2012 MotoGP Pre-Season Testing
For nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Sepang pre-season MotoGP testing sessions didn’t go so well.
The Ducati Team rider ended both Sepang sessions over a second slower than the overall leader in both tests, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. In Sepang I, Rossi finished fifth fastest, 1.217 seconds behind Stoner. And when Sepang II was complete, Rossi was 10th fastest, trailing Stoner by 1.077 seconds.
And the slow-time drama continued for Rossi during the opening day of Jerez testing Friday. Rossi began with a bad setup, and was 1.774 seconds behind the overall leader, who was once again Stoner. During the test, Rossi again complained of lack of front-end feeling on the Desmosedici GP12.
Then the second day was a wash-out at the Spanish circuit, though Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden led the day when many of the top riders performed minimal laps (Stoner, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo).
But when Sunday arrived, the final day of pre-season testing before the start of the 2012 MotoGP Championship at Qatar April 8, Rossi began to feel more comfortable on the GP12, able to “risk” a bit more while pushing the bike.
When Sunday ended, Rossi would finish sixth fastest, 0.953 behind overall-leader Stoner. Although almost a second slower than the top time, the Ducati Team emphasized that this was only the seventh day of testing completed on the aluminum-framed GP12, considering the days “lost ” to bad weather.
Rossi also reported that he was happy with the overall results of the Jerez test, in which he completed 90 laps, saying the team is ready for the first round of 2012 MotoGP at Qatar.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “Today went much better than Friday, and I’m pleased… we’re pleased. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes at Sepang 2 chasing a bad setup, and we paid for that a bit on Friday because we started from that base. Then Saturday’s rain cost us an entire day, but today we finally worked well all day long.
“Step by step, we arrived at our current potential: I’m sixth, and I did a 1:39.7, which is a good time considering that we’ve only really ridden this bike for six or seven days. We changed the setup, first the rear and then the front, and now I enter the corners pretty well again.
“I’m able to lean and I can ‘risk’ a bit more. Although we know very well that we still have a long road ahead, if we look at the gap to the front we can say we’re ready for the first race.”
As for Hayden, the American finished eighth fastest overall during the Jerez test, 1.139 seconds behind Stoner.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “It’s been a very, very busy day. With my injury affecting the last tests, we needed to squeeze a winter’s worth of testing into this weekend, and yesterday was basically a wash.
“Today we got to try some stuff on the bike and learned a few things. I’m not thrilled with my lap time because I thought I could go a bit quicker but I struggled a little with the fast corners. We’ve clearly got some work to do, but now it’s time to get ready for Qatar, and I look forward to starting the season. I definitely feel better after coming here and getting to ride at close to 100 per cent and getting to understand the bike a bit more. Now it’s time to see what we’ve got when we put the cards on the table.”