MotoGP: Sepang Test, Day 2 Rider Speak
Although the forecast called for rain on Wednesday, the MotoGP field was met with sunny skies on Wednesday for the second of three days of testing at Sepang.
Just as Tuesday’s session, the fastest MotoGP rider on the track Wednesday was piloting a Repsol Honda RC212V. But it was Dani Pedrosa who posted the quickest time, a 2:00.770. The Spaniard was the first MotoGP rider to break the 2:01 barrier so far in the first official test of the 2011 season.
The man who was quickest Tuesday, Casey Stoner, was second fastest aboard his RC212V, finishing the day 0.664 behind Pedrosa.
Third fastest was Ben Spies, who was 0.074 behind Stoner. Spies was second for most of the session, but was edged out by Stoner at the very end.
As for Valentino Rossi, he continued working with different positions on the Ducati GP11 to find comfort in his shoulder. In untypical Rossi style, though, the Italian was 13th, but reported satisfaction with the test.
Following are what the riders were saying after Tuesday’s MotoGP test in Sepang.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) says: "We’ve been quite lucky with the weather, it rained the first two days I was here, but it’s been sunny since the test started. Things definitely went a little bit smoother today-we dropped over a second from the lap time-but the gap to the front is still pretty big.
"I had a problem with vibration, and we spent a lot of time working to eliminate that. We’re going in the right direction, and we just need to keep taking small steps. We checked a lot of fork settings, some riding positions, and different geometry.
"It’s cool to see that the team atmosphere is really positive, not just between me and Valentino, but with the engineers too. I’m not happy to be this far off the pace, but it’s still early."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) says: "I’m happy because I was able to ride again today. I did another 42 laps, which is reassuring. Even when I work my shoulder hard, I’m finding that it doesn’t get worse, and I don’t suffer too much, to the extent that I was able to start again this morning without having lost anything compared to yesterday. Actually, the shoulder is even getting better as I ride, and I’m able to make the movements that are required.
"Obviously, it’s still a handicap, because eventually I begin to lose strength and the pain increases, but we were able to do some good, consistent work. We tested some new fairings, trying out the aerodynamics.
"There’s still a little vibration at the front that we weren’t able to eliminate, but we have some cards we can play tomorrow to address that. We have to get a little more experience to better understand the bike’s reactions when we change tires, from soft to hard and vice versa.
"If the weather stays nice, the track conditions will continue to improve, and I think lap times could drop a bit. Naturally, beyond feeling increasingly comfortable on the bike, one of our goals is to be able to ride it more easily. We’re satisfied with the progress we’re making.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "I think it’s the first time I’ve ridden so fast on this track, but you’re just fresh in the morning and I did four very good first laps. I was not looking for a time, but I saw that the track conditions were good and I pushed.
"The closer you get to the limit, the clearer the changes you are doing on the bike become, which leads you in the right direction. Today I tried the new engine, which has improved from Valencia, some chassis configurations and rear shocks. Tomorrow the plan is to continue comparing both bikes and it would be great to come away with the chassis and engine decided for the next test."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "I’m satisfied with the work done today. We have a good base that works well on different tracks. We started comparing again the 2010 and 2011 front forks and decided to stick to the 2011 version because it allows me to brake harder even if a small vibration still remains in the middle of the corner.
"I’m very happy with the pace I had today, but I am still not happy with my ability to improve my lap time when I try to push harder on the softer tire."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "Yesterday we really didn’t expect the best time, today we expected a bigger difference with the soft tire – but with the chassis we chose we just couldn’t get the best out of the tire.
"Tomorrow maybe we can focus a little more to compare the chassis again and then see which direction to go from there. We’ve got a few other small things here and there but they can wait until the next test. Now I’m starting to understand the bike a bit better and when I ride it, it feels more like home."
Ben Spies (Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: "Today went really well. We started out and got right up to speed. We worked pretty much just on electronics and also evaluated a couple of different engine configurations, both of which worked really well.
"The lap times were pretty similar so we need to work out which direction we want to go. We got a lot accomplished today, tomorrow we’ve got a couple more things on the engine to look at and we’re going to try some tires for Bridgestone."
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: "Today we continued to work on the bike, we found some positive things and some not so good. I think we have found more traction but maybe a little vibration we need to resolve.
"I’m happy with the day, but it was very hot and I’m pretty tired. We’ve improved a lot of little things, I have to continue to work on improving my riding as well and to give the team the best explanations I can on the developments to help them move forward."
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R) says: "Immediately I left the pit lane this morning the feeling was more normal than yesterday – after my first day back at work it was easier to understand everything.
"On my first run I set a good lap-time and this was very close to the fastest guys, except Dani who made a real qualifying lap! Much more important was that I could make high 2.01 lap-times with very old tyres, and my rhythm felt good. Also, I tried three different chassis today and the results of that test were quite clear, and we have made an improvement to front feeling and turning. The engineers have also done some good work with the traction control and this is helping me get out of the corners more smoothly.
"Anyway, now I am quite tired after 63 laps and I didn’t push for a fast time at the end of the day like many guys did – it’s more important to understand the bike on old tyres. I am very happy with the developments Suzuki has made, and I’m enjoying myself – I think we can have some fun this season!"
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: "I am really happy with today and, apart from the ‘stratospheric’ time set by Pedrosa, in race set-up I have been consistently amongst the best.
"We have improved the set-up compared to yesterday and experimented with some different electronic solutions. I can say that the base set-up of the bike is good and everybody, myself and the team, is finding that with more experience we are able to consolidate our work more.
"Last year when we spoke with the telemetry engineer from Honda we were struggling to understand but now everything is easier. After a positive first test at Valencia this is good confirmation for us at a track I have never really been fast at. So I am confident about the future and tomorrow we will try a race simulation, my physical condition permitting of course because as usual here in Malaysia the heat is tremendous!"
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: "Today we opted to use a soft tire to try and improve the set-up. I rode both bikes and we tried a number of different settings on each to make back to back comparisons with the balance and things like that. At the start of the day I was struggling a little but by the end we had improved and I could have maybe even pushed a little harder.
"I have improved my best lap time from yesterday so that is a positive thing and tomorrow we will look for more consistency using the combined settings from the things we found with each bike today."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V) says: "It has been another full day for us as we are trying several solutions to find the right setting. I still have a strange feeling in the braking and in changing direction in the curves, so we had to change many things during the whole session. We are still very positive as we do have the experience, the will and the parts to improve our performances."