News 26 Feb 2010

MotoGP: Rossi continues pre-season form in Sepang test

Fiat Yamaha MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has continued his stunning pre-season form, again topping the time sheets yesterday at Sepang in Malaysia to carry on from where he was three weeks ago at the previous test.

Rossi was again fastest at the Sepang test yesterday in Malaysia.

Rossi was again fastest at the Sepang test yesterday in Malaysia.

Fiat Yamaha MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi has continued his stunning pre-season form, again topping the time sheets yesterday at Sepang in Malaysia to carry on from where he was three weeks ago at the previous test.

Rossi’s best lap of 2:01.068 was followed in the lap times by Casey Stoner, who was 0.151 off Rossi’s pace and almost half a second ahead of third placed rider Andrea Dovizioso.

Veteran Loris Capirossi was fourth quickest at a further 0.056 behind his fellow Italian’s time, as he continues work on the factory Suzuki GSV-R with promising results early in the piece for the new season.

Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo Ben Spies and Colin Edwards were fifth and sixth respectively on the time sheet, Spies again impressing in his transition to motorcycling’s premier class while Edwards suffered electrical gremlins in the morning sessions.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) fell at around 1.35pm local time at turn nine having completed 26 laps, but returned two hours later on board his factory RC212V with a best time of 2:02.036, while the rider to record the joint-highest number of laps on Thursday was Mika Kallio of Pramac Racing.

Álvaro Bautista suffered the first fall of the day just after midday on his Suzuki, finishing in the top 10 as he put Suzuki’s new engine through its paces alongside Capirossi.

Rounding out the top 10 times was San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri, whose time of 2:02.086 on his RC212V was a massive improvement from his last time out.

American Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) is still feeling the slight effects of surgery on his right arm from two weeks ago, although he completed 61 laps with a best time just over a second off Rossi’s for 11th position.

Rookies Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP), Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) and Héctor Barberá (Paginas Amarillas Ducati) followed, as well as LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet all made better times than their last test at Sepang.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) worked on electronic mapping for traction control on his machine.

Tyre supplier Bridgestone has made available to all riders two new tyre specifications for this test – the medium rear compound for 2010, which is a softer option qualifying tyre, and a new front tyre compound to be used for 2011.

Also on track were Yamaha test riders Norihiko Fujiwara and Wataru Yoshikawa, with a notable absence from this second test being Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo who is still recovering from a hand injury sustained in a training accident two weeks ago.

The riders are due to return to the track for the second and final day of this test on Friday morning at 10am local time.

Valentino Rossi: “We started well today and we’re already very fast, so we’re quite happy about this. We’ve confirmed that the work we did at the last test was good and it’s clear we’re in good shape at this track. We worked on two or three different settings and today we’ve more or less made a decision about the right way to go with balance, suspension etc so this is good progress. We also tried some new electronic maps, to try to improve acceleration, but we need to do more work on this again tomorrow. It’s good to be fast at this stage and now we’re really just waiting to go to another track, to see how this new M1 will perform there. Tomorrow we will do a long run, maybe not race distance but just quite a few laps together, which will be the final part of our work at this track.”

Casey Stoner: “Today went really well, we have taken a good step forward since the last test three weeks ago. We didn’t make any major changes to the bike at the start, preferring to make small adjustments as the day progressed, working in particular on the swingarm. I’m satisfied – the bike feels well balanced and the characteristics of the new engine make it easier to ride in general. We definitely have room for improvement in terms of the set-up – we could find some more traction, for example, although we are still better off in this respect than we were here last year. We could also improve the bike under braking, especially in the hard braking zones, and find some more edge grip but it is a case of refining a few details. We have a good base to work from so I’m happy for today.”

Ben Spies: “It was hot out there today but I’m happy with how I performed and I feel I’ve accomplished a fair bit. I automatically picked up where I left off here because my fourth lap today was only three-tenths slower than my best time at the first test. I’m close to half-a-second faster than the last test and I’m more consistent. My fastest laps were all on tyres that had done race distance and that makes me happier than anything else. It’s not so much that I got under the 2.02 barrier but I did it on worn tyres and I think that will be one of my big strong points this season. I feel like I’m getting closer to finding the limit of the Bridgestone tyres and I’m getting more comfortable on them, but we still need to do more work. Today we played around with the bike a bit more than previously just to understand a few things but it was nothing major. Some changes were good and some were bad and I feel we made some important progress and I definitely had more grip. Everyday I’m trying to learn something and go a little bit quicker and that’s what I achieved.”

Colin Edwards: “After the small problem I had this morning I had to play catch up pretty quick to the rest of the guys but I managed to do some good laps and I’m happy with my pace. It was a productive day and I feel like we’ve learned a few things. Everybody is testing electronics and Yamaha have done another good job because what I tried definitely has some good points and they are moving in the right direction. Yamaha might have dominated last year but they definitely haven’t just taken the easy option and sat back. They’ve worked really hard on improving what was already a great bike, and some of the improvements have really helped me. I did more work on the new swingarm and I like it. It seems to help the front and the rear of the bike and it gives me a lot more confidence. And it helps a lot with my front feeling, which I had an issue with a bit last year.”

Nicky Hayden: “We started out with the setting from the previous test, working a little bit with the geometry, and in some parts of the track we got better but there is still plenty of room for improvement. We’ve been working on trying to solve a little front-end chatter and we did that a little by changing to the carbon swingarm. The arm is ok enough but I didn’t want to push it too hard.”

Andrea Dovizioso: “I’m very happy about this first day of testing, we have the third fastest time but the most important thing is that we were able to consistently improve our pace. Every session out of the pits we improved and I could ride consistent and this is encouraging. Of course there is still a lot of work to do as we have to reduce the gap from the first riders, but I’m confident, and I’m very happy of the work done by Honda. Today we changed my position on the bike with a very positive feeling and then we tested some new electronic set up. Tomorrow we want to do more laps to confirm the race pace.”

Dani Pedrosa: “We did a lot of work today and ran through quite a few machine adjustments but the bike was moving around quite a lot and we didn’t find the solution for that today. Tomorrow we will focus on increasing our speed in the corners and look to make a few improvements to the settings which should help us. I had a slow-speed crash in the hairpin because basically I braked too late but didn’t want to run off the track – and the front folded. Testing time is important for us because there’s not too much time left before the season starts, so we’ll be looking for a productive day tomorrow.”

Marco Melandri: “It was a good day. We did change the weight distribution as we found a good set up last time and we focused more on the suspension. I’m still not able to be fast with soft tyres but I’m not worried as this year we will have different tyres and tomorrow we will try the new soft tyre.”

Hiro Aoyama: “After the first Sepang test, my team analyzed the data and today we started with a different set up. I could feel immediately an improvement so this is a good point. During the day we made other changes but we were not able to make another step forward. We are struggling especially with the front and the rear. Now we will analyze the data and tomorrow we will focus on these two points to improve my feeling.”

Randy de Puniet: “Today we didn’t improve so much compared to the first test session that we did here in Sepang at the beginning of February. Today we worked mainly on suspension but there is still a lot of work to do. We need to study the data with my team and decide the direction of work for tomorrow.“

Marco Simoncelli: “If I look at the lap times of course I cannot be happy, but now it’s not the moment to look at lap times. We improved compared last time when we did the best lap time with a new tyre while today I did my fastest lap with a tyre that had 20 laps. The new category is new for me and my technicians but every day we learn something new so I’m confident: I have to improve my feeling with the bike, it’s not easy with such few days of testing”.

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 2’01.068
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’01.219
3. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 2’01.631
4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’01.687
5. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’01.843
6. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2’01.897
7. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 2’02.036
8. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing Team 2’02.038
9. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2’02.078
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’02.086
11. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 2’02.22
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 2’02.419
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Racing Team 2’02.447
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 2’02.485
15. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 2’02.535
16. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2’03.254