Faster Still: Rossi Improves Again

Paul Carruthers | February 5, 2010

Wet conditions in the morning today at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia slowed the proceedings in the second of two days of MotoGP testing, but Valentino Rossi emerged in the afternoon to take .486 of a second off his best from yesterday to ensure himself the fastest lap of the test.Rossi ended up with a 2:00.925 on the 20th of his 32 laps on the Fiat Yamaha M1 and that was the only sub-2:01 time turned in over the two days.”After yesterday this second day has been very good as well, even though we lost a few hours to the rain, and the end we were still able to finish all our work,” Rossi said in a team release. “We worked on the new bike to find a better setting and I was happy to be the fastest overall – even though this is just testing this is important for me. At the next test we will have a few more new things, but we’re already happy because we’re fast and strong. There is room to improve of course; Sepang is always a good track for the Yamaha so we will have to wait until Qatar to get a better understanding of our level, but we have made a great start.”Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner was also able to shave some time off his best from yesterday, the Australian lapping at 2:01.320 today to leave second best to Rossi.”We are quite happy with the test,” Stoner said. “Today didn’t start really well because of the rain and the wet track, which set us back a few hours, but when it finally did dry out we were able to make some progress. We have definitely improved the set-up of the bike, trying some different things with the swingarm. The lap times are still not where we want them to be and we have to work on taking another couple of tenths off on hard tires, but to be consistently doing 2:01.9 or 2:02.0 laps is a decent pace. Considering that we are using a different engine to the one we’ve had for the last three years and some other new parts that we still need to get the best out of we certainly can’t be unhappy with where we’re at. There is work to do but we have two more test sessions before the season starts for real. In general I am really pleased with how it’s gone.”Jorge Lorenzo improved from yesterday, the Spaniard jumping from fifth to third with his 2:01.680. Still, he was .755 of a second behind his teammate Rossi. Lorenzo turned in 60 laps today – the most of any rider.”I felt much better today and I was able to be fast straight away,” Lorenzo said in a team press release. “It wasn’t a big problem yesterday, it’s just that after such a long break I forget how to ride a little bit. I need a bit of time, but it was much better today. I’m happy about my performance and about my feeling with the new bike. Yamaha have made good improvements without changing the best parts of the bike and this is the best way. They have made some good modifications to the chassis and the engine and this has already improved our pace. We don’t have many days on the bike until the start of the season so we will make the most of the time here next month to continue our good work.”Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was next, the Spaniard taking a full second off his best from yesterday with his 2:01.822 after working extensively on the RC212V’s Ohlins suspension.”We got through a lot more testing today and I can say that we improved significantly – and that’s important in terms of finding a good direction to follow,” Pedrosa said. “We were working mainly on the rear suspension and we’ve managed to collect a lot of data that should help us for the next test here in two weeks’ time. We were also testing swingarms and at the end of the day I could feel the improvements, and so I’m happy about that. Yesterday it took me longer to get into a rhythm on the machine because it was the first day back in the saddle, but today it was much better – though I’m not at 100 percent yet. To have the second test here in just two weeks time is really good for us. I haven’t asked for new parts because me and the team think it’s better to analyze what we’ve found here and focus on that. I’m going home satisfied.”Yesterday Ben Spies said he had jet lag. Today he flat out flew as he ended the day with a 2:02.266 – well over half a second faster (.876 of a second) than what he was able to do on his first day. In just his second day on a racetrack the MotoGP men frequent often, Spies was fifth best today on his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha.Valentino Rossi”I rode as good and as hard as I could considering how I’ve been feeling,” Spies said. “I’m not wanting to make any excuses but I didn’t feel really good with the jetlag. It was still a good test because I learned a lot about improving my riding and adapting my style to suit the Yamaha MotoGP bike. It is hard to break some of my old superbike habits at the moment, but I made some big improvements in a couple of places on the track where I was really struggling, particularly in the braking. It started to feel more natural today and I got down to some decent times on race tires. I was a second faster than the first day, so we made some good progress but this is a really difficult track to learn. This track is really long and really wide, but I got to a respectable pace. I’ve said it a load of times, but it’s a learning process and every lap I’m learning. My guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 though have been brilliant again. We’re all putting in a lot of effort and I’m pleased with the steps I’ve made.”Then came Pedrosa’s Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian besting Texan Colin Edwards by .207 of a second for the sixth fastest time. Edwards posted a 2:01.932 yesterday – .547 of a second better than what he did today.

Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden ended up with a best lap of 2:02.493 (an improvements of a few tenths over yesterday), ahead of Pramac Racing Ducati’s Aleix Espargaro and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri, Aspar’s Hector Barbera, Randy de Puniet and Hiroshi Aoyama.Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli, the former 250cc World Champion who is making his debut season in the MotoGP class, highsided his Honda early in the day but returned uninjured in the afternoon. He ended up 15th today.”The first half of the day was relatively difficult because we couldn’t get the bike to work properly and we lost lots of time, then to top it off I had a crash,” Simoncelli said. “I had gone out with new tires and after half a lap I came back in because of the same problems. I did a technical check and I went out once more. In the first left-hander, altough I was really paying attention, the bike catapulted me off. I hit the asphalt hard and thinking about it now I was lucky to get a few grazes; it could have been a lot worse. Later we went back to work in the afternoon and things were much more positive as the bike felt much improved and I was able to ride it better than yesterday, the feeling was better and the time I did wasn’t by chance. Now we need to organize our ideas and think about a plan of attack for the next tests, so I am going home with high morale.”

Friday Times

1.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.925

2.                  Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:01.320

3.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.680

4.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.680

5.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:02.266

6.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:02.272

7.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:02.479

8.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.493

9.                  Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 2:02.647

10.                  Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:02.763

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.