Jorge Lorenzo decimated the competition on the third and final day of the Sepang test, setting the fastest ever lap around the Malaysian venue with a 1:58.830.
His closest challenger was Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa – the fastest man on Day 1 of the test – who was just over a tenth and a half behind his compatriot. The number 26 is also the holder of the pole lap record. Cal Crutchlow took P3, only half a tenth behind the RC213V of Pedrosa ahead of him.
It was a day without the rain that had affected Sunday and Monday’s action, and Lorenzo put in 48 laps overall, topping the timesheets on Lap 21.
The Spaniard had also crashed earlier, but then went out and set his best effort. The 1:58.830 lap will not count as the official record due it having been set outside a race weekend, but it is the quickest recorded lap on two wheels. The previous best belonged to Marc Marquez and was set during testing in 2015. Lorenzo said there were marked improvements in the GP18 when compared to last year's machine.
Pedrosa did 58 laps and similarly set his quickest lap early, on Lap 9. Only 0.009 away from breaking into the 1:58 bracket, the ‘Little Samurai’ was the quickest Honda of the test. He was working with one bike in the garage sporting Honda’s new aero fairing and one without, whereas teammate Marc Marquez opted to go aero-fairing free on Day 3, saying the innovation needs bigger setup changes to be evaluated. The reigning Champion ended the third day in seventh and got through a long workload of 75 laps; his best a 1:59.382 after opting to forego a timeattack lap.
Behind Crutchlow in third – the Brit another who did a lot of laps, completing 65 – was the second Ducati Team rider of Andrea Dovizioso, like teammate Lorenzo, took a tumble but escaped unscathed.
The Italian ended the day just over a tenth off the top three, and completed 51 laps. Just behind him was another impressive performance for another Borgo Panigale machine; that of Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller. Switching from Honda, the Australian proved his adaptation once again with a 1:59.346 as his best after 36 laps - completing the top five despite proving the first crasher of the day.
Alex Rins was the rider who broke the Ducati and Honda stranglehold on the timesheets first, going sixth quickest but only 0.002 off Miller and the top five. Rins, who struggled with injury in 2017, has had a rapid start to his sophomore season and put in another half century of laps at Sepang.
Teammate Andrea Iannone, after suffering a number of technical issues in testing so far, was twelfth fastest but managed an increased 62 laps for the Hamamatsu factory as they aim to reset after a more difficult 2017.
The top Yamaha was nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, with the ‘Doctor’ slotting into eighth and one of the late improvers. A 1:59.449 on Lap 52 of 54 saw him just pip Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco in the last few minutes of track action, after the number 46 had been second fastest on Day 2. Teammate Maverick Viñales – fastest on Monday – was P18 on the third and final day, but is within the top six overall with his previous best. Both Yamaha riders had their new aero-packages on track, and Independent Team rider Zarco also tried the fairing on Tuesday.
Danilo Petrucci made it both Pramac machines in the top ten on Day 3 as he ended Tuesday 0.017 seconds off Zarco. ‘Petrux’ was also the fourth Independent Team rider within that quickest ten, and just pipped fellow Independent Ducati rider Tito Rabat to the honour. Rabat was a crasher on Day 3, but was unhurt. He did 35 laps and was just 0.019 off Petrucci in an incredibly tight midfield on the timesheets. The next quickest Independent Team Ducati was Angel Nieto Team’s Alvaro Bautista, who was P15.
Aleix Espargaro led the charge for the Noale factory in P13, and put in his quickest lap on his final exit – the last rider in the 1:59s on Day 3. One of Aprilia’s key focuses has been increasing their horsepower and reconfirming their work over the winter with Espargaro and Scott Redding. Redding continued his adaptation with another 56 laps in the bank.
Meanwhile, at KTM Factory Racing, it was test rider Mika Kallio leading the way on the timesheets for the Austrian factory. They debuted a new aero package, and Kallio did a best of 2:00.464. Bradley Smith did a 2:00.969, with Pol Espargaro sitting Tuesday out following his big crash on Monday. The Spaniard has no fractures but the crash, at Turn 4, was a fast one.
Of the four rookies, it was Takaaki Nakagami who was the quickest once again on Day 3. The Japanese rider was fourteenth quickest overall with a 2:00.71, tantalisingly close to the 1:59 bracket. Reigning Moto2 Champion Franco Morbidelli was around half a second off that and second fastest of the new riders in the field – but the number 21 was 0.021 ahead of Viñales for an impressive scalp.
Xavier Simeon was a further three tenths back, with Tom Lüthi (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) the final rookie on the timesheets. It is, however, the Swiss rider’s first test on his new machine, having been sidelined for Valencia due to injury. He crashed at Turn 4 in a slow incident, but picked the bike up and continued.
That’s a wrap on the first action of the year, but MotoGP will be back before you know it – getting a first taste of Buriram in Thailand ahead of the 2018 debut of the Thailand GP. The test there begins on the 16th February.
Pedrosa concludes Thai test on top
Marquez sets the first 1:29 lap of Chang
Thailand test: Crutchlow fastest on the
2018 season will be the last of partners
Sepang test 2018: Vinales edges Rossi to
MotoGP Sepang Test 2018: Pedrosa fatest
Yamaha reveals 2018 MotoGP livery in Mad
Vinales signs new contract to remain at
Folger decided to sit out the season in
Syahrin joins Tech 3 for 2018 MotoGP sea
Honda unveil new 2018 MotoGP livery in J
Aspar renamed 'Angel Nieto Team' in trib
New MotoGP Championships, wild card rule
Iannone back on top of the MotoGP timesh
Dovizioso fastest on the second day at J
Huichol style helmet for Rossi at Sepnag
Iannone takes to the top of the timeshee
Marquez quickest in Valencia Day 2
Yamaha top the timesheets, and Marquez c
Perdosa happy to end the season with a w
We wanted this title as much as Marc did
Marquez hails "an incredible opponent" D
Zarco sees he must be happy not sad afte
Marquez crowned Champion, Pedrosa wins d
2018 MotoGP calendar updated
British GP to remain at Silverstone for
Zarco thinks he can fight for the win on
Marquez would be more nervous if Dovizio
Marquez heads the timesheets & automatic
Iannone tops Valencia FP1, with Marquez
Folger making progress on the road to re
2018 MotoGP provisional entry list
Moving to Ducati was the right decision
A "step" with the bike gives Pedrosa con
Pol Espargaro please by KTM’s progressio
Rossi feels Yamaha could have been compe
Zarco was thinking he could win
Dovizioso top in Warm Up, Marquez eighth
Dovizioso feels ready for the 25 points
The rhythm is more of a question for the
Marquez fastest in FP4 after recovering
Dovizioso heads FP1 as action opens at S
Van der Mark targets to improve in every
Viñales planned to push in the last 5 la
Aleix Espargaro forced to si out of Mala
Crutchlow says this is what MotoGP is al
Iannone trying his best on every lap
Dovizioso will have to give it our all i
Zarco so happy he could fight for victor
If you don’t want to play the game, stay
Marquez wins the fight for Phillip Islan
Marquez leads Viñales and Pedrosa in wet
Dovizioso: “The reality is different to
Marquez throws down the gauntlet with po
Marquez tops wet Philip Island FP3
Crutchlow expecting "a big battle" at Ph
Aleix Espargaro heads Marquez & Dovizios
Lowes feeling great with the R1
Pedrosa had no control on the bike at th
Lorenzo unhappy with Zarco's move at Mot
Dovizioso & Marquez speak about their du
Petrucci was starting to think about his
Dovizioso wins last corner duel to beat
Zarco takes shock pole in Japan
Dovizioso leads the way to Q2, Rossi thr
Crutchlow & Lorenzo disagree over FP1 cr
Aleix Espargaro aiming for podium after
Japanese GP: Dovizioso beats Marquez to
Marquez tops Japanese GP FP1 as rain mix
Nozane to replace Folger at Motegi
Motegi GP Preview: The heat is on
Folger forced to withdraw from Japanese
Rossi did everything possible to get pre
Marquez had to revert to 2016 way of thi
Smith and Espargaro confirmed at KTM for
Aoyama to replace Miller at Motegi
Title key is is to treat all rivals equa
Training accident rules Miller out of Mo
Haas seeking compensation from Sepang fo
Ferrari to address quality issues discov
Malaysia win "satisfying" for Red Bull &
Gasly focusing on weaknesses after "spec
Vandoorne hails P7 at Sepang as his best
Ocon frustrated, Perez ill but Force Ind
Malaysian GP: Winners & Losers from Sepa
Verstappen delighted with second F1 win
Hamilton & Mercedes concerned by lack of
Vettel sure Ferrari would have won witho
Malaysia GP: Verstappen beats Hamilton t
Ocon claims Force India found "sweet spo
Raikkonen not expecting any Vettel influ
Vandoorne: P7 "as good as it gets" for M
Verstappen claims P3 in qualifying "perf
Hamilton "grateful" for Sepang pole afte
Vettel focusing on race recovery after q
Malaysia GP: Hamilton claims 70th career
Malaysia GP: Raikkonen leads as Vettel h
FIA blame poor welding for drain which c
Vettel wants more Saturday running after
Red Bull surprised at dry-weather defici