British foursome back in Sepang

Posted on Feb 20, 2015 by Nick Harris

The four British riders in this year’s highly competitive 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship return to Sepang in Malaysia on Monday to compete in the vital second three day test of the season. With that opening grand prix of the season in Qatar just five weeks away this will be a crucial three days round the 3.444 miles circuit just outside Kuala Lumpur.

Despite nursing ankle ligaments sustained in a training accident, Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith, who was the best placed British rider in the championship last season, led the British challenge in ninth place after the first three day test at the beginning of this month. He returns riding the Monster Tech3 Yamaha fully recovered and hoping for dry conditions to work on machine set–up and to improve his lap times.

For the three other Brits that first test was a real shakedown as they were riding new machinery. Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow returns determined to get in as many laps as possible as he adjusts to the RC213V CWM-LCR Honda after switching from Ducati. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding is in a similar position after three crucial days on the Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Honda which is a step up from the Open class Honda he rode last season. Ulsterman Eugene Laverty is adjusting to MotoGP full stop. The former World Superbike and Supersport rider makes his MotoGP debut in Qatar riding the Aspar MotoGP Honda.

The final test before the opening event of the 18 round season is in Qatar on March 14-16th.

The long awaited debut on the brand new 2015 Desmosedici GP 15 machine takes place in Sepang on Monday. The brain-child of Gigi D’all’lgna the bike features a revised engine position housed in in a new chassis with re-routed exhaust. The narrower machine takes to the track for the first time with factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Ducati made massive strides last season with Dovizioso claiming their first pole position for four years. Their last victory came in 2010 when Casey Stoner won the Australian Grand Prix.

Ducati are under no illusions just how tough it will be and if they were World Champion Marc Marquez showed them just what they are up against in the first Sepang test. The Repsol Honda rider returns to Malaysia after setting the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle at Sepang, an incredible 1m 58.867s lap time. Also impressive was his team-mate Dani Pedrosa while the Movistar Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to close the gap on the factory Hondas.

It’s a massive three days for everybody and especially the new teams at Suzuki and Aprilia but all eyes will be focused on Ducati when the new GP 15 machine leaves the pits for the very first time on Monday morning.

Despite some poor weather in southern Spain British stars Sam Lowes and Danny Kent put in impressive performances in the three day Moto2™ and Moto3™ test at the Jerez circuit.

Lincolnshire – based Lowes riding for the Speed-Up team finished a morale boosting second in the Moto2 class which was led by Frenchman Johann Zarco. Lowes, the former World Supersport Champion, set his fastest lap in the first session on the last day using a new swing arm and fairing.

In a foretaste of what to expect this season the top ten riders were separated by just nine tenths of a second after three days.

Grand Prix winner Kent from Wiltshire was equally impressive in the Moto3 class. Riding the Honda – powered Leopard racing machine he was third fastest overall and also put in some very good race simulations laps on old tyres.

Scotsman John McPhee had a brilliant final day riding for the Racing Steps Foundation supported SaxoPrint RTG Honda. He improved his lap times by a massive two seconds from the first day.

Kent and McPhee will have to continue improving those lap times because two teenagers set the pace in Jerez. Fifteen year old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, who makes his grand prix debut in Qatar, led the way with the reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Champion Jorge Martin in second place.

Both the Moto2 and Moto3 riders return to Jerez for a three day test on 17th March.

Silverstone will host the British Grand Prix for the next two years. The Northamptonshire circuit has reached an agreement with the Circuit of Wales to stage the grand prix, which it has hosted for the last five years.

An Agreement between Donington Park and the Circuit of Wales to stage the race this year was suspended. The Circuit of Wales hold the rights to the British Grand Prix but the proposed new circuit will not be ready until at least 2017.

The British Grand at Silverstone will be staged on Sunday August 30th.

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