Posted: 23 Feb 2014
One of the biggest stories of this week’s MotoGP test in Sepang has already hit the headlines: World Champion, Marc Marquez will miss the test after breaking his leg in a dirt track accident late last week.
After his performance during the first Sepang test earlier this month, it’s clear Marquez’ absence will leave a gaping hole at the top of the MotoGP field and no matter what times are set this week, the question of what Marquez would have been able to do had he have been there will almost certainly feature in post-test analyses.
Valentino Rossi will be one rider keen to make up ground on the twenty-one year old champion while he’s away. After an impressive start last time out, putting in a career best lap of Sepang, Rossi will be eager to make progress once more in a final ditch attempt to show he’s still got it.
After seemingly struggling to get to grips with the 2014 M1 last time out, it’ll be interesting to watch Jorge Lorenzo’s progression through the three days. Three tenths off his team mate at the end of the first test, if Lorenzo isn’t faster than Rossi this time round it’ll make for some interesting questions.
Dorna will be hoping for a repeat performance from Aleix Espargaro, who stunned on his debut with the Open Class FTR Yamaha in the first test setting the fourth fastest time. Should the Spaniard be able to put in a similar performance it’ll speak wonders for the future of the Open Class and competitiveness of MotoGP.
Speaking of the open class, Ducati is thought to be considering a switch to the spec-ECU category and will undoubtedly test an open-spec Desmosedici with Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso this week. Fastest rider last time out, Andrea Dovizioso was just 0.8seconds from the front, what could he do with a softer rear tyre and three extra litres of fuel?
Also looking for significant improvement will be the Honda production racers. With Nicky Hayden finishing the first Sepang test some two seconds off Marquez’ fastest lap, it was clear that a lot of work was needed on the RCV1000R.
The three day test kicks off on Tuesday and will be the final official pre-season test before riders head to Qatar to make preparations for the first round of the season.