Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez began the 2013 MotoGP test season with impressive performances on the first of three days of testing at the Sepang Circuit outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Almost as impressive were second year Honda riders Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP), a close fifth fastest, and Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard now on the GO & FUN Honda Gresini RC213V.
Pedrosa led all comers by blazing to the fastest time on a day of moderate but still warm and humid weather, though the expected afternoon deluge never materialized. That allowed the 2012 MotoGP World Championship runner-up a full day’s testing and he made the most of it. On the same track where he won the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix, Pedrosa clocked the fastest lap of the day, a time 2m 1.157s, on the 48th of his 49 laps.
MotoGP rookie and Moto2 World Champion Marc Márquez was impressive in his third ride on the Repsol Honda RC213V, not only for his speed but also his durability. The young Spaniard completed 62 laps of the 5.548k circuit; his best time of 2m 1.201s came on lap 60. Márquez admitted to being nervous having not ridden since a test here last November, but it didn’t show. He spent considerable time at the top of the charts and it took the best of two veterans, Pedrosa and world champion Jorge Lorenzo, to take him down to third, and then not by much; his time was only .044s off the benchmark set by Pedrosa. Such was the strength of his debut that it drew accolades from all of his senior rivals.
Bradl also put in a full day’s work thanks to what he considered optimal conditions. The 2011 Moto2 World Champion altered his training routine over the winter to improve his fitness. Today he was fast both early and late and on the pace to the very end. His fastest lap put him only .632s behind Pedrosa, which he put to both his fitness and the preparation of the team, which now had a year’s experience with the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V. Bradl spent much of the day getting reacquainted with the speed of the Honda, while working with a variety of rear suspension settings. His goal for the 2013 season is to be better on used tyres near the end of the races and he began that process today.
Bautista was less than .2s behind Bradl in seventh place after his 59-lap day on the Go & Fun Gresini Honda RC213V. He attributed his early speed to the conditions and the work put in by the team on the setup of the suspension. With two more days of good weather, Bautista believes he can improve his racing package and continue to ascend the timing ladder.
Bryan Staring, 25, had a less successful day in his 2013 debut on the GO & FUN Honda Gresini CRT machine. The Australian MotoGP rookie fell at one point, denying himself and his team valuable setup time as he transitions from the FIM Superstock 1000 Championship. Staring has a steep learning curve-the FTR chassis, the Bridgestone tyres, the carbon brakes, the electronics-but he’s been a quick study in the past. Staring won three FIM Superstock 1000 races last year and also has three titles in his native Australia.
The test continues Wednesday and Thursday.