For the third and final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang, a Honda once again topped the timesheets. But on Thursday, the quickest prototype wasn’t a Repsol Honda, but rather the San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V piloted by sophomore-rider Marco Simoncelli.
The Italian wasn’t just the quickest under the dry skies at Sepang, unusual for February weather in Malaysia; Simoncelli posted a 2:00.757 on the second of 42 laps, a time that beat Valentino Rossi’s 2009 best lap at Sepang in 2009.
Simoncelli’s lap is now the fastest motorcycle lap ever recorded at Sepang.
Second and third fastest behind Simoncelli were Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner, and factory Yamaha M1 rider Jorge Lorenzo. As for Rossi, he finished 10th fastest aboard the Ducati GP11 as he continues to recover from recent shoulder surgery.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP) says: "I’m really happy. In the Valencia test I realized that the new bike had good potential and I had a good feeling. If we consider that this is not my favorite track I have to be more than happy. I was very firm yesterday and this morning I managed to make this extraordinary Tempo.
"The team worked perfectly with the new entries. Everything has turned to perfection. We improved all; the guys on the bike and I am convinced that this year…of course this is the first test, so we must continue to work with your feet firmly on the ground."
Stoner continued his success on the Repsol Honda RC212V, posting a time just 0.54 behind Simoncelli. Stoner, who was fastest on day 1 at Sepang, suffered a crash during the morning hours of the test after losing the front end, but was able to quickly regain his rhythm.
Stoner continued to work with traction settings on the Honda, and tested some new tire compounds for Bridgestone, the sole tire supplier for MotoGP.
Casey Stoner (Respol Honda MotoGP) 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."
After a not-so-good day on Tuesday (finished seventh fastest), Lorenzo returned to the leading pack of riders Thursday by posting a time 0.088 behind Simoncelli.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha MotoGP) 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 teammate."
Andrea Dovizioso was the final rider to post within a second of Simoncelli, the Italian piloting his Repsol Honda RC212V to a 2:00.945. He was followed by the second factory Yamaha M1 ridden by the Ben Spies; the American posted his best time on the sixth of 60 laps at Sepang.
Two additional Hondas followed Spies’ Yamaha. Day 2’s fastest rider Dani Pedrosa was sixth fastest, followed by Simoncelli’s teammate Hiroshi Aoyama, who completed the hightest number of laps at 63.
Nicky Hayden broke into the top 10 on Thursday, posting a 2:01.534 aboard the Ducati GP11, making him eight fastest. His fellow American Colin Edwards followed in ninth aboard the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1.
Taking 10th fastest was Rossi, who was dealing with a chatter problem on his GP11 for most of Thursday. Rossi dropped seven-tenths from his day 2 time, and he was happy with his physical progress and the work completed on the GP11.
Rossi was followed by four additional Ducati motorcycles: Hector Barbera (Aspar Team), Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet of Pramac Racing, and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing).
The rookie Cal Crutchlow was 15th fastest on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1, followed by Moto2 Champion Toni Elias aboard the LCR Honda RC212V.
The only rider who didn’t participate in the final day of Sepang testing was Rizla Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista due to illness.
The second pre-season test of 2011 MotoGP will be at Sepang Feb. 22-24, the final test before the opening race at Qatar on March 17.
MotoGP Sepang Test: Day 3 Results:
|Pos||Rider||Team||Fastest lap||Prev. Gap||Lead. Gap||Laps|
|1||Marco Simoncelli||San Carlo Honda Gresini||2:00.757||–||–||42|
|2||Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda Team||2:00.811||+0.054||+0.054||42|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha Factory Racing||2:00.845||+0.034||+0.088||46|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||Repsol Honda Team||2:00.945||+0.100||+0.188||51|
|5||Ben Spies||Yamaha Factory Racing||2:01.002||+0.057||+0.245||60|
|6||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||2:01.241||+0.239||+0.484||44|
|7||Hiroshi Aoyama||San Carlo Honda Gresini||2:01.353||+0.112||+0.596||63|
|8||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Marlboro Team||2:01.534||+0.181||+0.777||60|
|9||Colin Edwards||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:01.651||+0.117||+0.894||32|
|10||Valentino Rossi||Ducati Marlboro Team||2:01.842||+0.191||+1.085||52|
|11||Hector Barbera||Mapfre Aspar Team||2:02.030||+0.188||+1.273||42|
|12||Loris Capirossi||Pramac Racing Team||2:02.057||+0.027||+1.300||48|
|13||Randy De Puniet||Pramac Racing Team||2:02.159||+0.102||+1.402||57|
|14||Karel Abraham||Cardion AB Motoracing||2:02.645||+0.486||+1.888||29|
|15||Cal Crutchlow||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||2:02.717||+0.072||+1.960||44|
|16||Toni Elias||LCR Honda MotoGP||2:02.916||+0.199||+2.159||55|
|17||T1||Yamaha Test Team||2:02.965||+0.049||+2.208||41|
|18||Kousuke Akiyoshi||HRC Test Team||2:03.452||+0.487||+2.695||3|
|19||T2||Yamaha Test Team||2:03.621||+0.169||+2.864||32|
|20||Noburu Aoki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||2:04.700||+1.079||+3.943||46|