With two WorldSBK tests under our belts, we are now just days away from the 2019 MotoGP preseason starting. The entire MotoGP field, minus the injured Jorge Lorenzo, will take to the Sepang circuit on 6th February for three days of testing.
But before that, from 1st to 3rd of February – that's Friday through Sunday – the MotoGP factories will be present at Sepang for the first shakedown test of the year. Test riders from all six factories will take to the track, and will be joined by the riders for the factories with concessions, who are allowed unlimited testing.
The original point of the shakedown test was to allow factories to ensure that all of the parts they have brought for their contracted riders (e.g. full-time entries in MotoGP) to test are actually working, and do some preliminary preparation ahead of the official test. After all, the full-time riders cannot afford to waste a day while engineers and mechanics try to figure out why something which worked at the factory has ceased to work at the race track, for example.
As testing for riders with a permanent seat in MotoGP has been increasingly restricted (testing is reduced as the number of races increase, which is good for the teams, as they get paid by Dorna to race, but not to test), the shakedown test has grown in importance. Doing an initial selection of areas to test helps the factories prioritize the work for their official riders, and provides them with a baseline against which to measure.
From Friday, the track will belong to the test riders of all six factories. Stefan Bradl will be present for Honda (and will also be testing for the absent Jorge Lorenzo during the official test), while Suzuki will have Sylvain Guintoli there, and Michele Pirro will be testing for Ducati. Yamaha will also be present, but it is unclear as yet whether Jonas Folger will be testing, or whether Katsuyuki Nakasuga will be on the bike.
For Aprilia, Bradley Smith will be present for the full three days of the shakedown test, and will be joined by factory riders Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone for the final day. KTM will have test rider Mika Kallio present on the first day, while both the factory and the satellite Tech3 riders will take part on Saturday and Sunday.
Pol Espargaro, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, and Hafizh Syahrin are already in Sepang, preparing for the test. At a KTM launch for the Malaysian market, Hafizh Syahrin told Crash.net's Peter McLaren that he was prepared to try to test on all three days of the shakedown test, as well as all three days of the official test. That may prove a little too much in Malaysia's punishing heat and humidity, however.
One rider who won't be at the shakedown test is KTM's new test rider Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa is still recovering from surgery on a collarbone he broke over the winter.
As the shakedown test is not an official test, there will be no live timing nor official coverage from MotoGP. However, Crash.net's Peter McLaren will be at the test and providing live updates throughout the day.
That will be very different for the official test, which starts on 6th February. A small contingent of journalists will be heading to Sepang to cover the first test of the year, and there will be live timing available on the MotoGP.com website, along with a brief testing wrap up after every day.
Naturally, MotoMatters.com will be present in Sepang to cover the test, in the person of David Emmett, kicking off the full-time coverage of the 2019 MotoGP season. If you want to support MotoMatters.com's coverage of all things MotoGP and WorldSBK, you can sign up as a subscriber. Subscribers get a number of benefits, including access to exclusive interviews and background articles, and analysis which you will not find anywhere else.
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