A popular MotoGP World Championship fixture for a number of seasons, the 5.543km Sepang Circuit gave MotoGP fans a taste of what’s to come from Jan 30th until February 1st. As the first Official Test of 2017, Sepang saw the first proper on-track MotoGP action as the world motor racing fans begin to gear themselves up for the new season opening Qatar GP at the Losail circuit on March 26th – less than two months from now.
Focus of the world’s media were inevitably split in between the famed MotoGP superstars – defending champion Marc Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team who retains their 2016 line-up (with Dani Pedrosa alongside Marc), then there’s that other Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo who joins Italian Andre Davizioso in the Ducati Factory Team, and finally the MotoGP Superstar Valentino Rossi who has Maverick Vinales in place of Jorge in the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team.
That man Maverick Vinales ended the Sepang test as P1 overall, topping the time sheets with 1:59.368 on the final session (Day 3) to edge out reigning champ Marc who did a 1:59.506 to finish P2. Indeed Senor Vinales was the only consistently quick rider having taken P3 for the first session (Jan 30th) behind a couple of rapid Ducatis in P1 and P2 – Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso respectively.
Day 2 witnessed Andrea Iannone of Team Suzuki Ecstar taking P1 with his 1:59.452 lap, followed by Vinales some three-tenths behind (1:59.858) in P2, and Alvaro Bautista astride the Pull & Bear Aspar Ducati finishing an impressive P3 with a fastest lap just a whisker over two minutes.
As for the multiple world champions, the trio of superstars – Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, only Marc showed some manner of pace being pretty much the closest to Vinales in terms of all out pace. Of course, with the season’s opener still about a couple of months ahead, most if not all the competing teams are right in the midst of sorting out their MotoGP machines, troubleshooting, fine-tuning and ultimately perfecting every crucial aspects of their million dollar machinery.
There’s still a couple of official tests in the months ahead (Philip Island Feb 15th & Qatar March 10th) during which perhaps the true potency and capability of these incredible MotoGP bikes shall be genuinely demonstrated, inasmuch the true challengers among the riders themselves could well be determined. For the moment it goes without saying that lest there’d be a new wunderkind set to be unveiled when the 2017 MotoGP season gets underway, the current status quo remains.
Perhaps the true pace of the front runners will be at play come the next official test. The countdown continues