Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail?

03/14/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

As you may have realized already this week, Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Qatar, as MotoGP finishes up its last testing weekend of the pre-season, and gets ready for its first race of the year. Qatar is a strange country, mostly in that it’s not that different from the United States (at least not nearly as different as I was expecting, as this is my first trip to the Middle East). Perhaps even stranger is the laid back atmosphere of the MotoGP paddock during the testing session (maybe 1/4 as many people as a normal GP weekend, sans MotoGP fans). While we sit through Day Two of testing, which is currently underway, here’s something to chew on from Day One.

Now the purpose of MotoGP testing is of course actually testing the motorcycles, new parts, setups, etc., and not the attainment of absolute lap times. Therefore it strikes me funny on how much concern is given over to whom was fastest on a given day of testing, as there’s an obvious disconnect between what the teams are trying to achieve, and what the fans would like to see (with the journalists unsurprisingly pandering to this latter group).

That all being said, some sort of analysis has to come out of the event, and the path of least resistance is in the time sheet stamped out by Dorna, and handed to the assembled press. However if you drill down into the times lap by lap, not only do you get a better idea of the consistency that the MotoGP riders are attaining, but also it provides for another way to sift and sort the riders into some sort of categorical heirarchy, since that seems to be the name of the game at these tests.

Below is the first day of testing at Losail, sorted by best lap time. I’ve added in how many laps each rider did in the 1’57 and 1’56 ranges, along with their total number of laps for good measure. While we see some very quick riders, very few are consistently quick. Most notably, the fastest man of the day was Dani Pedrosa; but while the Spainiard is certainly very quick, he only lapped in the 1’56 range twice, whereas Casey Stoner seemed content to stay there all day long. You may see where I’m headed here…

Pos.No.RiderTeamBest Time1:57’s1:56’sLaps
126Dani PedrosaRepsol Honda1’56.27111241
227Casey StonerRepsol Honda1’56.41471232
37Hiroshi AoyamaSan Carlo Honda Gresini1’56.44417359
411Ben SpiesYamaha Racing1’56.5637138
51Jorge LorenzoYamaha Racing1’56.682211360
65Colin EdwardsMonster Yamaha Tech 31’56.7429242
74Andrea DoviziosoRepsol Honda1’56.78016456
846Valentino RossiDucati Marlboro1’57.03826057
969Nicky HaydenDucati Marlboro1’57.1377057
1014Randy de PunietPramac Racing1’57.1434039
1158Marco SimoncelliSan Carlo Honda Gresini1’57.22626057
1219Alvaro BautistaRizla Suzuki1’57.30218061
138Hector BarberaMapfre Aspar1’57.3258069
1465Loris CapirossiPramac Racing1’57.4371056
1517Karel AbrahamCardion AB Motoracing1’57.4995049
1635Cal CrutchlowMonster Yamaha Tech 31’57.7372051
1724Toni EliasLCR Honda1’58.2500065

It would seem that if we really want to find out who was “fastest” during the first day of testing at Losail, it would be more appropriate then to rank the riders in a way that reflects not only how many top times they achieved, but also in the number of laps they completed in total. While some of the slots could be argued up or down for a couple of the riders, I think the below rank and ordering is more appropriate to see who was “dominating” in the Qatari Desert last night.

Pos.No.RiderTeamBest Time1:57’s1:56’sLaps
127Casey StonerRepsol Honda1’56.41471232
21Jorge LorenzoYamaha Racing1’56.682211360
346Valentino RossiDucati Marlboro1’57.03826057
458Marco SimoncelliSan Carlo Honda Gresini1’57.22626057
54Andrea DoviziosoRepsol Honda1’56.78016456
626Dani PedrosaRepsol Honda1’56.27111241
77Hiroshi AoyamaSan Carlo Honda Gresini1’56.44417359
819Alvaro BautistaRizla Suzuki1’57.30218061
95Colin EdwardsMonster Yamaha Tech 31’56.7429242
1011Ben SpiesYamaha Racing1’56.5637138
1169Nicky HaydenDucati Marlboro1’57.1377057
128Hector BarberaMapfre Aspar1’57.3258069
1314Randy de PunietPramac Racing1’57.1434039
1417Karel AbrahamCardion AB Motoracing1’57.4995049
1535Cal CrutchlowMonster Yamaha Tech 31’57.7372051
1665Loris CapirossiPramac Racing1’57.4371056
1724Toni EliasLCR Honda1’58.2500065

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Odie

    At the risk of geeking out, how about doing some basic statistics on the lap times? If you have access to all the lap times for all the riders, you could do some basic stuff like the average lap time, the mean lap time and (I apologize if you already know this) the standard deviation. The SD (standard deviation) will give you an even better picture than counting the number of laps a rider did under 1:56 and 1:57. These functions (mean, average, SD, min max) are all standard function in Excel.

  • ed

    great story. further proof of stoner’s speed around this track. no need to geek out (further). what better picture do you need? the numbers depict an undeniable, statistical fact: stoner was consistently faster than perdrosa. and probably every year since 2007.

  • Keith

    If I didn’t know Valentino was getting his first full test on a relativly new to him motorcycle I’d wonder if he was sandbagging… BUT if he was it was to gain more data and a good base line, remember he is possibly one of if not the best development rider out there. Then again I could be full of beans. Bautista got some decent laps in considering how much trouble Rizla/Suzuki seems to have been having for some time.

  • ovd

    Interesting numbers. Also interesting: had this analysis also… yesterday.

  • Thanks ovd. Despite the fact I’m sharing a room with the MotoMatters crew out here in Qatar, I wasn’t aware that they had done an analysis like that…or that Victoria does the sort of analysis here on her WSBK coverage…or that there’s a growing voice in motorcycle journalism that some writers are focusing on the wrong aspect of testing sessions.

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  • Excellent write-up, whether another site have covered it in a similar fashion or not. I’m getting fed-up with lazy write-ups of testing/practice sessions by certain so-called journalists that just don’t seem to care.

    Keep it up guys!