After the conclusion of testing at Sepang in Malaysia, as expected it was Casey Stoner who topped the timing sheets. But on the second day of the three day test an intriguing development took place in the Honda camp. A Honda engine blew up in testing and this engine was immediately flown to Japan to investigate the causes behind its failure. Honda did not test further on the second day claiming that they were not interested in testing in the rain and the dampness of the track. This gave Ben Spies the chance to go fastest in one of the sessions of the second day on his Yamaha. Jorge Lorenzo too went well on the other Yamaha. The third day however saw the Honda’s back on track and Casey Stoner at the top of the timing sheets. The Yamahas were in striking distance and Andrea Dovizioso riding for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 outfit made the most improvement.
The Ducati GP12 closed the gap to the leaders to just a little over a second, but worryingly for Rossi now apart from the factory Hondas and Yamahas, the satellite Yamahas also were ahead of the factory Ducati. This could mean that once again Valentino Rossi is in a situation where he will be dicing for the position number 6 or 7. Nicky Hayden too complained about the motorcycle but was categorical that the problems that he was experiencing were not similar to what Rossi was experiencing. However Ducati chief Filippo Preziosi has expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the Ducati team and believes that there are still things that can be done to improve the motorcycle. Ominously though Casey Stoner has been complaining about the Honda and the rear end chatter that it was generating and believes that once that is sorted out, he can go much faster. That must give Rossi and Ducati huge nightmares and sleepless nights.
One positive development was that the CRT motorcycles have been showing improvement. Colin Edwards riding the Suter-BMW closed the gap to Stoner to just about 3 seconds and already Suter Racing has provided the NGM Forward Racing team with a third iteration of its new chassis. The Avintia Racing Team (BQR Racing) using the FTR-Kawasaki combination was able to iron out reliability problems that they had suffered previously and also made up adequate time. Yonny Hernandez surprised everyone with his speed which brought him 4 seconds adrift of the leaders but Ivan Silva was more than 7 seconds adrift on the other Avintia motorcycle. But all these are good portends because the CRT category is new, and on shoe string budgets they have been able to show more improvements than the factory and satellite teams.