in the wind tunnel, so the newly designed aero package has been used a lot in testing so far – including updates on the side fairing, where side pods are becoming a big topic of discussion. As with every factory, the 2023-spec engine is high on the priority list for Aprilia, as Aprilia Racing Team riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales get set to pick up where Savadori has left off.

RNF Aprilia MotoGP™ Team’s Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez are expected to get some parts to try in the three-day test, but their main focus to start with will be to build on what they learnt from their first taste of the RS-GP back in Valencia… where Oliveira was pretty high up the timesheets.

KTM

MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa was back in action for the Austrian manufacturer, working with new Red Bull KTM Factory Racing recruit Jack Miller’s side of the garage on Day 1 and then moving over to Brad Binder’s side on Monday. The main focal point was reportedly comparing different engine specs, with aero updates nearer the end of the Shakedown if there was time after Monday’s track time was cut short due to the weather.

There seemingly was time, unless there’s even more to come, and Pedrosa did a fair few laps on the new aero package on the final day. The front fairing shape has changed slightly, the “shark tooth” serrations on the edges are no more, and the top set of the wings have been slightly updated. The side pod wings have received the same treatment. The biggest change was larger “ground-effect” side fairings.

The other headline saw new KTM testing recruit, Jonas Folger, join Pedrosa on track as the German got to grips with the RC16 for the first time. Now the marque will also get feedback from Brad Binder and Miller at the Sepang test, and at GASGAS, Pol Espargaro – who has considerable experience on previous iterations of the RC16 – will also be on hand.

 

GASGAS

Speaking of GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3, reigning Moto2™ World Champion and 2023 MotoGP™ rookie Augusto Fernandez was also back on his RC16 at the Shakedown and started to focus on making the machine his own. The rain on day 2 also allowed the Spaniard to try wets on a wet track, wets on a drying track, slicks on a drying track and slicks in the fully dry conditions. His best laptime was a 2:00.482 on the final day of the Shakedown to slot into fourth.

HONDA

After a Valencia Test that seemed underwhelming from the outside, Stefan Bradl had a busy Shakedown Test for HRC as the Japanese giant put their heads down to get back to the top. On the first day, the German was out on a new-look Honda machine that was dressed in redesigned aero, a new exhaust, two different chassis and the 2023 engine.

A big change in the Honda camp for the 2023 season is the arrival of new Technical Director Ken Kawauchi, fresh from the helm of Suzuki’s recent successes, and the Japanese guru was in the Honda box for all three days of the Shakedown.

On Tuesday, Bradl was doing back-to-back comparisons between different aero packages, the latest one also having been spotted at the private Jerez Test. The trusted test rider also spent some time comparing bikes with and without the ‘stegosaurus’ wings on the tail unit. Now, it’s time for Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda Team teammate Joan Mir to take up the testing duties, with LCR Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins also gearing up for a huge three days in Malaysia.

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