Alvaro Bautista was a surprise name at the top of the timing screens on day one of the second Sepang test.
The Gresini Honda rider, who ended the first Sepang test at the start of the month in tenth, posted a 2’00.848 which was the fastest time of the day, although it was slower than his fastest time of the last Sepang test by just over a tenth.
Part of that could be down to the less than optimum conditions faced in Sepang. A lack of rain, and Ferrari test means today was spent cleaning the track along with running longer stints and testing new parts, rather than just attempting quick laps.
Nevertheless Bautista, who was testing a new rear shock as well as a few other pieces on the rear of the bike was happy with today’s results. “We tried a brand new rear shock today because at the first test we struggled a lot with the rear,” Bautista told MCN. “The new spec was completely different and suddenly the bike started working much better and very good. I am quite happy because it gave me a lot of confidence.”
“The biggest problem at the last test was the rear shock because I didn’t have very good grip and whenever we put in a new tyre I couldn’t take advantage of the potential of that tyre. We worked a lot with the new shock on used tyres and my feeling was really good, but when we put in a new tyre I could feel the difference immediately. I can improve my lap time by a big difference on the new tyre and at the first test this was not possible. At the last test I could only improve by a couple of tenths but today I was able to improve by more than 0.5s and that will be crucial for qualifying.”
Now not a shock Aleix Espargaro was the second fastest rider of the day. Much like Bautista, Espargaro actually lapped slower than he did, despite the higher grid position, it is a further boost for Espargaro and the Open Class. Aleix had led large portions of the day using the super soft tyre only available to the open class riders, he seems to be continuing his stellar work on the FTR-Yamaha.
“I’m happy of today’s result. It was important to work on the set-up of the second bike and we did it,” said the Catalan. “During the morning session I did only few laps because I couldn’t push as I wanted.
“We worked also on the electronics and things improved in the afternoon. This is just the first day, tomorrow we will continue working on the second bike.”
Pol Espargaro was the third fastest in an impressive days work for the rookie, ending the day just a tenth of a second behind his brother, in what is encouraging signs for him and Tech3.
Andrea Dovizioso was fourth fastest on the, at the moment, factory Ducati. With debate and discussion over the future of Ducati, Dovi much like the other riders lapped slower despite the elevated position, but it will be a boost none the less to be ahead of the Factory Yamaha’s and Honda. Despite ending the day fourth, Dovi was asked on the subject of going open, and the Italian remained coy.
“The grip is quite low compared to Sepang 1. We improved the bike from the first test and I think the lap time I made today is faster than Sepang 1 when you think about the grip we had today,” said Dovi.
“We tried lots of different set-ups with the electronics and with the chassis and I had a better feeling; that is why we are close to the fast riders and I am happy. We have some set-ups to try tomorrow to try to understand how to improve with this bike. At the moment we have new materials to try but nothing special.
“But anyway we improved today just with a different set-up and I am quite positive about that.”
Jorge Lorenzo was fifth, and he was less pleased with his day, bemoaning the new tyres with his M1. He isn’t happy with the grip levels he is getting from the Bridgestone’s. Compounded with a small electrical fault, it wasn’t a happy day for the former World Champion.
“The new rear tyres, both the soft and the hard, are not working properly on our M1. For the moment we are finding a solution for the tyre; it seems for Yamaha that it is much worse,” Lorenzo said after the day.
“We are trying everything on the bike – all the set-ups that we can – but when we go on to the track it’s always the same feeling. We also had problems with the electronics. We are trying to do the seamless downshift in the braking like Honda, but for now none of it is working. We are trying to work with Bridgestone to make them change the tyre but for the moment they have a very closed mind about that and they don’t want to change.
“They say this tyre is the safest, but we say the opposite – that it is more dangerous.
“It seems Bridgestone will not be providing different tyres this year so we have to adapt to the situation.”
“When you’re not happy you can make gymnastics on the bike but the thing will be the same. The tyres don’t give me any confidence in the corner entry, in the middle of the corner and on acceleration.”
Dani Pedrosa’s day wasn’t much better, as he ended the day in sixth position. The Spaniard had grip issues, which was only made worse by jet-lag.
“Today was not the best day for testing – the track was dirtier than ever and there was no grip. It was difficult to find a good feeling with the bike, which we only really got at the end of the day,” said Pedrosa.
“I also had a few problems with jet-lag and I haven’t been able to sleep much over the last few days, so I’m not feeling perfect physically. As I say, at the end of the day we managed to go a little better. We’ll see if I can sleep better tonight and we will continue working hard tomorrow.”
Valentino Rossi was seventh, and he was faced with many of the same problems as his team-mate, and it will start to be a concern for Yamaha that both riders are unhappy with the flex coming from the bikes.
“The big issue for us at this test is to try and adapt the M1 to the new tyres, because in the first test we had some problems with the 2014 tyres,” Rossi said. “Especially with the soft tyre. But the situation is like this. They have already decided [to change the tyres] so we have to adapt the bike.”
“Today we worked a lot on the soft and it was already better – not very good like the tyre of last year, but not so bad.”
Stefan Bradl was eighth, and was working on braking stability. He also work on suspension, geometry & electronics, as well as being given some parts to test by HRC with Marc Marquez not running in this test.
Bradley Smith was ninth, but not at all concerned by the results on the timing screen as he was working on race set up and strategy. He hasn’t just stuck a soft tyre in on light fuel to try and fly up the timing sheets.
Nicky Hayden ended the day in tenth which will encourage Hayden, as the Aspar Honda continues to improve. Cal Crutchlow was eleventh and over a second behind his team-mate.
The times are expected to drop over the test, and with quicker times expected tomorrow be sure to tune back in for all the latest from Sepang.