Three days of MotoGP testing at Sepang ended earlier today with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) posting the fastest lap, together with Dani Pedrosa (Honda) – yes they were tied for fastest lap down to 1/1000th of a second. The bigger news was the announcement by Ducati that it would not run factory specification bikes beneath riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow in the upcoming championship, instead opting to run Open class bikes, which , as we explained in an earlier article, have significant advantages in terms of permitted fuel load and engine development throughout the season. Indeed, it is the development potential that seems to have persuaded Ducati to go in this direction.
Perhaps, as confirmation, Andrea Dovizioso posted the third quickest time, something quite uncharacteristic for Ducati in the past several years. It is unknown whether Dovizioso did his fast lap on an Open class machine, or the factory machine that he was testing concurrently throughout the three days. In any event, as proven by Aleix Espargaro on his Open class Yamaha (fourth quickest during this test), the Open class bikes are seemingly more than competitive with the pure factory machines this year. Ducati, in particular, may be in the best position to work through the one “disadvantage”, ie, use of the Dorna spec software inside the Magneti-Marelli ECU , because Ducati has worked with the Magnetti-Marelli ECU for years at the Moto GP level
With Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) having difficulty adapting to the new Bridgestone tires (he could manage only seventh quickest in this test) and Marc Marquez (Honda), who missed this test altogether, starting the year while recovering from a broken leg, 2014 could be quite interesting.