2012 Sepang 1 MotoGP Test Day 3 Times: Stoner Blitzes Lap Record As Rain Stops Play Early

Casey Stoner has ended the first MotoGP test of 2012 on top of the timesheets in style. On just his second lap out of the pits this morning, the Repsol Honda man posted a lap of 1'59.607, crushing the circuit qualifying lap still held by Valentino Rossi from 2009, and beating his previous best at the circuit set in the second Sepang test back in February of 2011. Stoner was the only man into the 1'59s, ending the day six tenths ahead of Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, who was in turn just a few hundredths quicker than Stoner's teammate Dani Pedrosa. Ben Spies put the second Factory Yamaha into 4th spot, and was the last rider to get within a second of Stoner.

Despite his gap to Stoner - over 1.2 seconds - Valentino Rossi pronounced himself satisfied with the 5th fastest time, just nipping ahead of Hector Barbera, but more importantly, much closer to the Factory Yamahas and Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow led the two Monster Tech 3 Yamaha bikes in 7th and 8th, a second-and-a-half off Stoner's time, and unhurt after a small crash early in the day, while teammate Andrea Dovizioso ended the day much closer to Crutchlow than on previous days, setting the 8th fastest time. Alvaro Bautista put the Gresini Honda into 9th, ahead of Ducati's Nicky Hayden, the Kentuckian still in pain from his broken shoulderblade. An extra test has now been scheduled for Hayden at Jerez, before the team returns to Sepang for the 2nd test at the end of February.

The weather meant that testing was limited on the final day. The midday heat made it impossible to get much riding done at lunchtime, and the rain came shortly after 5pm, putting an early end to proceedings. Overall, though, the teams pronounced themselves satisfied with the amount of work they had got done.

Comparing the improvements made over the course of the test makes for interesting reading. Most improved were the four CRT bikes, with Edwards at the helm. Though the progress is encouraging, it also reflects the fact that the bikes are still very much in the middle of their development stage. As Colin Edwards told reporters yesterday, they are doing their testing out in public, and it shows, with technical problems causing all of the CRT riders to have days with some very slow laps. Worse news is that while Edwards sits very comfortably inside the 107% qualifying limit (2:07.979), the BQR bikes would not make the cut in their current condition.

Least improved of the factory prototypes were Cal Crutchlow and Casey Stoner, though given that both men were fast on every day of the test, that should not be too much of a problem. Stoner was fastest on both days of the test that he rode, and by a large enough margin that he could afford not to make progress. Hector Barbera made the most progress, the Spaniard already comfortable on the Ducati GP0 (the version of the GP12 Rossi tested at Valencia) at Valencia, and improving on the same bike at Sepang. Stefan Bradl also made good progress, unsurprisingly given his status as a rookie, and his times are close enough to the MotoGP regulars to show he is adapting well to the MotoGP class. 

The new Ducati is clearly better than the old bike, with Rossi making excellent progress over the three days. The problem for Rossi is that the Yamahas and Hondas are improving as well, Jorge Lorenzo making almost as much progress as Rossi did over the three-day test.

The riders now head back to their respective homes in anticipation of the next test at Sepang on February 28th. The focus at that test will be on building on the lessons of the past three days, and after that, the real balance of power in MotoGP should become a little clearer.

Results of day 3, courtesy of MotoGP.com:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff. Diff Previous Laps
1 Casey Stoner Honda 1:59.607     21
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.198 0.591 0.591 35
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.256 0.649 0.058 26
4 Ben Spies Yamaha 2:00.495 0.888 0.239 16
5 Valentino Rossi Ducati 2:00.824 1.217 0.329 42
6 Hector Barbera Ducati 2:00.929 1.322 0.105 40
7 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:01.108 1.501 0.179 26
8 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 2:01.257 1.650 0.149 40
9 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:01.384 1.777 0.127 34
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:01.729 2.122 0.345 19
11 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 2:01.894 2.287 0.165 38
12 Karel Abraham Ducati 2:02.218 2.611 0.324 38
13 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:02.334 2.727 0.116 27
14 Franco Battaini Ducati Test 2:03.033 3.426 0.699 35
15 Colin Edwards Suter BMW CRT 2:04.722 5.115 1.689 36
16 Ivan Silva FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:08.225 8.618 3.503 41
17 Robertino Pietri FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:09.640 10.033 1.415 16
18 Jordi Torres FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:10.184 10.577 0.544 29

107% Qualifying limit: 2:07.979



Rider improvement over the three days of testing:

Pos Rider Bike Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Improvement
1 Colin Edwards Suter BMW CRT 2:08.240 2:05.603 2:04.722 3.518
2 Ivan Silva FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:11.267 2:10.297 2:08.225 3.042
3 Robertino Pietri FTR Kawasaki CRT   2:12.546 2:09.640 2.906
4 Franco Battaini Ducati Test 2:04.986 2:04.311 2:03.033 1.953
5 Hector Barbera Ducati 2:02.773 2:01.788 2:00.929 1.844
6 Stefan Bradl Honda 2:03.668 2:02.414 2:01.894 1.774
7 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:02.003 2:01.508 2:00.256 1.747
8 Ben Spies Yamaha 2:02.234 2:01.052 2:00.495 1.739
9 Jordi Torres FTR Kawasaki CRT 2:10.671 2:11.893 2:10.184 1.709
10 Valentino Rossi Ducati 2:02.392 2:01.886 2:00.824 1.568
11 Karel Abraham Ducati 2:03.781 2:02.598 2:02.218 1.563
12 Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 2:02.751 2:02.160 2:01.257 1.494
13 Alvaro Bautista Honda 2:02.869 2:01.933 2:01.384 1.485
14 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:01.657 2:01.068 2:00.198 1.459
15 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:03.151 2:02.354 2:01.729 1.422
17 Casey Stoner Honda   2:00.895 1:59.607 1.288
18 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:02.221 2:01.565 2:01.108 1.113
19 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test 2:02.829 2:02.941 2:02.334 0.607


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Went looking for Day 3 and realised that the day had been shifted!

A very fast lap by Stoner, indeed. Interesting to note Vale has the fastest lap ever by a Ducati at Sepang by nearly a second, including any qualifying on the old sticky rubber times 999, 800 or what ever. I hope it is going to be an interesting season. Forza!

At Sepang II in 2010 Casey lapped in 2:00.512.
So right now on the new new (new?) GP12 Rossi is not yet faster than Casey on the GP10 (without qualifiers).
Even Nicky lapped in 2:00.703 at the same test, still faster than Rossi's 2.00.824.

Of course it's just a matter of time, he'd better be faster with 2 years of development and 200 or so extra cc.

Bradl is showing that a Moto2 Champion can make the grade in MotoGP after-all! Wish Marc Marquez was there as well to showcase his talent too. Hayden getting extra testing... that's a good look on Ducati's part.

CRT's lapping in the 2:08-2:10 range has to be a concern. These guys aren't even in the same league. If these guys can't up the pace then they don't belong on the track. The closure speed of a factory bike compared to these guys has to be huge and I'm concerned the formula is setting up a serious safety concern. I'd like to enjoy a season without on track carnage this year.

Thought Ducati and Rossi were super impressive. This is the first time they've built a bike like this and it's first real shakedown it's a second off the culmination of 12 years hard graft by the Japanese factories with their no 1 riders on board. Incredible . Be very interesting to see how they progress from here . Matching the yams progress wise is a definite sign they have done the right think . Massive qudos to everyone at Ducati. Go Rossi!!!!Go Nicky!!!Go Ducati!!!

The Valencia test bike was the same design so this was not the first time. And they had nearly the same gap as the GP11, 11.2, and 12 when they were introduced. The question is can they make a step at the next test because they desperately need to. 1.2 sec gap is a 25 sec gap at the end of a race and Stoner will only get faster as they dial the chatter out.

I find it interesting how Rossi laughed off a question on whether they would need a new chassis or not. Honda and Yamaha have no qualms about producing multiple chassis for riders to evaluate. If Ducati start to think they will make do with the existing design they may reach a performance ceiling pretty soon.


To be 0.3 secs behind a 2 year old machine on the GP12 with 25pc more capacity, riding on superior rubber and millions of euros of development is not a position a factory or sponsor would be satisfied with from their lead rider.

To my mind the really telling part of the equation is the fact Rossi cannot shake Barbera on the time sheet. Stoner gaps Pedrosa by 0.6 secs. Lorenzo does the same to Spies by 0.3 secs, yet Rossi can only gap a second tier MotoGP rider on his cast off mule GP Zero by 0.1 second. This is not Alien class on display.

Quite right Chris. Rossi will be asking for frames, and fair enough. In a reflection of his 2011 comments he may well take a second look at the Zero!

If you look the timesheet:
- Barbera, 40 laps 3 times under 2.02
- Rossi, 42 laps, 14 times under 2.02

This difference is huge during a race. Rossi has always privileged a work on consistent pace, even when he was the king.

"Average" times of Crutchlow, Dovi and Bautista are also better than Barberas', these 3 guys will be a bigger threat than the Pramac rider (of course time will say)


Rossi only has 2 fast laps in 2.00, Barbera has 1 (Lorenzo has 13, he is a machine!)
Then Rossi has 12 laps in 2.01, compared to 11 for Bautista, which is roughly 40% of their respective fast laps.
So indeed right now Rossi has the same pace as Bautista.
Who of these two is going to improve most at Sepang II, we shall see!

That's what I'm saying: Bautista and Dovi are consistent and quite fast, with a bike they don't really know => bigger threat for official Ducati (for the moment) than Barbera 2.00 time seems to say

I believe if you counted the number of diff chassis tested since Vale rode the first Ducati, you could take Vale's humor as a sign of relief that they have finally helped improve the front end feel the bike has been lacking.

Vale has already stated that the GP12 still has areas that need improvement, whether this requires more iterations if an aluminum twin spar, or a more subtle re design of much smaller parts is beyond me or anyone else outside of Ducati.

The only things that are known is that Vale for once is satisfied and the GP12 improved consistently from one day to the next. That in itself is a positive outlook on the future.

"Most improved were the four CRT bikes, with Edwards at the helm."

I admire Colin's work ethic too but I'm pretty sure he was only at the helm of one of those bikes.

As for Ducati, much the same talk as last year, and no great cause for optimism IMO, especially given Barbera's results, tow or no tow. Let's hope the results actually come this year.

Thanks for the analysis David.

This comment on Crash actually made me laugh: Stoner may not be the GOAT, but he sure is the FOAT. Damn the kid is fast.

Call me a pedant but isn't testing just that - a chance to try different things? It's clear that some of the riders went away from trying to set a blistering time to concentrate on parts and setup. Or as some call it, testing :-)

The way some people are responding to times you'd think that Losail is next weekend and one #46 plated Italian should start planning his retirement party. Yes, the Honda is fast. Yes the Yamaha is nearly there with it, and yes indeed Ducati have made huge leaps. But its easy to get tied up in details of the bikes' performance in isolation - in end the thing that will decide next season is not only speed in flying laps but also race-craft. We're going to see a bigger, more congested grid (read more back-markers, assuming they make the 107%) and more lines around each corner. In other words, hopefully, closer racing.

One thing guaranteed is that next year there will be some predictable results and there will also be some surprises. Let's hope it all proves the chicken counting somewhat premature...