News 31 Jan 2018

Lorenzo beneath lap record at conclusion of Sepang test

Fifth fastest on combined times for Miller following strong final day.

Image: Supplied.

Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo decimated the competition on the third and final day of the Sepang MotoGP test on Tuesday, setting the fastest-ever lap around the Malaysian circuit.

Lorenzo’s record-breaking lap-time was a 1m58.830s, his closest challenger being Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa just over a tenth and a half behind as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took P3.

It was a day without the rain that had affected Sunday and Monday’s action and Lorenzo put in 48 laps overall, topping the time-sheets on lap 21. The Spaniard had also crashed earlier, but then went out and set his best effort.

Only 0.009s away from breaking into the 1m58s bracket, Pedrosa was the quickest Honda of the test and worked with one bike in the garage sporting Honda’s new aero fairing and one without, whereas teammate Marc Marquez – seventh fastest – opted to go aero-free on day three, saying the innovation needs bigger set-up changes to be evaluated.

Behind Crutchlow in third was the second Ducati Team rider of Andrea Dovizioso. Like teammate Lorenzo, he took a tumble, but escaped unscathed. The Italian ended the day just over a tenth off the top three.

Just behind him was another impressive performance for another Borgo Panigale machine, that of Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller. Switching from Honda, the Australian proved his adaptation once again with a 1m59.346s as his best after 36 laps, completing the top five despite proving the first crasher of the day.

Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the rider who broke the Ducati and Honda stranglehold on the time-sheets first, going sixth quickest, but only 0.002s off Miller and the top five. Rins, who struggled with injury in 2017, has had a rapid start to his sophomore season and put in another half century of laps at Sepang.

Teammate Andrea Iannone, after suffering a number of technical issues in testing so far, was 12th fastest, but managed an increased 62 laps for the Hamamatsu factory as they aim to reset after a more difficult 2017.

The top Yamaha was nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, with The Doctor slotting into eighth and one of the late improvers. A 1m59.449s saw him just pip Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco in the last few minutes of track action, after the number 46 had been second fastest on day two.

Teammate Maverick Vinales was P18 on the third and final day, but is within the top six overall with his previous best. Both Yamaha riders had their new aero-packages on track and Independent Team rider Zarco also tried the fairing on Tuesday.

Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) made it both Pramac machines in the top 10 on day three as he ended Tuesday 0.017s off Zarco, ahead of fellow Independent Ducati rider Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing). The next quickest Independent Team Ducati was Angel Nieto Team’s Alvaro Bautista, who was P15.

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro led the charge for the Noale factory in 13th and put in his quickest lap on his final exit – the last rider in the 1m59s. Teammate Scott Redding continued his adaptation with another 56 laps in the bank.

Meanwhile, at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing it was test rider Mika Kallio leading the way on the time-sheets for the Austrian factory. They debuted a new aero package and Kallio did a best of 2m00.464s, half a second quicker than Bradley Smith. Pol Espargaro sat Tuesday out following his big crash on Monday.

Of the four rookies, it was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) who was the quickest once again on day three. The Japanese rider was 14th quickest overall, leading reigning Moto2 champion Franco Morbidelli, Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) and Tom Luthi (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

Detailed results