Sepang Test

The 2022 Official MotoGP pre-season test has concluded at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on Sunday.

The event also marked the nation’s first international motorsport event after a two-year absence.

The two-day event , was dubbed to be successful by SIC and Dorna.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro clocked the fastest time in Day 1 before Gresini’s Enea Bastianini improved his lap to take Day 2.

The 24-year-old Italian did 1m 58.131s which is also a new track record.

“Overall feedback, everyone was pleased,” said SIC CEO Azhan Shafriman Hanif.

“The protocol that we put in place was very straightforward.

“Tests are being conducted every day, and in terms of participants, they are regularly checked.

“On the other side (spectators), we set up very well for us to get the fans in.

“After two years not having any events, the support is still very high; they are still passionate about the sport,” he said.

Anyhow, Azhan hoped that the success of the Sepang Test could set a benchmark for the Malaysian GP, in October.

“I hope this could be a benchmark for every other event, including the Malaysian GP. I hope this (Sepang Test) could be the spark that we need,” he added.

Asking whether the current rise of Covid-19 cases could impact the Malaysian GP in October, here is what Azhan had to say.

“We plan to run the Malaysian GP at 100 per cent capacity; however, it will depend on the ongoing scenario at that point of time.

“For example, if cases are still on the rise, then we have to shift and adapt our proposal to the government.

“Hopefully, by October, the country will go into the endemic stage so that the Standard Operation Procedure is loosened,” said Azhan.

Fabio Quartararo began the defence of his 2021 MotoGP title with the Official MotoGP Sepang Test at Sepang International Circuit (SIC).

Despite ending Day 1 & 2 as the fastest Yamaha rider on the track, Quartararo was still behind two or more Ducati machinery on the grid.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro emerged as the fastest rider on Day 1, while Enea Bastianini clocked the quickest time on Day 2 onboard the one-year-old Ducati GP21.

The result could frustrate Quartararo, who was notably outperformed by Ducati bikes during the latter rounds of last year.

It also led to Quartararo asking Yamaha to extract more speed from the factory M1 in the hope to quell the threat of Ducati, especially on the straights.

However, while Quartararo’s top speed of 332.3km/h looked strong, he admitted to out-braked himself coming through the speed trap.

“I wanted more horsepower, but at the end we can’t just invent [more horsepower].

“If we have it, it’s better. But if we don’t, it’s not useful to say all the time that it’s missing power.

“If you have no power, you adapt yourself, like I did in the past. If we need to adapt, we’re going to adapt,” he said.

Yamaha is known for its agility; however its unwavering approach to ensuring the M1 remains the sweetest handling on the grid at the expense of power has come in for criticism in recent years, from the likes of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

Enea Bastianini made surprise improvement towards the end of last season as the young Italian managed to collect 71 points during the final six rounds of the 2021 MotoGP season.

After making a switch to Gresini Racing onboard the Ducati GP21, the 24-year-old is among the fastest rider in Day 1 and 2 at the Official MotoGP Sepang Test.

Bastianini clocked second fastest in Day 1 with 1 minute 58.638 seconds, one of only two riders who managed to do under 1m58s alongside Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro who came out on top.

However, Bastianini further improve his lap time at Day 2 and emerged as the fastest rider of the day with 1m 58.131s ahead of Espargaro’s 1m 58.157s.

According to Bastianini, the Ducati GP21 offers a lot of improvements compared to Avintia’s Ducati GP19, the bike he rode throughout of his rookie season last year.

“I’ts better in every part of the track. You can brake later and also I like a lot the rear because it’s more stable.

“Especially when I have the new tyre on the rear I can open throttle aggressively compared to the GP19,” he said.

After making a great impression towards the end of the last season, the rider is expected to make a significant leap for 2022.

Ducati has decided to postpone its plan to hold its official 2022 team launch on January 28 after Jack Miller has unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19.

Miller has been home training in Australia over the break before he tested positive. The Australian, however is currently asymptomatic but will be unlikely to leave Australia to be in Europe for the official team launch

According to Ducati, Miller is currently isolated at home and will undergo a second PCR test next week to assess the situation.

Nevertheless, Ducati has moved its 2022 MotoGP team launch until February 7 2022, after the Sepang test.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been tested positive for Covid-19, which means I am unable to travel to Europe.

“I am still home in Australia and doing fine. Since I don’t have any symptoms, at least I can continue with my training. I miss you all and will see you in Sepang for the test,” said Miller in a statement.

Miller, together with Pecco Bagnaia will be in Sepang for the 2022 MotoGP official test scheduled on February 4 to 6.

2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo hopes that Yamaha will keep the best for Sepang test as the team pushes for more top speed and aerodynamics.

Despite taking the 2021 crown, the Frenchman slowly began to feel the pressure from Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.

The Italian recorded five-pole and four wins towards the end of the season and even had the chance to topple Quartararo dominance before crashing out at Misano.

Yamaha major engine updates are currently in the pipeline, and while other competitors have started testing their new machine at Jerez, Quartararo’s new bike will only arrive at next year’s Sepang test.

“Well, we tried a similar bike to Misano [test]. To be honest, it was the bike as Misano.

“For me, we are looking for a little bit – not corner speed – but a little bit more turning in the slow corners.

“More work needs to be done to feel an improvement, but as you can imagine, the bike is the first step, and we hope for much better in Sepang,” said Quartararo, who set the ninth-fastest time in Day 1 at Jerez.

Recap of the first two days of the 2016 MotoGP Sepang Test sessions. (more…)

Retired MotoGP ace Casey Stoner seems likely to make at least one race start with Ducati this year. (more…)

Exclusive trackside chats with Red Bull MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Jack Miller at MotoGP’s Sepang Test 2.



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