The first official test session of the 2011 MotoGP Championship wrapped up on Thursday at Sepang. Again, a Honda was on top, this time with Marco Simoncelli at the controls of the San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V.
Besides closing the Sepang MotoGP test by beating out the rest of the field, Simoncelli’s time of 2:00.757 beat Valentino Rossi’s 2009 best lap at Sepang in 2009.
Following Simoncelli with the second quickest time was day 1′s fastest rider, Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda RC212V, and MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha M1. Rossi improved on his times aboard the Ducati Team GP11, finishing 10th fastest on Thursday.
Following is what the riders were saying after the third and final day of the MotoGP Test at Sepang.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: "I am really happy today. In the test at Valencia we realized that the new bike had potential and I already had a good feeling with it. Taking into account that this is not one of my favorite circuits we have still managed to build on our consistency from yesterday and this morning I was able to set an awesome lap.
"For the rest of the day we focused on a race simulation, setting a consistent pace and by the end of it I wasn’t on the limit like I was in the race here.
"Overall I am 100% happy. The team has worked brilliantly, the changes have integrated well and everything has gone perfectly. We have all improved, starting with myself, the guys and the bike, and I’m sure this year I’ll ‘be there’ too.
Obviously this is only the first test so we have to keep our feet on the ground and just continue like this."
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Gresini Honda RC212V) says: "This morning we focused on set-up and we went well, which continued into the afternoon. They have been three useful and important days for us to understand that we can be strong this year. The team is really fantastic and we are already working in harmony. Now we will have a good look at the data and get ready for another important test here at Sepang."
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) says: "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 GP11) says: "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."
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda 212V) says: "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 suspensions and some more thing 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."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "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 tire 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 program done during the winter because physically I managed this first test of the year well."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "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 tires 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."
Jorge Lorenzo (Factory Yamaha M1) says: "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 (Factory Yamaha M1) says: "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 tires. 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."
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1) says: "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 (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1) says: "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 tire, 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."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V) says: "It was a difficult 3-day testing for me. I flew to Malaysia one week earlier to train in this typical heat and to avoid the jetlag consequences but 3 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 to be in a good form. Despite the flu I think we had 3 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 for me but this is normal as I am continuing my adaptation to the RCV. I lapped in 2.01 in 2009 on a MotoGP bike so I am sure we will find the way to reduce the gap."
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R) says: "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."