VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV 9 – The sun finally came out, the track finally dried, and the final test of the year got underway at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain.The big news was Valentino Rossi’s Ducati debut. After waiting nearly until 12:30 p.m., Rossi was one of the first on the track and he made the most of his time, testing various iterations of the Desmosedici GP11 he’ll race in 2011. His brief was to evaluate the engine and suspension pieces, rather than go for an outright fast lap, and he was diligent. But he wasn’t among the fastest. Rossi finished with the tenth fastest time (1:33.882), just behind teammate Nicky Hayden (1:33.716).
Wearing the number ‘1′ on the nose of his Fiat Yamaha YZR-his M1 for the first time, world champion Jorge Lorenzo set the early pace and the late pace. Lorenzo finished with the faste time of 1:32.012 mins., which was well under the best lap of 1:32.940 mins. that he clocked en route to victory in the season finale here in Valencia.
New teammate Ben Spies quickly got up to speed on the factory bike, the Texan having been promoted from the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Spies ended up with the third fastest time of 1:32.778 mins. after running 42 laps.
Casey Stoner was back on a Honda for the first time since 2006 and for the first time on the 800cc RC212V. Like Rossi, Stoner had to run an unbranded bike; his RC212V was white with a kangaroo on the side. Cosmetics aside, Stoner proved he could ride anything well. The Australian finished with the second fastest time of 1:32.775 mins., which was also faster than the second place finisher had gone in Sunday’s race.
Championship runner-up Dani Pedrosa was out on both 2010 and 2011 machines, his best lap of 1:32.912 mins. good for the fourth fastest time.
Nicky Hayden’s first stint ended quite quickly on the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici when he had a mechanical problem. He caught a ride back to the pits and continued to test, finishing the day with the ninth best time.
Hiroshi Aoyama was out on the San Carlo Gresini Honda, though the announcement of his signing hadn’t been made. It’s widely expected he’ll partner Marco Simoncelli in 2011.
Randy de Puniet got his first taste of the Pramac Racing Ducati machine, now teaming with Loris Capirossi, who was running an unbranded bike as well.
Former Yamaha World Superbike campaigner Cal Crutchlow was an early crasher on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine as Colin Edwards’ new teammate.
The LCR Honda was being ridden by Toni Elias. Elias took a one year hiatus from the MotoGP wars to win the inaugural Moto2 World Championship.
Tuesday MotoGP Test Times:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:32.012
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:32.775
3. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:32.878
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:32.912
5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:32.919
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:33.190
7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:33.513
8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1:33.558
9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:33.716
10. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:33.882