Rossi On Top; Americans Third, Fourth And Fifth

Paul Carruthers | February 26, 2010

There have been four days of pre-season MotoGP testing thus far in 2010 and one man has led every single one of those days: Valentino Rossi. The Italian and his Fiat Yamaha did it again today, besting everyone else in the final day of a two-day test at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia and breaking his pole position record in the process.The 31-year-old Rossi ended up with a best lap of 2:00.271 on his 12th of 39 laps, a time that was some three tenths under his qualifying lap record. As he was yesterday, Marlboro Ducati’s Casey Stoner was second best, the Australian just .241 of a second behind the World Champion.”I’m really happy to have beaten my pole record, it’s a good feeling to be this fast in testing,” Rossi said. “I did this with an old tire, but we also got the chance to try a very good new tire from Bridgestone today, which I hope we will use from the first race. Our bike is in great shape; we need to do a bit more work on the electronics but in general everything is better, especially the rear grip and the engine. Yamaha have been very clever to develop this new bike while keeping the best parts of the old one; I’m very happy about it. It was good to get the chance to try the Japanese test bike, hopefully the feedback I gave them will help us in the future. Now we go to Qatar and then we will see our level because it is not one of mine or Yamaha’s best tracks. But we’re in great shape and this is very important at this stage of the season. I’m really looking forward to it.”Stoner was also pleased with the test, despite coming out second best.”When we first went out this morning the track conditions were a huge improvement on yesterday thanks to the slightly cooler temperatures, which meant the track was less slippery,” Stoner said. “That allowed us to get the best out of the bike and we were able to set some fast times. We started out with the same setting we finished with yesterday, which I already liked, and we changed just a couple of things and were able to immediately set a strong pace. It is just a shame that the red flag came out right after we put the new medium tire on. I missed out on a few laps because of that, but it wasn’t a big deal. We are really satisfied with the package we have now and the progress we have made so far. If you ask me I’d say we are starting off from a stronger base than last year so now we’ll just have to wait and see if we can get straight on the pace in Qatar.”


There was plenty of good news on the American front as Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden made huge gains to end the test with the third quickest time – by far his best effort in any of his tests on the factory Ducati. To make matters even better for the Americans, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards and Ben Spies ended up fourth and fifth, respectively.Hayden ended up with a best lap of 2:00.703 – less than half a second behind Rossi.”I am obviously really happy because the changes we made yesterday afternoon that enabled me to go a couple of tenths faster despite the heat have proved to work even better today with the track in improved condition,” Hayden said. “After making small steps for the last few test sessions today we have finally taken a big leap forward and I was able to ride fast. The arm wasn’t too bad, but it still isn’t as strong as before, which I can feel more than anything in the hard braking, and it was hard work today. Anyway, I am recovering well and now we move on from Sepang feeling really happy.”Edwards was also in the 2:00 bracket, turning in a best of 2.00.988.”It felt really hot out there today and I don’t think anybody was going to do a lot of laps in those conditions,” Edwards said. “I did 35 laps and all of them were productive and I’m leaving this test really happy. I worked on the electronics and a bit of suspension work today and I was happy with the new Bridgestone rear tire. We did full race distance on it in the middle of the day when it was really hot and I was still doing 2.02 on the last lap. So it really keeps a good level of grip for a long time. I feel ready to race right now. We’ve got the bike sorted out and the last test in Qatar should be another positive test to set us up nicely for the first race. We’re ready to go because Yamaha has done a fantastic job. Everything they have done has improved the bike and that’s a great achievement. I want to thank my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 again for all their hard work and congratulate Ben, too. This is a tough track to learn, but he’s doing a great job and he is impressing a lot of people. We’re working really closely together and that is going to be great to help the team have another great year.”Spies did prove to be a fast learner and he ended up just outside the 2-flat barrier with his 2:01.014 – just .026 of a second off his teammate’s best and just over .7 of a second slower than Rossi.”It has been a positive test for me again because I have been able to improve my lap time by quite a bit,” Spies said. “I’m .8 of a second quicker than yesterday so that is a good step in the right direction. I did a race simulation and all my laps were in the 2:01s. I’ve always felt good at the end of races and I think that is what my strong point has been in the past. In Valencia, when I raced the Yamaha for the first time, I came on strong at the end. When the tires go off I feel a little bit better. I didn’t quite get to improve on my overall position, but I’m convinced I had the speed to get into the high 2s, but I was only able to use one of the softer Bridgestone tires. But all in all it has been a positive day and the gap to the front has become smaller again.”Loris Capirossi again had a good day on the Rizla Suzuki, the Italian veteran ending up sixth and just two ticks off Spies’ best. Then came Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian dropping down from third yesterday to seventh today but still ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Pedrosa ended the day in eighth, just two tenths quicker than rookie Hiroshi Aoyama.Marco Simoncelli had another miserable day in Sepang, the former 250cc World Champion suffering a huge highside. The Italian landed heavily on his head and was taken for CAT Scans, but was later released.”I don’t seem to have much luck at Sepang,” Simoncelli said in a team release. “We have had two MotoGP tests here and I have had two crashes, although luckily without any serious consequences. While I can remember how the crash at the start of February happened, I can’t recall anyting about this one, which means I obviously took a blow to the head. The airbag [in his leathers] helped limit the damage so I have to consider myself lucky in that respect.”

Friday Times

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:00.271

2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:00.512

3. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:00.703

4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:00.988

5. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:01.014

6. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 2:01.320

7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:01.439

8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.478

9. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2:01.692

10. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2:01.732

11. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2:01.980

12. Marco Melandri (Honda) 2:02.078

13. Hector Barbera (Honda) 2:02.080

14. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 2:02.082

15. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 2:02.367

16. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2:03.689

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.