Casey Stoner was back on top of the timesheet at testing concluded in the second pre-season visit to Sepang.
The second three-day preseason test at Sepang has concluded, and Casey Stoner is back atop the MotoGP timesheet. The reigning champion was sidelined yesterday, along with the rest of the four-rider Honda contingent, while HRC investigated a Day 1 engine failure to Dani Pedrosa’s RC213V. The Spaniard got back in top form, or near top form, trailing his teammate by 0.175 for second-fastest. Trailing the Repsol duo was their former 2011 teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, who led the Yamaha camp in third aboard the satellite Tech 3 M1.
Contrasting the first two days of testing, the final day on track was not spoiled by rain. Instead it was the usual Sepang heat that slowed down times in the afternoon, but not before Stoner and company set a blistering pace in the morning session. The Repsol pair tested chassis settings, with neither rider able to match their bests from the previous Sepang test (Stoner 0.866 off his record-setting 1’59.607).
Dovizioso notes improved strength in his shoulder for the second Sepang test, the Italian having broken his collarbone during an off-season motocross crash. Dovizioso, like his M1 cohorts Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) and Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha), went on longer runs to test tire wear. The 2010 champion Lorenzo noted tire wear will be an issue on the 1000 after his race simulation, saying the Bridgestones lost considerable grip after three or four laps.
The fastest on Day 2, Ben Spies slid to eighth on the Day 3 charts – the American’s test ending early with a crash.
As for Ben Spies, the Texan was eighth-fastest after his test ended early with a crash. Uninjured in the get-off Spies expressed confidence in the 1000’s potential and further testing at Jerez.
The satellite Hondas placed a respective seventh and ninth on the timesheet courtesy of Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda rookie Stefan Bradl. The Spaniard put in 51 laps on the final day, despite crashing on the first lap thanks to cold tires. A second off Stoner’s pace, Bradl was one of the few riders on the non-CRT mounts to improve on their previous visit to Sepang.
More lackluster times came from the factory Ducati effort. Valentino Rossi was 10th-fastest on the day, a full second slower than Stoner. Nicky Hayden lapped just behind his Ducati teammate in 11th. The Kentucky Kid took a spill later in the day, though he escaped re-injuring his shoulder. The American hopes to be fully fit for the Jerez test. Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera proved the fastest Ducati at Sepang, the Spaniard sixth-fastest.
Of the three CRT riders at Sepang, Colin Edwards hacked a second off his best from the previous Sepang test. The Forward Racing pilot remains three seconds adrift of
Colin Edwards hacked a second off his Forward Racing CRT lap times compared with the previous Sepang test.
Stoner on his BMW/Suter mount, and two seconds behind the nearest non-CRT rider at Sepang, fellow American Hayden.
The Avintia Racing duo of Yonny Hernandez and Ivan Silva also cut a second off lap times for the Kawasaki/FTR CRT rides compared to the prior Sepang test. However, they still trail Edwards by a sizable three-second margin. The three-day test was Hernandez’s first crack at his new CRT ride, having missed the previous Sepang test due to a hand injury.
2012 MotoGP Sepang Test 2 Day 3 Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) 2’00.473
2. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 2’00.648
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Tech 3 Yamaha) 2’00.802
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) 2’00.877
5. Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) 2’00.986
6. Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) 2’01.231
7. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 2’01.275
8. Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory) 2’01.432
9. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 2’01.492
10. Valentino Rossi (Marlboro Ducati) 2’01.550
11. Nicky Hayden (Marlboro Ducati) 2’01.609
12. Franco Battaini (Ducati Test) 2’03.490
13. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 2’03.681
14. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Racing) 2’06.632
15. Ivan Silva (Avintia Racing) 2’06.785
Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda – 1st – 34 laps: “Again we’ve been unable to profit from the full three days of the test here in Sepang, the first day we only manages about 16 laps before the rain came and then yesterday we weren’t able to get out at all. So today it’s been good to have some nice weather, get out on track and find some different solutions on the bike, we’ve been trying a few different things with electronics to have the engine character the same way we like it.
Casey Stoner: ‘The chassis balance feels good as does the traction on the bike, it’s turning well but we really need to get rid of the chatter, in general we are happy with the bike.’
We’ve also tried shortening the wheelbase, aiming to reduce the chattering and we’ve been successful in decreasing it slightly but at the moment we’re unable to eliminate it completely, so we still have quite a lot of work to do. The chassis balance feels good as does the traction on the bike, it’s turning well but we really need to get rid of the chatter, in general we are happy with the bike”.
Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda – 2nd – 40 laps: “In general we’ve been working a lot on the chassis at this test, to find the best compromise. We tried different ideas and set ups and we leave quite happy with the feelings. This is a very specific track, so it’s important to have clear ideas for the future. We also made some progress on the braking and the chassis feels a little better because we have a less chatter compared to the first test. We need to keep improving on entry and middle of the corner, but I think that we can expect improvements when we start to work more in depth with the engine and the electronics, which we will do in the Jerez test. Today I also used a different screen to be more comfortable on the straight which felt better”.
Andrea Dovizioso – Tech 3 Yamaha – 3rd: “Despite the rain disrupting the first two days, this has been a really positive test and I am very happy. I did my first laps in the rain on the Yamaha and I had a very positive feeling. The engine was very smooth and I could manage the sliding but one very important area was my physical condition. My shoulder was much better than the first test here and this enabled me to understand the potential of the YZR-M1 machine much more. I am much more confident on the bike and I am happy with the lap time and the position and we have done a very good job understanding many things here. I like the new engine because it helps with the corner entry, and this was already a really strong point of the Yamaha. I did a long run of 15-laps today and it was important to learn the characteristics of the bike over a longer distance. It was really interesting to understand about tire wear and we have some work to do but the potential of the bike is already at a very high level. Now I am really looking forward to the next test in Jerez because it is a completely different track with different temperature and this will be good experience for me to understand the bike even more.”
Lorenzo noted his Bridgestones lost traction early during a race simulation at Sepang, with other Yamaha riders making similar observations on tire wear.
Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Factory Racing – 4th – 52 laps: “Well, this afternoon was one of the hardest race simulations of my career because the 1000 is more tiring to ride and the rear tire seems to drop a lot after three or four laps. After this the feeling stays the same but it’s very different to last year, it’s almost like racing in the rain trying to control the rear in the corner exits and acceleration. I managed to finish the simulation with a good pace so all in all it has been a very positive test, thank you to Yamaha for their hard work.”
Cal Crutchlow Time – Tech 3 Yamaha – 5th: “I am really happy because the weather obviously played a big part the first two days but we were able to get some dry track time today and make some good progress with the bike. I like the new engine from Yamaha and credit to them because they have been working hard and the improvement bodes well for the start of the season. I’m happy with my lap time because this is not my favorite track at all and I am fifth fastest and very close to the top three. A major positive too is that I am very consistent and this is something that I have improved from last year. This gives me a lot of confidence and encouragement and I’m really enjoying riding the 1000cc bike. I did a long run of 12 laps and the new tires were sliding around quite a bit. It made it very physical but quite good but it looks like tire management is going to be more important than ever. The bike is working well at Sepang but now I’m curious to see how it performs in Jerez. That’s a completely different track and the weather will be much cooler, so this will give us another indication of the potential of the bike.”
Alvaro Bautista – Gresini Honda – 7th – 51 laps: “I am satisfied because we were finally able to get a full day under our belt after being here for two days already and only managing to get out on track for the first morning. Obviously it was a tough day because we had to pack everything in, so we started out first thing this morning and only took a short break at the hottest part of the day. We worked mainly on adapting to the 1000cc bike and even though I was tired by the end of the day I was satisfied with our progress.
“Unfortunately I made a mistake on my first lap of one run when the tires were still not up to temperature and ran wide onto the astroturf and then had a small crash. Luckily I wasn’t hurt, and we were able to continue working on the other bike, mainly with suspension settings, and putting together a decent rhythm. I am happy though, because we have taken a big step forward and closed the gap to the top guys. We know we still have a long way to go, but I am confident because the relationship with the team is great and I know we will make more progress in the next test at Jerez.”
Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Racing – 8th – 28 laps: “Today was good, we unfortunately had a small crash but we learnt a lot and got to test some new electronic settings which were a big improvement. We also tried some different shock settings which were a big step forward. It’s a shame we crashed but we know from this test that the bike has great potential so we can go to Jerez with confidence.”
Stefan Bradl – LCR Honda – 9th: “Yesterday we sat out the second day of testing so today was a tough day for me and the guys. After 54 laps I feel a bit tired as the temperature was very high today, but I am leaving Malaysia with a good feeling and a good base set up for the future. I am pretty satisfied about my lap time and the gap to the front is acceptable. If we continue with this progress I am sure that positive results will arrive soon.”
Hayden and Rossi continue to work on the GP12 at Sepang, though the factory Ducati duo couldn’t beat their satellite kin – with Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera fastest on Day 3.
Valentino Rossi – Marlboro Ducati – 10th – 57 laps: “One small positive note to the day is that we reduced the gap to the front a little bit. It was 1.2 seconds, and now it’s 1 second. It’s also nice that the new electronics work well, but it hurts being down on the timesheets compared to all the others. We tried a bunch of things in order to take a step forward from the first test, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it and were actually worse. It was harder for me to ride well compared to three weeks ago, especially my corner speed. It’s true that this test was more difficult in terms of weather and track conditions, but it seemed to affect us more than the others. Honestly, I expected to do better than tenth. We were also unfortunate because at the best part of the day, when I did a 2:01.5 and we had some tires to try to lower the time further, we had a problem with the fork that cost us some time. Maybe without that we would have cut another three or four tenths and been further up, but our pace is still about seven tenths back. Honestly, that’s not a huge amount, but anyway we’re still behind. We’re not pleased with how it went this time, but we have to try and work hard and see what happens at Jerez, where the track is very different than this one, with much different weather and temperatures. We’ll see how we do there.”
Nicky Hayden – Marlboro Ducati – 11th – 44 laps: “Of course I would prefer to have been closer to the front, but it’s my first real test of the year. The bike feels better on braking and into the corner, and I like the feedback it gives me. Also, the lap times don’t seem as affected when the track gets hot and greasy. We need to work on some chatter and on corner exits. We have plenty of ideas, as there are a lot of things we didn’t get to try this week because of the weather. Toward the end, I lost the front end in Turn 1 and crashed, but it was an easy one and I’m fine. I’m happy with how my shoulder is coming along. I hope that with three more weeks of recovering and rehab, it should be close to 100% for Jerez.”
Colin Edwards – Forward Racing – 13th: “To be honest, it was frustrating for two days and finally on the last day, we were working with the throttle connection and we found something. In that aspect, it was a good test. In terms of the electronics I don’t think we will reach the end of the electronics until the last race in Valencia: we are going to be working and improving. But as they say: ‘Rome wasn’t built in one day.’ It’s not a very quick process but each test we keep improving, so that’s the key. Yes but we moved the ceiling and made it a little bit taller. We arrived with a new chassis and also a new engine spec. So from the first test to the second test to the third test, we’ve had basically a new bike every time. This time we got what we would consider the 2012 spec. Yes, we do have a little bit chatter but it’s much better than what it was and I believe we know how to fix it. For the next test in Jerez I don’t have a main focus other than to make the entire packaged better. We need to come up with solutions quickly and efficiently and for that we need accurate information from our data…. we can’t afford right now to get off base.”