News 30 Mar 2009


Please note that this post will be updated as more releases arrive.

Dorna press release:

Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner was the winner of a special edition BMW 135i in Sunday’s showdown session at the MotoGP Official Test. The 2007 World Champion was untouchable at the southern Spanish circuit of Jerez, dominating the session onboard his formidable Desmosedici GP9 machine.

Stoner registered a superb 1’38.646s lap in the final ten minutes of the session, even finding time to give a wave to his Ducati Marlboro crew as he flew down the main straight. He was already leading the chase for the car prize at the time, courtesy of an early hot lap. The session was brought to a premature close by rainfall shortly after his final surge, with just over three minutes remaining on the clock.

The winner of last year’s BMW M Award in the rain at Jerez, Stoner’s repeat trick added another car to his extensive collection. Thomas Schemera, BMW M Sales and Marketing Director, handed him the keys to a BMW 135i ‘BMW Sauber F1 Team Edition’, of which only 135 have been made.

The reigning World Champion 2007 BMW M Award victor, Valentino Rossi got closest to Stoner with a 1’39.365s time which put him second on the timesheet, 0.719s behind the Australian. Like Stoner, the Fiat Yamaha man is enjoying a good preseason and the pair look like they will push each other hard for the title in 2009.

Behind the front two it was Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen who sandwiched fourth-placed Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo in the top five.

Causing a surprise in sixth place was rookie Mika Kallio, despite running off track at one point. The Finn was experiencing his first competitive MotoGP outing in the shootout session.

In the continued absence of injured team-mate Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest HRC representative. A good performance from returning Ducati rider Sete Gibernau, meanwhile, saw him lap eighth quickest on his Grupo Francisco Hernando satellite Desmosedici GP9.

The top ten was rounded off by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias and the winner of the 2006 BMW M Award, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards.

With around 15 minutes remaining Edwards’ team-mate James Toseland suffered a nasty highside crash and was stretchered away. The session was briefly red flagged as the English rider was given medical attention at the side of the track, with early reports from Clinica Mobile later indicating that he was bruised but not seriously injured.

Heavier rain arrived at the circuit shortly after the BMW M Award session, prompting some teams to leave early rather than test in the wet conditions during the scheduled final 3.15pm – 6.00pm free practice session.

The MotoGP paddock will reconvene at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on the 10th-12th April weekend for the first race of the year.

Circuit Record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2008) 1’40.116
Best Pole: Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha – 2008) 1’38.189

1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) – 1’38.646 (13 laps)
2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) – 1’39.365 (16)
3. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) – 1’39.757 (15)
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) – 1’39.829 (21)
5. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) – 1’39.848 (13)
6. Mika Kallio (Ducati) – 1’40.149 (14)
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) – 1’40.168 (17)
8. Sete Gibernau (Ducati) – 1’40.228 (9)
9. Toni Elias (Honda) – 1’40.266 (17)
10. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) – 1’40.305 (17)
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) – 1’40.401 (14)
12. Marco Melandri (Hayate) – 1’40.405 (18)
13. Randy De Puniet (Honda) – 1’40.646 (18)
14. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) – 1’40.814 (18)
15. Alex De Angelis (Honda) – 1’40.869 (15)
16. James Toseland (Yamaha) – 1’41.425 (10)

Ducati Marlboro Team press release:

With an incredible lap in tricky conditions, Casey Stoner was the winner of a brand new BMW today, as the fastest rider in the Official MotoGP Test session at the Jerez circuit in Southern Spain. Rain clouds threatened to dampen the atmosphere at the first competitive action of the 2009 MotoGP season, but the Ducati Marlboro Team rider lit up the 45-minute shootout by registering a stunning 1’38.646 lap before the showers came and brought the practice to an abrupt end, smashing the existing circuit lap record by nearly 1.5 seconds.
Stoner’s Ducati Marlboro team-mate Nicky Hayden had a mixed session, as he set the eleventh fastest lap with a 1’40.401. The American continued his steady adaptation to the Ducati this weekend, with some positive steps forward during this morning’s first run out. However, he also had a brave escape as he ran off track towards the latter stages of the timed practice.

The Kentucky rider bravely steered his Desmosedici GP9 to safety through the gravel trap as he left the track at high speed, but returned to the garage without a scratch. Despite the small setback, enough progress has been made for Hayden to be in a positive mood once he and the rest of the Ducati Marlboro join up at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar in two weeks time, for the opening race of the 2009 season.

Factory test rider Vittoriano Guareschi also took part in the practice session, and was able to set his very own personal best on the Andalusian track in 1’41.485, confirming the progress made this weekend by the GP9.

CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)  Fastest overall  – 1’38.646

“I really don’t know where that fast lap came from, especially at this track where I’ve never even been on the podium before! It’s been something of a bogey track for myself and the Ducati. The last two races here were difficult, but we definitely found something yesterday afternoon and that made us feeling more confident about Jerez. This is a very, very good step for us. This morning we went out and changed something else and immediately had a good feeling with the bike but still it was not in the right direction: we hit another wall. We were consistent but we needed to go a little bit further. This afternoon we changed a little bit the setting in the rear of the bike to try to get a bit more traction but I came out in the qualifying session not really expecting too much. I thought the rest were going to really up the ante. They did that and got their lap times down, but I never expected to do the lap times that I did when I needed to pull them out. It’s a great start to the year, but the real work now begins in Qatar. Now I need these two weeks to come better physically, just fitness. The wrist is coming better and better all the time and the arm is getting stronger and it doesn’t effect me when I ride so now I can use these two weeks to train a lot more and try to get ready for the beginning of the season. We look forward to it”.

NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Marlboro Team) 11th fastest –  1’40.401

“This morning we made some small improvements and I was able to go a bit quicker but the qualifying session was a bit of a disaster. We were making some changes beforehand but ran out of time to get the bike ready and I lost some time at the beginning of the session. Then when I went out we had a clutch problem and I had to change to my second bike, which I’ve hardly ridden this weekend, and it had a different setting. Casey has shown the package is good and to be honest I’d hoped to be closer to him by this stage but it’s time to go racing now so we’ll go out to Qatar, work hard and see what happens.”

Fiat Yamaha press release:

The first competitive outing of the year, the Official Practice Session in Jerez today, saw Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finish second and fourth after the 45-minute session was interrupted by a red flag before being cut short by rain. In the first ‘qualifying’ session since the single-tyre rule came into play the riders were keen to get a feel for the new system and were disappointed not to be able use the session to the full, but both are nonetheless satisfied with the work they’ve done this weekend and are now looking forward to the first race in two weeks time, under the Qatar floodlights.

Rossi was third in this morning’s free practice session, continuing to work on fine-tuning the setting of his M1 at this last test before the season. Lorenzo was even faster, finishing the morning second behind Stoner and the pair were looking forward to a competitive showing this afternoon. A crash from James Toseland with 15 minutes to go saw the red flags come out for five minutes and the delay meant the riders were only able to complete a couple of fast laps before the rain came down and spelled an end to the session, with Casey Stoner fastest after a lap of 1’38.646.

Valentino Rossi
Position: 2nd Time: 1’39.365 Laps: 16

“Really I was aiming for second place because I don’t think our sponsor Fiat wanted me to win the prize of a different car! Joking apart though, I am happy enough about this test because yesterday and this morning we worked very well, made some good progress and most importantly we were fast! We have a good setting for the race here and my race pace and speed is good. This afternoon I was quite unlucky because just before the red flag I was on a fast lap and was blocked, then we had the red flag and this meant there wasn’t much time before the rain came at the end. I am not sure I could have beaten Stoner today though; he was faster over one lap than me. It was strange not to have a qualifying tyre, the grip is not the same but Bridgestone have done a good job and you can still push so I think it will be possible to have some fun. Now we have finished testing and we’re waiting to go racing; I think we’re in good shape and it will be possible to push from the start.”

Jorge Lorenzo
Position: 4th Time: 1’39.829 Laps: 21

“Yesterday was good but today it was a lot colder and I found it harder to be as fast because the conditions were quite different. I think that the qualifying this year is going to be quite hard without the special tyres, which always suited my riding style quite well. I was quite a specialist with the qualifying tyres and now I don’t have that advantage, so I have to learn to adapt. My riding style is better with the harder Bridgestone tyre and so it will be quite difficult for me to be as good in the qualifying sessions this year I think! Today Stoner was so fast with the soft tyre and I didn’t have a chance to catch him. Anyway, the important thing is that I have felt really good on both days here, I have been consistently fast and I am definitely prepared to fight for the podium at the first race in Qatar.”

Davide Brivio
Team manager

“It’s been a positive test because we’ve pretty much got through everything we needed to and at the end of the day we’re in good shape and we’ve made further improvements to our bike. Most importantly, Valentino’s race pace is now very good. It was unfortunate not to win the ‘qualifying’ session today because it’s always nice to start the season off on that note but Casey was very strong, so congratulations to him. We’re leaving here happy and satisfied; we have a few small things to work on for Qatar but we’re basically ready to race.”

Daniele Romagnoli
Team Manager

“After yesterday and this morning’s sessions we expected to be closer to the front, but we couldn’t get there today. We used the harder tyre that we selected yesterday, with which Jorge had his best performance, but unfortunately the weather was colder today and so the potential for a few fast laps was higher with the softer tyre today. Our race pace is good, but obviously we still need to keep working to keep up with Casey, because he is very fast. Next time it will be the real thing in Qatar, where we had a very good test, and we’re confident that Jorge can be at the top.”

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha press release:

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad ended its 2009 MotoGP pre-season preparations with a day of contrasting fortunes for Colin Edwards and James Toseland in Jerez.

Edwards finished 10th quickest overall, the Texan posting his best time of 1.40.305 in the televised 45-minute BMW shootout that was cut short by heavy rainfall. Edwards was less than 0.2s off a top six finish with his main focus spent working on a front-end setting to help him maximise the potential of the Bridgestone front tyre ahead of the first race in Qatar on April 12.

British rider James Toseland had a lucky escape after he suffered a spectacular crash during the timed BMW session. Toseland fell heavily at Turn Three with 16 minutes remaining while he was in 15th position on the timesheets.

The 28-year-old underwent precautionary scans at hospital in Cadiz this afternoon after suffering concussion in the fall, but having been given the all-clear by doctors, Toseland returned to the Jerez paddock later this evening.

He will fly home to the UK tomorrow to rest and recuperate ahead of the season’s opening race under the Losail International Circuit’s floodlights.

Colin Edwards 10th – 1.40.305
“I started the timed session and I knew I could do a low 40 but to do a 39 I just didn’t have the right set-up. The harder I tried to push I seemed to get more chatter and it was a bit of a speed limit. We’ve got a good idea of how to make it better and we are just a little bit too hard on the front fork spring. When I saw Casey do a 39.1 on only his third lap, I knew my package wasn’t ready to do that and I’m not going to take any risks with the first race so close. I’m happy with the way the winter has gone. Yamaha has done a great job and at every test we have been competitive. I can’t wait for the first race to try and get a good start for Monster and Yamaha.”

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“It was obviously not the way we wanted to finish what has been a very positive winter for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Firstly, I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work and effort over the winter. I believe we are in a great position to have our best season for a long time, and with our new partner Monster, the future is looking very bright for Tech 3. Colin has done another excellent job for the team and Yamaha here. He never came here to win the car, but he wanted to get more of an understanding of the new bike and the Bridgestone tyres ahead of the first race. I think we can be very optimistic after Colin’s performance during the winter of a very good season. I am obviously delighted that James is going to be fit for the first race after another big crash today. It is a real pity for him because he was really looking like his old self this weekend after the crash in Sepang and making some big progress with the bike and the tyres. I’m sure he will be ready and determined to give 100 per cent again in Qatar. All of us can’t wait for the first race.”
Rizla Suzuki press release:

Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi rode to a fantastic third position during today’s Official Practice at the final pre-season test, held at Jerez in Spain.

Capirossi (1’39.757, 15 laps) spent much of this morning’s free practice session getting his Suzuki GSV-R finely tuned for the 4,423m re-surfaced Spanish circuit, in readiness for the timed afternoon shoot-out. He worked hard with his crew to get the best from his bike and reaped the rewards in the qualifying-type session to put his bike up towards the top of the timesheets.

Team-mate Chris Vermeulen was only narrowly behind Capirossi, as he clocked a fastest time of 1’39.848 from his 13 laps. He used a harder compound Bridgestone tyre during the timed session to try and replicate the racing conditions he will encounter when the team return for the Jerez GP next month. Vermeulen was pleased with the results and is convinced that this shows the whole team is now capable to challenge this season.

Today’s proceedings were held in very changeable conditions that varied from bright and warm sunshine, through strong winds and finally a heavy rainstorm for the final free practice of the day. Ducati’s Casey Stoner produced the fastest lap in the Official Practice to win a brand new car for his efforts.

Rizla Suzuki now travels to the Middle East for the first round of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship. The season kicks off with the only night race on the calendar, which will be held at Losail in Qatar on Sunday 12th April.

Loris Capirossi:

“I think this has been a very positive day, especially this morning because we found a good setting that made the bike very comfortable for me to ride fast. I worked hard with the whole team and tested many things and I now have a really good feeling – I can say that it is a 100% improvement from last year! In every test we have been competitive and this is very important for us. Today’s third-place was in a 45-minute session, but the good thing is that this was like a qualifying session that we will have in the season and everybody had the same tyre so we have got to be pleased with that. The position today is good but we have to continue to work as hard as we have done this year. The Factory has done a really great job in the winter, but we have to continue because our potential is good, but not at the top and we need to be at the top! I want to say a big thanks to the whole crew for the work in testing and especially to Suzuki for the bike they have given us. This is only the beginning really because we need to go well in a race and we don’t care a lot about today’s result as it will be when the racing starts that it matters!”

Chris Vermeulen:

“It was a bit difficult today with the weather changing like it did, but I tried a hard tyre – which we will probably use as the race tyre here –  in this afternoon’s session and I did a run of fast and consistent laps .Then I tried the softer tyres and went a bit quicker. I was fairly happy with the lap-time, but it would have been good to have been a couple of places up the board or even a bit closer to Casey’s time. I guess the time between Loris and me proves that the whole Rizla Suzuki team has lifted things and that Suzuki has done a great job in the off-season. It’s the closest we’ve both been to the front in a qualifying session for a long while and hopefully it’s a sign of what will be coming this year – if that’s the case it’s going to be a good year for us!”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Everyone at Rizla Suzuki had hoped that the lack of qualifying tyres would help our race potential and looking at today’s result that theory seems to be true. We only kept back two new tyres for both of our guys because we’d planned a full test programme – including a long run – after the timed session and I think maybe some of our competitors used more than that. Nonetheless, we can be satisfied that we are continuing to show good potential and that both Loris and Chris are evenly matched. The confidence of both riders is increasing all the time and our target has always been to keep improving and we will try to keep doing that. We are all now looking forward to racing and trying to replicate the pre-season performances where it really matters!”

Honda press release:

Honda’s six MotoGP riders completed their offseason testing programmes at Jerez today, allowing them to look forward to next month’s long-awaited Qatar season opener, the first of 17 races for the 2009 World Championship.

Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso was once again the fastest Honda man, the Italian running seventh quickest on his factory RC212V during this afternoon’s 45-minute ‘qualifying’ session, televised around the world and topped by Casey Stoner (Ducati). The outing was briefly red flagged, after Briton James Toseland (Yamaha) fell heavily, suffering concussion. The track was then soaked by a rain shower with five minutes of the 45 minutes remaining, spoiling some riders’ plans to complete the session with their fastest run of the day. Conditions were cooler than yesterday, with ambient temperature at 13 degrees and track temperature at 19 degrees.

Still working to extract maximum performance from his RC212V, Dovizioso announced himself satisfied with these two days of testing and is now very much looking forward to making his race debut as a factory MotoGP rider. The Italian rode a lot of laps today, making important improvements to power delivery and stability, even though the rain cost him crucial dry track time. Dovizioso made the most of the rain anyway, venturing out on the wet track during the final two hours of the day. He recorded the fastest lap time during this period, clocking a 1m 51.488s on a drying track.

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Elias ended the 45 minute ‘qualifying’ session less than a tenth of a second slower than Dovizioso, but the Spaniard wasn’t happy because he knows he can go faster. Elias and his crew have been working at adapting machine set-up to get more heat into the rear tyre, but have been unable to find a solution here, despite their best efforts. They are optimistic that they will be able to get on top of the problem at the very different Qatar track. Despite the difficulties, Elias’ RC212V recorded the fastest top speed at Jerez today.

De Puniet was happy with the work he did with his LCR Honda crew today. The Frenchman worked at getting the most out of his RC212V on used tyres to ensure that he can perform well in the all-important later stages of races. He was 13th during the 45-minute televised outing, but knows he would have been faster if he hadn’t made a minor error during his quickest lap. De Puniet had planned to do a race simulation during the final two hours of the day but the rain spoiled that plan, so he did a couple of runs on rain tyres instead.

MotoGP rookie Yuki Takahashi continued to improve on his Scot Racing Team RC212V, the young Japanese rider cutting a further half a second off his best Saturday lap time. After concentrating on front-end settings yesterday, Takahashi and his technicians worked mostly on the rear end of the machine, looking to further improve performance through corners and on corner exits. Takahashi spent his final day of preseason testing thinking more about improving machine set-up for the first race, rather than worrying too much about recording ultra-quick lap times.

De Angelis had hoped to run closer to the front this afternoon but the knock-on effects of yesterday’s tumble hampered his plans. The crash crucially used up one of the rear tyres in his tyre allocation, forcing him to run second-hand rubber this morning when he was aiming to push the limits in search of a better set-up. Like his San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate, de Angelis wanted more heat in the rear tyre of his RC212V, today’s cooler conditions not helping matters.

Kousuke Akiyoshi, riding as substitute for the injured Dani Pedrosa, made a valuable contribution to Repsol Honda’s weekend, the Japanese rider focusing on making improvements to power delivery and chassis balance. Akiyoshi was looking forward to doing his very best during the televised 45 minutes but his hopes were dashed when he slid off his RC212V at the hairpin.

Pedrosa is currently working hard at recuperating from the left wrist and knee injuries he suffered when he crashed during testing at Qatar earlier this month. The Spaniard is aiming to be ready for action when the MotoGP World Championship returns to Qatar for the season-opening GP.

The night-time Qatar Grand Prix takes place under floodlights at the Losail racetrack outside the capital of Doha on April 10/11/12. MotoGP then heads further east for the Japanese GP at Motegi on April 24/25/26 before returning to Jerez for the first race of the European season on May 1/2/3.

Honda rider quotes and lap times

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda Team: 1m 40.168s, on lap 51 of 77
“During these two days of testing the machine has improved quite a lot, especially the stability and power delivery which were two important areas we were working on. My lap times on paper look reasonably good on their own, but if you compare them with Casey’s, the gap we need to close is still quite big. After the 45-minute shoot-out it started raining and this spoiled our programme for the afternoon, so we still have some things to try in dry conditions which might move us further forward. As far as the wet set-up, my feeling with the bike and tyres is good and I’m happy about this. Now I’m looking forward to getting to Qatar for the first race.”

Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 1m 40.266s, on lap 42 of 43
“It was more difficult today because of the cooler temperatures but it is the same for everybody and the fact is that even though the track was cold, Stoner was hot! We’re not happy to be 1.6 seconds behind but with the difficulties we’re having in setting the bike up at the moment, it is to be expected. The important thing is that we know what we have to work on, we’ve known it since Qatar, but it is clear that the solution wasn’t going to come to us at this circuit. We have to be patient because we know the bike is good, we have a great package and a great team – we just need a bit more time to work things out. We have good data from Qatar and I can’t wait to get there and go racing again!”

Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda MotoGP: 1m 40.646s, on lap 52 of 60
“Before the 45-minute session we worked especially on a used rear tyre to find better grip and we fixed some points on the chassis and suspension set-up. We found good solutions, because I set a good lap time on the used tyre, but I expected something better with a soft tyre in the qualifying session, maybe three or four tenths faster, but I made a small mistake in my last lap. Anyway we must continue our job because I am sure we can close the gap with the middle group. Honestly my intention is to qualify in the top ten and my squad is doing a very good job to adjust the machine for the first race in Qatar.”

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team Honda: 1m 40.814s, on lap 49 of 65
“I’m happy with the improvement we have made during the two days here. Today we worked particularly on the rear end of the machine. The rain during the afternoon gave me a chance to check how my Honda works in the rain, and I have to say that its character does not change on a wet track, which is a positive thing. Of course, I wish that we could have some more practice time, but now I am looking forward to my first race on the RC212V.”

Alex de Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 1m 40.869s, on lap 39 of 40
“Unfortunately after the crash yesterday I had to use a new tyre so that meant I had to run a used tyre this morning and that is obviously not the ideal way to test new technical solutions with the bike. We’ve been off the pace here today but we’re going to keep working hard to be in the mix in Qatar. Our problem has been getting heat into the tyre but hopefully the track conditions are going to be warmer once the season starts so we’re still optimistic and very determined about what lies ahead.”

Kousuke Akiyoshi, Repsol Honda Team: 1m 42.206s, on lap 34 of 40
“This was another positive day where we worked on both chassis balance to improve the handling and the engine balance for driveability. My pace on the first section of the lap was very good and actually nearly as fast as the quickest riders. We were losing some time however in the middle section of the lap. Towards the end of the timed session I had a fall at the hairpin which was a shame, but the overall results from this test, in spite of the rain today and yesterday, are quite good.”