Crutchlow(?!) Quickest as MotoGP Tests End

2013 second pre-season MotoGP test in Sepang

story and photos courtesy of MotoGP and IMS

Cal Crutchlow and the Tech 3 Monster Yamaha

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow moved atop the timesheets as MotoGP™ pre-season testing drew to a close in Jerez on Monday. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider led the way from Yamaha Factory Racing duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

The third and final day brought yet more rain, although a dryer period in the second half allowed for some much desired laps on Slicks. Crutchlow was quickest before being demoted, but returned to the top in the closing stages; his best effort of 1’39.511 was the fastest of the three days in Spain, with Rossi just 14 thousandths of a second slower. In fact, no more than 29 thousandths covered the top three runners.

“We did some decent lap times and in the end we ran quite consistently, I was pleased,” Crutchlow commented. “I feel good. It’s disappointing to manage no more than 70 dry laps over three days, but to be at this pace is good and I think everybody is in a similar boat.

“I think it is very difficult to beat the Hondas of Dani (Pedrosa) and Marc (Márquez) at the moment. I think their package is stronger. We know Dani is obviously very confident because he went home today – so he is happy with the bike! We are still working very hard with the Yamaha, but it’s going to be a big battle in Qatar.”

Valentino Rossi and the factory Yamaha led day 2

At Factory Yamaha Racing, the pair of MotoGP World Champions worked with an updated chassis – in contrast with Crutchlow who has had few new components to test over the pre-season period. Breaking into the top three on the final day was LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who finishes fifth overall, although the German was one of several riders to hit trouble over the course of the test with a crash on Sunday afternoon. Álvaro Bautista was another and on Monday the GO&FUN Honda Gresini man was unable to ride at all, following a crash and consequent hand and knee injuries the previous evening.

Fourth overall was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa, who – happy with his bike and witnessing more rain on Monday morning – soon decided to end his test early. The two Repsol bikes sandwiched Bradl who was striving to fine-tune an optimum dry weather setup, with 2013 newcomer Marc Márquez sixth from Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team’s Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and aforementioned Bautista completed the top ten from Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, assessing an assortment of new parts.

Randy de Puniet had ended Sunday somewhat annoyed, having already encountered numerous problems before crashing and suffering burns. On a more positive note, the French Power Electronics Aspar rider does finish the test as the leading CRT runner and two places ahead of teammate and reigning class champion Aleix Espargaró. Between the pair of ARTs is the second Tech 3 bike of English rookie Bradley Smith, who aims to dial out riding errors during his maiden MotoGP campaign.

Héctor Barberá led the Avintia Blusens charge from 15th spot, but it was a rather frustrating test as new FTR parts arrived at the circuit late due to the ongoing snow-caused travel chaos in the United Kingdom. 16th was NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti from Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci, evaluating his 2013 chassis for the first time. Out of position on the final timesheet is Ben Spies, who – still recovering from his crash in last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix – finishes in 18th position for Ignite Pramac Racing Team and did not run at all on the final day.

Avintia’s Hiroshi Aoyama racked up plenty of wet weather running (his first on the FTR) en route to 19th position, ahead of Czech rookie Lukáš Pešek’s Ioda and Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who has converted from a prototype to a CRT chassis for the 2013 season. This week’s 25-bike field is completed by PBM’s Yonny Hernández, Gresini’s Bryan Staring, Forward’s Colin Edwards – who today focused on electronics work – and Michael Laverty. The former British Superbike rider continued to dial in the own-built PBM bike, but on Monday saw his agenda briefly interrupted by having to pull over with a locked up rear brake.

World champ Jorge Lorenzo, also on a factory Yamaha, led rainy day 1

At the end of this year’s pre-season period the pack is separated by 2.9 seconds, which compared to last year’s margin brings the pack over a second closer together. The top ten is also more bunched up, with the 2012 gap of 1.3 seconds having now been reduced to 1.1.

The 2013 MotoGP™ season will begin under lights, with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. The first track action starts on Thursday 4th April. This race will remain televised where we in the US are used to seeing it—on Speed Channel—even after Speed morphs into Fox Sports 1. FOX Sports has signed a multiyear deal with Dorna Sports for broadcast rights to the world’s most prestigious motorcycle racing series, the MotoGP World Championship, with races to air on SPEED and the newly announced, multisport FOX Sports 1 in 2013.

The Red Bull Indianapolis GP, Aug. 16-18 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will be one of the first live events on the new FOX Sports 1 network. “With an international event lineup that includes three U.S. stops, MotoGP brings an immediate, world-class motorsports presence to the FOX Sports 1 lineup,” said Bill Wanger, EVP programming & research for FOX Sports. “Having the race from iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway fall on our FS1 launch weekend is a bonus, and one of which we plan to take full advantage.”

Every MotoGP race will be broadcast live on SPEED until August, when coverage will move to the new FOX Sports 1 starting with the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Moto2 and Moto 3 races also will be televised on a delayed basis. Qualifying will be available on SPEED2, the authenticated broadband network.

Expanded digital rights also will bring on-board camera to for all U.S. rounds, with qualifying practice sessions on SPEED2. Two experienced broadcast teams will cover the action.

For the three U.S. rounds, including the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, Bob Varsha hosts; Ralph Sheheen and Jonathan Green split play-by-play duties; Scott Russell provides analysis; and Greg White reports from the pits. The team of Gavin Emmett and Nick Harris call international races, with Varsha, Sheheen, Greg Creamer and Dave Despain sharing the role of studio host.

American riders have won more premier-class MotoGP World Championships since 1978 than competitors from any other nation. Three Americans will compete in MotoGP this season: 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden, with the Ducati Team; Ben Spies, with the Ignite Pramac Racing Team; and Colin Edwards, with NGM Mobile Forward Racing. Only Spain and Italy boast more riders on the MotoGP grid this season than the United States.