Day 3 of MotoGP testing in Qatar ended with Casey Stoner leading the pack. Weather conditions proved to be very unusual for what riders are used to in Losail, Qatar. The last day of testing was no exception with low temperatures catching Loris Capirossi, Niccolo Canepa, and Casey Stoner off guard, but none were injured. Dani Pedrosa was absent due to his fall yesterday in which he hurt his left wrist and left knee. After some scans were performed it was revealed that he fractured his left radius bone. He will be undergoing an operation to secure the break.
Riders are looking forward to their final test in Jerez, Spain on March 29th before returning to The Losail Circuit on April 12th for the season opener.
Qatar Test – Day 2 – Lap Times:
The Ducati Marlboro Team’s Australian rider was able to return to the track immediately, shaking off any after effects with a series of hot laps including two efforts inside the 1’56 mark. His quickest time of 1’55.744 would prove to be the fastest overall, even though he stayed in his garage for the final available hour as track conditions got even more difficult and dangerous.
Nicky Hayden can also look back on a positive test, the American finishing up in the top five of the unofficial standings, just a few tenths of a second off the second placed rider.
The next appointment for the Ducati Marlboro Team is the final test session of the 2009 preseason at Jerez de la Frontera, in the south of Spain on the 28th and 29th March.
Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team), fastest lap: 1’55.744 (on lap 22 of 31)
“I’m obviously very happy with the lap time and the rhythm we put together today although I would have liked to have been able to get a few more laps in and test some more stuff. We knew the track conditions would get worse at around ten o’clock and that proved to be the case. The crash was on the way into turn 2 and it was very similar to the one here last year – practically from an upright position. I got straight back on the other bike but with such an unpredictable track we decided to finish an hour early because the conditions were only getting worse. We still managed to try a few things with the electronics – some of them good and some not so good and we confirmed the good feeling I had yesterday with the new swingarm, although we still need more time to work on it and that’s what we’ll be doing at Jerez. The wrist has responded quite well – it’s not as painful as it was at Sepang even though the mobility still hasn’t improved much. We’ll have to see how at feels at circuits with harder braking and more left-hand corners, which is where I struggle the most.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team), fastest lap: 1’57.225 (on lap 35 of 53)
“That was definitely a good day and we’ve made plenty of progress so I’m really pleased. I was thinking this morning that this would be the right time to take a step forward because we’ve only got two more days of testing before the season started so it’s obviously very satisfying to have done that. There is still plenty to do but my team has worked well and now we have a lot of information to work on. I got a good feel for the new swingarm straight away but we still have work to do and we need to make more comparisons with the previous version before drawing definite conclusions. I would have liked to have done more laps but after ten o’clock the conditions were on the limit, to the point that there were a few guys crashing and running straight, so we decided not to take any risks. I also did a practice start today and a test at switching bikes quickly in case of a race interrupted by rain.”
Randy de Puniet fastest RC212V rider on final day of Qatar MotoGP test.
The three day MotoGP test held at the floodlit 5.380 km Losail circuit in Qatar came to a close at midnight local time tonight leaving the Honda teams and riders present with contrasting results.
Fastest RC212V Honda rider on the final day was LCR Hondas Randy de Puniet who set seventh fastest time. The Frenchman has adapted his style to improve his feeling with the Bridgestone front tyre he will race with for the first time in 2009 and now feels more confident aboard the machine than at the last test in Sepang.
Andrea Dovizioso continued his successful transition from the 2008 satellite specification RC212V to the full factory spec machine. The Repsol Honda rider has quickly identified the areas where he and the machine need to improve.
The Italian rider ran into chattering problems early on which disrupted the teams test plan for the final day but late in the day Dovizioso made big strides to end the day with eighth fastest time. Despite his early set back Dovizioso was pleased with the results of the three-day test.
Dovizioso’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa was absent today, having suffered a fall yesterday in which he damaged his left wrist and left knee. The Spaniard flew home this morning, and further scans at hospital revealed that he has a fracture to his left radius bone. The unlucky Pedrosa will undergo an operation at 6pm tomorrow to insert a titanium screw to secure the break. He will also receive a small skin graft on the existing wound in his left knee, which was re-opened in yesterday’s fall.
San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Alex De Angelis and Toni Elias ended the day in 10th and 11th places respectively. De Angelis was relatively happy with the overall performance once the team technicians had reduced real wheel chattering allowing the San Marinese rider to get the best out of his tyres.
Elias was not content with the results of the three-day test and continued to test various changes in geometry and suspension settings in a bid to improve rear wheel traction on his RCV.
The MotoGP debutant team of Scot Racing Team and rider Yuki Takahashi worked on establishing a base line set up that allowed Takahashi ride the RCV comfortably within his limits while at the same time learning the characteristics inherent in four-stroke race machines. But late in the day the Japanese rider was caught out at turn three and slid to earth. He emerged unscathed from the incident and went straight back out on track on his spare machine and ran respectable lap times.
The teams now return to their European workshops to prepare their RC212V’s for the final MotoGP pre-season test at Jerez, Spain on March 29.
Honda rider quotes and lap times.
Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda MotoGP: 7th fastest time at 1m 57.401s – 77 laps.
“All in all I’m satisfied of these 3 days of testing. We made an important step forward compared to Sepang. This evening I had a better feeling on the bike, my riding style adapted more to the machine and I understood how to use the Bridgestone front tyre at its best, especially entering the turns. Stoner is incredible fast so we need to work hard.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 8th. 1m 57.449s – 74 laps.
“All in all I’m quite satisfied with these three days of testing because we have learned a lot.
Today’s session didn’t go exactly according to plan because after an hour we started to get some chatter, which complicated the session and meant we had to adapt our plan for the day. I was able to do a longer run of 15 laps which showed that we still need to make some machine adjustments to suit the Bridgestone tyres. For this circuit specifically we need to improve the grip entering the turns, and in general find a smoother power delivery. There is still quite a lot of work to do, but I’m still pleased because we learned a lot about the bike at this test.”
Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 10th. 1m 57.591s – 61 laps.
“Today the track conditions were better but we couldn’t improve as we expected. We suffered from rear chattering so we worked on adapting the machine to Bridgestone tyres. At the end we improved a bit. All in all I’m quite happy with this test session, the bike is fast but we need to work to improve the traction in order to use all the potential of the bike.”
Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 11th. 1m 57.804s 66 – laps.
“We continued working on the geometry of the bike and suspension trying to improve my feeling with the rear. We tested some radical solutions but we didn’t get the results we expected. My feeling is that we need more traction and also with more rear tyre contact on the asphalt.”
Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Team: 14th. 1m 58.412s 61 – laps
“I’m still studying the bike set up but lap by lap my feeling is improving and we make a progress. Today I started to push a little bit and had a small crash but I continued on my second bike. I’m still learning but I’m confident and really looking forward to testing at Jerez.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: Pedrosa did not test due to wrist and knee injuries sustained in a crash at turn 10 during testing yesterday.
Lorenzo made a huge improvement as he continued to adapt to the new Bridgestone tyres and his new-found confidence led to a promising long run, in which he set a string of consistent laps. His best time of 1’56.733 left him second behind Casey Stoner and last year’s leading rookie is now confident of being on the pace at the first race in one months time.
After a strong showing yesterday, Rossi ran into a few problems later on this evening when the cold meant the grip level of the track went down significantly. He is confident however that in the warmer temperatures expected at the race in a months time he will be in better shape. He posted the third best time tonight, wi th a fastest lap of 1’56.972.
The team now returns to Europe for the final test of the year, the Official MotoGP Test in Jerez, Spain on 28th and 29th March.
Position: 3rd Time: 1’56.972 Laps: 75
“In the early part of the evening we were fast enough but later on, when it became much colder and the grip went down, we suffered quite a bit. I started a long run but in fact I was getting slower and slower, so we didn’t finish and concentrated on trying some different things with the setting instead. Our position is not so bad; we’re third, close to Lorenzo. Stoner is very fast but I am not too worried because we have a good idea about our path for the race and I think that in one month, when it is hopefully a few degrees warmer, we will be okay. This is not a great track for me or for the bike and the target for the race will be to be to be better than last year! Next we go to Jerez for the final test and I am expecting to be strong there.”
Position: 2nd Time: 1’56.733 Laps: 82
“I am so happy tonight because this session has been much, much better for us. The long run was especially good but in fact the whole evening has been an improvement, so I am very pleased about the job we have done. We’ve tried some different settings, which have helped, but mainly I have adapted and found a way to be comfortable, which means I can ride faster. I have a much better feeling with the Bridgestone tyres and I was able to be very consistent throughout the long run and keep a good rhythm. Everyone has worked really hard to make this step and I am happy to finish this test on a good note. Now I am looking forward to the race!”
“Overall we’re satisfied with this test because we’ve found some good new things in the electronics and to improve the acceleration and in general we’ve been quite fast. Tonight we suffered later on when it was colder and there was less grip, but we’ve spent a lot of time working on a solution and we have gathered a lot of information which we will now study carefully. This is very important because this season we will have one practice session less at each race and we need to be ready!”
“This has been quite a positive day for us. We found a good setting that enabled Jorge to find the confidence to be faster into the corners and at the same time day by day he has improved his riding style on the Bridgestone tyres. I think the job we’ve done here will help us a lot when we come here for the first race in April.”
Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Technical Director
“We are satisfied of the work done in these three days. Today we were well set up, but close to the end of the session when the track was getting colder, Mika preferred to end his session in advance. He has cleverly avoided repeating what happened yesterday and we totally agreed with him. From yesterday we improved by almost two seconds and this give us a lot of hopes for when we will come back here for the race in the middle of April.”
Mika Kallio – Pramac Racing Rider
“Today it went a bit better compared to yesterday even if the feeling with the front part of the bike wasn’t the best. I couldn’t find the right confidence to push even more. I am convinced that when we will come back here for the first race of the season we will do much better. The track conditions should be much warmer and this should facilitate our work.”
Niccolò Canepa – Pramac Racing Rider
“Like yesterday we have chosen to don’t step on the track in the last couple of hours because it was getting too cold. Some of the riders made it to improve their best lap times in the latest minutes overtaking us in the classification. But this doesn’t matter today. I am satisfied by the work done even if today I made a small mistake and I slipped. Luckily nothing serious happened. We will now go back home trustful and with high morale, surely much happier than at the end of the Sepang Test.”
Suzuki takes positive results from latest test in Qatar
Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi have completed the second test of 2009 in positive spirits following another successful outing, this time during the official MotoGP night-time test in Qatar.
Vermeulen led the way for the Suzuki team with the fourth fastest time overall, with a quickest of 1’57.224 from his 70 Tuesday evening laps of the 5,380m Losail International Circuit. Despite a crash on day two of the three day test – in which the Australian star was uninjured – Vermeulen consistently improved on his lap times as he evaluated numerous parts settings on his 2009 Suzuki GSV-R.
Capirossi was marginally behind his team-mate on the timesheets as he recorded a fastest time of 1’57.253 during his 42 laps on the final evening, to give him sixth position overall. Capirossi suffered two heavy crashes on this final night of testing but the tough Italian was able to escape uninjured.
Vermeulen and Capirossi will be hoping to continue with their good run of form during the final pre-season test – at Jerez in Spain – later this month. The pair will then return to Qatar for the first MotoGP race of the season on Sunday 12th April – the one-and-only night race of the year.
“It has been quite a tough test with the difficult conditions we have encountered. We’ve had rain, wind and even a sandstorm. Day two started off well, but I lost a bit of track time when I slipped off. Today was the first time that we were able to do a long run and we found some issues that we were able to change so that was good. I’m quite happy with the test and the progress we have made so far this year; I am now looking forward to going to Jerez for the last test and then getting back here to start racing next month.”
“I am quite happy with the test because the bike is much better than last year and we are a lot more competitive. We still have a couple of days more to test and I am sure that by the time we get back here to Qatar we will be right on the pace. I had a couple of crashes today, but I am ok and still very strong. I think things are looking good at the moment and I am really pleased with the first two tests of 2009 and the improvement of the GSV-R by the factory.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We had a great test in Sepang at the start of the year and coming into Qatar we knew it would be a bit more difficult for us, given that our previous visits here have always been quite tough. The test has been quite positive and has demonstrated the improvement of this year’s bike over the 2008 GSV-R. Whilst Casey set some fantastic lap-times to be fastest, the rest of the front runners were close and we were well inside that group. We were also able to verify some of the choices of the new stuff that was introduced in Sepang and Chris’s race distance run has given the factory some excellent data. It has been a difficult test, with three quite big crashes and strange track conditions, but the real positives are that both riders are 100% ok and both the guys are still in the top six despite these problems. We will now go to Jerez in a very positive frame of mind – Suzuki has done an incredible job to take the bike as far forward as it has done already from the end of 2008 – and we look forward to further steps as we prepare for the first race.”