|The final day of the last pre-season MotoGP test at the Losail circuit, Qatar was a crucial day for many of the teams present with just three weeks to go before the opening race of the 18-round world championship series, hosted by the same Losail circuit.|
On the final day test session, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa (above) was particularly satisfied with his three-days session. The diminutive Spaniard made few set up changes to his four-cylinder 800cc RC212V spending most of his time testing Michelin tyres. Pedrosa ran fast consistent times on race tyres before conducting a 22-lap race simulation during which he ran one lap at 1m 56.835s, 0.5 seconds inside the existing lap record set on a 990cc machine. He set fastest time for the three-day test with a scintillating time of 1m 55.471s.
Team mate and MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (left) had a bounce-back day after he suffered two crashes on the second day of testing.
He spent his final day working towards getting a better feeling from the front end with encouraging results to carry into the final pre-season test at Jerez on 23-25 February.
Gresini Honda rider Marco Melandri (right) ended the three days of testing with his RCV in very buoyant mood.
The former 250cc world champion has worked methodically all winter and he has nothing but praise for his technical crew who have established a solid base line with chassis and suspension for the Honda.
On That has allowed Melandri the freedom to ride confidently and at a consistent fast pace on the Bridgestone tyres he will race on for the first time in his career. Melandri’s team-mate, Toni Elias struggled to adapt to the Bridgestone tyres, but despite not finding the tyres to suit his style the young Spaniard improved by slashing 1.7 seconds off his best time and finished 13th overall on the final day of testing.
Former Kawasaki MotoGP rider Shinya Nakano (left) has adapted well to the RC212V and grows in confidence each time he rides the bike.
He is beginning to understand the characteristics of the Honda and has resolved the front end problems he experienced at previous test.
LCR Honda rider Carlos Checa is satisfied with the work the team have done and the results achieved.
Meanwhile, Team Roberts took a step forward on the final day with team rider Kenny Roberts Jnr (right), eventhough the American was hampered by front end problems that caused major tyre wear. Roberts was 16th overall on the final day’s results.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi (left) and team-mate Colin Edwards gave their 800cc Yamaha’s on a long-run and gathered crucial information about tyre performance and fuel consumption ahead of the first race here in three week’s time.
Edwards’ was in fact forced to do two extended sessions after his initial long-run, but was red-flagged when Suzuki rider John Hopkins crashed to put the session on a hold.
After topping the time sheets for the first two days of testing, the Yamaha pair slipped down the order with Rossi coming in third behind Dani Pedrosa (Honda, 1’55.471) and Hopkins (1’55.825) with a time of 1’55.954.
After running into a few small problems with the qualifying tyre, Edwards (right) was unable to better his time and finished the day fifth with a best lap of 1’56.371.
The Ducati Marlboro Team concluded the final day positively with both riders satisfied with their race simulation. Loris Capirossi (below left) and Casey Stoner found a good compromise for the bike and tyre set-up in race configuration which enabled them to lap at an excellent pace. Stoner (below right) is becoming more and more familiar with his Desmosedici GP7 machine even though the Australian did not complete many laps.
Kawasaki Racing’s Randy de Puniet closed out the test with the sixth fastest time of the day on his Ninja ZX-RR. The 26-year-old was left to fly the flag alone for Kawasaki, as team mate Olivier Jacque sat out most of his planned test session on the final day due to an accident on the first day of testing.
With his teammate sidelined, de Puniet (left)completed a marathon 96 laps and worked his way through an accelerated tyre testing schedule in order to identify a suitable rear race tyre for when the Kawasaki Racing Team return to Qatar, for the opening event of the season.
Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins set the pace early on, but had a heavy crash which effectively ended his involvement in the final session. Hopkins had – up until his accident – clocked the day’s fastest time of 1’55.825 for second place overall on the timesheets behind Dani Pedrosa. Following his crash, he was taken to the Doha hospital where his injuries have been assessed. He has suspected fractures in his right hand and foot.
Team mate Chris Vermeulen (right) continued with his disciplined test routine as he set about getting the best from the GSV-R800.
He posted a best time of 1’57.365 which was almost a second and a half quicker than his best race lap at last year’s Qatar Grand Prix aboard the 990cc machine.
Ilmor GP ended the test on a positive note after making some further changes to the bikes set-up. Jeremy McWilliams was back out on track following an injury to his left leg muscle earlier. Both McWilliams and Pitt started the day strongly as the team continue to adjust the bikes to best match their individual riding styles. The test has provided another good learning curve for the team and after making good progress on the engine side of things, focus has shifted slightly on to making adjustments to the chassis which has had a positive impact on the bikes performance.
The Teams will now head to European shores for the first time since December for the Official MotoGP Test on 23rd, 24th and 25th February, at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain. This will be the final pre-season test before the Grand Prix paddock reconvenes in Qatar for the first race of the season on 10th March.
2. John Hopkins, Suzuki – 1m 55.825s
3. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha – 1m 55.954s
4. Alex Hofmann, Pramac d’Antin – 1m 56.315s
5. Colin Edwards, Yamaha – 1m 56.371s
6. Randy de Puniet, Kawasaki – 1m 56.753s
7. Loris Capirossi, Ducati – 1m 56.807s
8. Casey Stoner, Ducati – 1m 56.834s
9. Alex Barros, Pramac d’Antin – 1m 56.950s
10. Marco Melandri, Honda Gresini – 1m 56.980s
11. Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda – 1m 56.980s
12. Makoto Tamada, Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 – 1m 57.232s
13. Toni Elias, Honda Gresini – 1m 57.246s
14. Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda – 1m 57.269s
15. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki – 1m 57.365s
16. Kenny Roberts, Team Roberts – 1m 57.408s
17. Carlos Checa, Honda LCR – 1m 57.497s
18. Sylvain Guintoli, Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 – 1m 58.379s
19. Shinichi Ito, Ducati TTT – 1’58.974
20. Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP – 2’00.455
21. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki Racing – 2’02.081
22. Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP – 2’02.612