Qatar MotoGP Test: Day 1 Honda Hoot

2011 MotoGP Test

The final preparations of the 2011 MotoGP pre-season commenced at the Losail International Circuit on Sunday, as the premier class completed the first of two days of night-time testing at the track which will host the opening round of the campaign next weekend.

Under the floodlights it was Dani Pedrosa on the Honda RC212V who found the fastest pace with a best lap of 1’56.271, an effort which left him top of the day one time-sheet by the close of play at 11pm local time.

The Repsol Honda GP rider set out in search of his set-up for the Qatar GP, and also tested new suspension, a workload which appeared to go smoothly judging by his lap time.

Just 0.143s behind and in second place was the Spaniard’s teammate Casey Stoner, the man who had been fastest at the previous Test at Sepang. Stoner, like his teammate and the majority of the 17 MotoGP riders present, worked on his race set-up and also his riding position, and posted a best time of 1’56.414 by the end of the day.

Completing an all-Honda top three was San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama. The Japanese spent the early part of the session assessing the track conditions, and found his rhythm soon enough with a best time of 1’56.444 on his 30th of 59 laps, just three-hundredths behind factory man Stoner.

At 0.292s off Pedrosa’s lead time, Factory Yamaha Racing rider Ben Spies (1’56.563) placed fourth with team-mate and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo fifth. The American focused his energies on chassis geometry and electronics, and will run a tire test on Monday. Lorenzo sought to improve the rear grip on his factory M1, and was 0.411s down on rival Pedrosa by the end of the day.

Colin Edwards did a tire test to coincide with the race time later in the evening and the American was just under five-tenths off the top spot thanks to a 1’56.742. The final rider under the 1’57" marker for the day was third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso with a 1’56.780, working on electronic mapping and trying to overcome the mid-corner problem he had last time out at Sepang.

Valentino Rossi and his Ducati Team colleague Nicky Hayden were the only two Desmosedicis inside the top ten on day one. The pair both ran two bikes, each with a different setting, to decide by the end of the day which base setting to go with.

Hayden closed out at 0.866s off the top spot whilst Rossi survived a fall at Turn 9 after the opening hour to return to the track and register a 1’57.038 on his 57th and final turn, which left him 0.767s off Pedrosa and in eighth spot.

The Italian’s team had already ruled out testing the flex chassis and 42mm Öhlins forks prior to the start, based on the feedback provided by Hayden’s team.

Randy de Puniet had a positive end to a tough day on the Pramac Racing GP11 machine, after the Frenchman had crashed twice. He escaped uninjured and put in a 1’57.143 right at the end to complete the top ten.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was the last to get within a second of Pedrosa thanks to a 1’57.226. He was followed closely by Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who had planned to run a race simulation on both days, and Héctor Barbera (Mapfre Aspar Team).

Loris Capirossi’s adaptation to the Pramac Racing Ducati continued as he rounded out day one in 14h spot, just ahead of rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), also on the GP11, who was bidding to find the right balance between the feeling with the front and rear of his machine.

The Czech rider was just over two-tenths ahead of fellow rookie Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), whose aim was to learn the track under floodlights on his M1. LCR Honda’s Toni Elías completed the timesheet, with a best time of 1’58.250.

The second and final day of the Test is scheduled to run from 6pm-11pm local time tomorrow (Monday).

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