The 2023 started this morning at the Sepang circuit, with test riders engaged in the first of 3 scheduled Shakedown days. For these tests, the track opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm, for 8 hours of testing. As mentioned, there are testers from the various Manufacturers on the track, plus the only rookie of the season, Augusto Fernandez on the GasGas.
These days, more than the stopwatch, it is important to prepare the bikes for when the riders arrive at the track, from Friday to next Sunday, so as to check that everything is working well on the new bikes and we can think about development.
The tests are timed anyway, and when only 2 p.m. in Malaysia, ahead of everyone is a Yamaha, probably that of Cal Crutchlow, who is joined in these tests by Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane. The Briton set his best time of 2'01"146, so we are talking about benchmarks that are still a long way from the circuit records (1'57"790 the 2022 pole of Martin, who had turned 1'59"634 in his best lap in the race). Normal, with a track that has yet to be rubberized and much work to be done by the test drivers.
Fernandez, on the other hand, is 2nd at 0"185 from the best Yamaha, with Stefan Bradl on the Hpnda posting the 4th best time of the morning. For Aprilia, there is Lorenzo Savadori (2'01"646), while Ducati relies on Michele Pirro, who started his 11th season as tester for the Rossa today (his best time was 2'02"115).
For KTM, Jonas Folger, who started just today his new job as a test rider for the Austrian manufacturer, got on the RC16 this morning. Also in Sepang is Dani Pedrosa.