The British trio of Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Michael Laverty head back to Sepang in Malaysia brimming with confidence for the second MotoGP™ test of the season which starts on Tuesday.
All three British riders had a morale boosting first test at the 3.447 mile Sepang circuit at the beginning of the month and return for three more days of track time before the opening grand prix of the season in Qatar on April 7.
Isle of Man based Midlander, Crutchlow started his third season with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. He followed up his two podium finishes last season by finishing fifth fastest in that first test behind the factory Repsol Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez and the factory Yamahas of World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. He was just over half a second slower than Pedrosa who led the way.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith had a very impressive first full MotoGP test finishing eighth fastest. Crutchlow’s Yamaha team-mate is still adjusting to the sheer speed and complexity of riding a 250 bhp MotoGP machine after two years in the Moto2™ class. He’s stayed in Malaysia between the two tests keeping fit with motocross and Supermoto training in the heat. It is important the weather stays dry for the three day test as the 22 year old needs as much track time as possible before that first grand prix.
Ulsterman Michael Laverty also had a superb test at Sepang as he prepares for his first MotoGP season riding the Paul Bird Motorsport machine. He was a very impressive 15th fastest overall and was the third fastest CRT machine behind the very experienced Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet. Laverty returns to Sepang with the new British-built PBM frame and the Magneti Marelli electronics to test.
The first MotoGP test earlier in February heralded what could be a vintage MotoGP season. Two big questions were answered immediately. Nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi is back on the pace riding the factory Yamaha after those two disastrous years at Ducati. He was third fastest followed by Moto2 World Champion Marc Marquez who was right up there with the MotoGP grand prix winners from the very first morning.
It promises to be another crucial three day test. Fingers crossed the rain stays away and the riders avoid injury as that opening grand prix approaches.