News 27 Feb 2010

MotoGP: Rossi leads from Stoner and Hayden in Sepang

The second official MotoGP test of 2010 was completed on Friday at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, with Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi setting the fastest time.

Rossi’s time of 2:00.271 on his M1 machine on Friday laid down the marker and was 0.247 faster than the lap which secured him pole position at the circuit for the 2009 Grand Prix.

Hot on his heels were Casey Stoner at 2:00.512 and the Australian’s Ducati Marlboro teammate Nicky Hayden with a 2:00.703, as the duo felt the full benefit of the new Desmosedici GP10 engine. Hayden’s time was an improvement of just over 1.5s on his best lap from Thursday.

Making it three Yamahas inside the top five times were Monster Yamaha Tech3 pairing Colin Edwards and Ben Spies. The former overcame electronic problems from Thursday to post a best lap of 2:00.988 on Friday – the fourth and final rider of the test to come in under the 2:01 barrier – while rookie Spies’ time of 2:01.014 shows that he is already finding a superb level with his M1 as he prepares for his first full season in MotoGP in 2010.

The Rizla Suzuki team tested their new GSV-R engine for the first time at this test and veteran Loris Capirossi made progressive improvements across the two days to post a 2:01.320 on Friday.

Repsol Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa were seventh and eighth fastest respectively on their RC212V machines. Dovizioso enjoyed a productive two days and on the second went round in 2:01.439, whilst Pedrosa was 0.039 behind. The Spaniard experienced a fall on Thursday and was uninjured, returning to the track later in the day and working throughout Friday as well.

Rookie Hiroshi Aoyama made impressive strides throughout the two days, with the Interwetten Honda MotoGP rider ninth in the timings with a 2:01.692 set on Friday. Fellow MotoGP debutant Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) set a best time of 2:01.732, despite having hurt his arm the previous day in a slide.

Randy de Puniet of the LCR Honda team was the final rider to break the 2:02 mark with his 2:01.980, and was followed on the timesheet by Mika Kallio who completed the highest number of laps across the two days (just over 140).

Marco Melandri of the San Carlo Honda Gresini team continued to adapt to the RC212V, and rookies Héctor Barberá (Paginas Amarillas Ducati), and Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Racing) – whose fall on Thursday had no ill effects – were all present as they amassed laps on their respective Desmosedici machines.

Another MotoGP debutant for this season, Marco Simoncelli of San Carlo Honda Gresini, suffered a crash early on Friday morning after completing just two laps, cutting short his day’s work. Simoncelli was taken to hospital as a precaution and confirmed later in the day he was uninjured.

A notable absentee from this test was Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, who is still recuperating from a training accident which happened two weeks ago in which he injured his right hand.

Official MotoGP tyre supplier Bridgestone made two new tyre specifications available to all riders for this test: a medium rear compound for 2010 – which is a softer option qualifying tyre and not a race tyre – and a new front tyre compound to be used for 2011.

The third official test of the year takes place in Qatar from 17-19 March, with the MotoGP World Championship getting underway at the Losail International Circuit on 9-11 April.

Valentino Rossi: “I’m really happy to have beaten my pole record, it’s a good feeling to be this fast in testing. I did this with an old tyre but we also got the chance to try a very good new tyre from Bridgestone today, which I hope we will use from the first race. Our bike is in great shape; we need to do a bit more work on the electronics but in general everything is better, especially the rear grip and the engine. Yamaha have been very clever to develop this new bike whilst keeping the best parts of the old one, I’m very happy about it. It was good to get the chance to try the Japanese test bike, hopefully the feedback I gave them will help us in the future. Now we go to Qatar and then we will see our level because it is not one of mine or Yamaha’s best tracks! But we’re in great shape and this is very important at this stage of the season. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Casey Stoner: “When we first went out this morning the track conditions were a huge improvement on yesterday thanks to the slightly cooler temperatures, which meant the track was less slippery. That allowed us to get the best out of the bike and we were able to set some fast times. We started out with the same setting we finished with yesterday, which I already liked, and we changed just a couple of things and were able to immediately set a strong pace. It is just a shame that the red flag came out right after we put the new medium tyre on. I missed out on a few laps because of that but it wasn’t a big deal. We are really satisfied with the package we have now and the progress we have made so far. If you ask me I’d say we are starting off from a stronger base than last year so now we’ll just have to wait and see if we can get straight on the pace in Qatar.”

Nicky Hayden: “I am obviously really happy because the changes we made yesterday afternoon that enabled me to go a couple of tenths faster despite the heat have proved to work even better today with the track in improved condition. After making small steps for the last few test sessions today we have finally taken a big leap forward and I was able to ride fast. The arm wasn’t too bad but it still isn’t as strong as before, which I can feel more than anything in the hard braking, and it was hard work today. Anyway, I am recovering well and now we move on from Sepang feeling really happy.”

Colin Edwards: “It felt really hot out there today and I don’t think anybody was going to do a lot of laps in those conditions. I did 35 laps and all of them were productive and I’m leaving this test really happy. I worked on the electronics and a bit of suspension work today and I was happy with the new Bridgestone rear tyre. We did full race distance on it in the middle of the day when it was really hot and I was still doing 2.02s on the last lap. So it really keeps a good level of grip for a long time. I feel ready to race right now. We’ve got the bike sorted out and the last test in Qatar should be another positive test to set us up nicely for the first race. We’re ready to go because Yamaha has done a fantastic job. Everything they have done has improved the bike and that’s a great achievement. I want to thank my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 again for all their hard work and congratulate Ben too. This is a tough track to learn but he’s doing a great job and he is impressing a lot of people. We’re working really closely together and that is going to be great to help the team have another great year.”

Ben Spies: “It has been a positive test for me again because I have been able to improve my lap time by quite a bit. I’m 0.8s quicker than yesterday so that is a good step in the right direction. I did a race simulation and all my laps were in the 2.01s. I’ve always felt good at the end of races and I think that is what my strong point has been in the past. In Valencia when I raced the Yamaha for the first time I came on strong at the end. When the tyres go off I feel a little bit better. I didn’t quite get to improve on my overall position but I’m convinced I had the speed to get into the high 2s, but I was only able to use one of the softer Bridgestone tyres. But all in all it has been a positive day and the gap to the front has become smaller again.”

Alvaro Bautista: “I am very happy with this test and it shows that we have improved a big amount since the last test here. It was a bit of a strange day today because I did improve my time, but after nearly crashing yesterday I was in a lot of pain and it made it very difficult to ride, so I was not able to do too many laps. It has been a good test though and I am happy with the direction we are going in. I still need to get some parts of the bike improved and I am sure we will make more steps in Qatar. I feel very happy with most things at the moment, the team is very good and we are all working together very well and I am finally starting to ride the bike how I want to!”

Loris Capirossi: “Overall the test has been not too bad and I think we are in a reasonable situation at the moment. I used the new engine and it does seem to have some improvement in performance from the one we used at the end of last season. I tried some new traction control strategies and they seem to be a bit better, but we really need to understand how the bike is going to perform in colder conditions, so the test in Qatar will be very important. Two days of testing at a time is not enough to try and get everything done and make the changes we need, but it is the same for everyone so we have to try and do our best. I have asked Suzuki if they can make some improvements for the chassis in time for Qatar and they say that they will be able to, so that is positive and it will help us understand how much we have improved since last year.”

Andrea Dovizioso: “If we consider the two days in total this second test session has represented a big step forward compared to the last time we came here at the beginning of February. I’m satisfied that we could lap consistently and for the race this is very important. We did a race simulation and the pace with race tyres was good. Today I can’t be totally satisfied with seventh on the timesheets and this was because I wasn’t able to use the soft tyre at its best to improve the lap time. It’s something we’ll have to analyse because getting a good grid position for the race is important. Of course there is still work to do to get closer to Valentino and Casey, but anyway, all-in-all I’m very confident.”

Dani Pedrosa: “We put in a lot of work today and tried many things on the machine to improve our pace. We made some progress with the feeling from the engine which is positive, though we didn’t really get the results we were looking for elsewhere, and some of the issues we had yesterday are still there. So, there’s plenty for us still to do before Qatar. The team is working really hard and we’re positive that there’s a lot more to come. Of course I can’t say that eighth is where I want to be on the timesheets at the end of this test, so we’ll definitely look to move things forward in Qatar.”

Hiro Aoyama: “This morning we started with a base set up that I liked and I could improve lap time. My feeling improved and I’m quite satisfied. In the afternoon I had to stop for a while because I was not feeling well. I think I drank something wrong. Anyway, later I could do some more laps and my race pace was more consistent. Of course we have to work hard but I’m confident and there is a lot of room for improvement.”

Randy de Puniet: “Today we worked on the geometry of the bike and I started to feel a bit more comfortable. We need to improve the weight distribution together with chassis and suspension set up. we couldn’t improve the lap times with the soft tyre and this is an issue we need to focus on. Anyway we tested many items here and excluded many questions mark so I’m confident and I look forward to Qatar test.”

Marco Melandri: “Today we struggled more than I expected. I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike and in particular I cannot use the soft tyre at its best so I couldn’t improve my lap times. We need to work hard as we are behind. Qatar test will be very important in preparation of the race.”

Marco Simoncelli: “Considering how I crashed I’m lucky to have no injuries. It was during my first exit this morning that at turn seven, I lost the front, I tried to keep the bike but I lost the rear and then I had a high side. Now I’m feeling much better. Looking forward we need to work a lot to improve the feeling with the bike, we need to work of the weight balance, testing different chassis and suspension set up. I need to understand this bike to master it and to make it turn how I want. Now I look forward to Qatar test. Today we can say that we didn’t test as I completed only 2 laps.”

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