Wednesday to Friday will be a critical three days as MotoGP pre-season testing continues at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. This will mark the last time before the opening race that all Factory teams share a track with their rivals. Marc Marquez although will not be attending.
Immediately after Sepang, the Official riders of Repsol Honda, Yamaha Factory Racing and Ducati Team are set to travel directly to Phillip Island for their next test before the rest of the teams regroup for the Qatar test that same week. In the meantime, Sepang is the venue as the riders look to resume their programs from the earlier test at the start of February.
The first off-track surprise has already come. World Champion Marc Marquez will be absent from the Malaysian gathering, having broken his right fibula in a dirt track crash on Wednesday. The 21-year-old will now be resting for two weeks and could also miss the Phillip Island test. His chief priority will be to return to full fitness before the season-opening Qatar GP on Sunday 23 March.
Perhaps Marquez’s unfortunate incident will work in the favor of team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who will crucially be capable of continuing with their testing programs while Marquez is out of action.
Ducati Team, on the other hand, has a big decision to make and the outcome could well be revealed at Sepang: will the Factory be switching all of its bikes to Open specification? Since the earlier Malaysian test, the Italian outfit has been heavily analyzing all of the data collected from the Open Pramac Racing machine of Yonny Hernandez. Should it decide to go Open, Ducati – now under the technical leadership of Gigi Dall’Igna – would be able to make numerous modifications to its engines during the World Championship season, unlike the Factory Option-entered runners.
Elsewhere in the Open ranks, those riding the new customer Honda RCV1000R will be more than keen to reduce the gap to the front – not least Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden, who was particularly vocal last time out with regards to a lack of power. NGM Mobile Forward Racing, on the other hand, is out to go even quicker than it did when Aleix Espargaro finished the last test in a highly impressive fourth place. Amongst all of them will be the Factory Option satellite competitors; just how close will the Opens be to the likes of LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, as well as Pramac and Monster Yamaha Tech3?
Not all will be in attendance at Sepang. PBM has confirmed that the team will continue preparations in its British workshop before regrouping at Losail, while IodaRacing Project still looks to enjoy its first track outing of 2014. Elsewhere, riders will continue to test the new dashboard warning system, which is used to alert competitors of signals previously only shown via trackside flags and lights.
Testing will take place from 10am-6pm local time (GMT +8) between Wednesday 26 and Friday 28 February, with motogp.com on-hand to offer live timing and reports as well as regular video updates and features across the three days.Marc Marquez, MotoGP