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Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo Breaks Lap Record as Sepang Testing Ends

The three-day Sepang MotoGP test came to an end earlier this morning with Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo breaking the lap record aboard his new GP18. Many riders pushed to post fast laps on Day 3, with the Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow close behind Lorenzo.

The Yamaha factory team of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales used the day to test their race pace, but still ended with lap times in the top 10. Somewhat surprising was the speed shown by Jack Miller on his new Ducati (5th quickest) and Alex Rins on his Suzuki (6th).

Take a look here for the combined, fastest times over the three days.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. Gary says:

    Could someone say a few words about the “fastest time” strategy versus “race pace?” Is it a matter of choosing ultra-sticky tires that only last a few laps? What’s the advantage of each strategy?

    Bummer how KTM suddenly fell off the pace.

    • bmbktmracer says:

      For a full race, they start with a full fuel load and use e-settings that conserve tires. They also need tires that work on the 20th lap. For qualifying, they run minimal fuel load, 10-lap tires, and aggressive maps.

      • Dave says:

        Do they have a qualifier tire option? I thought that was a WSBK thing only.

        • There is definitely not a qualifier tire. However, listening between the lines as racers and crew talk, my understanding is that there is a collection of settings, and just riding the tires harder (usually but not always the softest option), in a way that they would never last race distance.

    • Pacer says:

      Pol was the one putting the ktm up front, and he hurt his ankle.

    • Bob K says:

      Not really a case of sticky tires. It’s the carcass of the tires that make the difference between soft and hard. It’s about a balance between traction, braking stability and turning stability up front and a balance of the footprint for traction and stability under acceleration. Softer tire carcasses generate more heat because they lack structural stability and wear faster. Harder ones don’t make as good of a footprint so give less traction typically but more stability and run cooler. All of that has to do with feedback, overall speed capability and how much traction is available with each passing lap. But there are softer and harder compounds too. Each one reacts differently to temperature, so depending on ambient temps and track temps that day, they may have 2 mediums to choose from. Same compound but 2 different carcasses.

      The 2-3 lap use qualifying tire has been gone for several years, thank goodness.
      Sure, it was exciting to consistently see lap times under the record and top speeds over 210 mph each weekend. But it was always a false indicator of who was really fastest for the race.

      You can slightly underinflate a harder tire for qualifying to get more stability and generate some more heat to make the compound stick better for a faster lap time but it will only last half race distance. A softer tire might work as well for qualifying but many riders find a lack of confidence in braking and turning because the carcass flexxes too much. So the lap time can suffer.

      The fastest time strategy is important only in terms of being able to pull away and create a gap to the next rider. Riding at 99.99% all the time overheats the tires and chews up rubber fast. After 10 laps, the tires start feeling greasy and lap times go down exponentially with each passing lap to the point that your final lap times may end up 2 seconds or more slower than the slowest guy out there.

      Race pace strategy offers the best tire wear to the point where the best riders may only have have a 2 second drop per lap between lap 25 and lap 2. Maybe even less. Then they also have a little bit left over to push if needed to close in on the leader in the final laps and even pass him up if the leader’s tires are dropping off.

      The best guys want a good mix of both strategies. Lorenzo, likes the power to pull away off the line and create a gap within the first 2 laps. Then he can settle into a pace unimpeded by any other rider, control the gap to second place, and control his tire wear the rest of the race. This is ideal for him because he can pound out laps with computer-like consistency. When he has to dice with others, he’s braking more, changing to less ideal lines and accelerating harder and wearing his tires out more because he’s on and off the gas/brakes in a more extreme manner than just settling into a comfortable pace and choosing ideal lines and maintaining corner speed.

      But if he can’t qualify on the front row, he can wear out his tires trying to get around everyone in front of him. All the slicing and dicing consumes more fuel, overheats the brake pads and fluid, wears the tires faster and wears a rider out. Consuming fuel faster like this also has a negative effect in that the ECU is programmed to reduce power and traction control if it doesn’t think that there is enough fuel to finish the race. Traction control isn’t simply about changing spark timing to reduce power, it actually also consumes fuel because excessively rich mixtures reduces power faster. (In fact, more power is possible with a mix that’s actually leaner than stochiometric.) Then the unburnt fuel ignites in the exhaust (I’m sure you’ve noticed the fire breathing out the mufflers before). This why you see the pit boards telling riders to change maps… because the team is noticing reduced lap times, more tire wear and the bike behaving in a manner that indicates compensating for other issues.

      On the other hand if you start your race by being nice and conserving your tires, you can get caught up in battles the whole time and can’t get past people while the leaders are breaking away and increasing a gap that you can’t make up.

      Lorenzo’s get out front quick strategy is really ideal if you want to win. Battles are fun for spectators but he wants to get signed up for another 2 seasons for as much money as possible.

  2. wjf says:

    now what if it rains….

  3. mickey says:

    Lorenzo fastest huh? He has to feel good about that. He deserves a better year than he had last year and I hope he is able to get in and mix it up with the fast guys a lot more this year.

    Dani 2nd? How about that! Go Dani!

  4. hh says:

    Lots of riders “testing” fast, if it stays like this Rossi says it will be like Moto3 race and a lot of fun. Well said by a guy who still shows up on race day ready to dice it out …looking forward to some great racing…

  5. Neil says:

    Electronics have to perfectly control the bike at exactly the right moment. Nicky Hayden had each corner programmed into the EC for a given track. One day it was messed up and he was very slow. It’s amazing these guys can open the throttle to the stop and just trust the electronics. I am liking that the Duc and Jorge are fast.

    • Shaunock says:

      They should ban traction control like F1, then we’ll see who can actually ride out of a corner fast.

      • PatrickD says:

        It wouldn’t change the order on raceday or championship finale.
        The best (of the best) exploit what is there right up to the line, regardless of whether that line is written by computer code or just physics.
        So why have them? Well, Colin Edwards (for one) said that electronics prevent crashes and prolong careers. There’s no downside to that.

      • joe b says:

        Shaunock, please describe exactly what traction control is. Really, do your best, what is ok, what is not?

    • Dave says:

      Re: “It’s amazing these guys can open the throttle to the stop and just trust the electronics.”

      There is really much more to it than that. These guys throttle steer so they’re fine tuning the electronics to help them do that better. It’s part of the setup, like tires and suspension. Mess any of it up and the rider will be slow. As PatrickD points out below, remove all of it and the same guys and teams will win. Rossi, who won championships on several generations of GP bike going back to 500cc 2-strokes is the proof.

  6. Rob Webb says:

    Only a little over 1 second separates the top 14. This could be an exciting season!

    • Really close times, considering so early in the season with new equipment and all. My guess? The teams and manufactures are figuring out how to get the most out of the new(ish) Michelins. Should be a really great season.

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