Jorge Lorenzo photo courtesy MotoGPEnlarge Photo
MotoGP completed its first official hot weather test leading to the start of the 2012 season on the Sepang International Circuit with the new 1000-cc motorcycles noticeably quicker than the 800-cc machines they replaced. The top four riders handily beat the best lap on the road course set by Valentino Rossi's Yamaha in 2009.
Casey Stoner continued to rule the roost by lapping under the 2-minute mark - on only his second lap of the day! By the time the test concluded the Aussie was half a second clear of the balance of the field on his Repsol Honda RC13V. He completed 21 afternoon laps with a best of 1:59.607.
Stoner wished he'd had three days to test, but was pleased with the weather that allowed him to complete the planned program. "I'm still not feeling great with my back but the bike is okay, so we've made progress in reducing the chatter a little more and trying a few different things, some small settings on the shock that we haven't tried before. So far it's been pretty positive. Now I'm looking forward to getting home to Switzerland, to see (wife) Adriana and await the arrival of our baby," he said.
Jorge Lorenzo brought the Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 at 2:00.198, the 2010 titleholder 0.591 behind 2011 championship winner Stoner yet tantalizingly close to that sub-two-second mark. Stoner's teammate Dani Pedrosa was third at 2:00.256 (an improvement of 1.252 seconds from yesterday) while Lorenzo's American stablemate, Ben Spies came fourth at 2:00.495. Rossi rounded out the top five on his Ducati Team GP12 at 2:00.824, yet was still 1.217 seconds behind Stoner's best.
Riding second, Lorenzo was "really, really satisfied. I have improved on my best record here and we have tried a lot of things - some have been a lot better, especially one major improvement." Teammate Spies called it "a good test. All in all it's been great and I'm really happy and looking forward to coming back and seeing what's new."
Pedrosa summed up the experience thusly: "The bike is physically more demanding. You feel the power in the acceleration, the speed under hard braking and also the extra weight" of the 1000-cc engine. "But it's alright; I will keep working hard physically to prepare for the second test."
Although a shower cut short the work day at 5:25PM - and intense heat radiated about the track - Rossi was pleased with how the test went. "The two Hondas and the two Yamahas ar still ahead of us, but we consider this test to be a starting point," he said. "The most positive things we've achieved are that the front now lets me ride a little more as I'm able, that the bike reacts well to changes and that we have very clear ideas on what's still missing."
There were 18 riders, again, on the Sepang circuit. The balance of the top-10 were Hector Barbera on the Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP12, Cal Crutchlow's Monster Yamaha Tech 3 motorcycle with teammate Andrea Dovizioso behind him. Alvaro Bautista brought the San Carlo Honda Gresini bike to ninth and Nicky Hayden, who completed only 19 afternoon laps due to pain in his shoulder rounded out the top 10.
Amongst the CRT riders, once again Colin Edwards was quickest with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team, yet was a full 5.115 seconds behind the factory leader in 15th position. He was followed by the three Avintia Racing riders, as had been the case in the previous two days of testing.