We saw a sneak peek at the Shakedown. Now get ready for our first full event of the season as our 2023 grid gets back on track in Malaysia
We’ve seen some team presentations and liveries, we’ve seen three days of Shakedown action and we’ve seen our 2023 rookie, Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), start to settle in. Now it’s time to get a look at the whole grid, and maybe a few test riders too, as the Official Sepang Test gets in gear.
WATCH: Riders in action on Day 3 in Sepang
The test runs from the 10th to the 12th of February and takes place at Sepang International Circuit. Normal track action starts at 10:00 local time every day and lasts until 18:00. Then, from 18:00 until 18:15, there’s a Practice Start session in which riders can do just that, and only that.
HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE ACTION?
There’s Live Timing, live social media broadcasts at 14:00 local time and After The Flag live at 17:30-19:00 local time. See HERE for more information about how to follow the action live!
WHAT WE’VE SEEN FROM EACH FACTORY DURING TESTING SO FAR
Michele Pirro was on track for all three days for Ducati, ahead of the return of reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and new teammate Enea Bastianini. The Borgo Panigale factory debuted updated aero at the Shakedown, and Pirro’s had two machines on Tuesday with different versions of the tail exhaust – a large one and a short one.
On the final day of the Shakedown, the Italian spent most of his time working with the updated aero package. The biggest thing of note was an update to the “ground-effect” side fairings from the Valencia Test, which were much larger and more detailed. The actual side pod and the main set of wings were the same as what we saw at the Valencia Test.
Ducati will now have Bagnaia and Bastianini out at the Sepang Test, and of course there’s a whole armada of Borgo Panigale machinery throughout the grid. What more will we see at the Sepang Test proper?
The main topic of conversation heading into the Sepang Test will be Yamaha’s 2023 engine, and promising steps have been made during the Shakedown. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was trackside on the final day of the Shakedown Test, and the Frenchman will have seen the speed trap numbers Yamaha were posting, which at one point displayed Cal Crutchlow clocking 335 km/h – five more than Quartararo managed in last year’s Grand Prix, and eight more than Yamaha managed in the 2022 Sepang Test.
Elsewhere, both Quartararo and teammate Franco Morbidelli will be putting Yamaha’s new front fairing through its paces – as they did in the Valencia Test. Both Crutchlow and Japanese test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga were running with the fairing on the final day, handing Quartararo, Morbidelli and Yamaha some valuable information ahead of the three-day outing.
Aprilia Racing Team Manager Paolo Bonora confirmed that the Noale camp have something “innovative” on the front fairing. We saw from photos of Lorenzo Savadori that this innovation sits at the top of the front fairing, as seen in the picture below.
Aprilia have taken advantage of time in the wind tunnel, so a newly designed aero package has been used a lot in testing so far – including on the side fairing, where side pods are becoming a big topic of discussion. As with every factory, the 2023-spec engine is high on the priority list for Aprilia, as Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales get set to pick up where Savadori has left off.
RNF MotoGP™ Team’s Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez are expected to get some parts to try in the three-day test, but their main focus to start with will be to build on what they learnt from their first taste of the RS-GP back in Valencia.
MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa was back in action for the Austrian manufacturer, working with new Red Bull KTM Factory Racing recruit Jack Miller’s side of the garage on Day 1 and then moving over to Brad Binder’s side on Monday. The main focal point was reportedly comparing different engine specs, with aero updates nearer the end of the Shakedown if there was time after Monday’s track time was cut short due to the weather.
There seemingly was time, unless there’s even more to come, and Pedrosa did a fair few laps on the new aero package on the final day of the Shakedown. The front fairing shape has changed slightly, the “shark tooth” serrations on the edges are no more, and the top set of the wings have been slightly updated. The side pod wings have received the same treatment. The biggest change was larger “ground-effect” side fairings.
The other headline saw new KTM testing recruit, Jonas Folger, join Pedrosa on track as the German got to grips with the RC16 for the first time. Now the marque will also get feedback from Brad Binder and Miller at the Sepang test, and at GASGAS, Pol Espargaro – who has considerable experience on previous iterations of the RC16 – will also be on hand.
Speaking of GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3, reigning Moto2™ World Champion and 2023 MotoGP™ rookie Augusto Fernandez was also back on his RC16 at the Shakedown and started to focus on making the machine his own. The rain on day 2 also allowed the Spaniard to try wets on a wet track, wets on a drying track, slicks on a drying track and slicks in the fully dry conditions. His best lap time was a 2:00.482 on the final day of the Shakedown to slot into fourth.
After the disappointment of the Valencia Test, Stefan Bradl had a busy Shakedown Test for HRC. On the first day, the German was out on a new-look Honda machine that was dressed in redesigned aero, a new exhaust, two different chassis and the 2023 engine.
A big change in the Honda camp for the 2023 season is the arrival of new Technical Director Ken Kawauchi, and the Japanese guru was in the box for all three days of the Shakedown. On Tuesday, Bradl was doing back-to-back comparisons between different HRC aero packages, the latest one being something we saw at the private Jerez Test. The trusted test rider also spent some time comparing bikes with and without the ‘stegosaurus’ wings on the tail unit. Now, it’s time for Marc Marquez and Repsol Honda Team teammate Joan Mir to take up the testing duties, with LCR Honda duo Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Rins also facing a huge three days in Malaysia.
Keep up to date with all the ongoing from the three days in Malaysia on motogp.com and on our social media channels.