MotoGP Jerez Test Day 1 2012

March 23, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Casey Stoner led the way  as usual  during the first day of testing at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit.
Casey Stoner led the way, as usual, during the first day of testing at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit.

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner led the MotoGP field as testing gets underway at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit. The three-day test is the first to showcase the entire 2012 roster, as a nine-rider CRT field joins the 12 factory-built 1000cc prototypes. The top four spots were claimed by the factory Honda and Yamaha, as Stoner led Jorge Lorenzo, followed by Dani Pedrosa and Ben Spies.

The defending MotoGP champion waited until his final lap (54) to claim his accustomed position atop the timesheet. The Australian rider bested his Spanish rival by 0.273, with Lorenzo in the number-1 slot for the majority of Day 1.

Pedrosa and Spies played runner up to their title-winning paddockmates. Pedrosa was four tenths off Stoner’s pace, while Spies pace more than a half-second slower than Lorenzo.

Cal Crutchlow lapped fastest out of the satellite riders, the Brit ending Day 1 in fifth. Crutchlow’s Tech 3 teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, was eighth-fastest and more than 1.5 seconds adrift of the leader. Alvaro Bautista placed seventh on the Gresini Honda, with LCR’s MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl 10th-fastest.

Nicky Hayden was the fastest Ducati, lapping sixth, while teammate Valentino Rossi struggled in ninth.

Randy de Puniet proved the fastest of the CRT field, the Frenchman placing 11th. Expected to be the strongest CRT rider on the grid at the Jerez test, the Team Aspar rider showed up the factory-equipped Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) with his Aprilia-based CRT. De Puniet’s best was within two seconds of Stoner and a full second better than his nearest CRT rival, teammate Aleix Espargaro.

Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards was three seconds off Stoner’s pace, the Texan 16th on the timesheet aboard the BMW/Suter. Making his testing debut on the Gresini Honda CRT, Michele Pirro outclassed five riders in the 17 spot.

2012 MotoGP Jerez Test Day 1 Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) 1’39.146

Randy de Puniet showed up the satellite Ducatis on Day 1 - Jerez Test
Randy de Puniet showed up the satellite Ducatis on Day 1.

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) 1’39.419
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1’39.579
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory) 1’39.984
5. Cal Crutchlow (Tech3 Yamaha) 1’40.130
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’40.512
7. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1’40.545
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Tech3 Yamaha) 1’40.665
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’40.920
10. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1’40.983
11. Randy De Puniet (Team Aspar) 1’41.015
12. Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) 1’41.388
13. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) 1’41.603
14. Aleix Espargaro (Team Aspar) 1’42.293
15. Franco Battaini (Ducati) 1’42.403
16. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1’42.462
17. Michele Pirro (Gresini Honda CRT) 1’42.655
18. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda Racing) 1’42.750
19. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) 1’43.006
20. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Racing) 1’43.437
21. James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1’43.477

Casey Stoner defends title number two  his first title defense with Honda - Jerez Test

22. Ivan Silva (Avintia Racing) 1’44.025

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) 1st: “Today has been quite good, we did race distance with a soft set tires this morning and we were getting quicker and quicker as we progressed but I think also the circuit was getting better. Then we put the hard tire on and did a tire comparison and we had very similar feelings to what we had in Sepang. We tried a few things with the chassis as the bike was proving slow to turn in the corner but in general it is working well especially at the end of the tire life. On the last exit we did our fastest lap on a new soft rear tire. It’s been a good first day”.

Jorge Lorenzo (Factory Yamaha Racing) 2nd: “Today was a very long day because we started at 10am and finished at 6pm. We did a lot of laps and it was very interesting to see how different the bike was compared to Sepang because it’s a different track. Here it is much slower and more corners, not so many straights. The 1000cc is not so easy compared to the 800cc here. At the end of the day we were able to be very fast and stay in the first three positions so we are satisfied.”

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 3rd: “It’s been a pretty tough day, the mechanics had a lot of work to do in the garage and I’ve been stationary a long time, so it was not easy to get into the rhythm quickly. But I’m happy because we have a clear idea about the changes we need to do on the bike to improve tomorrow, especially on braking and the exits of the corners. We also tested the new front Bridgestone tire, but just for a few laps, so I will keep testing it tomorrow to know if it’s better. Unfortunately, in the afternoon I had a problem on one bike and I couldn’t use it anymore, so I spent quite a long time in the box between runs and thinking about the changes we want to do. We didn’t have too much chattering today, but I think it’s because of the circuit characteristics”.

Ben Spies running in the front four  as expected - Jerez Test

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) 4th: “Today was a positive day; we actually got more than we thought accomplished. We were able to look at the two tires Bridgestone wanted us to test and also went through a couple of different settings on the bike. We did a race simulation to get one out of the way and we might do one more before the end of the test just get me and the bike in tune for that many laps. Today’s was to test the fuel consumption and we were happy with that. We can now focus pretty much on going fast and trying to improve the bike lap time wise and also improve me around the track! This isn’t a strong track for me so I’m quite happy that we’ve shown some decent pace around here. We’ve got a lot done and it’s been a good day.”

Cal Crutchlow (Tech3 Yamaha) 5th: “Today was a positive start to the test and important for me to carry on the momentum we gained in Sepang. I did a lot of laps but I have to do that because this is only my second time at this track and I need to gain some experience so I am in the best shape possible when we return for the race next month. We have made really good progress with the set-up of the bike today and it is good that we have come to a completely different style track compared to Sepang and the bike is working well. We are always looking to improve and the bike is still a bit of a handful to manage exiting the corner, but a real positive e is that I did my best time today on the hard rear tire. Last year on the 800 I could never really use the hard tire, so I’m pleased about that because today I only did five laps on the soft tire. Another big plus is my consistency. We talked about improving that over the winter and I’ve definitely improved in doing more constant times, so it has been a really productive start to the test.”

Nicky Hayden slotted in at sixth on Day 1 at the Jerez test.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 6th: “After missing the test at Valencia and having to do damage control in Malaysia, where I wasn’t strong, especially at the first test, it was nice to be able to get back on the bike today and feel close to 100 per cent physically. I felt good here and I was able to ride all day and finish sixth, which isn’t bad even if the gap is obviously still too big. We got off to a nice start, but we didn’t improve enough, while the guys ahead of us continued to make progress. It’s a little frustrating, although we gathered a lot of data by being able to ride all day without trying a million different things, and we have some good ideas for tomorrow. Of course our goal is to get closer to the leaders, especially with the lap time.”

Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 7th: “Today went well on a track with very different characteristics to Malaysia, especially considering that I haven’t ridden Jerez for a couple of years and I’d forgotten how close all the corners are to each other. We worked a lot on the electronics in terms of power delivery and anti-wheelie, which is an important issue at this track. I had a little crash this morning that cost us a little time, but in the afternoon we put a good rhythm together around the 1m 40.5s mark and tried two different Bridgestone front tires which gave me a lot of feel. The new tires are a lot better than the ones we had been using and that’s important for confidence in corner entry. Overall I am happy because we have improved with every outing and finished the day with a good pace. My confidence with the bike is growing, the team is working really well and, as I said, before we’re on the right lines. Obviously we’re going to need a little time to take the next step, but I think we’ll be ready for the first race.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Tech3 Yamaha) 8th: “I was really looking forward to starting this test today because it is a very important three days for me. It is my birthday too and I was looking forward to gaining more experience with the Yamaha. This morning though was not easy because I didn’t have the same good feeling with the bike as I did at the last test in Sepang. Thanks to my Tech 3 crew we found a much better setting but unfortunately I wasn’t able to exploit it because of my physical condition. I had some problem with my stomach and I had zero energy and I am sorry I could only make 46-laps. The most positive point of the day was some new electronics I tried which helped stability exiting the corner. But we can still improve more in this area. I am not worried about the gap to the front because I didn’t feel in a good enough physical condition to push hard.”

Valentino Rossi still looking to make up time on his rivals - Jerez Test

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 9th: “We solved some things today, but not one important thing, which is corner entry, especially in the fastest part of the turn. I’m not able to be incisive there, and it’s where most of our gap comes from. I can’t load the front enough to enter fast, so I don’t carry enough speed through the corner, and that’s why we’re far from the front. We found a more promising setting toward the end and I was able to repeat my fast time with a tire that was very used, but it was already 5:30 and the temperature had dropped, so we decided to start working on it again tomorrow because we think there’s a margin. Nicky went better today, and we also have to reduce the gap.”

Stefan Bradl ( LCR Honda) 10th: “It has been a big change coming to Jerez from Sepang for the first European test. Thanks to the weather conditions the engine was more powerful and I was impressed about the performance of the bike. We had a couple of issues at the beginning of the day with the anti-wheelie and the electronics and we had to adjust a lot of things, but step by step we have improved and I could go faster. At the end of the session the tires were working different compared to Sepang, especially the soft one, and I was expecting a little bit more grip. Tomorrow we will have to find the way to improve our braking stability, but today was A-OK.”

Randy De Puniet (Team Aspar) 11th: “I am really happy with the way this first day has gone here at Jerez. Despite a few technical problems and a crash halfway through the day we have been working on the right lines and the lap times are really good. The crash put me out of action for a while because the bike was badly damaged but the team did a brilliant job to set the other bike up and I was able to lap eleventh fastest, ahead of some factory riders. I don’t think we could expect much more from this first day of testing. It is satisfying to see the hard work we have done over the winter paying off and now that we are all on track together we can check our level. I enjoyed riding the bike and I hope to continue like this tomorrow. We did some work on the front forks today, as well as electronics and gearbox settings.”

Aleix Espargaró (Team Aspar) 14th: “The bike was sliding around a lot at the start of the day and I was struggling to get a feel for it but we gradually adapted. We did a lot of testing with the clutch, engine brake and electronics. We also tested two new front tires which in theory we’ll be using from now on and I liked them a lot. We wanted to protect engine

Michele Pirro managed to best some of his CRT rivals in his first benchmark against the 21-rider MotoGP grid - Jerez Test

life by just using one bike today. My team-mate was very fast today but I knew that would be the case because he has been excellent all preseason. On one hand it’s tough to take seeing him going so well but on the other it is a huge motivation because we’re on the same bike. It means that if we keep

Michel Pirro (Gresini Honda) 17th: “The Imola session was nothing serious, so today was really the first outing for this bike. We have worked very hard to find where our limits are right now and the biggest issue is with the front end, which is limiting our corner entry speed. Having said that, we have to be more than satisfied because the bike is only a few hours old and we’re measuring up to the rest, apart from (Randy) De Puniet. It was also a bit of a debut for me, with so many new things such as Bridgestone tires, which I have never ridden before. We can be happy, and even though we have a lot of work ahead of us I have great faith in the team and I am sure that with the data we have gathered we can take another step forward.”

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