Testing, Testing…

Paul Carruthers | October 27, 2008
The following is from Ducati…

The first session of a two-day test got underway in hot and sunny conditions in Valencia today, a day full of new things for the Ducati Marlboro Team. At close to 11.00 in the morning, when the garage doors were opened, the spotlights were all focused on Nicky Hayden and on his ‘Stars and Stripes’ liveried Ducati, which had its first run at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.

Hayden, like new team-mate Casey Stoner, carried out his first run of the day with the GP8 before turning his attention firmly on the GP9. The American continually improved his rhythm throughout the course of the day, stopping the clock with a best lap of 1’33.960.

Stoner, immediately at ease aboard the GP9, as he was during his first and only test of the machine in the post-race test in Catalunya, set the fastest time of the day, dipping under the circuit best lap record that he himself set in Sunday’s Valencia GP.

Casey Stoner – best lap 1’32.464 (54 laps)

“The feelings from this first day of testing in Valencia with the GP9 have been definitely good. We tried many things, some worked well, others less so, but this is normal because the bike is quite different in its characteristics and in its reactions compared to the GP8. We still have other things to try but the feeling is already excellent and in fact we were able to lap consistently quickly. I am very happy with the behavior of the engine that seems to me to be more progressive and predictable. The bike is more stable in braking which is really saying something because the GP8 was already very efficient from this point of view. We have to work more on the rear set-up but the potential is good, it is just a question of finding the right set-up. Also as far as the tyres are concerned I am satisfied, above all the specification that we used this morning, with which we were able to maintain an excellent rhythm for thirty laps. A good start from this point of view. I think that Nicky is content with his first day at Ducati, he continued to improve during the day and I am sure that with a few more days with the bike he will find himself in good shape.”

Nicky Hayden – best lap 1’33.960 (79 laps)

“It has been a very intense day and full of many things to test and to understand, but it was exactly as I expected it to be. I did just one run with the GP8 and then I switched completely to the GP9. Obviously there is a lot of work to do but I am happy, it was a good day that has allowed me to understand that the bike has good potential and, more than anything, I can say that I really enjoyed myself. This first day has given me an appreciation of the bike and the team. One of the things that really impressed me the most was the acceleration. I found myself pretty comfortable on the bike, and I really didn’t make a lot of changes to levers and handlebars. We have not even changed a lot the settings, we have just made some small changes, some mapping settings, a couple of tyres, in order to try and understand the direction of the bike and to feel comfortable on it”.

The following is from Yamaha…

One day after the final race of his victorious season, MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi began working towards the defence of his title with his first day’s testing aboard the 2009 prototype M1. The Italian was third fastest in a time of 1’32.921, quicker than his best lap in yesterday’s race.

Rossi made two runs of six laps each with his 2008 M1 in order to check some settings and also get a feel for the new tyres, as today was the first day of the new mono-brand tyre rule with Bridgestone now the official supplier for all riders. He then made five runs and a total of 28 laps on the new prototype, setting his best time on the second run.

Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was seventh fastest in a time of 1’33.550, whilst the time sheets were topped by Casey Stoner.

Valentino Rossi

Position: 3rd Time: 1’32.921 Laps: 40

“Today we began work on 2009 and I was able to try the new bike for the first time. It is only the first prototype but my impression of it is very good and it seems they have done a good job. We are working on the engine in order to have more acceleration on the exit from the corner and there is a small change, not enough yet but in the right direction so this is important. We worked on the setting and the weight distribution and I was faster with the new bike so this is good! We need more time to understand the bike and more laps but this is only the first day and it is very positive. The other ‘big’ thing today of course is the new tyres and I am really happily surprised. This is not the best track to try them at as we don’t have so much data for here but anyway they feel very good. I was expecting less gri p but we had a lot and everyone was fast today. The track conditions are a lot better today than they have been during the weekend so this makes a difference, but anyway we can already see that they are quite good. I think Bridgestone have done a good job but of course it will be hard to know for sure until we have been to some different tracks. We have to wait and see. For me they feel good even in comparison with my Bridgestone tyres from all of the season so I am happy so far. I have a special ‘world champion’ helmet now which I like a lot and which I will use throughout the winter testing. As for the number one…I will keep my 46 of course but I will put the number one on my back as I did in the past.”

Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo made a start on his 2009 campaign today as the first day of winter testing took place in Valencia. It was also the first day of the new mono-brand tyre rule, with all MotoGP riders now on the same brand of tyres.

Lorenzo started off on his 2008 M1 in order to get a feel for the different tyres and to check some settings. He made ten laps with the old bike before climbing onto a test bike, which has some new prototype parts for him to try. He made five runs and 36 laps with the test bike, and despite a low-speed crash on the outlap of his third run he was able to make good progress and set a best time of 1’33.550.

His team-mate Valentino Rossi was third today, whilst the time sheets were topped by Casey Stoner in a time of 1’32.464.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position: 7th Time: 1’33.550 Laps: 46

“I am really happy today because now everyone has the same tyres. I tried a test bike with some new parts and today we were just working on collecting information and understanding the new things. I think it was a good day and I made some good laps, so I am quite happy. I had a crash in the afternoon which was my mistake, it was at turn twelve and I opened the throttle too much when the tyre was cold, but I was not hurt and we were able to continue. Tomorrow we will try again with the new tyres and keep working and collecting information. Of course we need more time to be able to understand them and evaluate them properly, this is just the first day but we will go step-by-step. There is a long time before the new season but I am excited that we have started work already.”

The following is from Kawasaki…

Less than 24 hours after the chequered flag at Valencia brought the 2008 season to a close, John Hopkins and new teammate, Marco Melandri, were back on track and working towards improving Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR machines ahead of the 2009 season.

Hopkins exited the pit box aboard his normal lime green liveried Ninja ZX-RR, while Melandri opted for the stealth approach for his debut aboard Kawasaki’s 800cc, inline four-cylinder MotoGP racer. The Italian’s two machines were decked out in bare carbon fibre bodywork, with only two small screen stickers providing any indication about whose hands were on the controls.

With Bridgestone now the sole tyre supplier to MotoGP, Hopkins focussed on adapting his bike set-up to get the most from the new front tyre supplied by the Japanese tyre manufacturer. Happy with the changes, the Kawasaki pilot then moved on to comparison testing different engine specifications using both of his Ninja ZX-RR machines.

Hopkins declared himself happy with the progress made during today’s test, at the end of which he was ninth fastest overall.

Melandri’s focus today was on familiarising himself with both a new bike and a new crew. The 26-year-old former world champion was quick to adapt to the characteristics of Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR, as he worked with the team’s engineers to refine both the ergonomics and the set-up of his two machines. The Italian’s adaptability was highlighted at the end of the day, as he finished the test tenth fastest on the timesheet and just two-hundredths of a second behind his new teammate. Unsurprisingly, Melandri declared himself satisfied with his first experience of Kawasaki’s MotoGP machine.

Both Kawasaki riders will complete one final day of testing at Valencia tomorrow, before almost a month away from the track. Testing will resume for the Kawasaki Racing Team in Phillip Island at the end of November, concluding just prior to the winter testing ban.

John Hopkins

#21 – 74 Laps – 1’33.760

“The front tyre we were allocated this morning feels identical to the one that Valentino and Casey have been using all year, but we’ve not been able to run on our bike before. Today we’ve had the chance to make some changes to the overall set-up of the bike, and it looks like we’ve made some real progress. I’ve now got a much better feeling from the front than I’ve had for some time, and that’s given me back the confidence to push harder in the corners. We’ve also run back-to-back tests using both bikes on two different engine specifications, and that’s allowed us to make a direct comparison and identify a clear direction for development. It’s also been interesting to start work with my new crew chief, Naoya Kaneko, as he has a very structured approach to the rider debrief and I think this will make a difference when we’re pushed for time during race weekends. Overall, it’s been a pretty productive day and I’m really happy with the improvements we’ve made to the bike; it’s completely different now and I felt more comfortable on it today than I have all season. If we get more dry weather tomorrow then I hope we can continue to make improvements to the bike.”

Juan Martinez

Marco Melandri’s Crew Chief

“It’s always interesting when you start working with a new rider, and I think today has been a good start both for Marco and our crew. He’s been able to lap consistently throughout today and his comments after each session have allowed us to start working out what he needs to go fast on our bike, which is very different to the one on which he finished the race yesterday. Sure we have some points still to improve, but overall Marco’s first impression was good. His riding style seems to be well suited to the characteristics of our Ninja ZX-RR, and this means that the comments he makes should make it easier for our engineers in Japan to identify the development direction of the bike for next year. Marco is a guy who, in the past, has been up there and fighting for race wins, so he understands what he needs to go fast, and this is exactly what we need to take the Ninja ZX-RR to the next level of development.”

The following is from Honda…

Less than 24 hours after the 2008 MotoGP season ended at Valencia yesterday afternoon, the Repsol Honda Team began its preparation for the 2009 World Championship with Dani Pedrosa and new recruit Andrea Dovizioso.

Dovizioso began his first session on the factory RCV at 11.30am, just minutes after Pedrosa had taken to the track. Both men rode 2008 RC212V machines fitted with new-spec Bridgestone tyres. Dovizioso’s bikes also featured revised handlebar/footrest positions to suit his stature. Pedrosa focused on evaluating a new engine/exhaust spec with improved smoothness and rideability. Testing continues at Valencia tomorrow. The team’s next outing will be a two-day session at Jerez in southern Spain on October 26/27.

Dani Pedrosa, fastest lap: 1:32.672 (60 laps)

“Today we had perfect conditions for testing, it was sunny and the asphalt had good grip after yesterday’s race. We tested some new engine specs in order to improve the character of the engine and then we focused on testing the new tyres. At the beginning the feeling was not so good but working with the mechanics, we made some changes and the feeling improved considerably. It’s clear that next year the rider and the bike will need to adapt to the tyres. Today the track conditions were perfect so we had no problems with the limited number of tyres, we will need to check how this tyre system works with indifferent conditions.”

Andrea Dovizioso, fastest lap: 1:33.676 (57 laps)

“It’s been a really exciting day. The bike feels good, it feels like an evolution of my 2008 bike, like a step forward, which is what I expected, so I’m happy. Compared to my 08 bike, the factory bike has many positive points, in particular the engine is both smoother and more powerful. Right from the start the stability at the front was very good. With the electronics, I need more time to learn and understand them, especially traction control as there are so many settings. I also tried Bridgestone tyres for the first time today, they seem fine, but I need to slightly adapt my riding style to get the best from them. All in all it was a positive first day but I still have a lot to learn. With my new team we start working step by step and I like this system.“

The following is from Suzuki…

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi both made positive steps forward during today’s post Valencian Grand Prix test in Spain as they clocked the fourth and fifth fastest times respectively.

Today marked the first day of a new era in motorcycle Grands Prix as the whole field took to the track on the new generation Bridgestone tyres due to the new single tyre rule that came into force straight after yesterday’s race. Vermeulen (1’33.142, 67 laps) and Capirossi (1’33.325, 75 laps) immediately put their experience on the Japanese tyres to good use as they consistently improved on their times throughout the day. Vermeulen lapped nearly one-and-a-half seconds quicker than his best lap in yesterday’s race, while team-mate Capirossi shaved three-tenths-of-a-second off his fastest race lap.

The two Rizla Suzuki regulars were joined at Valencia by Team Test Rider Nobuatsu Aoki, who was present to give the latest evolution of the Suzuki GSV-R a thorough shakedown test and assist the team in evaluating all the new parts for the 800cc prototype machine.

Rizla Suzuki will continue with the test at Valencia tomorrow as it works towards 2009 and a fully concerted attack on the MotoGP World Championship, that begins at Qatar in March next year.

Chris Vermeulen:

“It was good to test at the track today, as we were able to compare with yesterday’s times and see how we were progressing against the best times from the race. We had some new parts from Suzuki on the engine, chassis and electronic sides, and we certainly found some positives and some negatives – which is what testing is all about – and we have certainly got a good direction to go in from that. Hopefully Suzuki can work on the things we’ve found here and produce something good for the Phillip Island test next month. We consistently made steps with lap-times today and the new Bridgestone tyres seemed to suit the bike well and the whole package seems to have adapted to the change.”

Loris Capirossi:

“I think that overall it was a good day for the first day of testing. I did a lot of laps and never stopped for a break all day, we think it might rain tomorrow so we needed to do a lot of things today. I think that Suzuki has made a good job to improve the engine, but we still need to work more in the same way to make it even better. The tyres were good and the feeling is that not different to what we have been using. It was good to have a full day’s working because we were able to try a lot of things and compare them in similar conditions. We need to believe 100% in the programme and I know we can still go a lot better than we are doing now!”

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.