Official Test Sepang

  • Crutchlow Second Fastest at Sepang as Marc Marquez Continues Shoulder Rehab

    New MotoGP team-mates Marc Marquez and Alex Marquez completed the first stage of their 2020 MotoGP challenge at Sepang.


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Crutchlow Second Fastest at Sepang as Marc Marquez Continues Shoulder Rehab

Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia, February 7/8/9, 2020

New MotoGP team-mates Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) and Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) completed the first stage of their 2020 MotoGP challenge at Sepang today.

The brothers rode in grueling tropical heat and humidity for three days at the Malaysian circuit as they prepare for the start of the 20-race MotoGP World Championship, which gets underway in Qatar on March 8.

Both riders were not at 100 percent maximum performance during the tests: Marc is recovering from surgery and Alex is still in the early stages of his MotoGP apprenticeship. Instead it was their fellow HRC rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) who was the fastest Honda rider, the Briton ending the three days an impressive second fastest, just 0.082 seconds off the best time.

Marc and Alex travelled to Malaysia directly from Indonesia, where last Tuesday they launched the Repsol Honda Team's 2020 challenge at a special event in Jakarta.

Once at Sepang the reigning MotoGP and Moto2 World Champions worked their way through a busy schedule of trying the latest 2020 prototype RC213V machines, as well as a variety of development parts, plus different settings and electronics strategies.

The test wasn't only a chance for the reigning MotoGP World Champion to evaluate the latest improvements to Honda's RC213V, the machine that has won the last four MotoGP Constructors World Championships. The Sepang outing also gave Marc a chance to continue rebuilding strength in his right shoulder.

Marc underwent surgery on the shoulder early last December and has been working on rehabilitation since then. During most of the last two months he has had two physiotherapy sessions every day, to a total of 92 sessions, consisting of more than 250 hundred hours of physio and gym work.

On Friday he eased into the first test of 2020, riding 37 laps of the Sepang circuit, ensuring that he didn't overstress the shoulder. Yesterday he increased his work load to 47 laps and another 47 today, making a total of 131 laps, 704km/450 miles over the three days.

Today was the first day the six-times MotoGP World Champion tried riding at the maximum of his physical potential. Towards the end of the afternoon he slid off at the final corner, because he had a small slide and lacked the strength to make one of his miraculous saves. He was unhurt in the minor tumble. His best lap of the three days put him 13th quickest, only 0.423 seconds off the fastest lap.

Although Marc's shoulder isn't yet at full strength the 26-year-old aims to be strong enough to fight for victory at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix on March 8th.

The Repsol Honda Team has worked with Marc since the end of 2012, but this is the early stages of the team's relationship with his younger brother, who contests his rookie MotoGP season in 2020. During these three days the team was very impressed with Alex's intelligent attitude and his working methods.

The 23-year-old – winner of last year's Moto2 world title and the 2014 Moto3 World Championship – made steady forward progress throughout the three days, always working with the target of the first race in mind.

Alex fully understands that he has a lot of work ahead of him as he adapts from a Moto2 bike to an almost doubly powerful MotoGP machine. One of his main focuses here has been getting accustomed to riding with used tires, by adapting his riding technique to maximize grip during the later stages of races. Alex was 18th quickest, 0.693 seconds off the best time.

Crutchlow was in fine form as he prepares for his sixth MotoGP season with LCR Honda. The 34-year-old three-times MotoGP winner rode a couple of variants of Honda's 2020 RC213V, focusing not only on the machines themselves but also on Michelin's new 2020 rear slick, which offers more grip than last year's tire. The extra grip is beneficial to all riders, but it demands changes to machine settings and balance, so the team that makes the best job of tuning their bike to the new tire will enjoy an advantage over rivals.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) is in a similar situation to Marc. The Japanese star was involved in a crash caused by another rider at last June's Dutch TT, which injured his right shoulder. The Moto2 race winner from Chiba – who celebrates his 28th birthday today – elected to finish last season early so he could undergo surgery and have the best chance to be 100 percent fit for the start of this season. He had the operation shortly after last October's Japanese Grand Prix, but like Marc he is still working to regain full strength before the first race in March.

Nakagami finished the three-day test 23rd fastest, 1.511s seconds off the best time. He is riding a 2019 RC213V and concentrated on adapting this machine to his riding style.

While Honda's MotoGP teams packed up to head west for the second and final preseason tests in Qatar (from February 22 to 24) Sepang pit lane was taken over by the IDEMITSU Asia Talent Cup. The 2020 championship's 22 up-and-coming riders from the region all ride Honda NSF250R Moto3 machines and will test at Sepang on February 12 and 13. The first race of the IDEMITSU Asia Talent Cup takes place during the Qatar MotoGP weekend.

After the season-opening Qatar GP, MotoGP riders race in Thailand, the USA and Argentina before the European season commences at Jerez, Spain, in early May. The 2020 championship concludes at Valencia, Spain, on November 15.

Comments

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V): 2nd, 1m 58.431s

"Today was a good and positive third day to get through a long list of items that we needed to test for ourselves and for Honda.  We had some test items on the bike throughout the day and also tried some geometry settings. I felt good with the pace. We still need to improve some things, like corner entry and turning, for me to feel more comfortable on the bike. I hope we will be able to do this at the next test in Qatar. My thanks to team for doing so much hard work over the last three days here at Sepang."

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V): 13th, 1m 58.772s

"I finished the day with a good feeling as this morning we had a good rhythm and I put in the most effort today. I had a small crash at Turn 15, but this was down to physical condition. It's good to know where the limit is, of course it would have been better to not crash, but I am OK after it. Today I did 47 laps again, but it was with a different rhythm. I tried a few things but there is still work to do. The runs today were a little longer today but our speed was still good."

Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V): 18th, 1m 59.042s

"The general feeling every day was better, we were faster and felt better. This is the most important thing. There are only three more days of the pre-season left to be ready for the Qatar GP but we are closer every day. Still we need to learn more but every time we ride my knowledge is growing and I'm pleased with everything we've achieved. For Qatar our aim is to continue to understand the setup of the bike for myself and in various conditions. We've tried a lot this test so I leave happy."

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V): 23rd, 1m 59.860s

"These three days of testing have been a bit tough for me, because of course the physical condition of the shoulder is not the best. But day by day it got a little better. I had a lot of pain the first day, then the second and third days were better and on the last day we were able to do close to 50 laps. Still the potential [of the shoulder] is not the best and we need to improve the lap time need. We had many items to test during these days and we were able to do that, so that's quite a positive result for my feeling with the bike. Now I go back to Japan and I have close to two weeks to try and rest and to get a better feeling with my shoulder for the Qatar test. We have a lot of work to do and many things to do to improve the bike setting and my riding style. Let's see at the Qatar tests."

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Results

Combined Standings Days 1-2-3

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Fabio QUARTARARO (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
2 Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda CASTROL)
3 Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
4 Francesco BAGNAIA (Pramac Racing)
5 Valentino ROSSI (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
6 Danilo PETRUCCI (Ducati Team)
7 Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
8 Jack MILLER (Pramac Racing)
9 Dani PEDROSA (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
10 Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
11 Joan MIR (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
12 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
13 Marc MÁRQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
14 Franco MORBIDELLI (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
15 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)
16 Maverick VIÑALES (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
17 Johann ZARCO (Reale Avintia Racing)
18 Alex MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
19 Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
20 Tito RABAT (Reale Avintia Racing)
21 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Test Team)
22 Bradley SMITH (Aprilia Factory Racing)
23 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)
24 Iker LECUONA (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
25 Sylvain GUINTOLI (SUZUKI Test Team)
26 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
27 Yamaha TEST 3 (Yamaha Test Team)
28 Yamaha TEST 1 (Yamaha Test Team)
29 Yamaha TEST 2 (Yamaha Test Team)
30 Lorenzo SAVADORI (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
31 Takuya TSUDA (SUZUKI Test Team)

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