With the extreme weather conditions that are typical in Malaysia, hampering much of the first day of testing in Sepang. The fastest lap times were set in the morning as rain halted play in the afternoon. Factory Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso have both noted that they have a slightly better feeling with the troublesome Desmosedici; leaving Dovi in particular, seemingly upbeat. The two riders sit 8th and 9th respectively in the standings, just behind Pramac rider, Andrea Iannone.
Former Gresini CRT rider Michelle Pirro spent the day testing the “laboratory” Desmosedici, whilst Hayden and Dovi were developing the electronics and frame on the GP13.
After Hayden said after the first Sepang test that “the bike hasn’t changed much” since October, it’s encouraging for the Ducati squad to see both riders finding better feeling and in particular, Hayden commenting that changing direction has improved, too. At the end of the first test, the American was in front of his team mate, but 2.08s off the pace. Today however, Hayden completed 46 laps with a best lap-time of 2m 3.143s, just 1.5 seconds off the top. “It’s good to be back to work in Malaysia. This morning we lost a bit of time sorting out some electronics mapping, but then we were able to do some good riding. Ducati brought a couple of things to try, mainly some changes to weight distribution, which helped make the bike a little nimbler on change of direction. Also, I’m able to brake better with the same amount of pressure on the lever. We still need to work on it, but anyway, it’s an improvement. With the weather, we obviously didn’t get a full a day with a dry track, but it was important for me to ride in the wet. We know the gap to the front is still too big, but we’re slowly making progress, and hopefully we can reduce it further over the next two days.”
‘Read more’ to see Dovi’s comments from day 1…
Dovizioso, who moved from Tech3 Yamaha to the factory squad at the end of last season, completed 22 laps, finishing just in front of Hayden with a 2m 2.801s, 1.2 seconds off the pace. This is a distinctly big improvement on Andrea’s, and indeed Ducati’s part, compared to Sepang 1 several weeks ago, which ended with the Italian over 2 seconds off the pace. “I’m pretty satisfied with today. My feeling with the bike has improved, and now I know it better than I did two weeks ago here at Sepang. Today we did tests with the electronics, and we also made a comparison between two bikes with different configurations—one had a different fuel tank and weight distribution—but we didn’t have much time. It was nothing too major, but it was a positive step. I used just one set of tyres, so all things considered, the gap to the top is acceptable. That said, we still have to work hard on corner entry and corner speed.”
The second Sepang test continues tomorrow, we will see then if the gap to the front will continue to decrease…