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GP Week : Issue 178
Testing is only testing (often in more than one sense of the word). It’s true of course – perhaps particularly so in the case of returned Yamaha scion Valentino Rossi, who – although reliably wreathed in smiles – has yet to look truly threatening. But it’s still a chance for a heads-up. This time, the head above the parapet has the smile of a choirboy and the speed of a striking mamba. Marquez has done much more than merely impress. For the rest, the picture is much as expected: year-two 1000cc bikes show evolution rather than anything new ... no matter how much the revised Ducati squad might desire it. The landscape is much like it was in 2012. In other words, Honda’s RC213V – now revealed to employ a Ducati-like 90-degree vee angle – is narrowly but decisively the best bike out there, with ever-improving chassis balanced helped along by the seamless-shift gearbox that gives the riders a few hundredths of a second every time they shift up. In this way head Honda honcho Dani Pedrosa has led five out of six days of official testing so far – two three-day sessions at Sepang, with the final go next weekend at Jerez. Only once did Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo managed to edge ahead. Perhaps significantly, however, Jorge’s time was actually the best of all three days at Sepang Two, and the metronomic defending champion was noted to be running serial fast laps within a shade of his best time. There was one other test – an unofficial track familiarisation exercise at the Austen COTA circuit, venue for round two in xxxxxx. Only the factory Yamahas and Hondas, plus satellite rider Helmut Bradl, were in attendance. Honda was fastest again. Perhaps even more significantly, at a venue where nobody had any prior track knowledge and data, the fastest Honda this time was ridden by rookie Marquez ... 36 GPWEEK.com // 36 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> FEATURE It’s been a hectic off-season in the MotoGP world – MICHAEL SCOTT kept an eye on it ... TESTING, TESTING ... THE STORY SO FAR