News 5 Feb 2010

MotoGP: Honda riders get working on new year at Sepang


Following a two month winter layoff the MotoGP World Championship riders returned to action with the first test of 2010 at the 5.548km Sepang circuit, Malaysia, all anticipating a step up in machine performance. HRC has spent the winter months developing every area of RC212V performance, with new technical regulations that limit the number of engines per rider per season durability has been improved without loss of performance, the chassis, first tested at Valencia last November, has a new swinging arm which combined with upgraded Ohlins suspension has greatly improved front end stability. However, it is the new electronics with smoother characteristics that have most impressed the riders.

The track opened for testing at 09.00. and continued through a warm humid day until rain showers fell at 16.30. ending the session 30 minutes early. Establishing a base line machine set up dominated the best part of the day and it was not until lunchtime that the consistently fast lap times were set.

Repsol Honda factory team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa spent the day adjusting to the new machine but both ended the day in positive mood. Dovizioso was particularly impressed with the electronics and the improved chassis. The young Italian was the fastest of the RC212V riders with sixth fastest time overall at 2m 2.630s. Pedrosa worked hard on setting his Ohlins suspension system and ended the day two-tenths of a second and two places behind his team mate.

Frenchman Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda, found the new RCV a little unsettling on his first run but as the LCR technicians slowly improved the chassis and suspension settings De Puniet felt more comfortable and his lap times began to improve. He was on a long run when the rain came but was satisfied the team were working in the right direction.

Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V, lost the best part of his opening day working in the wrong direction with machine set up.
Melandri and his technicians had prepared his RCV based upon the results of the Valencia test of last November. The team technicians eventually reverted to the base set up of the new chassis and suspension and saw Melandri steadily lower his lap times during the remaining track time before the rain shower commenced.

Melandri’s team mate and fellow Italian, MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli, had tested at Sepang in December and ended the opening day satisfied with his improvement in performance at the track aboard the new RC212V. The former 250cc World Champion was impressed with the RCV’s rear end traction but is still experiencing difficulties understanding the limit of front end adhesion.

The second Honda mounted MotoGP rookie, reigning 250cc World Champion, Japanese Hiro Aoyama, struggled to find a good feeling while testing the all new machine today. Aoyama put in 66 grueling laps around the 5.548km circuit chasing a comfortable set up that will give him more feedback from the RCV.

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 6th – 2m 02.630s. 51 laps.
“This is a very important test and it’s good to be back on the bike after such a long winter break. This was a positive first day and I’m happy with the updated machine that Honda has brought here. We have a lot of work to do before we’re ready and many things that need to be tested, so today’s lap times are not indicative of our potential. The work that Honda has done on the electronics has made a big improvement, and also the feeling from the chassis is better. We’re concentrating on improving a pace that we can maintain throughout the race, and that’s what we’ll continue with tomorrow. There’s plenty still to test but this first session has been important to confirm we’re heading in the right direction.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 8th – 2m 02.866s. 52 laps.
“This was a normal first day of testing for us. It’s been a long time since we last rode the bike and so it took some time to get used to the speed once again and work back into the rhythm – this is natural.

We weren’t looking for lap times or high performance and we spent a lot of the day working on the Ohlins suspension because this is a major change for us this season compared to last. The feeling from my left wrist where I had a screw removed in December was good, so this is positive. Generally, I took it carefully today and we have plenty of places where we can make further improvements – starting tomorrow.”

Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 13th – 2m 03.456s. 62 laps.
“It was a hard day for us. The first impression was not so positive because the feeling of the bike was quite nervous. Then with the team we have worked a lot on the set up of the machine so that I could be more comfortable on the bike. Around 4.00 pm we made a long run, and the feeling of the bike improved so I’m confident for tomorrow”.

Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 14th – 2m 03.563s. 56 laps.
“To be the first day of testing I can say I’m quite satisfied but I will need time to understand and know this bike. It was a useful day to understand the direction we need to follow and we also need to analyse the data. With the 250cc bike it was easier to feel the difference when you made some changes. With the MotoGP this is more difficult. Compare to the last December test here in Sepang I can say that the traction on the rear is improved but I struggle a little bit more with the front because it’s more difficult to understand the limit.”

Marco Melandri, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 15th – 2m 03.609s. 28 laps.
“Today I lost a lot of time because I followed the feelings that I got at the last Valencia test, so we worked in the wrong direction for almost the whole day, then went back to the base set up and the feeling improved. At the end of the test session is started raining so I couldn’t improve so much but we have clearer idea for tomorrow so I’m confident for tomorrow.”

Hiro Aoyama, Interwetten Honda: 17th – 2m 03.651s. 66 laps.
“It was a difficult day for me. I didn’t find the feeling with the bike and I struggled a lot especially in braking. Compared to the bike we tested here in December, this is a different machine so I need to know the bike, get used to it and work at the set up to improve my feeling with the bike.”