Randy de Puniet has completed his first two-day test on Suzuki’s MotoGP machine. The Frenchman flew to Japan directly after the French round of MotoGP at Le Mans, to take part in the test organized at Motegi’s Twin Ring circuit, home of the Japanese round of MotoGP, and a circuit owned by Honda. According to Speedweek, the test took place in excellent conditions, with temperatures of 28°C and a dry track. The German website reports De Puniet as having posted a time of 1’47.0 on Suzuki’s new inline four MotoGP machine, though no other confirmation of that time has been forthcoming. In comparison, that is as fast as Honda test rider Takumi Takahashi on the day, and half a second quicker than Yamaha test rider Katsuaki Nakasuga.
Free Practice 2 for the Qatar GP has just finished at the Losail International Circuit, and the speed gap between the prototypes and the CRTs is abundantly clear. One of the faster tracks on the MotoGP calendar, everyone in the paddock knew going into the Qatar GP that the power advantage held by the Ducati, Honda, & Yamaha prototypes would be apparent down Losail’s .664 mile front straightaway. But now after getting to see how the two bike classifications stack up on the same course and on the same day, the results from FP1 & FP2 show a 13.6 mph gap between the tops CRTs to the top prototype GP bikes.
Many in the MotoGP paddock have been waiting to cast their verdict on the CRT endeavor, withholding their judgments until a top GP rider took to the helm of a CRT machine and properly put the bike through its paces. With tests earlier in the year showing Mika Kallio on-board the BMW/Suter to be over six seconds off the pace of the 800cc-era machines, the CRT future of MotoGP looked to be in jeopardy. Those lap times improved over the year to be “only” four seconds off that 1,000-era bike pace, showing improvement, yet a gap to the front-runners. Now with Edwards finally swinging a leg over the BMW S1000RR-powered Suter prototype, surely more comparisons between the factory prototypes and CRT offerings are to ensue.
The return of MotoGP racing is just a few days away in Qatar right now, and Casey Stoner has proven himself the man to beat. Stoner was fast from the moment he rolled out onto the track, setting the 1’57 mark within 10 minutes of the free practice, a time he would reduce by a further 0.8 seconds towards the end of the session. Only two other men were able to break in’ the :57’s, Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards. It took Rossi quite some time to catch the Australian, but he was eventually able to close the gap to Stoner by 0.4 seconds. Colin Edwards, the third fastest man in the opening session of the 2009 season finished 0.7 seconds off of Stoner. Outside of that group, Jorge Lorenzo made it 3 Yamaha’s in the top 4, but was still 1.2 seconds behind the time to beat.