Stoner Leads Day 2 of Qatar MotoGP Test

March 2, 2009
Courtesy of Ducati Malboro Team, Honda Motorsports, Fiat Yamaha Team, Pramac Racing

Valentino Rossi - Qatar Test
Rossi makes a final check before testing.

Day 2 of MotoGP testing in Qatar started with better weather conditions after yesterday’s rain limited testing. There was still a slight delay due to wind and sand but as conditions improved racers began testing including Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi. Later in the day, however, conditions once again got questionable with sand blowing across the course, causing both Dani Pedrosa and then Mika Kallio to crash. Stoner, who sat out Day 1, made great progress on the Ducati and grabbed the fastest lap of the day followed by Rossi and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards.

Qatar Test – Day 2 – Lap Times:

Ducati Marlboro Team Report:

Casey Stoner - Qatar Test
Stoner posted the fastest time of test but is still off record pace.

It looked like it was set to be another difficult night in the desert after a blustery day in Doha but last night’s fortunes were reversed as the strong winds dropped at the Losail circuit just as the riders went to work on the second day of a three-day test in the capital of Qatar.

It was a welcome turn of fate for the MotoGP riders and in particular the Ducati Marlboro Team, who had work to do not only on the new swingarm and electronics for the Desmosedici GP9 but also on checking the physical condition of former World Champion Casey Stoner, who is recovering from a wrist operation.

Stoner set the fastest lap of the day and was satisfied not only with his pace but also with his recovery. The Australian only tried the new swingarm at the very end of the session and will wait until tomorrow before making a full evaluation. Hayden, who had to start virtually from scratch with set-up after a rain-hit first day, took a step forward in comparison to Malaysia but admits there is still work to be done.

Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team), fastest time: 1’57.139 (on lap 23)

“We have worked well and we’ve made progress with the set-up of the GP9 so it has been a positive day despite the difficult track conditions. Pretty much the same goes for the wrist – it’s obviously still not 100% yet but it is better than Malaysia and better than I was expecting for this test, so it’s looking hopeful from that point of view too. In general I am satisfied.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team), fastest time: 1’58.577 (on lap 52)

“The way the day started out I didn’t even expect to be riding tonight. The wind was so strong but luckily it turned and we were able to start working seriously on the set-up, adapting the bike to this circuit because the conditions were so strange yesterday that we didn’t gather any useful data. Things are going better than Malaysia, my feeling is improved but there is obviously still a lot of work to do.”

Honda Motorsports

Dovizioso fastest Honda rider on day two of Qatar – Pedrosa injured in turn 10 crash

Following a rain induced false start on the opening day of MotoGP pre-season testing at the Losail circuit at Qatar the teams and riders were able to put in a complete six hour session of serious testing under floodlights this evening, despite the prevailing strong wind depositing sand and dirt onto the cold 18 degree track surface. The Qatar test is crucial to the early season fortunes of the competitors as the 18-round 2009 MotoGP World Championship series opens at the 5.380 km Losail circuit, on April 12.

The day’s action resulted in contrasting fortunes for the Repsol Honda factory team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, while Dovizioso was the fastest Honda rider of the day teammate Pedrosa suffered a heavy high side crash that ruled him out of further participation in the test.

Italian Dovizioso and his technicians work on the electronics of his RC212V and overall machine set up and balance and ended the day with fourth fastest time on the day.

For Pedrosa the trip to Qatar turned into a nightmare. The cautious Spaniard sat out opening day of the three-day test preferring not to risk a crash in the wet and sandy track conditions while carrying a lingering knee injury.

Unfortunately for Pedrosa his fears were confirmed when he crashed at turn 10 in the slippery sand strewn conditions. He was taken to the circuit medical center where an examination revealed the fall had reopened the surgeons incision on his left knee that required stitching to close. Pedrosa also damaged his left wrist and the scan revealed severe contusions but no obvious fractures. He will fly home, to Barcelona, in the morning for further injury assessment but hopes to be fit for the final pre-season test at Jerez, Spain which begins on March 28.

San Marinese Alex De Angelis was in sparkling form aboard his San Carlo Gresini Honda RC212V setting sixth fastest time of the day. De Angelis spent his day fine tuning machine set up and testing tyres and was pleased with his performance and eager to improve tomorrow on the final day of the test.

De Angelis’ teammate, Spaniard Toni Elias, who has rejoined the team following a year contesting the championship for the Pramac team, worked on machine geometry and suspension of his San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V in a bid to improve the traction. Elias struggled to find a solid base line for his RCV at the last test in Sepang and today’s track conditions did not allow the Spaniard to make much progress.

Frenchman Randy De Puniet ended the day in buoyant mood having established a good base line set up for chassis and suspension that gave him confidence in the front end of his LCR Honda. He will continue testing tyres tomorrow, the final day of the test.

The Scot Racing Team and HRC have enjoyed a successful multi-year association in 125cc and 250cc GP racing fielding an impressive array of talent over the years. The partnership has delivered numerous race victories and a 125cc World Championship title win, with Dovizioso in 2004, the enduring success has encouraged the Italian team to seek further success at MotoGP level with Yuki Takahashi retained for his MotoGP debut season.

Following a long career racing small capacity two-stroke machines Takahashi has adopted a sensible step by step approach to riding the powerful RC212V Honda 800cc four stroke. The Japanese star concentrated his efforts on adapting his riding style to the characteristics of the big four-stroke and slowly lowered his lap times as the session progressed and was rewarded by breaking the two minute barrier in the closing stages.

Honda rider quotes.

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 4th fastest time at 1m 57.879s – 60 laps.
“This was an interesting day and I’m happy with how it went. We tried many settings with the electronic systems on the machine to enhance the power delivery. The results were pretty positive and now we’ll have a meeting to decide how to move things forward tomorrow. The track conditions were not so bad – not as good as the race here last year, but considering how windy it was today, it was OK. The lap times were not as fast as the race lap times, but it was a good test today and we’re moving forward.”

Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 8th. 1m 58.441s – 53 laps.
“My feeling has improved and I’m confident. We tested various set up options and the behaviour of tyres over a race distance and I ‘m satisfied with the performance. We did around 20 laps with the second set of tyres and I’m happy with the results we got. Tomorrow it will be another important test session.”

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 10th. 1m 58.619s – 28 laps.
“The early part of the session went quite well and I was happy with the progress we were making.
The conditions weren’t ideal with the sand blowing on the track, but this was an unexpected crash. I was entering Turn 10 and I had a high-side and then the bike came down on top of me. It’s a shame because we also lost testing time yesterday, but now I will go home for some more scans and hopefully they won’t show anything more serious.

Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda MotoGP: 11th. 1m 58.936s – 55 laps.
“Compared to the last test session in Sepang today we made a big step forward. I changed my riding style and the feeling with the front improved a lot. I’m satisfied, we are working on the correct direction. Today in fact we only used two tyres as we worked on suspensions and the tyres were also working well with the machine base set up. Tomorrow we will use some new tyres to reduce the gap in terms of lap times.”

Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 12th. 1m 59.036s – 56 laps.
“Considering that the first race of the season will be held here in a month we focused on the setting of the bike, in particular we worked on machine geometry and suspension to improve the traction. We struggled a bit in Sepang, but here today, with these difficult track conditions we suffered more than Malaysia. We have a lot of work to do but we have another day here to test the new bike and I hope the track conditions improve for tomorrow.”

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team: 13th. 1m 59.153s – 65 laps.
“I’m still adapting to the RC212V that is a complete new bike for me. It’s normal that I need to do kilometres and get the feeling with the bike. At the beginning of the test session there was a lot of san on track, then the conditions improved. I tried to do as many laps as possible to understand the bike, It was important to follow some more experienced riders to study the best line and I have to thank Andrea Dovizioso for this. Tomorrow we will continue working in this direction.”

Fiat Yamaha Team

Rossi rolls at Qatar during preseason testing.
Track conditions were not ideal for Rossi but still posted second fastest time.

After the rain upset the first night of testing yesterday, Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were finally able to make a proper start on their testing programme in Qatar tonight. Running under floodlights in preparation for the season-opener in a month’s time, the pair were able to put in a good night’s work despite a late-evening break when the track was red-flagged after two riders crashed.

With cool temperatures and a dirty track surface after high winds earlier, lap times were well off record pace but Rossi was able to put in some consistent times and finished the night second behind Casey Stoner. Lorenzo is still looking to find his confidence in the new Bridgestone tyres but he improved gradually throughout the evening to finish in seventh position.

Valentino Rossi – Position: 2nd Time: 1’57.747 Laps: 51

“Today was good because first of all we were able to test! I am quite happy because I was fast from the start and the bike is a lot better than this time last year. The setting is completely different after a year with Bridgestone and we seem to be in good shape. The lap times are quite slow compared to the race because it is cold and also the track conditions aren’t perfect, but hopefully in a month’s time it will be quite a bit warmer. We worked well today, testing some things for the engine and some electronics, and everything is helping us to improve our setting and to be faster. Now I hope that we have good weather between now and tomorrow night and no more wind so that the track is cleaner tomorrow and we can improve the times a bit more.”

Jorge LorenzoPosition: 7th Time: 1’58.400 Laps: 63

Jorge Lorenzo - Qatar Test
Lorenzo made a big improvement in lap times on Day 2.

“Today’s practice was quite hard, harder than I expected in fact! It was windy and the surface of the track was quite dusty and quite cold, so this has made our job of building confidence with the new Bridgestone tyres harder. To start with I was finding it quite hard to go fast in these conditions, and especially to brake later. I am still braking too early at the moment, which makes it difficult to be fast. We tried some new electronic systems tonight in order to reduce the wheelie, and this seems to be positive. Later on this evening we tried a new setting and I was able to improve my pace in the cold conditions. Hopefully we can continue to improve from the start tomorrow.”

Davide Brivio
Team Manager

“I think we can be happy with this ‘delayed ‘first day!’ Valentino did many laps, and we’ve had positive feedback from what we’ve tested. Now we will try to use the final night as best we can and try to leave ourselves in good shape for the first race here.”

Daniele Romagnoli
Team Manager

“Today we had more problems at the start than we expected, and Jorge was struggling to find feeling going into the turns. Later on however the team tried some new settings that allowed him to obtain a decent pace in the cooler conditions, so we were able to end the night’s work on a good note.”

Pramac Racing

Marco RigamontiNiccolò Canepa Track Engineer

Niccolo Canepa - Qatar Test
Canepa improved his times but is far behind posting 15th fastest.

“The final result doesn’t show the way today’s session went. In the last two hours the track condition were getting worst and Niccolò preferred to don’t step on the circuit, especially after Pedrosa and Kallio’s falls. Until that moment we were in the top ten. For this reason we remain trustful. Niccolò, on the contrary of the last Test in Malaysia is really al calm and this is really important. He makes it to improve every time he goes out of the pit-lane. He still needs more experience as he still doesn’t know this track so well.”

Niccolò CanepaPramac Racing Rider

“Today’s position in the standing doesn’t worry me. I remain serene because I basically didn’t step on track in the last two hours, when most of the riders made it to improve. After having seen Dani and Mika fell, together with my Team we preferred to end the day early to don’t take any risk so that we would be able to use in the best way possible the last day of work here. I am working well, I understood where to improve and tomorrow I will give my best again.”

Mika KallioPramac Racing Rider

“In the first hours we were working well, but then in the last part of the day things weren’t going too well and I made a mistake in a left turn and I felt. I barely touched the front brake and I found my self on the ground. I suffered a hard hit but tomorrow I should be able to step on the circuit without any problem. I will try to make it up tomorrow.”