Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith enjoyed a positive and productive start to the 2013 MotoGP winter testing campaign at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia today.
After a successful winter training camp in California, Crutchlow arrived in Kuala Lumpur raring to start his third season in MotoGP and the 27-year-old wasted no time in getting down to competitive lap times.
The British rider got his first opportunity to evaluate an upgraded Yamaha YZR-M1 engine today and he also worked on improving his braking technique in hot but dry conditions that defied forecasts of heavy rain.
Crutchlow completed the first day of track action in 2013 with a best lap of 2.01.881, which secured him the sixth best time on a final leaderboard that saw Yamaha's new YZR-M1 occupy three out of the top six places.
Today's action presented rookie Smith with the perfect opportunity to build up his experience on board the YZR-M1 and the 22-year-old was able to complete 56 fast and consistent laps that were closing to placing him inside the top 10.
Rather than experiment with different settings, Smith concentrated purely on learning more about the riding technique required in MotoGP and acquitted himself superbly to clock a best time 2.03.460.
That encouraging pace put Smith ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and only a fraction behind Nicky Hayden's pace, and the 125cc Grand Prix winner is confident he can cut the gap to the leading group and challenge for a top 10 result in the remaining two days of the test.
Crutchlow said: ““It was good to be back on the bike again after a couple of months away. I'm happy enough because initially it is all about getting the feeling back after a while off the bike. It is difficult for me coming to Sepang because it is not my favourite circuit but I am pleased and it has been a good start. I haven't got too many updates to try on the bike but hopefully I've got some things to try later this week. I've been working more on tweaking my style a bit more today, particularly in the braking area to get the bike stopped better, which was an area I know I have to improve on for this season. It is clear looking at the top of the timesheets that it is going to be a fantastic season in MotoGP. I think any of us that finished in the top seve n today will have a shot at winning a race and I think the fans are going to be treated to some fantastic racing.”
Smith Said: ““When I started getting warmed up this morning at 9am and it started raining, my heart sank and I thought it was going to be a Valencia experience all over again. Luckily it didn't last and I got out on track and I am very satisfied with how today went. The idea for this test is to keep it very simple and be consistent, so each time I go out I learn, understand and enjoy it and get some confidence. Each exit from the pits I wanted to get to the lap time I did before and then try and beat it by a little bit. I managed that and for that reason it was a positive start. This test is all about me learning how to ride the M1 rather than worrying about anything else like big set-up changes and we made good progress with every e xit. All we've been doing is trying to make the bike as easy as possible to ride so I can understand the bike, the tyres and how the chassis works. We are keeping the bike very user-friendly just to help me understand the right lines. I'm still using Moto2 lines but being able to analyse Cal, Jorge and Valentino's data is a big help because you can easily see what you are doing good and what you are doing bad. All I'm doing is learning and trying to gain some confidence before we try and make any big steps with changes, which we probably won't until the next test back in Sepang at the end of the month."
DAY ONE TEST TIMES:
1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Honda (RC213V) 2m 1.157s (Lap 48/49)
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 1.165s (57/58)
3. Marc Marquez ESP Honda (RC213V) 2m 1.201s (60/62)
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 1.584s (30/56)
5. Stefan Bradl GER Honda (RC213V) 2m 1.789s (43/59)
6. Cal Crutchlow GBR Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 1.881s (46/64)
7. Alvaro Bautista ESP Honda (RC213V) 2m 1.981s (52/59)
8. Katsayuki Nakasuga JPN Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 2.968s (50/58)
9. Kosuke Akiyoshi JPN Honda (RC213V) 2m 2.972s (46/69)
10. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati (GP13) 2m 3.336s (22/62)
11. Wataru Yoshikawa JPN Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 3.456s (14/46)
12. Bradley Smith GBR Yamaha (YZR-M1) 2m 3.460s (53/56)
13. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati (GP13) 2m 3.535s (35/48)
14. Aleix Espargaro ESP (ART CRT) 2m 3.782s (54/58)
15. Randy De Puniet FRA (ART CRT) 2m 4.283s (42/56)
16. Andrea Iannone ITA Ducati (GP13) 2m 4.500s (53/57)
17. Ben Spies USA Ducati (GP13) 2m 5.086s (19/21)
18. Takumi Takahashi JPN Honda (RC213V) 2m 5.154s (68/70)
19. Hector Barbera ESP (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 2m 5.469s (37/41)
20. Yonny Hernandez COL (ART CRT) 2m 5.656s (39/50)
21. Karel Abraham CZE (ART CRT) 2m 5.694s (30/54)
22. Danilo Petrucci ITA (Suter-BMW CRT)* 2m 5.753s (27/29)
23. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 2m 5.919s (47/48)
24. Claudio Corti ITA Forward (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 2m 6.426s (29/38)
25. Michael Laverty GBR (ART CRT) 2m 6.507s (42/43)
26. Lukas Pesek CZE (Suter-BMW CRT)* 2m 7.015s (40/46)
27. Bryan Staring AUS Honda Gresini (FTR-Honda CRT)* 2m 7.044s (33/41)
28. Colin Edwards USA Forward (FTR-Kawasaki CRT)* 2m 8.206s (24/25)
* Control ECU.