Honda Goes 1, 2, 3, at Second Day of Testing at Sepang

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The Honda boys were out in full-force today, as MotoGP testing continued at Sepang. With only Toni Elias outside of the Top 7, Honda’s race package for the 2011 season is looking very stout, despite the fact that chassis selections still haven’t been finalized. While landing at the top of the results list is about as useful as yelling “first” in the comments section, Casey Stoner just barely snatched the honor away from Dani Pedrosa in his final lap around the Malaysian circuit, leaving only .058 seconds between the teammates.

Like yesterday, the Yamaha Racing factory squad looked in good form as well, with Spies showing marked improvements despite crashing in one of the sessions. Jorge Lorenzo spent some time on two different bikes, confirming the direction his crew was going with developing the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 for the new season.

Things weren’t progressing as well in the Ducati camp though, as all the teams struggled with front-end issues. Notably absent from the day was Valentino Rossi, who has come down with cold/flu like symptoms. He retired to the hotel, in the hopes of being well enough to ride in tomorrow’s last day of testing. Carrying the Corse flag alone, Nicky Hayden had a tough day that ended with gearbox problems. Still, the ever-positive American was hopeful for better fortunes on Thursday as the team seems to have worked out some chatter issues.

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 27 Casey Stoner Honda 2:00.171
2 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2:00.229 0.058 0.058
3 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2:00.531 0.360 0.302
4 11 Ben Spies Yamaha 2:00.824 0.653 0.293
5 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2:00.931 0.760 0.107
6 58 Marco Simoncelli Honda 2:01.033 0.862 0.102
7 7 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 2:01.439 1.268 0.406
8 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 2:01.738 1.567 0.299
9 200 T2 (with Lorenzo riding) Yamaha 2:01.792 1.621 0.054
10 40 Hector Barbera Ducati 2:01.909 1.738 0.117
11 19 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2:02.035 1.864 0.126
12 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2:02.208 2.037 0.173
13 100 T1 Yamaha 2:02.596 2.425 0.388
14 14 Randy de Puniet Ducati 2:02.604 2.433 0.008
15 65 Loris Capirossi Ducati 2:02.624 2.453 0.020
16 17 Karel Abraham Ducati 2:02.676 2.505 0.052
17 24 Toni Elias Honda 2:02.941 2.770 0.265
18 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 2:02.984 2.813 0.043
19 9 Noburu Aoki Suzuki 2:04.582 4.411 1.598

Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda – 1st:
We tested a lot of different things, including the 2011 fork and new shocks, and we found quite a lot of chattering with them. We spent 90% of the day on one bike trying different configurations, changing the geometry to get the new fork working with the bike, but didn’t find anything that felt really good. But these things are necessary to do before the start of the season. We’re slowly starting to lean more towards the standard frame, but tomorrow will give us more confirmation on this. We found the new forks to be quite amazing in the braking points; in hard braking I didn’t need to use half as much pressure and I was able to stop for the corner much quicker, but found a lot more chattering in the last part of the corner. We managed to reduce this but we just seemed to lack the extra feeling that the alternative forks were giving.

Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda – 2nd:
Today we were testing mainly suspension parts, a new front fork in the morning that gives us a more positive feeling on braking, and a rear shock in the afternoon that improves the feeling with the rear tyre, so I’m satisfied with the work we’ve done together with Ohlins. We also tried different settings for the chassis and I’d like to be in the position tomorrow to decide which one we will use for this season. Now, both chassis give me a good feeling and I have to put my head down and think about it because it’s a very important decision. Since coming into MotoGP, this test together with the 2006 winter test on the 990cc bike, is the best pre-season. In 2006, I remember we had a very good last test that allowed us to face the first race well prepared and with a lot of confidence; and now it feels very similar. The bike is responding in the areas we need, although the first race is where you see clearly where you win and where you lose. I think Yamaha will be closer than they are now, so we have to keep an eye on them.

Andrea Dovizioso – Repsol Honda – 3rd:
I’m repeating myself, but I’m very, very happy. It was a surprise to do 2’00.9 in the first test and we’ve been able to do 2’00.5 today, which is great. Normally, I’m not so fast in testing, so to be competitive like this is very good. Today, the track conditions were better, as usual in the second day of testing, but another good point is that we have improved our lap times from the first test, and our rivals haven’t so much. In terms of tested items, today we did nothing in particular, just tried a few things that you don’t have time to test during the season, and we were consistent all day. The plan for tomorrow is to do a simulation, and it will be a good training to start the season in Qatar with more information about how the tyres and bike work in race distance.

Ben Spies – Yamaha Racing – 4th:
“I think we had a really successful day, we tried a little bit of a different chassis set up to try and improve the rear grip and we definitely succeeded in that. We did a few long runs and were quite fast on a hot track so it has been really productive finding how to be consistent in the heat. It’s a pity I made a small mistake at the end of the day however I think we’ve gained a lot, especially with the rear grip of the bike.”

Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Racing – 5th:
“It was a hard and hot day today, we tried the test bike as well as my 2011 bike to reconfirm a number of new developments. We confirmed that the directi on is right so we will continue tomorrow with this direction on my M1. We’ve definitely improved the traction a lot, although we could still do with some more power.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Marlboro Team – 12th:
“It wasn’t the smoothest day, as we had a couple of time-consuming glitches. We had planned to put on some fresh tyres at the end to see how good the changes we’d made really were, but we had a small problem with the gearbox near the end, and there wasn’t time to go back out. We still did 44 laps though, and it was a pretty solid day overall. The team really worked hard today, so thanks to them as always. Our gap to the front is still quite big, but we’ve definitely managed to get the chatter a lot better. It’s not completely cured, but it’s good enough that we can focus on some other stuff. I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, so hopefully we can take a big step and leave here positive.”

Álvaro Bautista – Rizla Suzuki – 11th:
“It seems like at this moment the bike has better durability than the rider! This has been bad luck to get sick at two consecutive tests – I feel very drained but I am confident that I will be ok tomorrow after maybe 12 hours sleep! But there was also some positive points today – we tested a new rear swing-arm which improved the rear grip by a reasonable step and also a new engine map which helped the bike punch off the corner better. My best lap was with race distance already completed on the tyres, so for sure I can go quicker with new tyres but today my condition was not the best for a ‘qualifying’ style lap. I’m frustrated but happy – we have improved the Suzuki quite a lot since the end of 2010.”

Marco Simoncelli – San Carlo Gresini Honda – 6th:
Im really happy because ever since yesterday we have increased our pace and I am much quicker out on track. I found good consistency riding at a solid pace in the low 201″ bracket and a little bit higher. Im satisfied and we are only eight-tenths off the top spot and we still havent used the soft tyre as many others did this morning when track temperatures were better. My best time came on hard tyres and in very different asphalt conditions. During the day I had a small slide out which made me realise that I need to brake a little earlier into the final corner.

Hiroshi Aoyama – San Carlo Gresini Honda – 7th:
Today we continued the work we began yesterday on comparing various technical aspects of the bike to try and understand the choices we have to make before the season starts. Now we have a much clearer idea of the direction to go in I am happy with the work we have done, and I think that both the team and Honda are equally satisfied. Im not as happy with my lap time but we were too busy working through other things. I will try to do better tomorrow, and I am sure Ill manage to do so.

Toni Elias – LCR Honda – 17th:
We had another productive day, though it was very hard to ride in these tropical conditions. From yesterday I felt more comfortable with the bike like I understood the bike a little better, but as I said before we still have a lot of work to do. We managed to work on set-up, even today finding strong points and weak points. Actually, our base set-up give us the chance to make a low 202, but today we focused on different adjustments rather than chasing a fast lap time.

Source: MotoMatters, HRC, Yamaha Racing, Ducati Corse, & Rizla Suzuki