Double success in Phillip Island for the Repsol Honda Team

After just completing three days of IRTA testing at Phillip Island in Australia, collectively, it was the Repsol Honda who were most successful as both riders, 2016 MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa finished the test in the top three.

Despite the sun shining down under, the wind speeds were up at the coastal track which provided the riders with extra difficulties as they worked to develop the RC213V. Both riders were running with the same engine that was fitted for the second test of the off-season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

By the end of day one, Marquez was the quickest on track with a fastest time of 1:29.297 (he was one of only two riders to lap under 1:30 minutes), and Pedrosa finished the opening day in seventh, less than a second behind his teammate.

Time spent testing the new Honda engine

Describing day one as a “busy day,” Marquez explained how it was spent working “a lot on the engine” which he confirmed is “different from the one we used here at Phillip Island last year”. The new engine mean that they had to “re-adjust everything during the morning” which meant for them that they had to “spend a lot of time in the box”.

Come the afternoon, he described how they “found a base for the electronics” but that they still had to “work harder in this area”. Aware that he was fast, he spoke of how “like in Malaysia” that they wanted to “double-check how it’s working in some areas”. The Spaniard also confirmed that time was spent working on the setup and that “overall it was a positive day”; he hoped this would continue for the remainder of the test, along with the good weather.

Pedrosa returns to Phillip Island after a year away

Also feeling he had “started this test in a positive way”, Pedrosa, who has not ridden at Phillip Island for almost a year having missed the Australian round due to injury from a huge highside he experienced in Sepang, spoke of how he “needed to do some laps to get reacquainted with it”.

His “first feeling was good enough”, and he confirmed that instead of spending too much time on the electronics they “focused more on the fork’s setting” and he worked on finding “a good feeling with the bike”. Instead, electronics were going to be his focus for day two as he planned to “find a good base setup”, which he hoped would help them to “take another step forward” as he feels that will “help [them] at every track”.

Busy second day for Marquez

It was definitely a busy day for the 2016 MotoGP champion on day two as his time was spent completing 107 laps at the Australian circuit; more than any other rider had completed. The continuing good weather continued improving the setup of his bike before completing two long runs made up of 15 laps each which saw him lap consistently under the 1:30 minute barrier. He was knocked down to second fastest by the end of day two despite his best efforts throughout the day.

Pedrosa suffering from a fever and forced to rest

It was a different story for Pedrosa however as he woke up feeling under the weather. Suffering from a fever and a sore throat, he was checked by the medics at the Clinica Mobile, and then he rested until 3pm to try and preserve energy. Eventually making his way out on track at 3pm, he was still able to complete 40 laps, but the lack of energy came through as he finished the day down in 16th as he was only able to lap a low 1:30 minute lap.

Hard days work for Marquez

At the end of the session Marquez described it as a “day of really hard work” from which he was left feeling “a little tired”, however, he confirmed that that “was the plan” made between him and the team and they were able to complete it. He explained that with the his Engineers they “decided to do many laps to try a few things” and then he spoke of how they “focused on riding as consistently as possible” whilst working to try and “avoid any mistakes”.

His two long runs he explained where completed to “try different configurations of the electronics” and those opportunities he said allowed them to “gather a lot of information”. By the end of the second day however he still felt they were “missing something” as he explained he wasn’t “100% comfortable” however he knew they were “working in a good way”.

He was left hoping that the two long runs at the end of the session would allow them to “find the areas where [they] can take a step forward”. Marquez also confirmed that he was able to test the new front tyre provided by French manufacturer, Michelin, however testing the rear tyre had to be left to the final day due to a lack of time.

Pedrosa explains his symptoms

Pedrosa described how now the end of the session on day one he “started feeling a bit strange” and that “things got worse overnight”. When he woke in the morning he was unable to have any breakfast as he “wasn’t feeling good in [his stomach”, and as well he “had a bit of a fever and no strength”.

Unable to eat until around 3pm, he “waited” before he “tried to do some laps in the afternoon”. He described how he “started slowly” and that although he found he was able to improve “a little lap by lap” that he “didn’t push hard”. By the end of the second day however he was “feeling better” and hoped that for the third and final day he would be “in better shape”.

Birthday boy Marquez finishees the test second fastest overall

The final day of testing was an extra special one for the five times world champion as Marquez celebrated his 24th birthday. Presented with a cake by his crew, it was once again big smiles and celebrations all around in the sunshine that remained.

Making their way out onto the track as early as possible, both riders used the 15 minute window allocated to practicing starts. The focus then returned to again improving the setup of the RC213V which including work on the engine mapping and time spent testing the new tyres that had been provided by Michelin.

Marquez again finished the final day as second fastest overall behind Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha), which meant his time of 1:28.843 left him second overall by the end of the three day test. Making big improvements from day two, Pedrosa was able to reduce his lap time down to 1:29.033 which left him third fastest on the day, and overall at the end of the test making the team the most consistent at the end of the IRTA test.

Meticulous Marquez receives magnifying glass to analyse all the data collected

Marquez was left feeling “very happy with how it went” on day three as he found they “improved a lot, especially in the afternoon” despite the fact he did his best lap time in the morning. Overall, he was left feeling “much more comfortable” and he found that the long runs completed on day two “were useful for improving the electronics and getting closer to the level [they] wanted to reach”.

Analysing the three days of the IRTA test he felt it had been “very positive” and that they had done “a good job”. He spoke of how they “shouldn’t forget this circuit is quite particular” and he looks forward to Qatar to see where they “really are”.

Marquez revealed that for his birthday, he received a “funny present” from his team in the form of a magnifying glass. Explaining why he received such a gift he said, “I know I’m quite persistent in asking to check the data to find the issues we had, and they told me to find it myself!

He went on to say how he is “very thankful to HRC” as he feels they are “putting in a lot of effort” and as a result that “step-by-step [they’re] getting better”. He finished by wishing his Crew Chief Santi Hernandez his best wishes explaining how he “wasn’t able to be at Philip Island because of some medical checks”, and he declared that they “missed him” and that they were “looking forward to seeing him” at the next test in Qatar.

Pedrosa returned to form for the final day of testing

Pedrosa was also left feeling that overall the IRTA test in Phillip Island has been “positive” even when taking into consideration that it isn’t one of his “favourite tracks”. He thought that he was “riding quite well” and that they “improved day by day”, and despite feeling under the weather on the second day, on the final day they were “able to do a good job on track”.

He too felt that the “team has worked very well”, after they spent the final day “focused again on electronics and on the setup of the bike”. He explained how the “only thing” that they missed during the three days was “a long run as [they] ran out of time”.

Discussing Michelin’s progress he felt that they have “also made some good steps forward with the tyres” and that “all in all” he felt that they were able to say that they were “heading in the right direction, even if we still have some work to do.”