valentino rossi motogp sepang test 2015
Valentino Rossi at MotoGP Sepang test 1 sporting his special winter testing themed helmet.

The riders are back, the teams are ready and MotoGP is back! The first Sepang test, the much awaited one that announces the end of the winter break for MotoGP was every bit exciting as expected. The question everybody wants to know is simple. Will 2015 be a Marquez show again or will there at least be a challenge. The way the 2014 season ended, it was clear that an in form Rossi and Lorenzo can put a lot of pressure on the young champion. The Yamaha M1 almost ironed out all the advantage the RC213V had and the riders made sure they did the rest. Still it was all too late for the championship. There will be a lot of changes this year. Not just with Yamaha, but big changes in the MotoGP paddock and new and very interesting characters on new and different machines. Ducati’s new GP15 did not make it to the first Sepang test, but parts of it did. Suzuki finally sorted out the engine reliability issue and both riders, Vinales and Aleix posted really consistent and actually quite good timings. Suzuki now just needs to dig in and find a chunk of power from their engine. Scott Redding and Cal Crutchlow have a new powerful Honda bull to tame. Aprilia probably is the only team that had a not so positive outing at the Sepang test.

But lets talk about the leaders now. Each day of the test saw a different leader. Day one saw Rossi, the next day it was Lorenzo and on the final day it was Marquez. Each day had its significance and quite honestly everything is so very tightly bunched up right now that it is difficult to say who has an advantage. The Hondas had a slow start as both riders had multiple prototypes to choose from for this season. So they spent the first two days finalising on those. Yamaha continued their systematic, one step at a time development and arrived at the Sepang test with multiple options in terms of parts and electronics for the riders. The one thing that Yamaha did not have for its riders for the seamless gearbox that does clutchless upshift and downshift. That will make its entry only in the second Sepang test. Now Marquez broke the track record on day three to take the top spot, but that still does not necessarily make him the fastest. You see, Marquez did the race simulation late afternoon, while other riders did it much earlier. Also the Yamaha riders were still trying out parts during the race simulation and were not totally pushing it. The Ducati riders were not even in their final race machine, the GP15 and were still posting amazing lap times, even ahead of the Yamaha’s.

So then what does the first MotoGP 2015 Sepang test tell us? It tells us that the 2015 MotoGP season is going to be epic. All top riders are in the best of forms they have ever been. Factory machines of Honda and Yamaha are almost equally competitive and finally the gap between the rest of the field and these factory teams have reduced quite a bit. The second Sepang test will give us a better look at what really lies for the 2015 season, but the writing’s already on the wall.