MotoGP 2011 Sepang Test – Day One
Stoner leads the way on day one at Sepang
Casey Stoner’s progress on the Repsol Honda RC212V continued at a rapid rate on Tuesday when the Australian rider topped the opening day timesheet at the official MotoGP Test at Sepang. Posting a best lap of 2’01.574 – the only sub-2’02” effort – at the very end of the day Stoner was 0.403s faster than World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, who had been sat at the summit of the timings on his factory Yamaha M1 prior to his rival’s late lap.
Indeed the RC212V performed well on day one, with Stoner’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa third at just under five-hundredths of a second behind second position and showing little or no signs of hesitance with regards to his still recovering collarbone. The Spaniard, Stoner and third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso (who placed eighth on the timesheet) were all testing various front forks on their bikes, whilst the Italian rode the 2011 chassis for the first time.
Marco Simoncelli, the HRC supported San Carlo Honda Gresini rider now entering his second season in the premier class, was fourth at marginally over seven-tenths off Stoner’s marker, with Ben Spies completing the top five. The American took his factory M1 round in a best time 0.758s off the top time, having escaped uninjured from a fall inside the opening hour of the first day’s riding.
On the track he scored his equal best result in his rookie MotoGP season in 2010 Álvaro Bautista, who is this year tasked with developing the GSV-R as Rizla Suzuki’s sole rider, was sixth fastest as he worked through a range of new aspects including chassis, engine, suspension and electronics. Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Dovizioso, and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were the final riders to get within a second of Stoner, whilst Randy de Puniet was the highest placed Ducati rider in the opening day order in tenth position, 1.578s off top spot.
Riding the recently unveiled Desmosedici GP11 but with a modified fuel tank was Valentino Rossi, whose main focus was on his riding position as he continues to adapt his style to his recovering right shoulder. The Italian was 12th on the timesheet, leading a spate of Ducatis with factory team-mate Nicky Hayden, Pramac Racing’s Loris Capirossi, and Aspar Team’s Héctor Barberá following in the order.
British rookie Cal Crutchlow, with a similar shoulder hindrance to Rossi, was 16th on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 bike, just under 2.5s off top spot as he continues to make the transition to MotoGP. LCR Honda’s Toni Elías was just behind, as he rode a 2010 factory RC212V chassis with a 2011 engine, and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) completed the field, riding two different Desmosedici machines for comparison.
HRC’s testing workload was supplemented by the presence of Kousuke Akiyoshi, whilst Yamaha also had two test riders on track.
1 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 2:01.574
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 2:01.977 +0.403
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2:02.024 +0.450
4 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:02.295 +0.721
5 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 2:02.332 +0.758
6 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2:02.422 +0.848
7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:02.483 +0.909
8 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 2:02.507 +0.933
9 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.514 +0.940
10 Randy De Puniet Pramac Racing Team 2:03.152 +1.578
11 Kousuke Akiyoshi HRC Test Team 2:03.224 +1.650
12 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro Team 2:03.365 +1.791
13 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 2:03.508 +1.934
14 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 2:03.695 +2.121
15 Hector Barbera Aspar Team 2:03.767 +2.193
16 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:04.009 +2.435
17 Toni Elias LCR Honda MotoGP 2:04.238 +2.664
18 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 2:04.470 +2.896
19 T1 Yamaha Test Team 2:04.717 +3.143
20 T2 Yamaha Test Team 2:05.235 +3.661
– HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) got the testing season off to a fast start by leading a strong Honda charge on the first day of 2011 MotoGP testing on the sultry Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.
In only his second ride on the Repsol Honda RC212V, the 2007 MotoGP World Champion immediately adapted to the updated machine. The fastest of his 52 laps of the 5548m track was 2m., 1.574s., just .037s off the pole position time from the 2010 race. His gap to the second fastest rider, world champion Jorge Lorenzo, was a healthy.403s.
The Australian wasn’t the only Honda rider to start strongly. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa finished the day with the third fastest time as he continues to recover full strength in the shoulder he injured in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi. Pedrosa was only .027s behind the pace of his fellow Spaniard, Lorenzo.
The three-rider Repsol Honda team worked well together, with Stoner and Pedrosa testing the 2010 fork, while Andrea Dovizioso, the third member of the team, tested the 2011 version.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda RC212V) finished with the third fastest time in his new role as team leader. Simoncelli, now paired with his 250cc rival Hiroshi Aoyama, put his RC212V to good use. His best lap among the 52 he completed put him solidly in fourth place, giving Honda three of the top four spots. It also consolidated the momentum he began building at the end of the 2010 season, which he finished strongly.
Aoyama had a very successful first day on the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. The final 250cc World Champion finished the day seventh fastest. Aoyama’s 2010 campaign was interrupted by a broken back suffered in a practice crash at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The Japanese rider is now healthy and hopes to remain so throughout the season.
Dovizioso was less than a quarter second off the pace of Aoyama while testing both a new engine and new chassis. Though he finished eighth fastest, the placing was deceptive: When everyone was on the harder race tyres, Dovizioso was up among the leaders.
Toni Elias, the 2010 Moto2 World Champion, began his return to the premier class by finishing with the 17th fastest time as he reacclimatizes himself to the power of the LCR Honda RC212V. Elias immediately felt more comfortable than when he first rode the bike at the end of last season in Valencia and expects the process of adapting to the premier class to continue smoothly.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V): 1st, 2m, 1.574s “Very positive day. At the beginning it took some time to get used to the bike again, but I soon felt comfortable and we had a good day. We didn’t change the set-up too much compared to the one we had in Valencia and I am pleased to see that even if the circuit is different, it still works pretty well here in Sepang. We did some work later on with the engine braking to decrease some chattering and looks like we found a good solution. In the next two days we will start testing something new, but anyway for me, it was a very good way to come back on track after the winter break.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 3rd, 2m, 2.024s “I ‘m pretty happy with how things went today. My priority was to see how I was on the bike after so long without riding and the feeling has been positive. Obviously, I still have less strength under braking and lack of stability in the shoulder with the direction changes, but the cramps have gone and this is very positive for me. We have time to continue with my physical training and gain the strength that I need for when the season starts. I honestly didn’t expect to do so many laps today. I started with the 2010 bike to get the feeling back, because in the second half of the season our bike was competitive and we want to begin improving from there. Then I tried a new swingarm and a new chassis, in the last two runs, and my best lap time has been with the new parts, so it’s also positive. The plan for tomorrow is to test the new engine.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda): 4th, 2m, 2.295s “I am really happy. My difficult first outing at this circuit last year is now a distant memory. I felt good straight away with the new RC212V and I was immediately able to push hard. I was consistent all day and that is very positive. We tried a new position for the rear brake lever on one of the two bikes and we will try a new system tomorrow. Obviously the goal is also to keep working on the setting to try and improve the feeling with the 2011 version, although the first impression is that it is fast, powerful and performing well. We couldn’t have started out any better!”
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Gresini Honda): 7th, 2m, 2.483s “It is always difficult to get back on the bike after a two-month break, but I have to say that today went well. The bike has shown good power, good acceleration and a character that allows you to be decisive. I have already got a good feeling with the guys and that is one of our main objectives for this test. Tomorrow we will continue to work on the set-up and try to improve it again. It has been a positive first day and it has made me optimistic for the season ahead because I want to make up for lost time in 2010, when I missed six races through injury.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 8th, 2m, 2.507s “I’m happy because this year we are starting from a very good base. All Honda riders are very competitive so I’m confident and this is an extra boost for me. Today we tested the new engine; it has more power in the low revs and this helps me with the line. We also tested the new chassis and it has some positive and negative points and we need to understand it better. We did a comparison work with the 2010 and 2011 fork. The stability in the front has improved but we must rectify some vibrations in the middle of the corner, together with work on the suspension. I’m satisfied with the fact that it was easier to find the rhythm and with hard tyre I could lap consistently on 2.02.5. I lapped at two-tenths from the first riders when they were using the same tyre, choosing not to use the soft tyre in the end because we focused on understanding the new machine.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda): 17th, 2m, 4.238s “I feel more comfortable now compared with the first run out in Valencia. We still have a lot of things to improve, but actually my position on the bike is good and I could lap with more stability. I lapped 30 runs on hard tyre and further 30 laps on softer compound with small improvements lap by lap. We knew that the adaptation period to this new bike takes some time, but we are positive and we are working hard to find the right chassis regulations to improve the pace.”
– Yamaha Report
The first official test of the 2011 MotoGP season got underway today at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. Yamaha Factory Racing Team riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies were quick to get up to a good pace on track, both riding under last year’s race times before the end of their first session despite not having ridden a motorcycle for two months over the winter break. With many parts and electronics to test over the three days, today’s objective of familiarising themselves with their YZR-M1’s again was a success. Reigning World Champion Lorenzo wrapped up his first session as the second fastest rider of the day, just four tenths from the top. Team mate Spies was just less than four tenths behind him in fifth.
Day two tomorrow will see both riders working on various areas of the 2011 race bike’s development along with testing tyres for MotoGP tyre supplier Bridgestone. In advance of the official 2011 Yamaha Factory Racing Team launch at the second Sepang test, both riders took to the track today riding YZR-M1s with plain black carbon fibre fairing. From tomorrow however the M1 of both Lorenzo and Spies will have a special ‘one-event’ Yamaha Factory Racing Blue de-branded design to be filmed for a Yamaha corporate video as part of the ongoing Yamaha World GP 50th Anniversary activities. This design will only be used for the remaining two days of the Sepang test.
Jorge Lorenzo – 2nd, 44 laps 2’01.977
“It’s been a good start today, we tried a few things and it seemed for everything we tried it was a little bit better, not big improvements but as I said in Valencia at the test last year, the 2011 bike seems to have less wheelie so we can open the throttle earlier in the corners and in some corners I have better corner speed as well. Today was my first ride wearing Alpinestars so there were a lot of things for me to get used to. We pushed a bit more towards the end of the session and got faster, we will continue to make the step tomorrow.”
Ben Spies – 5th, 24 laps 2’02.332
“Today was good. The weather forecast wasn’t so great so to get as much time on the bike as we had was good. We set out to not do too many laps to avoid getting tired, it’s easy to overdo it on the first day. We did enough to get my head up to speed then relaxed as we have a lot to look at over the next two days for Yamaha and Bridgestone. It’s my first day with the new team and they were fantastic, everybody worked together really well. We ended up going faster than we did here last year in the race which shows my confidence in the bike and the team. There’s more to come from the bike and from me too, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager for Jorge Lorenzo
“I’m very pleased with our first session here at Sepang. I’m actually quite surprised at Jorge’s speed as normally after a two month break it takes him longer to get into the rhythm because he’s a very smooth rider, so a break means you miss the rhythm. We had received good information at the end of the day so we have been able to make some steps and reach some decisions. Tomorrow we have some more things to test but for today we are quite satisfied.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director and Team Manager for Ben Spies
“After a long rest we have to be satisfied with the first session. Our riders used today to get back their speed and we are happy to see they were both consistently fast. Tomorrow we will start to do some work on the bikes and collect further data.”
– Ducati Report
In sunny and rain-free conditions Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden today began the first winter test with the Desmosedici GP11 in Malaysia. The Italian was back in the saddle after a test with the 1198 Superbike at Misano Circuit (Wednesday, 26 January), where it had been confirmed that his right shoulder still lacked strength and was very painful. Today, though, he had the satisfaction of completing 41 laps and of beginning the work of setting up the GP11, and despite his physical condition, he’ll continue to work over the next two days so that his team can benefit from his important feedback.
Nicky Hayden also began working with the various technical updates, and he expects to make further progress with his bike’s set up.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 12th, 2’03.365 (41 laps)
“Rarely have I been this happy with a twelfth place, because after the test at Misano, we were pretty pessimistic considering how bad I felt there. It went better here though, especially in the morning, and we were able to do 20, 25 laps at a decent speed. Although we still have a lot of work to do, but we did a lot today: we worked on the riding position, and we’re starting to understand, among the many details that we can adjust on this bike, what the best solutions are. The Ducati’s DNA doesn’t need to be changed; we have to take advantage of the positive aspects and improve the others. Unfortunately, it became more difficult when I lost a lot of strength in the afternoon, but in the end I was able to do about fifteen more laps. Let’s say that at the moment, I have quite a bit of pain and not much strength, whereas the opposite would be preferable! The hardest parts are the straights and on hard braking into right corners, like Turn 1 and Turn 4; there alone I lose about a second, whereas the rest of the lap is okay, because compared to Valencia, I’m able to ride much better. It will be important to be able to rest well tonight in order to regain some mobility so that I can do 30 or 40 laps tomorrow. I’ll have a relaxing massage and put ice on it.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 2’03.508 (65 laps)
“Obviously, being off the pace isn’t how you want to start the first official test, but it’s good to be back out there. We had a lot of little things to try, including a new throttle that I liked a lot. The new anti-wheelie was working well, but this isn’t really a track where you notice that a lot. We’ve still got a lot more parts to evaluate before we can draw many conclusions. They did a lot over the winter—not just on the bikes, but they’ve really stepped the game up with new tools and equipment in the garage. Everyone is clearly working hard as usual. It was nice to be back on the track, and to be around the team again.”
– Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista started the first test of 2011 in a positive style as he posted the sixth fastest time of the day in Malaysia.
Bautista (P6, 2’02.422, 65 laps) began the day by getting his feel and rhythm back on the Suzuki GSV-R, after the winter long test ban. He was soon on the pace and quickly got into the intense test schedule that the team has planned for the three-day test.
The Spaniard was able to run Suzuki’s latest specification engine, as well as a new chassis and some back-to-back runs on the 2011 Ohlins front forks. The team was able to complete a full day of testing, as the usual afternoon rain that is regularly experienced at Sepang never materialised. Honda’s Casey Stoner recorded the fastest time of the day.
Rizla Suzuki will be back on track tomorrow and Thursday for the remainder of this three-day test, with a comprehensive range of new and updated parts still to be evaluated.
“Well, it’s been a long time since Valencia and on my first laps I thought Suzuki made a mistake and fitted a 1000cc engine in the bike, it feels so fast after a long break! But, after some easy laps, I began to get my rhythm and to ride comfortably. We did some interesting testing, but to be honest the main thing today was just for me to get back to a normal level, and in the end the bike felt nice and we went quite quick, so I’m happy. I hope the weather stays dry, we have a big list of stuff to test and I know the guys will be working late tonight to prepare everything for tomorrow – thanks to them and I am looking forward to continuing our work.”