The MotoGP test riders finally got a pretty much fully dry day of running on the final day of the shakedown test at Sepang. Michele Pirro, Cal Crutchlow, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Lorenzo Savadori, Jonas Folger, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Bradl, and GasGas rookie Augusto Fernandez managed to get some real work done. How much more? Fernandez did 47 full laps on Tuesday, where he had managed only 34 and 26 on the two days previous.
What did we learn? Not much more than we already knew from the previous two days. The more subtle changes will only be obvious once journalists and photographers can get into pit lane and take a proper close up look at the bikes. If you are interested in seeing the times, check Peter McLaren's report from day 3 over on Crash.net.
There were still one or two interesting points to note, however. KTM rolled out another aerodynamics update, though it is not yet the full package. This included a version of the fat lower ground effect side section which the Austrian factory tried at Valencia, following the lead of Aprilia earlier in the year.
Here's the version ridden by Pedrosa at Sepang:
And for comparison, here is the bike at Valencia:
The differences look only marginal, the Sepang version a refinement of the initial effort. The input from the Red Bull F1 aerodynamics experts should become clearer once the full test gets underway.
Of note is that Dani Pedrosa barely used a transponder on his bike at all during the test. This is not unheard of, but still sets an eyebrow or two twitching. The benefit of using a transponder is the ability to track times from the pits. But then everyone else can see what your doing, so waiting until the bike is back in the pits and downloading it from the datalogger will tell you just as much, you just have to have a little bit of patience.
Yamaha have also been working on aero, though it is hard to see exactly what they are doing from the angles of the photos seen so far. Here's Cal Crutchlow from the side, where the front wing looks very different.
And here's Crutchlow from the day before, in the rain. You can see more clearly here that the front wing is very different.
Crutchlow's top speeds were once again improved, hitting 335 km/h down the straight. That is 5 km/h quicker than the fastest Yamaha at the Malaysian Grand Prix back in October.
When asked about this by Peter McLaren, who is on the ground in Sepang, Crutchlow insisted that we shouldn't read too much into it. "The speed trap is in the braking zone, so it changes a lot..."
While Crutchlow is technically correct, the speed trap is at the same point for everyone. Either the Yamaha is faster, or it is capable of braking later, and scrubbing off more speed in a shorter distance. And a general rule of thumb is that when a rider tells you to ignore something because it is not important, it is not unreasonable to suspect an ulterior motive.
Still, we will find out soon enough whether Crutchlow doth protest too much. I am writing this from Schiphol Airport, about to embark for Sepang, and the official test. From Friday, there will be much more data to pore over and guess at. For the riders competing in the 2023 MotoGP season, work starts in just a couple of days.
Below is the press release from Tech3 GasGas, on Augusto Fernandez' experience over the three days of testing.
MotoGP™ Rookie Augusto Fernandez Gets First Taste of 2023 Campaign at the Sepang Shakedown Test
Track action is back for good and we love it! Newly crowned Moto2™ World Champion Augusto Fernandez started his 2023 campaign as he completed his three-day programme at the Sepang Shakedown from February 5 to 7, alongside test riders. His MotoGP™ adventure has started for good under his new colours with the GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 team, with the goal to adapt as much as possible to the GASGAS RC16 before being joined by the rest of the class at the Official Sepang Test, on February 10-11-12.
Reunited for the first time with his new machine since the Valencia Test back in November, Mallorcan Augusto Fernandez started his 2023 season on Sunday, February 5. All suited in red, he went on track at around 11 am local time (GMT+8). One simple and crucial goal for the rookie: feel the bike, find his own marks and adapt as much as possible. Whilst the day was rain-affected at the end of the afternoon, the number 37 finished second on the timesheets with a time in 2’01.331, just 0,185 seconds from Cal Crutchlow’s fastest lap.
Monday was heavily affected by the rain, reducing considerably the needed track time for the rookie. However, the light rain from the morning meant that Fernandez was already able to get time in wet conditions, an experience that will be useful to him sooner rather than later, with the season set to start in Portimao, Portugal at the end of March. He was able to get 19 laps done before lunch break. With the track wet but taking time to dry, the riders had to wait until 17:30 before being able to hit the track again. The GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 rider finished the day in third, with a personal best in 2’02.770.
Back under the sun, everything was set for a hot and dry final day of the Sepang Shakedown. Halfway through the day, Fernandez had already registered 29 laps, before he continued trying different settings to find his comfort on the GASGAS RC16 in the afternoon. At the end of the day, he did his first practice starts here in Sepang, and closed the final day forth in the timesheets with a time in 2’00.482, 0.679 seconds from the best of Michele Piro.
Now, two days of rest await Augusto Fernandez to recover from the Sepang Shakedown Test. On Friday, it will be time to share the track alongside the rest of the MotoGP™ class, including his new teammate, Pol Espargaro, for three days of Official Test. We can not wait!
“The first test in Valencia was just about riding a MotoGP bike, without thinking about changing settings too much, so logically the goal of the Shakedown was to get the job started properly and build my base. I am happy to have had three days to get used to the MotoGP bike, and I already feel like I am starting to understand why everything is happening, and how to ride this machine. We got a lot of information over the last three days, both in dry and wet conditions, and it is going to be very important to understand what I need to do to go faster in the next few days. The team did a very good job so I would like to say thank you to them. I am looking forward to Friday at the Sepang Test.”
“Augusto Fernandez reunited with his bike here in Sepang after the first test in Valencia back in November. These three days of Shakedown Test were really constructive, although the weather was not helpful. The positive is that he was able to ride already in a lot of different conditions, which is crucial for a rookie: he rode in wet tyres on full wet track, in wet tyres on a drying track, in slick tyres on a mixed track, and of course in slicks on a dry track. The third day was the most intense day as it was fully dry, and he did some very interesting lap times. He did not crash at all, which means that we have a good margin to improve. He has a very good attitude, his comments are positive and constructive, so everyone in the box and at the Pierer Mobility Group is happy with him. We look forward to continuing the work with Augusto on Friday for the Sepang Test.”
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It looks like BT now want 90…
aero aero aero
Subject at the bottom
So far sort of OK. I am old & expect the subject line to be at the top. Not important for the moment.
Thanks for all your work doing the changes David. I hope your flight(s) to Malaysia were uneventful.
Spellchecker is working and fickses my spelling mistakes quite well now.
We don't have to scroll down all the way to the foot of the article to Post, Yippee!
Sepang shakedown test done. The important testing starts tomorrow.
I'm still getting my head around this new thing.
Would like it if clicking on the "recent comment" were to take me to that comment.
"Some people are never satisfied, that's what Jesus said" Monty Python "Life of Brian". The Geek shall inherit the Earth.
Adding a photo hasn't become easier for me, such is life.
If only the IT system of the corporation I have to deal with for my business worked as well as this new MotoMatters site.
Bring it on!
Welcome back, here's hoping for a fabulous year.
I was hoping for an off season delve into the meltdown that was Fabio's title defence. So much ink wasted squarely putting the blame on Yamaha and the team (Cal proved it wasn't a POS) without recognising that Fabio really blew it. Yes the opposition got their machines sorted but it wasn't like Fabio was suddenly finishing 8th behind a horde of Ducatis - his relative speed to the rest of the pack (Pecco aside) hardly changed, it just seemed that he had to beat Pecco every time out, to his downfall.
In reply to Bring it on! by Cagivaboy
I agree that Fabio would…
I agree that Fabio would have won the championship if he had played certain races differently in the second half of the season (post 91 point lead). However, the end result was not known at the time. Aprilia looked like turning into a Mav missile, Aleix was up there and looking faster than Fabio often enough, remember his pace at Assen ? Peco and Enea looked like winning every remaining race. Miller settled with leaving Ducati and his form seemed to improve. Nobody saw Alex Rins coming to steal points from anybody. Zarco and Martin are capable of being the fastest riders on a given day. It's not sensible to rely on Peco dropping the bike in Japan. Not possible to predict the weather gods smilling on Oli. After Peco's run of form, Assen to Misano, it may well have looked like 'all or nothing'...s*** or bust. I think if there was one race Fabio really needed it was PI. A top 5 there might have made a huge difference. If he had a crystal ball, things would always be different.
In reply to I agree that Fabio would… by WaveyD1974
Agreed. My real point is you…
Agreed. My real point is you don't get a 90 odd point lead riding a turd and Yamaha did not make it worse for the 2nd half of the season.
The riders you mention certainly all looked capable but bar Rins and Bastianinni none consistently had more pace than Fabio and yet...
I don't want to cane the guy as I'm sure he beat himself up enough but if it was Marquez who capitulated in this fashion the media would be all over him.
In reply to Agreed. My real point is you… by Cagivaboy
Staying still is going backwards
I think it's more the case that Fabio stayed at the same level. He hit his maximum early and stayed there while the others caught up (and passed) him. Not sure it's worth wasting much ink (pixels?) on that :)