The final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang saw improvement by the top seven riders in lap times, but for the rest of the field, recovering the gap was slightly less impressive than yesterday.
Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the first test of the season, except for Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. The two knew it would be difficult as they had no new parts to test - just old ones to re-test and the bike is still sadly very much off pace, just like in 2011 and 2012 and with the same old problems, chattering, traction and rideability. Ducati will have to perform some sort of miracle and with very little time to do it or pray it rains every race day.
Cal Crutchlow - 5th
“It has been a very positive week and I am where I expected to be and that’s right behind the top four factory bikes. I can’t really ask for more than that and I’m pleased with my lap times because my bike is almost identical to the bike I rode last year. Today I was doing a lot of laps on old tyres and trying to stay consistent and I’ve improved. I also feel like I’ve made good progress in improving on the brakes, so it has been a productive test and good to be back on track after the winter break. I’ve built up my confidence each day but it is obvious that 2013 is going to be incredibly tough. There is some amazing talent on really good machinery but I am really looking forward to it. I’ll be ready to give it 100% as always and come the first race in Qatar I’ll be ready to challenge. Credit to Bradley as we ll because he has done a fantastic job this week. This was his first proper test in MotoGP and he has got faster and more confident each day. I have been very impressed with him and it is going to be good being his teammate this season.”
Stefan Bradl – 6th
“The result of these three days of work is quite good for me. I think we have completed our job gathering more data ahead the next test here. Even today I was working on a raft of things from traction control, to suspension and brakes and Bridgestone gave us a new rear hard tyre to test. At the end I run the circuit 43 times growing my confidence on this bike. There’s more work to do before the first race of the season but we leave Sepang with a good base”.
Alvaro Bautista - 7th
“The intense heat that we’ve had over the past few days ended up making it considerably harder work out on track. That didn’t affect our schedule, however, and we continued with the job of setting up the Showa suspension. We are making progress, but we still have a lot of work to do and our aim remains to have everything ready for the season start in Qatar. We have gathered a lot of data that we will use at the next test here in Sepang at the end of the month.”
Bradley Smith - 8th
“I am really happy with the way this test has gone and my lap times and final position have already given me a lot of confidence. I didn’t come here with any expectations but to be eighth is where this bike needs to be. I am still not getting all of the potential out of the YZR-M1 but I am gaining in confidence with every lap I complete and it has been mission accomplished in terms of coming here and understanding how the bike needs to be ridden. I still need to be a lot smoother but I am happy to be within two seconds of the fastest time. I knew that was possible but the hard work starts now to close that gap even more. The race simulation was amazing to build up my experience but it was seriously hard work. It was the hottest day and it is very physically and mentally demanding to ride a MotoGP bike at that pace over a long distance. It is hard to concentrate but the best thing was on the last lap I did a 2.02.9 and my best lap was a 2.02.5. So I was consistent and while I need to be faster, I’m really happy to be leaving this test having learned so much. I need a good sleep now to digest all the information I’ve taken on but already I can’t wait to be back on the bike here later this month.”
Nicky Hayden - 9th
“We obviously can’t be happy when our times are that far off of the top guys, but we knew it was going to be tough. Sepang has never been a particularly good track for Ducati: we raced here in October, and the bike hasn’t changed much since then. We found a couple little things over the course of the test, which allowed us to improve our consistency on day three, but I think we need something big. Anyway, it was nice to be back on the bike and working with the guys. The team has worked extremely hard, and we just have to stay motivated and keep giving them the right information so that we can hopefully start making some real progress soon.”
Andrea Dovizioso - 10th
“Yes, it was a difficult test but we didn’t expect it to be any different. We’re here to improve the situation and everybody knows the level we are now so we have to improve. We tested as much stuff as we could, because we’re focused on improving the bike. The gap to the others is big, and we pushed a lot to understand the bike. I gave a lot of feedback, maybe too much! We don’t know how the next test in Sepang will be. There’s too short a time between now and then, so it’s difficult to do something big in this time. We still have to decide which parts we can bring to the second test. Unfortunately, we need time to try something big.”
Aleix Espargaró - 12th
“I am very happy. The new chassis works perfectly and we took a step forward today. It was very hot today and this morning I matched my best times from yesterday straight away. It is hard to ride fast when it is so hot. I didn’t do my best lap until 1pm. I have only put in around 70 laps with this bike and the feeling is excellent, which has given us such a fast pace. We have to be satisfied with our best lap today, because it was an improvement on my qualifying time from last year. It is also the best CRT time by some way, and not too far off the MotoGP bikes. We have started the year very well, but we have to continue working and the next test will see us using the old bike to compare again.”
Andrea Iannone - 13th
“I am satisfied after these three days of testing even if the gap to the first is still big, however, it is not my goal now. I am focused on learning and improving as much as possible, and we are succeeding. I am happy because I have a good feeling with the team and we are working hard. I would be faster but I know that it is too early, but I am confident”.
Randy De Puniet - 16th
“The test was going very well up until today. We had found a few things with the new chassis that we liked, but today we lost our way a little. I don’t know if it’s down to the rise in temperature, but today there was much more front end chatter than on previous days. We tried lots of things, but none really convinced us. Besides today, we have a lot of information from these three days to look over, so over the next fortnight we will analyse it in detail so that we can come back to Sepang at the end of the month with solutions.”
Karel Abraham - 22nd
“I was able to improve my best lap time and get it under 2:05. Another positive moment is that I can do my best laps constantly. Obviously I expected to be faster. Especially in the last half-hour I felt really good and it´s pity that I wasn´t able to improve the best lap time. However I really like the bike and I hope that we found good set up in the end which can be perfect starting point for next tests.”
Bryan Staring - 27th
“There is still a lot to learn, but I think that we are on the right track with the help of the guys on the team. They never put me in any difficulty and always have me trying out technical solutions, without distracting me too much from just adapting to this new style of riding. Sepang is definitely not the best circuit at which to make your debut, as it is so long and it is hard to learn all the lines. In any case, I am motivated. Today I improved my time from yesterday and I am convinced that very soon I can be competitive.”
Ben Spies - did not test on day 3
“The first two days on the bike were positive for not riding through for about three and half months. I think the test that we did was good for the first time on bike and actually the lap time was faster than I can expected to be, it was a good test to get back on the bike but the second day I just had a little bit too much pain on my shoulder to keep going on but I think we are going to have a sort of improvement and we will come back in the same track here in three weeks and I hope to feel a lot better.”