MotoGP 2011 Sepang Test – Day Three
The first on-track MotoGP action of the year concluded at Sepang on Thursday, and in an exciting opening chapter of the pre-season period it was Marco Simoncelli who topped the third and final day’s timesheet in Malaysia. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider posted a 2’00.757 on his second of 42 laps, an effort that registered the best time of the entire Test and which was just 0.239s off Valentino Rossi’s 2009 circuit best lap.
The Ducati rider has also been one of the main focuses of attention throughout these three days, and he ended Thursday tenth in the timings with a lap of 2’01.842 – 1.085s off his fellow compatriot’s scorching marker.
Casey Stoner has been in fine form throughout this Test and the new Repsol Honda recruit was one of four riders to join Simoncelli under the 2’01” mark on the final day. The Australian’s effort of 2’00.811 was noted on his 38th of 42 laps, thus continuing his pattern of setting his best time late in the day and showing no lingering effects of a fall at Turn 5 earlier on.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was just 0.088s off Simoncelli as he placed his factory M1 as the highest Yamaha of the day. The Spaniard, who performed a tyre test in the afternoon, was precisely 0.1s faster than Andrea Dovizioso, whose Repsol Honda machine was the third RC212V inside the top four by the close of play.
Ben Spies’ integration into the Yamaha Factory Racing Team set-up maintained its smooth rate of progress. The American, using this Test to bond with his crew, finished Thursday with a time of 2’01.002 having ridden 60 laps, his best effort coming on the sixth of those. A brace of Hondas then followed, with Dani Pedrosa (+0.484s on Simoncelli) rounding off what has been an encouraging Test for the Repsol Honda rider who came into the Test hoping for no major problems with his collarbone. His best time from Wednesday also stood as the second fastest of the Test overall. Hiroshi Aoyama (+0.596s) appears to be making a slick transition to the San Carlo Honda Gresini set-up, and completed the highest number of laps of any rider with 63.
The highest placing Ducati on Thursday was that of Nicky Hayden. The factory team rider tried out different race settings on the GP11, and he and fellow American Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were the last two to come within a second of Simoncelli’s top time.
Rossi then led a group of five Ducatis, the Italian running a new set-up on the final day and managing to deal with the chatter issue that had been affecting his GP11. Héctor Barberá (Aspar Team), Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet of Pramac Racing, and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) occupied positions 11 to 14.
British rookie Cal Crutchlow put in 44 laps on the last day, setting a time of 2’02.717 on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, with Toni Elías (LCR Honda) completing the MotoGP riders on track. Álvaro Bautista was absent from the final day due to illness, leaving Suzuki Test rider Nobu Aoki to carry out the Japanese factory’s scheduled workload.
The MotoGP riders will next be on track from February 22nd-24th, again at Sepang, for the second official Test of 2011.
1 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 2m00.757s (Thu)
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2m00.770s (Wed) +0.013s
3 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 2m00.811s (Thu) +0.054s
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 2m00.845s (Thu) +0.088s
5 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 2m00.945s (Thu) +0.188s
6 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 2m01.002s (Thu) +0.245s
7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 2m01.353s (Thu) +0.596s
8 Nicky Hayden Ducati Team 2m01.534s (Thu) +0.777s
9 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech3 2m01.651s (Thu) +0.894s
10 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m01.687s (Wed) +0.930s
11 Valentino Rossi Ducati Team 2m01.842s (Thu) +1.085s
12 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Team 2m02.030s (Thu) +1.273s
13 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 2m02.057s (Thu) +1.300s
14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Racing Team 2m02.159s (Thu) +1.402s
15 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 2m02.645s (Thu) +1.888s
16 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech3 2m02.717s (Thu) +1.960s
17 Toni Elias LCR Honda MotoGP 2m02.916s (Thu) +2.159s
Weather: Tue: Dry, Wed: Dry, Thu: Dry. Ambient 28-33°C; Track 35-48°C (Bridgestone measurement)
– HRC Report
Honda riders swept the top three overall spots and four of the top five at the conclusion of the first three-day test of the year at the sultry Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.
For the third day in a row a different Honda rider led the charge. Today it was Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V), who was not only the fastest rider on the day, but fastest overall.
The tall, lanky Italian got off to a quick start, attacking the 5548m circuit outside of Kuala Lumpur in 2m 0.757s on only the second of his 42 laps aboard his full factory Honda RC212V. It was a lap that no one could match and “Super Sic” finished the three-day test 0.013s faster than Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V). The lap was only 0.239s slower than the fastest ever lap of Sepang set in qualifying in 2009.
The second-year MotoGP rider was buoyed by his results, saying at this time last year he was having a difficult time adjusting to the power of the premier-class machine after years on a 250cc two-stroke. But none of that trepidation was evident today, as he validated the important work done during the off-season by Honda engineers.
Simoncelli might have gone even faster had he concentrated on a single fast lap. Instead, he confirmed the improvements of both his team and Honda engineers by doing a simulated race run in the afternoon, 20 full laps, plus in and out laps.
Pedrosa was sixth on the day, but second overall in a test that ended with the top riders separated by barely perceptible margins. Pedrosa’s lap of 2m 0770s from Wednesday stood up as the second fastest time. The 2010 MotoGP World Championship runner-up finished Thursday with the sixth fastest time, but only 0.239s off Simoncelli’s pace.
The Spaniard had arrived in Malaysia concerned with the recovering health of his left collarbone and arm. Pedrosa suffered a double fracture of the collarbone in practice for last year’s Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi and continues to regain strength. The durability of the shoulder and arm wasn’t an issue, with Pedrosa completing a 12-lap run to check his fitness level.
Second to Simoncelli today was first day leader Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V). The 2007 World Champion continued to improve his comfort level on his new team with a lap that was a mere 0.054s from the top spot today. His lap of 2m 0.811s put him third overall for the test, giving the Honda riders a sweep of the virtual podium.
Stoner was one of three Honda riders to crash on Thursday. The Australian had a minor spill in Turn 12 when he touched the white line, but was unhurt and quickly rebounded.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) finished the day with the fourth fastest time which was only 0.188s off the day’s fast time. Fifth overall for the test, Dovizioso pronounced himself content with the work done, while looking forward to returning here in less than three weeks’ time to continue the important pre-season work.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had his best result of his rookie 2010 MotoGP season at Sepang and he finished in the same position today. The Japanese star was seventh on the day and seventh overall after clocking a day’s best 63 laps in the typically tropical weather. His lap of 2m 1.353s was only 0.596s slower than his teammate Simoncelli’s best and his fastest ever in Malaysia by 1.3s. Aoyama also fell early on the final day, but his testing regimen was barely interrupted.
Closing the gap to the leaders was Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP), who revealed that he’d been under the weather since arriving in Sepang. The Spaniard had flown to Sepang a week early to get acclimated to the tropical heat, but just prior to the test came down with the flu. Being at less than peak physical form was a detriment as the 2010 Moto2 World Champion in his re-entry into the MotoGP class after a one-year break.
Elias finished a deceptive 17th fastest, but closed the gap to the top time by more than a second overnight.
HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi was the third Honda rider to fall. The veteran rider wasn’t as fortunate as his peers and it was later confirmed he had suffered a fracture in his left arm.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda): 1st, 2m, 0.757s
“I’m really happy. In the Valencia test I realised that the new bike had good potential and I had a good feeling. If we consider that this is not my favourite track I have to be more than happy. I was very consistent yesterday and this morning I managed to make this extraordinary time. Then I did the race simulation, during which I have been constant and in the end I got exhausted, as in the race. Well, I’m glad to have gone 360 degrees. The team worked perfectly with the new team members. Everything has turned to perfection. We all improved, I, for one, and the guys working on the bike and I am convinced that this year we will be there. Of course, this is the first test and I don’t want to get too hyped up, so we must continue to work with our feet firmly on the ground.”
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd, 2m, 0.811s
“Today was definitely the best day, despite the crash. In general we made some nice steps forwards, alternating between the different chassis, trying to get a good feeling for them. We managed to make the bike work a lot better with used tyres and a different traction control system that catches the tyres a little quicker when they start to spin – which assisted with our corner speed. I’m really pleased with what I’ve found in this test, in fact it’s a little better than what I expected. I’m happy with the overall package, just to be able to focus with such a good base set-up has been really important for us.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 4th, 2m, 0.945s
“This morning we tried a different bike set-up and we improved in the middle of the corner. We worked on some electronics, in particular on the traction control and we found some good solutions. We also tested a different set-up of the clutch, but unfortunately the feedback was not as we expected. This morning the track conditions were very good, so I used the soft tyre and I could lap in 2.00. It was the first time that I set 2.00 on this track so I’m very happy. I’m satisfied about the work done by HRC, myself and the team during these three days of testing. We start from a very good package. All Hondas are very competitive with many strong riders. We are aware that what we have done is not enough and that we need to continue working. I’m happy also of the training programme done during the winter because physically I managed this first test of the year well.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 6th, 2m, 1.241s
“I am very, very happy about how the test went in general. The best news we could have is that recovery of the arm has been effective and cramps have disappeared and the lack of power which had me so worried. This afternoon we did a long run of 12 laps and we have done well. As for the work on the bike, I am also satisfied. We tried many things, step by step, and we leave Malaysia with clear ideas regarding suspension and some more things to confirm about chassis and engine when we come back here. I have concentrated more on the 2010 machine, and the second test we will have more time to test this year’s bike. Ohlins also will bring some new parts that can still improve the package. For me, the most important step we have given is in terms of stability on braking, which was one of the things we wanted.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Gresini Honda): 7th, 2m, 1.353s
“This morning we concentrated on the set-up and went very well. In the afternoon we continued our work with great satisfaction. Three days were important and useful to understand that I can still go strong. The team is fantastic and I found a perfect harmony. Now we will analyse the data and prepare the second equally important to test in Sepang.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda): 17th, 2m, 2.916s
“It was a difficult weekend for me. I flew to Malaysia one week earlier to train in this typical heat and to avoid the jetlag consequences, but three days ago I have started to feel sick. At the end I had to take antibiotics for the flu, so physically I was not okay and this bike requires one to be in good form. Despite the flu I think we had three productive days trying different adjustments to get more confidence and more stability on track. However, we still have a lot of work to do because I am struggling to find the right setting, but this is normal as I am continuing my adaptation to the RCV. I lapped in 2m 1.0s in 2009 on a MotoGP bike, so I am sure we will find the way to reduce the gap.”
– Yamaha Report
Today saw the final session of the first official MotoGP test of 2011 at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Yamaha Factory Racing Team riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies spent the three days on track evaluating a number of development steps for the 2011 YZR-M1 ahead of the new race season which kicks off next month. Lorenzo’s session focused on a series of shorter runs as he continued evaluating the various developments, impressing his team as he maintained a faster pace through the afternoon despite the increased track temperatures. The reigning World Champion finished the day in third position, just 0.088 seconds off the top of the time sheets. New factory rider Spies was again among the fastest riders on track for the majority of the day whilst working through various electronic settings on his bike. This test also marks the first time the Texan rider’s complete crew have worked together.
The riders will now travel to Bangkok for public appearance in the city on Saturday 5th of February, then heading home for a rest in advance of the second official test here at Sepang on the 22nd February.
Jorge Lorenzo – 3rd, 46 laps 2’00.811
“I’m very happy after the three days, it has been one of the best winter tests, normally we have more issues to feel good. The bike feels better but we still need to improve some points. I think the next test will see us take the next step. This afternoon when it was really hot on the track I still managed to put in a few fast laps which has given me the confidence that we are heading in a good direction. Ben is doing a very good job, I spoke with him yesterday and we discussed many things about the bike, he’s a good team mate.”
Ben Spies – 5th 60 laps 2’01.002
“For the second and third day we did very consistent times so I’m very happy with it, it shows the consistency of the bike. There are some things we still need to work on. We tested two configurations of engine and we know which direction we want to go in now which is great. We also worked on some electronics for fuel consumption without compromising lap times and we found a good solution for that as well. We’ll come back with some different goals in two weeks to look at being a bit faster and also test some different tyres. We’ve definitely done what we needed to do here. It’s been good riding alongside Jorge, we’ve both worked hard to deliver important information which the team can now take away and work with.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“Jorge feels quite comfortable on the bike. He’s got more patience this year and has taken a very considered approach to the test. I’m happy that we’ve completed a successful test with both riders on good form having blown off their cobwebs. We have enough data to decide which direction we have to go in now for our next visit here which was our first priority. We’ve seen it’s very competitive over the last couple of days with more riders than last year able to compete for the podium so I think it’s going to be a very exciting season.”
Massimo Meregalli – Team Director
“A good final day for Ben today, again he was straight up to a good pace which he was consistent with over the session. This was the first opportunity for all of Ben’s crew to work together, I am very satisfied to see there were no problems and they fit together well. Overall as a team we are pleased with this Sepang test, everyone has worked hard to ensure that on both sides of the garage we have tested everything we needed to. We can now go away and prepare for our next session here later in the month where we are confident we will make another step forward in our development for the 2011 bike to be ready for the start of the season.”
Positive start to 2011 for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team concluded a successful start to preparations for the 2011 MotoGP world championship today with Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow satisfied with significant progress made at the end of a three-day test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
Experienced American Edwards took full advantage of dry conditions throughout the test to evaluate a host of new upgrades on his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine. The 36-year-old completed 125 laps, working closely with his crew to assess a revised engine, chassis and electronics package he will campaign in 2011.
Edwards ended with a best time of 2.01.651 to finish ninth overall, the Sepang test highlighting just how competitive the 2011 World Championship is likely to be with the top ten riders split by just over one second.
Crutchlow was also buoyed by his hugely encouraging performance, the British rider clocking a best time of 2.02.717 to finish 17th on the final timesheets in what turned out to be a productive second test with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.
Crutchlow was able to quickly master the long and technical Sepang circuit he’d never seen before and he overcame constant discomfort in his left shoulder following pre-Christmas surgery to expertly build up his confidence and speed with his YZR-M1 machine.
Crutchlow made a brilliant recovery from a high-speed crash on the second afternoon to knock nearly 1.3s off his time from the first day, as he completed 127 laps by the time the test reached its climax. Edwards and Crutchlow will back on track at Sepang on February 22 for the second of three pre-season tests ahead of the first race in Qatar on March 20.
Colin Edwards – 9th, 2.01.651
“It was good to get back to work with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and I am really happy with the development that Yamaha has done on the bike for 2011. It has improved in every area and it was great to get back up to speed so quickly and post consistent and competitive lap times on each day. The engine is a big improvement in terms of power and the chassis helps me turn much better than I could before, so in all aspects I am happy and confident that I can have a strong season. Looking at the field there is some unbelievable talent but I feel really motivated to repeat some of the strong results I had in 2009. It is not going to be an easy task but I am sure with the help of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team it is not unrealistic to fight for the top six. I’m looking forward to being back on the back again later this month so we can fine-tune the package ahead of the first race.”
Cal Crutchlow – 17th – 2.02.717
“I am happy with the test because I am still learning so much but I was able to run a consistent pace and drop my lap times on each day. I’m on a big learning curve and I wasn’t looking for pure speed. I’d never ridden at this track before and it is certainly a tough place to learn quickly. All the other guys have done millions of laps around here and I just need to build up my experience. I’ve got to improve in every area but I’m happy and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team are happy too. My times are in the ballpark of those set in last year’s race and that’s pleasing considering everything is still so new for me and I wasn’t in peak physical condition because of my shoulder. I need to improve in the braking area and also step up my pace on t he hard Bridgestone tyre, but I feel I’m getting more comfortable with the bike. I’ve been looking at loads of data and when we return later this month I’ll continue trying to adapt my style. I’m still riding the bike too much like a superbike, but I’m pleased that I’m progressing and getting faster.”
– Ducati Report
The first pre-season MotoGP test of 2011 ended today at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit. Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were able to take advantage of three full days on the track with no rain, a rare occurrence in this Asian country, and that enabled the Ducati Marlboro Team to return to Italy with a large quantity of information and data that can be used to continue the development of the GP11.
Valentino Rossi pronounced himself very satisfied with the progress made on the GP11’s setup, allowing him to drop his best lap time by over seven tenths compared to yesterday. Despite being limited by his still-healing shoulder, the Italian was also happy with his physical progress and with the work done by his team.
Nicky Hayden also improved each day, and he looks forward to seeing the fruits of his labor at the next test, which will once again take place at Sepang, February 22-24.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 8th, 2:01.534 (60 laps)
“It’s great to be back here, and to be back on the bike. We had three important days with a lot of work to do. Of course I don’t like to still be so far away from the leaders, but we’ve reduced the gap every day. Today it looked like it could rain at any time, so we did a lot of laps in the morning and found some stuff we like. We chased the chatter a lot, which cost us time trying to figure out what’s going on. Last year, that was something we only had a problem with at this one track. We don’t want it anywhere, but it could be a problem that’s not related to the GP11 in general and is specific just to this track. We also tested some tires for Bridgestone and gave them some information that can help down the road. We realize there’s still a lot of work to do, and that starts with the rider. When we come back, we’ll keep reducing the gap to the front guys.”
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 10th, 2:01.842 (52 laps)
“I’m very happy because before coming here, I expected to do 20, 30 laps per day, and as it turns out, I did around 40 each of the first two days and over 50 today. Of course I was really finished by the end, in part because the rest of my body has to work differently; my left arm has to do extra work, so it’s very tired. But I’m really happy with my shoulder because it’s improving day-by-day, and even after the stress of having ridden a MotoGP bike at the limit, I don’t have any problems: now it’s just a question of strength. My mobility has improved a lot, and I no longer think my physical limitations cost me a second; let’s say I lose five or six tenths, especially on braking and in corner entry. Anyway, we worked well today too, and we were able to collect a lot of data and solve the chattering problem we were experiencing. Obviously, there’s still a lot to do, but compared to the start of the test, we’ve definitely gotten closer to the base setup we’re looking for. There’s no need to change the Desmosedici’s character; we need to take advantage of its best characteristics—its stability and its engine—and improve the other areas, especially the in-corner behavior, to make it turn better. In any case, the overall evaluation of the test is definitely good; today we’re a second off the top riders, and also in the afternoon, riding with race tires, the distance stayed around seven or eight tenths. I still have to do more kilometers in order to understand other aspects of the GP11 but, although I have to change my riding style a little, I now feel much more at home with the Ducati.”
– Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki has completed the first test of 2011 in positive spirits, even though Álvaro Bautista was unable to take part in the final day of testing at Sepang due to illness Bautista had two successful days at the Malaysian circuit, recording his fastest ever time over the 5,548m track and evaluating a huge amount of new and updated parts for the Suzuki GSV-R. He managed to make one short run today, but came back to the pit-box and had to stop riding due to severe stomach cramps that had affected him all test and got worse today. Bautista returned to the team’s hotel and although he came back to the track later in the day, he was unable to resume riding.
Team Test Rider Nobuatsu Aoki took over Bautista’s riding duties for the rest of the test and was able to do the final assessments of the latest specification engine, as well as chassis tests and comparisons of different engine maps and electronics. His input and data will be very useful as the team now return to the factory to continue the development of the machine in time for the start of the season. Honda’s Marco Simoncelli recorded the fastest time today.
Rizla Suzuki and Bautista will next be in action at another three-day test in Malaysia, which gets underway on Tuesday 22nd February. The first round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship is scheduled for Sunday 20th march at Losail in Qatar.
“I am not feeling well at all, I have a constant feeling of sickness and it hasn’t improved all day. I tried to ride the bike this morning; I really wanted to use the good track conditions and try to do my first 2’00 minute lap-time of Sepang! But immediately I made the first lap, the physical effort made the sickness worse and it was just impossible. So, I must say sorry to the team and I am also very disappointed for myself. But the guys keep reminding me that there are no points or prizes for today’s lap-times, and we made a lot of work in the last two days, so I guess it’s not a big problem. Also, Nobu did a good job and tested a lot of stuff so I hope this helps me next time. Anyway, I am really happy about the potential in the 2011 Suzuki and with my team – I can’t wait to come back in a couple of weeks.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Despite today’s physical problems for Álvaro we have to be satisfied with the work we’ve got through, especially considering that it was raining so heavily for a few days before the test. It’s difficult for us to draw big conclusions – because the Suzuki has always shown good potential in Malaysia – so the guys have been very careful to make sure that all the test results are related as much as possible to improving the areas we need to rather than looking for the ultimate Sepang setting. This meant a lot of work on old tyres and a lot of laps! Alvaro was awesome on the first two days and is starting to look like he really owns the bike now; we all know he’s a racer rather than a tester so the lap-times are encouraging.
“Nobu stepped in today and did a lot of very detailed work, so the day certainly hasn’t been wasted. Thanks to him and the full team – it’s been a tough winter for everyone at Rizla Suzuki, but we’re all very committed to doing the best we possibly can in 2011.”