The 2017 MotoGP season kicked-off with the first day of official IRTA testing at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. The session was cut short due to afternoon rains, leaving Ducati Test Team rider and two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner leading the pack with a 1:59.680. Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso trailed in second position and was the only other rider to dip under the two-minute mark. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s new addition, Maverick Vinales, rounded out the top three on the timesheet.
“Today was positive and the best thing about it was that we got a lot of dry track time,” said Stoner in a Ducati release. “It’s been hanging in the balance really with the weather because the track takes so long to dry and if it rains at all within twelve hours, you’re going to get very little track time. It’s great that we got out there straightaway this morning and started putting in some good laps. We got a lot of comparisons done today so it was really good to get a feeling and direction with the bike. We still have a lot more work to do, it was disappointing that it rained but hopefully on Wednesday when we come back on track we can pick up where we left off and move this bike further forward, especially in the chassis area.”
One of Ducati’s objectives during the day was to adjust the bike to perform optimally without wings, since the aerodynamic element was banned for 2017. Dovi explained that this meant a lot of fine-tuning to the electronics and mechanical set-up of the bike because its behavior is noticeably different.
Dovi’s new teammate, three-time MotoGP world champ Jorge Lorenzo, was further down the timesheet in 17th when the day concluded.
“At this circuit I noticed a bigger difference between my Ducati and the bike that I have ridden for the last nine years,” explained Lorenzo. “Now we have to do two things to be quicker: the first is to gradually adapt the bike to the way I like it, and the second and more important, is to know how to do that and understand how to be quicker. I still need some more time for that, more than I hoped for, but in any case, it’s still too early to come to conclusions. It’s only a question of time and laps on the track, so we will work in this direction. The important thing is that the other Ducati bikes were very quick, and this means that the bike has a lot of potential.”
Vinales fills the seat left vacant by Lorenzo, and appears to be comfortable no the YZR-M1, trailing the top time by a little less than half a second. Pull & Bear Aspar’s Alvaro Bautista was fourth-fastest followed by Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone in fifth. According to the Suzuki release, Iannone and his teammate, Alex Rins (20th), spent much of the day working to understand the 2016 GSX-RR 1000 as thoroughly as possible before introducing the 2017 updates. Both riders commented that feel on the bike is good and that confidence is high.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow finished the day in sixth with MotoGP rookie Jonas Folger of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 ending in seventh. Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi placed eighth, citing a “very bad headache” that had left him in poor shape until noon or so. Even so, Rossi felt the development of the YZR-M1 had gone in a positive direction. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez trailed Rossi in ninth.
“The feeling today wasn’t so bad considering that the first day after the holiday break is always a bit demanding for the rider and the team,” said Marquez in a team release. “We’ve been testing two bikes with different engine configurations, but we mainly concentrated on one, playing with electronics, geometry, setup and so on. We gathered a lot of information, and now we’ll keep working. We also decided to make the best of the situation when the rain arrived and did some laps in the wet, but we look forward to continuing testing in the dry tomorrow to better understand and exploit the potential of our bike.”
Testing is scheduled to continue on Tuesday, though forecasts call for scattered thunderstorms throughout the day.
2017 MotoGP Sepang Test Day 1 Results
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati Test Team) 1:59.680
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:59.797
3. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 2:00.129
4. Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) 2:00.134
5. Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) 2:00.489
6. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 2:00.569
7. Jonas Folger (Yamaha) 2:00.643
8. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.694
9. Marc Marquez (Honda) 2:00.738
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:00.743
11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 2:00.850
12. Scott Redding (Ducati) 2:00.853
13. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:00.970
14. Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 2:01.224
15. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 2:01.272
16. Pol Espargaro (KTM) 2:01.338
17. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) 2:01.349
18. Loris Baz (Ducati) 2:01.352
19. Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki Test Team) 2:01.812
20. Alex Rins (Suzuki) 2:01.890
21. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2:01.926
22. Jack Miller (Honda) 2:01.943
23. Kohta Nozane (Yamaha) 2:02.187
24. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2:02.291
25. Tito Rabat (Honda) 2:02.315
26. Sam Lowes (Aprilia) 2:02.943
27. Bradley Smith (KTM) 2:03.033