Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone topped the timesheets on the second day of MotoGP pre-season testing from Sepang, as rain once again affected the Malaysian circuit throughout the day.
The first four hours of the day was slow and limited, as many riders patiently waited for the track to dry following torrential downpours overnight. Once a dry line started to appear, riders bravely ventured on track with slick tyres and times slowly dropped as the grip increased. However with pushing comes crashing as Aleix Espargaro became the first crasher of the 2017 season, with Danilo Petrucci, Scott Redding, Loris Baz and Tito Rabat the other fallers during day two. Rabat’s crash at turn 11 brought out a brief red flag and the Spaniard was brought to the local hospital where he will undergo X-ray examinations on a suspected knee injury. He is set to return to Barcelona for further examination and will not take part in the final days of testing.
Iannone, however was not fazed by the tricky conditions and the Italian set a blistering time of 1:59.452 which was almost four tenths faster the man in second, Maverick Vinales. The “Maniac Joe” is settling into the Suzuki team quite well as he did a total of 40 laps today and commented on how happy he was with GSX-RR’s new engine for 2017.
The Yamaha duo of Vinales and Valentino Rossi made the most of day two, with 51 and 54 laps completed respectively. Vinales was the only other rider to dip under the two minute mark, with a 1:59.858 which is the third fastest time of the test so far. Rossi ended the day fourth fastest, with a 2:00.254. Despite a ban on external winglets for the 2017 season, Yamaha cleverly tried out some new “internal” winglets on both rider’s M1’s in the hope to compensate that the banned winglets generated, however they are only for trial purposes and may not be used by the time Qatar come around.
Aspar’s Alvaro Bautista impressed many observers today as the Independent Team Ducati rider was towards the top of the timesheets throughout the session, eventually winding up third on a 2:00.218. Johann Zarco made huge gains on day two as the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider ended the day with a 2:00.343 in a remarkable fifth position, also the Frenchman finished as top rookie.
Hector Barbera also showed his class on day two, posting a best of 2:00.352, the Avintia rider was also briefly top of the timesheets on his GP16. Behind him came both factory Ducati riders, with Andrea Dovizioso once again getting the better of his improving teammate Jorge Lorenzo, finishing seventh and eighth respectively. The “Spartan” finished a quiet 17th yesterday and put in alot of work on his brand new Desmosedici today, completing 66 laps to only finish a second behind Iannone’s fastest lap.
Jonas Folger joined Tech 3 teammate Zarco inside the top 10 in ninth, pipping reigning world champion Marc Marquez with an unbelievable last lap and proving that he will be very competitive by the time Qatar comes around in March. Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez rounded out the top ten despite a late mechanical issue for the Repsol Honda rider.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was P11 despite encountering chattering issues and eventually crashing at turn 5, with a 2:00.609 which was good enough to narrowly pip Cal Crutchlow who did a best of 2:00.691. Alex Rins, Dani Pedrosa and Scott Redding completed the top 15 and all will be hoping for a better day on Wednesday.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro continued to work on the development of the RC16 machine by putting in a combined total of 67 laps today. Espargaro finished 20th with a 2m01.525s, meanwhile Smith finished 25th almost a second behind his teammate.
The test concludes at Sepang on Wednesday, with Stoner rejoining the field after Michele Pirro’s running on Ducati’s test bikes on Tuesday.
Day 2 testing times: