Officially, testing for 2015 MotoGP season starts in five days time, on Wednesday, 4th February. Unofficially, it started yesterday, when Yamaha and Honda's test teams gathered at Sepang to pre-test a number of parts and prepare the way for the arrival of the factory riders, who arrive in Malaysia next week.
Normally, test teams test in secret - a local journalist and photographer was told in no uncertain terms he would not be welcome at the track - which means their work goes unnoticed. Unfortunately for Honda - or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective - HRC had a very high-profile test rider at Sepang. Casey Stoner spent a couple of days on the 2015 Honda RC213V, and though no press release has yet been issued, a couple of posts on his Instagram and Twitter accounts gave a few clues about the test.
The weather has mostly cooperated, though rain on Thursday meant that Stoner could no do the laps he wanted, he posted on Twitter. Friday was a better day, with a lot of work done. From the photo he posted on Instagram, it was clear that Stoner was being assisted by Cristian Gabarrini, his former crew chief, and now crew chief to Jack Miller at LCR. Also present at Sepang was Andrea Zugna, the brains behind Honda's extremely advanced electronics package. Though this may be the last year in which the factories are completely free to develop their own electronics, the software in the system remains a crucial part of the racing package, and development continues apace.
Yamaha, too, were present, though with their far less famous test riders. Yamaha have also so far failed to issue a press release, though from comments made by Kouichi Tsuji at the launch of the Movistar Yamaha team earlier this week, we can make educated guesses at some of the things being tested. Tsuji hinted that Yamaha's fully seamless gearbox was to be tested this week, ahead of being trialed by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at the second Sepang test at the end of February. There is a chance that Yamaha's test riders will continue testing the gearbox during the first official test next week, and as we shall be present at that test, we will be keeping an ear out to try to spot the difference in sounds between the bikes.