MotoGP season looms

MAN TO BEAT: Double World Champion Marc Marquez.

By James Warren

THE first MotoGP race of the season in Qatar is drawing closer as the MotoGP teams round up the first of two pre-season tests in the Far East. It has given many of the riders the opportunity to sample the new 2015 machinery.

It became obvious that, yet again the man to beat is reigning double World Champion Marc Marquez. He spent his time putting in laps aboard both the 2014 and 2015 RC213Vs, trying different set- ups and fine-tuning the new chassis. Day three of the test proved he wasn’t to be messed with as he smashed the Sepang lap record with a 1’58, the only rider to do so. Repsol team mate Dani Pedrosa was also on fine form as he just missed out on a flying 1’58 lap due to a small mistake. He did however put in a blistering sub 2’00 race simulation and signalled his intentions to put a mediocre 2014 behind him.

Surprise of the test was Italian Andrea Iannone on the Ducati. He ended the test third on a revised version of last year’s GP14.2. He and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso are eager to ride the new GP15 to be launched in time for the second Sepang test.

The two Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finished up fourth and fifth, both riders testing new exhaust parts and a new seamless upshift gearbox.

It was also the first proper test of the new Suzuki GSX-RR with Aleix Espargaro and rookie maverick Vinuales, posting respectable 10th and 12th positions, putting the new prototype ahead of many other seasoned teams. The new Aprilia RS-GP however didn’t fare as well, still having much work left to do to be competitive in time for March 29.

The teams stay in Malaysia for the Sepang 2 test on February 23.

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