After a long winter break the MotoGP riders were finally back in action as the 2015 preseason got underway today at Sepang. Two months on from their last track action the riders will be put through a grueling physical test over three days in the Malaysian heat, as they tone their bodies and tune their new bikes for the season ahead.
Looking at the lap times however this first day was anything but a customary ‘shakedown,’ as Valentino Rossi dominated with a string of scorching lap times before Marc Márquez posted a late effort (2’00.262) that leaves him in top spot overnight, with the two-minute barrier already in sight.
There was optimism and enthusiasm in the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team garage, with both Nicky Hayden and Eugene Laverty desperate to get stuck into their high preseason workload. With a completely new Honda to work with in 2015, Hayden spent much of the day working on the electronics package, which along with the new engine will be his main point of focus throughout the three days.
The American, who was also able to check the fitness of his wrist after an intense winter of recovery and training, clocked his best lap (2.02.699) around midday. His new team-mate Laverty spent the day getting used to a new engine and electronics package compared to what he rode at Valencia, although the challenge for the Irishman at the moment is simply to adapt to the machine and the category. With a best lap of 2.03.295, the new DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider finished the day in 22nd position.
Nicky Hayden #69
17th – 2.02.699 (46 laps):
“We have made a pretty good start, I was able to get back on the pace quite easily. We had a lot of work to do today with the new electronics package, so we spent some time on that this morning, and then in the afternoon we also did some work finding edge grip when the tires start to slide. We have made some decent progress and it was a positive day overall, even though we didn’t get the lap time down in the afternoon. I haven’t checked it alongside any of the other bikes but the new engine feels more powerful. The electronics are completely different so we will have to spend the majority of our time on that aspect during this test but we just have to sit down, make a plan and work hard. The wrist has healed up well over the winter so that’s another positive.”
Eugene Laverty #50
22nd – 2.03.295 (47 laps):
“This bike is completely different to the one I rode at Valencia, it’s another step up. We worked hard today to improve my feeling with the front. We need to understand how best to brake and get the bike turned. We did some good work on my body position – I am coming from a completely different kind of bike and tires so it is important to get the basics right before we start work. There are so many options with this bike and we need to explore them all. We are trying to make the transition from Superbikes to MotoGP as simple as possible. This bike is much smaller and the tires allow for a lot more lean angle so I need to adapt. The new Honda is everything I thought it would be and more, it’s a great bike. Now we just need to work on getting maximum performance out of it. Today was a good shakedown and I am happy with the first impressions.”