Aleix Espargaro continued to make headlines in Malaysia on Wednesday. Although fuel levels remain unknown, the NGM Mobile Forward Racing rider was conspicuous as his Open specification FTR-Yamaha ended the day fifth.
With World Champion Marc Marquez leading the way for Repsol Honda Team, Espargaro was sixth tenths of a second off the leading pace. On this occasion, the elder of the two Espargaro brothers in the field focused on chassis work and sampling several different tires in order to improve his general feeling.
“I’m very satisfied because this morning I could improve my lap times and I was riding with a good confidence,” the Catalan rider said. “Of course, there is a lot of work to do; I need to know the bike better and to adapt my riding style to the new machine. Tomorrow we will do a long run to better understand how the bike and especially the electronics work in the second part of the race.”
In 2014, the new Open bikes use the spec ECU software as supplied by Dorna Sports and Italian company Magneti Marelli, but are able to run a fuel tank of up to 24 liters in capacity — as opposed to the 20-liter maximum limit imposed on Factory Option machines. The Opens are also able to work on engines during the year, as opposed to being subjected to the new engine freeze regulations.
On top on this, each Open rider can use up to 12 engines per season instead of the five granted to Factory Option runners. In the case of Forward Racing, however, Yamaha will be supplying five engines per rider for the season (three new units and two rebuilds).