Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner is establishing himself as a pre-season favorite after topping the timesheets in each of the last three days of testing at Sepang.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner continues to establish himself as a pre-season favorite for the upcoming MotoGP championship race after shattering the Sepang course record during the third and final day of MotoGP testing. The 2007 World Champion broke the two-minute barrier in the morning session when he posted a time of 1’59.665, a mark that no other rider could overcome the rest of the day. His Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, did however break the two-minute barrier as well with a best effort of 1’59.803, the second-fastest lap of the day.
“We had a good day comparing the chassis’ again and I’m happy we have made our decision on which one we’ll use for the season. We also tried a lot of electronics with engine braking and found improvements in a few areas, and some losses in others so we need to rectify these. The chassis we’ve chosen always behaves in the way we want it to; no matter what set-up we use, we are also able to adapt it fairly easily,” Stoner said.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli finished today’s practice session with the third-best time. Simoncelli topped the timesheets during the first test at Sepang a few weeks ago and is showing marked improvement from his rookie season. He would finish the day by doing a simulated race run of 21 laps, but couldn’t match his race pace from Wednesday, a fact he contributed to a harder Bridgestone rear tire.
Simoncelli was the only obstacle in the way of a repeat sweep by the Repsol Honda factory riders as Andrea Dovizioso completed today’s practice session with the fourth-fastest time. Dovi was pleased with his speed but noticed a lack of grip in mid-corner when the bike is its heaviest, right after filling up with fuel.
Valentino Rossi would return to the track today after missing yesterday’s practice session with the flu. The Doctor isn’t pleased with the results, though, which saw him finish outside of the top ten on the timesheets.
American rider Ben Spies crashed the Honda party at the top of the timesheets by muscling his Yamaha in fifth-fastest. Spies would put in 32 laps early in the day and wrapped it up early after setting a personal best time of 2’00.678.
“It was a productive test, we got through a lot. I had one small mistake but on the plus side we had a lot of stuff we accomplished so it’s all good. We still have some work to do obviously but we’re not too far off race pace,” Spies said.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards made it two Texans in a row by posting the sixth-fastest time of the day. Edwards has been concentrating his efforts on dialing in the chassis on his YZR-M1 and finding the right combination of Bridgestone tires. The elder statesman of MotoGP, Edwards jokingly said, “For an old guy, I’m not finished yet!”
Defending MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo finished today’s test in seventh. In the afternoon, Lorenzo ran a simulated race of 20 laps as he and the Yamaha Factory Team continue to dial in the setting on his M1.
The lone Suzuki rider, Rizla’s Alvaro Bautista, had a slow front end crash at Turn 9 early in the day but was able to mount back up and post the eighth-fastest time of the day. The Rizla Suzuki team further honed in the settings on
Yamaha Factory rider Ben Spies finished fifth-fastest and looks ready to contend for the podium when the lights go on in Qatar.
Bautista’s GSV-R and tested various Bridgestones today after Bautista’s severe headache shortened their practice session yesterday.
Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama would also be a victim of Sepang’s Turn 9, crashing out on the same spot as Bautista. The San Carlo Gresini Honda rider would be OK, though, and returned to log the ninth-fastest time of the day. Hector Barbera was once again the surprise top Ducati finisher as he grabbed the final spot on today’s top ten. The Mapfre Aspar Ducati rider finished just ahead of the two factory Ducati riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who actually tied for 11th place with identical times. Rossi missed yesterday’s test with the flu and is not happy with the results of the Sepang test.
“We can’t be satisfied with this test because we didn’t reach our goals, which were to finish close to the top six and especially to reduce the gap to the front. Instead, we’re 1.8 seconds back, and our rhythm is also lacking,” Rossi said.
The other big news of the day is the signing of the French company Valmy as a sponsor for the Pramac Racing Team. Valmy signed a one-year agreement and its logo will be displayed on both Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi’s Desmosedici GP11s.
MotoGP Sepang Test 2 Day 3 Results –
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:59.665
2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:59.803
3. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2:00.163
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:00.541
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:00.678
6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:00.966
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.003
8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2:01.194
9. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2:01.328
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:01.346
11. (TIE) Valentino Rossi/Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:01.469
13. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2:01.493
14. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:02.034
15. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 2:02.155
16. Toni Elias (Honda) 2:02.410
18. Karel Abraham (Cardion) 2:02.506