Casey Stoner returned to the top of the timesheet on his final lap, during the final day of testing at Jerez.
Casey Stoner returned to his familiar place in the MotoGP order, leading the timesheet at pre-season testing concludes at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit. The final day of testing featured improved weather, with Day 2 hampered by wind and rain. Only bothering with three laps on Saturday, Stoner turned 61 on Sunday – his best lap being the final one, with edged out rival Jorge Lorenzo for bragging rights heading into the season opener at Qatar.
Stoner and Lorenzo, the respective 2011 and 2010 MotoGP champions, were the only riders able to dip under the 1’39 mark. Lorenzo held the top position for most of the test, until Stoner’s final lap bested the Mallorcan by 0.173. The Repsol Honda and Yamaha Factory aces were followed by their teammates, Dani Pedrosa third and Ben Spies fourth. Pedrosa spend a large portion of the day on a 27-lap racing simulation, in preparation for the April 8th opener.
Cal Crutchlow was the fastest of the satellite riders. The Brit lapped fifth on the day, with teammate Andrea Dovizioso seventh-fastest. Staggered behind the Tech 3 Yamahas were the factory Ducatis, with Valentino Rossi in seventh and yesterday’s fastest rider, Nicky Hayden, in eighth. Rossi improved more than a second from Friday, his 1’39.733 on Sunday almost a full second off Stoner’s best.
Alvaro Bautista’s ninth-fastest time was earned during a challenging day in the Gresini Honda RC213V saddle. The Spaniard crashed twice during a racing simulation, losing a bit of confidence and unable to get under the 1’40 marker. Fellow Honda satellite rider Stefan Bradl rounds out the top 10, the MotoGP rookie testing various setups for the LCR Honda.
Unlike Friday, Randy de Puniet was unable to embarrass the satellite Ducatis. The Team Aspar rider finished 13th, at the head of the CRT class – a couple tenths off the pace of Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) dead even with Karel Abraham (Cardion AB). De Puniet was a full second ahead of the next CRT, his Aprilia-powered Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro.
Danilo Petrucci finished 15th-fastest for Iodaracing, the next fastest CRT. Colin Edwards was 17th aboard the Forward Racing BMW/Suter machine. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master), Michele Pirro (Gresini Honda) and James Ellision (Paul Bird Motorsport) were next on the timesheet. Bringing up the rear are the two Kawasaki/FTR Avintia Racing mounts of Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez.
Next stop for the MotoGP paddock is Qatar, where the 1000cc era begins in full for Round 1 of the 2012 MotoGP Championship.
2012 MotoGP Jerez Day 3 Test Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) 1’38.780
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) 1’38.953
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1’39.157
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory) 1’39.495
5. Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1’39.585
6. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 1’39.733
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1’39.860
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 1’39.919
9. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1’40.017
10. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1’40.098
11. Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) 1’40.287
12. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) 1’40.579
13. Randy De Puniet (Team Aspar) 1’40.601
14. Aleix Espargaro (Team Aspar) 1’41.645
15. Danilo Petrucci (Iodaracing) 1’41.926
16. Franco Battaini (Ducati Team) 1’42.057
17. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1’42.073
18. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) 1’42.184
19. Michele Pirro (Gresini Honda CRT) 1’42.212
20. James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1’42.437
21. Ivan Silva (Avintia Racing) 1’42.446
22. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia Racing) 1’42.906
1. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) 1’38.780: “Today we were really pleased with the lap times we’re running but I think we can still improve the bike quite a bit before the race here. Anyway we feel like we’ve made some progress on a track like this for us. Towards the end of the day we had some chattering but we have an idea what caused this and it’s not the same as in Sepang. We did a lot of laps and a longer run to get a little more understanding of fuel consumption and things like this and in general we’re satisfied with how the whole test has gone for us. Now we can go racing which is what we really enjoy”.
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory) 1’38.953: “I’m really happy because we tried to make some good lap times so we put new tyres on the rear this morning to make the 1’38.9 which is a good time. This afternoon we improved the bike for a race simulation which went really well. In general we are very happy, it’s not just me, Ben is also very close to the competition as are Cal and Andrea. We need to improve our braking a little, if we can do that we could gain some more tenths of a second.”
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1’39.157: “We’ve been working a lot with the chassis in the morning to prepare the race simulation. But by the time we were ready, we had to stop twice in the box for an issue with the rear brake. Finally, on my third exit, I could make it. I did the full race distance, 27 laps, and I’m quite satisfied with the result, the lap times were pretty good even though it was very windy in the afternoon, it’s also been also good physical training for me. In general, I think we’ve done a good pre season, we only need to improve a little more on braking and corner entry, it would help us for the first race of the season”.
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory) 1’39.495: “I’m happy with how the test went. Both Jorge and I worked really methodically on getting through a number of different things, I think we’re quite happy with the bike going to Qatar, it’s been good here and good in Sepang. A couple of the areas where we had problems last year seem to be a lot better. We can’t say if they are completely fixed until we go to more tracks but we are happy with the balance of the bike and I think we have a very competitive bike for 2012.”
5. Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1’39.585: “I’m really happy to finish this test in the top five with a very fast pace because we worked through a lot. Today I only used three sets of tyres in 83 laps, yet I was fast and consistent all day, so it shows we are getting good endurance from the soft and the hard options. The different electronic set-up also helped in acceleration, so it was a very positive and productive day after the rain washed out yesterday. The good thing is we know the bike works very well on a completely different track. The tests in Sepang were crucial but we needed to come to a completely different circuit like Jerez to understand if the bike has a good base level for a tighter and shorter track. Yamaha has done a great job because the YZR-M1 works very well. Finishing behind Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Spies is obviously good for my confidence and now I’m looking forward to going to Qatar and racing. I feel ready and much better prepared than last year.”
6. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) 1’39.733: “Today went much better than Friday, and I’m pleased… we’re pleased. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes at Sepang 2 chasing a bad setup, and we paid for that a bit on Friday because we started from that base. Then Saturday’s rain cost us an entire day, but today we finally worked well all day long. Step by step, we arrived at our current potential: I’m sixth, and I did a 1:39.7, which is a good time considering that we’ve only really ridden this bike for six or seven days. We changed the setup, first the rear and then the front, and now I enter the corners pretty well again. I’m able to lean and I can ‘risk’ a bit more. Although we know very well that we still have a long road ahead, if we look at the gap to the front we can say we’re ready for the first race.”
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1’39.860: “I’m really happy about the work we did today and thanks to my Tech 3 crew because they worked incredibly hard. After the stomach illness I had on the first day and the rain yesterday, I really needed to get in as many laps as possible to understand the potential of the Yamaha on a completely different track to Sepang. We did some very good work in improving the stability of the bike on the exit of the corner and this is so important at a slower track like Jerez. You can have a lot of sliding and wheelie on the exit but we have improved a lot in this area. I think I could have gone faster but I only used the soft rear tyre in the final 30 minutes, so with more time I’m sure I could have been inside the top six. Now I am looking forward to going to Qatar and racing the Yamaha for the first time. I’m convinced we will be fast and competitive but the four at the top of the timesheets are really strong. They are consistently fast, so it will not be easy to stay with them. But I will be giving it my maximum to start the new season in the best possible way.”
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) 1’39.919: “It’s been a very, very busy day. With my injury affecting the last tests, we needed to squeeze a winter’s worth of testing into this weekend, and yesterday was basically a wash. Today we got to try some stuff on the bike and learned a few things. I’m not thrilled with my lap time because I thought I could go a bit quicker but I struggled a little with the fast corners. We’ve clearly got some work to do, but now it’s time to get ready for Qatar, and I look forward to starting the season. I definitely feel better after coming here and getting to ride at close to 100 per cent and getting to understand the bike a bit more. Now it’s time to see what we’ve got when we put the cards on the table.”
9. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1’40.017: “It hasn’t been a great day for us. We started out well and tried some interesting electronic solutions this morning, as well as two different Bridgestone tyres, to try and work out which gave me the most confidence. Then in the afternoon we were doing a race simulation when I crashed not once but twice, when the front let go without warning. I still don’t know what happened exactly and naturally that damaged my confidence in the front and I couldn’t push to the limit as I would have liked. Anyway, we are not losing faith because we found some good things and now we just have to prepare for the first race in the best way we can. Racing at night in Qatar is not easy but I still feel confident even after the worst afternoon of preseason testing. My feeling with the team is perfect and I am sure they will help me to recover the confidence I lost today.”
10. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1’40.098: “After yesterday’s adverse weather we had a lot of things to test today. So we tried several different swingarm lengths, several front fork adjustments plus a few things to get more braking stability and at the end we achieved a good base set-up with which I am very happy. At the end of the day I did a long run with a consistent pace. I could have even improved my lap times on soft tyres but I got stopped by some traffic but we are not here for the fastest lap time. I think we did our best in the last three days.”
11. Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing) 1’40.287: “To be honest, these three days was a little bit strange, mainly due to the windly weather conditions. We made numerous adjustments on our Ducati and we worked particularly on the electronic set-up. After yesterday, we lost a lot of time, due to bad weather condition, but today we worked tirelessly to make a step forward. I rided for 91 laps. We found a good set-up and now I’m able to ride in a better way, in particolar with the tyres. When I tryed to improve my best lap time, there was ,on track, a lot of riders and I lost my chance. But I’m satisfied with how the test went. We also tested the new Bridgestone tyres, which worked very well with our Ducati.”
13. Randy De Puniet (Team Aspar) 1’40.601: “Today we were really pleased with the lap times we’re running but I think we can still improve the bike quite a bit before the race here. Anyway we feel like we’ve made some progress on a track like this for us. Towards the end of the day we had some chattering but we have an idea what caused this and it’s not the same as in Sepang. We did a lot of laps and a longer run to get a little more understanding of fuel consumption and things like this and in general we’re satisfied with how the whole test has gone for us. Now we can go racing which is what we really enjoy.”
14. Aleix Espargaro (Team Aspar) 1’41.645: “We have had a lot of chattering today, I don’t know why, but I struggled to get on the pace this morning. We improved a lot with the new Bridgestone but not enough so we have to keep working. I need more confidence in corner entry. Little by little we managed to set a good pace on a new tyre but we need to find a better solution to improve our mid-corner speed. We have done a lot of work on the chassis and suspension and improved my overall feeling so we’ll have to keep working along the same lines in Qatar. The good thing is that I am amongst the fastest CRT riders but we only have to look at my team-mate Randy to see that I can still go faster.”
17. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1’42.073: “Inherently we still have some problems. Theoretically we have a high front engine mount that is creating a lot of issues for us. We have a lot of vibration, engine noise through the handlebars, which is also related to that. Chatter, we still have the same type of….you know, you get in 45 degrees/ 50 degrees angle and if you have too much weight on the front or trying to push too hard I can make this bike chatter anywhere. So I have to ride around it, brake a little early and minimizing the time from break to gas to ride around the chatter. It makes it hard, the new Bridgestone front has helped though, it has tamed it down. We played a little bit today with the chassis, thanks to Ohlins they helped out a lot with some made it better also, little different geometry in the front and it good better. It was better, it was faster, it was easier to ride but we still haven’t cured 100% the problem.
Riding in the rain for the very first time was actually didn’t feel that bad, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot the first time we when out but the bike probably felt the best. We came in and we really tried to reengineer the wheel with electronics, create something more friendly but I think we got it a little bit wrong. We know now so I think next time we have a rain session we will be fine.”
19. Michele Pirro (Gresini Honda CRT) 1’42.212: “All I can say is that we have a lot to work on! Lap by lap I am building my confidence with the bike but I couldn’t really make the most of it because we had a problem with the bike and I had to come back into the pit box. They are teething problems but it is frustrating for me because I want to squeeze out everything I feel inside. It is a shame but I know that the guys are working hard, I have complete faith in them and I am sure that we will soon be reaping the rewards of all their effort. We just need to be patient.”