The 2011 MotoGP grid experimented with the settings on their respective prototypes for the final time Monday after the test at Losail International Circuit, Qatar.
And just as in the two previous MotoGP pre-season tests at Sepang, a Honda RC212V topped the time sheets. Casey Stoner piloted his RC212V to the quickest time on Monday, followed by his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies.
Rounding out the top five in quickest MotoGP times were two more Honda RC212Vs: Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda).
Valentino Rossi had yet another rough pre-season test at Qatar, only able to get his Ducati MotoGP GP11 into 13th fastest, well over a second behind Stoner.
Here’s what the riders were saying after the final pre-season test of the 2011 MotoGP season:
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "The conditions seemed very difficult when we arrived at the circuit today as it was so windy and on the way here the road was full of sand, but we managed to finally complete a good test today. It was very windy out on track and quite difficult to ride at maximum, but the grip was not so bad. It was cooler than yesterday and we improved our lap times, which is positive.
"Today we tried the new front fork, we have continued to work with electronics and have tried both the hard and the softer tires. We kept the good feeling we had at Sepang, the test here in Qatar also went well in general and we go to the first race with a competitive bike, but for the Grand Prix we will have to keep working hard because nobody will give away anything."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "It was a strange day of testing: at the beginning it was very windy and the track was dirty, but fortunately we managed to test. We worked on electronics set-up and also on the set-up of the bike to improve the corner entry and at around 10pm we did a race simulation. The temperatures today were cooler than yesterday with the ground reaching 18 degrees. We used the hard tire for the whole session and maybe this strategy was a mistake.
"In the past it was not possible to use the soft compound on this track whereas it seems possible this year. Only myself and Lorenzo made a race simulation so it’s difficult to compare the lap times with the other riders that worked mainly with soft tyres. If we look at the lap times, the gap to Casey and Dani is too big. I think this is because we used different tyres and did different work, for the race weekend we should be closer. Of course we need to keep working but I feel that we arrive at the first round competitive."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: "I’m really happy, I didn’t think we would get any laps in tonight judging from the weather earlier in the day, it was a little tough but the wind seemed to settle and the track conditions improved a lot and we got some good test time in tonight.
"By the look of the lap times everyone seems to have taken a big step forward, but we’re happy with what we’ve achieved again here and we can enter the race weekend with confidence but at the same time everyone else will be improving their set-up so we can’t relax.
"We found a good rider position which I’m really happy with, having moved my position more towards the rear in Sepang – to try and find more grip, here we can run a more neutral position and everything seems to be working well. We did some more work on electronics tonight and also on the tires, but generally worked on set-up for the weekend."
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1) says: "It’s been a good test, I’m happy with it. We tried a few different things today and improved the bike some more. We’ve now got a couple of days to look over the data ready for the four day weekend, there’ll be plenty more riding opportunities before Sunday.
"I was pretty confident coming here after Sepang, hopefully we can make the bike even better before the race. Last year we saw that the M1 worked well at every track, it’s Yamaha’s strong point and I think it’s the same this year."
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1) says: "Today wasn’t the best day for me. It was not because my riding is bad, I always admit when it is, we struggled with the set up of the bike during the session and unfortunately we didn’t make a step forward. The wind was tough but that was a problem for everyone. We also tried a different swing arm today but it didn’t make an improvement. We will work over the next few days to be ready to improve in the next sessions on Thursday."
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R) says: "It has been another big workload tonight and we got a lot done again. We tried a different setting to try and get more grip with the rear tire, because although yesterday wasn’t too bad we still wanted to improve. I tested some new Bridgestone tires tonight, but they didn’t quite give me the same confidence as the ones we already have, but we still needed to test them so I’m glad I did.
"At the end I hoped to make a long run with the harder tyres, but it was too late. So instead I put a soft tire in the rear and a hard in the front to try to make a good lap, but I tried to warm the tires on the out lap so I could push hard and when I arrived in the last corner I braked very hard and lost the front, so I finished my day before the end of the test!
I am happy with the work from the two days because we have a very clear direction for next weekend. We are in a much stronger position than a year ago and I’m looking forward to the race."
"Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) says: "When we got here this afternoon, I wasn’t sure how much riding we were going to get to do, because the wind was really gusting. It started dying down about the time we started, though, and they did a good job of cleaning the track.
"We tried some different options and got a little bit better, but not like we really wanted to. I did two longer runs and was able to string together some laps at a decent pace, on both hard and soft tires. I ended the day with a crash in Turn 2, where a lot of guys have gone down this week. I just lost the front end. Anyway, that’s enough testing, because this weekend it will really mean something. We know it’s going to be a tough one, because everyone is pushing so hard, but we’ll do our best to come in here and make a good showing."
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) says: "I’d say that today was pretty challenging: the weather conditions were much tougher than yesterday, and I had another crash when I slipped on a white line. Fortunately, I just fell over on the ground-it was nothing serious. The real problem was that at about an hour and a half from the finish, I started to lose strength in my shoulder, and I just couldn’t push anymore.
"It’s a shame, because I had just done my best time, and I may have been able to drop it a little more from there. Instead, we didn’t even mount the two soft tyres that we had. I started on a long run, but I stopped because I was losing tenths lap after lap. Let’s say that we’re not as far back as it looks, although we still have a lot of work to do, regarding both the bike and myself, because the shoulder is evidently not yet able to bear two such intense days of testing. Between now and Thursday, I’ll do some light exercise and have it massaged, and then we’ll see."
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1) says: "It has been another positive test and now I’m really looking forward to the racing starting. The bike has been working awesome again at this track and it shows the hard work we put in during the two tests at Sepang recently has really paid off.
"We haven’t really needed to make any major changes to the bike and that is a good sign. If you can take the bike to a completely different track and it works then it shows we’ve found a good set-up and I’m confident we go into the new season with a really good package. I ran through a few tire options for Bridgestone tonight and got some good information but the conditions were really windy.
"I want to be further up the timesheets with a better lap time but it is the last day of testing before we start racing and I just didn’t want to risk pushing for an outright lap time in those conditions. The wind was so bad in places it was blowing the front -end out from underneath you, so I didn’t want to be caught out.
"I feel really motivated and excited and while I know it is going to be a tough year, I feel we can put up a good fight. The field is probably the strongest it’s ever been but I’m ready to go out there and fight for some good results."
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1) says: "The test certainly didn’t end how I wanted and it is a real shame because we had made some changes to the balance of the bike that really helped my confidence with the front-end tonight. But I made a silly little mistake at Turn 10. I lost the rear and closed the throttle but then lost the front and I couldn’t get my left hand out from underneath the handlebar.
"I’ve basically taken the tip off my left little finger and it is really sore now. I don’t need surgery but it is obviously going to be uncomfortable this weekend for the race now. It is a shame because I was only 0.5s away from the top ten last night. I adapted to riding under the floodlights really quickly once I realized the shadows weren’t somebody trying to overtake me!
"I was confident of taking another step tonight and I’m sure I could have done without the cr ash. It cost me nearly three hours of track time, which I can’t really afford to lose at this stage, but I’m still looking forward to my MotoGP debut. It will be an honor to line-up against this field on Sunday night and as always I’ll be giving it my best."
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11) says: "As they went the last two Tests in Malaysia, next year we will only come here in Qatar to test. Jokes apart, at this circuit the situation is completely different than the six days of work in Malaysia. I feel better riding my Ducati and I really enjoyed today. My team did a fantastic job after two crashes yesterday. We tried many different solutions changing tires to understand the various reactions in anticipation of Sunday’s race. We are confident."
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Ducati GP11) says: "Today I felt good on the track, everything seemed to go in the right direction, but after the crash at more than 200km/h, things did not go as expected. However, I remain very calm for the first race here in Qatar this weekend. We tried some technical solutions that should allow us to be competitive and register significantly lower lap times. Now we enjoy a couple of relaxing days and finally the new season kick off."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V) says: "Todays condition was not perfect because of the strong wind and sand on the surface so the grip was very poor. These conditions did not help us in our testing plan for today and our main issue remain the rear.
"I need to transfer more weight in the rear to improve my riding style but in the mean time we have found some good solutions for our base chassis set up. I crashed in the last part of the session and I could not lap on soft tires to improve my lap time but we have got more important things to adjust ahead Sunday race. Honestly I am not happy about my position in the standing but the guys are doing a very good job and it’s important to remain concentrated as I am sure the results will come soon."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: "I am happy because I have improved by almost a second on yesterday and that shows that we are working well and things are looking good ahead of Sunday’s race. We went out feeling very motivated tonight and we found our way again after losing it a little last night.
"I have found some interesting things with the setting and now we are all feeling more confident. Whenever I was with other riders out there I was able to match them and that is a good sign that we have got the right pace at this circuit. The two fastest guys are obviously looking very strong but I am sure we can close the gap on Thursday in practice and be up there fighting with the best of them come Sunday."
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: "Overall I am happy with this last test here in Qatar and with our chances on Sunday. We tried some different settings tonight and that was our main focus. I was missing a little off my lap time but to be honest that wasn’t what we were looking for.
"At the end of the session we dialed in the setting I liked the best and I tried to improve on my excellent lap time from yesterday but with the lower track temperature I wasn’t able to do so. I’m still confident though and we have yesterday’s lap time as a marker of what we are capable of. Overall it leaves me sixth fastest and only a few tenths off third."