Crutchlow takes back to the top late on and Aprilia debut an “innovative” front fairing on Monday.
It was a rain-affected second day of Shakedown testing at Sepang International Circuit, and the factory test riders and Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) had to wait until the final hour to get some more dry track running under their belts. Here’s a rundown of what was seen on Monday in Malaysia, starting with Yamaha after Cal Crutchlow topped the timesheets as the track dried enough to get some slick tyre lap times in just before the chequered flag.
Weather disrupting plans was the top story at Yamaha, as it was for many. Cal Crutchlow was again the only rider laying down the rubber for the Iwata factory, but the rain meant their 2022-2023 engine specification testing plan was “wasted”, according to Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ Team Manager Maio Meregalli, who was casting a watchful eye in the Yamaha box. We’ll have to wait for Tuesday to see a little more, hoping the rain stays away…
After having sported a new aerodynamics package on Sunday, Ducati’s Michele Pirro lapped with the standard aero setup on Monday. The Italian’s two bikes did have different versions of the tail exhaust – the large one and the short one – though, so the rain didn’t make it a fully wasted day at the office for the reigning World Champions.
Having worked on Jack Miller’s side of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing garage during the opening day of action, Dani Pedrosa completed Monday’s outing with Brad Binder’s crew as KTM’s main focal point for the Shakedown is comparing different engine specifications. Jonas Folger joined Pedrosa on track again for his second day of testing activity.
Speaking to motogp.com on the ground in Sepang, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti lamented that the “plan was to test new aero packages at the end of the Shakedown”, but due to the rain, it looks like they’ll run out of time to do that before the Official Test kicks off on Friday…
GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3’s Fernandez continued to find his feet on a MotoGP™ bike and unlike most, the Spaniard won’t have been too upset to get a first dose of wet weather riding under his belt on the RC16. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion set a 2:12.255 in the tricky conditions, a time that saw him sit P2 before the track began to dry, before he eventually climbed to P3 when heading out on slicks.
“We have something innovative on the front fairing” was the cryptic message from Aprilia Racing Team Manager Paolo Bonora. Speaking to motogp.com, Bonora also explained how the Noale factory’s aero has been “redesigned” after “taking advantage of the time in the wind tunnel over the winter.”
Including those belonging to Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez in the RNF MotoGP™ Team camp, Aprilia have 10 bikes in Sepang for the Shakedown and Official Test. Lorenzo Savadori’s task – according to Bonora – is to get everything ready for Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, while also “trying small things.” Like every factory, testing 2023 engine specs are a high priority on the checklist for Aprilia.
Test rider Stefan Bradl was spotted testing an updated chassis that the German was seen running at a private Jerez test recently. In addition, just as he was on Sunday, new HRC Technical Director Ken Kawauchi was inside the box getting to grips with his new surroundings.
That’s a wrap on a slightly damp squib Monday, but there’s so much still to come. Another day of Shakedown awaits on Tuesday, before the Official Test sees the whole grid out on track from the 10th to the 12th!
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