A Taste of Thai –MotoGP second pre-season test at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram Thailand.
The second pre-season test was somewhat of the Honda show with Honda’s setting the fastest times on Day 1, and 3. It was Cal Crutchlow on Day 1 who finished Day 1 on top aboard his LCR Honda with a lap time of 1:30.797. Alex Rins put in a great performance ending the day in second with Marc Marquez in third. The Ducati’s featured well on Day 1 with riders finishing the 4th, 6th, 7th and 10th. Yamaha appeared to have a tougher time on day 1 with only 1 rider Valentino Rossi within the top ten.
At the completion of Day 2 it was again a Honda leading the time sheets. Reigning world champ Marc Marquez not only finished the day on top but was the only rider to get in the 1:29’s, just scraping in with a 1:29.969. His teammate Pedrosa finished the day in second improving both his time and his position on the timesheets. It was a much better day for the Yamaha’s too with Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco 5th and 6th on the timesheets. Rossi finished 14th but was still able to improve on the previous days’ time. Again the Ducati’s performed well with Aussie Jack Miller in third on his Alma Pramac Ducati with Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo all inside the top ten.
Day 3 saw another Honda topping the timesheets as Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa claimed the fastest lap time of the test and the fastest ever lap time of the circuit. French rider Johann Zarco put in an exceptional day finishing in second behind Pedrosa and managing to break the 1:30 barrier. It was again another positive day for Cal Crutchlow ending the day in third and fourth overall for the Thai Test.
Takaaki Nakagami was the fastest rookie on all three days and was in the top ten on Day 3 finishing in eighth with a 1:30.456.
Jorge Lorenzo spent some time testing race simulation and assessing the differences between the old and the new Ducati machines. At the end of the testing he has concluded that both have pros and cons and a mix of the two would be ideal. He will wait to see what the engineers can come up with for Qatar.
Both Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi had some tough days with rear grip issues being a problem noted by Vinales crew chief. Rossi was playing with the electronics with little improvements being made on Day 2. Both riders were however able to improve on their Day 1 times and Rossi able to improve again on Day 3. His overall thoughts however are not too positive and he is concerned for his chances at the first race of the season if the issues are not sorted. Hopefully the upcoming test in Qatar will see a step forward for the Yamaha team.
Hafizh Syahrin is making his MotoGP debut at the second pre-season test. He will be riding on board the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine of Jonas Folger. Syahrin will perhaps be replacing Folger for the 2018 season which will make him the first Malaysian rider to participate in the Premier class. Syahrin put in a great effort and was close to the times of the other rookies. – “The first thing it’s an amazing bike, so much faster…every time I go it’s like a jet down the straight!
Overall it was Pedrosa who was the fastest rider of the test and when focussed on the combined timesheets it Monster Yamaha Tech 3 and the 2017 rookie of the year second overall with the Honda riders Marquez and Crutchlow in third and fourth. Pedrosa, Zarco and Marquez were the only three riders to break into the 1:29’s with Pedrosa setting the fastest ever lap time at the Chang International Circuit at Buriram, Thailand.
It would be safe to say that the Honda’s taste of Thai would have left a good flavour. Now we head to Qatar in early March for the final pre-season testing before racing begins on March 18 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
1st (combined times) Dani Pedrosa 1:29.781
“We leave Thailand with positive feelings. The test was quite tough as the temperatures were high, and we worked really hard over the three days. In the end we didn’t have many tyres left, so we had to carefully manage the planning of our work. We worked on many aspects of the bike’s setup, and step-by-step we improved our speed and pace. Among other things, today we tested a carbon swing arm that’s a new area for us to work on, so we’re still in the process of learning and of finding the feeling. I’m very happy with the job my team is doing at the track, and with what the engineers are doing back in Japan. They’re really helping us to improve, and this is good and gives us confidence. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue this trend at the final test in Qatar, which will be very interesting as conditions will be different.”
2nd (combined times) Johann Zarco 1:29.867
“I’ve been happy from the first day, I saw the track for the first time and what I was thinking is that yeah it’s much better for the Yamaha. I’m happy about that. Then working, having a good feeling, riding well…knowing the lap time would come down. I didn’t ride too much on the third day but we kept good tyres to push for the lap time. I’m happy I got into the 1:29s.”
3rd (combined times) Marc Marquez 1:29.969
“I’m very, very happy with what we did today, as we completed many laps and were able to improve the bike’s setup in several areas. Our lap times today were slower than yesterday, but we worked differently and I didn’t push for a time attack. We completed a 20-lap long run with a strong pace, and I also felt good from a physical-conditioning point of view, which was very satisfying. Today we worked on some new things, including a carbon swing arm that we had actually already tried, so we were able to do some back-to-back tests. Of course we’re just starting our work on that, so we’re still in the phase where there are both positives and negatives and we need to understand it better. The new aerodynamics was quite positive, I liked it today. It requires a little bit different riding style, but I managed to be very consistent on used tyres with it so I’m happy about that as well.”
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