The cards have been reshuffled for a MotoGP championship which looks set to be enthralling, as shown by the first official test days in Sepang, Malaysia, on 7 and 8 February. In addition to Jorge Lorenzo, current world champion, the official Yamaha team is welcoming Valentino Rossi while, at Honda, Dani Pedrosa is paired with Marc Márquez as team-mate. Among the private teams, Yamaha Tech3 and Motul are pursuing their long-standing partnership, Hervé Poncharal having signed up this year Bradley Smith alongside Cal Crutchlow.
During the three day testing campaign, Cal Crutchlow stayed in the top six from beginning to end, with a best time placing him 0.63 seconds from the exceptional time achieved by Dani Pedrosa, leader of the standings. Meanwhile, Bradley Smith, for whom it was the first real test in MotoGP, did a race simulation on the third test day and obtained very encouraging results, with good regularity and also a best lap granting him eighth place, less than two seconds from the leader.
'The week has been highly positive' confirmed Crutchlow. 'I've finished where I expected to be, in other words just behind the four official bikes. (...) I feel I've progressed with braking, the test has been productive and it was good to be back on the track after a long break.' For Bradley Smith, 'eighth place corresponds more or less to the goals I could set myself with this bike. I'm still not exploiting all the M1's potential but I'm getting more confident every lap, by understanding more and more things.'
Everyone will be back together again on 7 April in Losail, Qatar, for the first round of the championship.
Photo credits: Tech 3