We are only two months away from the MotoGP™ race at the Circuit of The Americas™ in Austin, Texas and the season got off to a fast start earlier this month. MotoGP™ has a series of pre-season tests leading up to the first race of the year in Qatar on April 7, 2013. Each test lasts three days and each level of the series tests at different times and different tracks. February 5-7, 2013 the top level, MotoGP™, got things going in Malaysia.
2012 reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was the one to watch out for heading into the day, but it was Dani Pedrosa and his Repsol Honda RCV213V that ended up finishing in front at the end of the three day event. Four riders really stood out and from start to the finish there was a lot of jostling for position. Here is a day by day account of how the 2013 season kicked off.
Pedrosa, along with his Repsol Honda rookie teammate, Marc Marquez, Lorenzo and his Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Valentino Rossi, really stole the show on Day 1. That set the tone for the rest of the testing. It did not take long for these four to distinguish themselves from the pack either, as they finished top four in the morning session. By the afternoon session, the story was Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez. By days end this is how the top five finished:
The biggest surprise of them all was Marquez. The 20-year old rookie from Spain was keeping up with the top riders in the world. “I’m very happy with how the first day went,” said Marquez after Day 1, “because you always have a few nerves after a couple of months out. I thought that I would take a little longer to get back 'on it', but right from the opening laps I felt very comfortable on the bike. We picked up confidence from the start, although obviously we can still improve.”
Most people looked for Day 2 to either confirm, or disprove what suspicions they may have had after Day 1. Unfortunately day was cut short by rain, but it did not feel like a total wash to the day’s top rider. “Today I was able to try some more things on the bike and we made a few positive steps forward from yesterday,” said Dani Pedrosa. “The feeling is good, I'm happy and that's what's important. We had planned to try a few more things in the afternoon, like the hard compound tires, but it started to rain early and we were unable to go out.” But once again the top four riders on Day 2 were the same as they were after Day 1.
The top four finished within 0.5 seconds of the leader, where the fifth place finisher, Cal Crutchlow, finished 0.762 seconds off the top lap. Crutchlow was happy with his improvement from Day 1 to Day 2 as well, but still knew he had a little ways to go. “I've still got a few tenths to find but it seems on used tires I'm around the same pace as Valentino and that's positive but I still feel a little bit rusty after the winter lay-off.” This set up a very interesting final day.
Day 3 was very similar to the first two with just few changes. Dani Pedrosa completed a three day sweep of the testing, registering the top lap times, all three days. He was followed by Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and his teammate Marc Marquez. All four of those riders did not finish below fourth on any given day and all were within 0.536 seconds of the lead lap every single day. Despite a low side crash on Day 3, that he waled away from, Marc Marquez asserted himself as a rider to watch this season. Following the top four once again was Cal Crutchlow in fifth and Stefan Bradl in sixth. The final day’s final standings:
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