Repsol Hondas Sweep Day Two in Sepang

Paul Carruthers | February 23, 2011

Repsol Honda riders swept the top three spots on the second day of testing at the tropical Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.The trio came out of the box quickly, with Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa getting into a game of one-upmanship as they repeatedly broke the fastest ever lap of the 2.76-mile track. By the time each had completed their fourth laps, they’d set times that none of the opposition could come close to matching. Pedrosa’s fourth lap of 2:00.229 mins. stood until the last of Stoner’s 42 laps, when he edged Pedrosa by .058 sec. with a best of 2:00.171 mins.”We tested a lot of different things, including the 2011 fork and new shocks, and we found quite a lot of chattering with them,” Stoner said after leading the charge for the second day in a row. “We spent 90% of the day on one bike trying different configurations, changing the geometry to get the new fork working with the bike, but didn’t find anything that felt really good. But these things are necessary to do before the start of the season.”We’re slowly starting to lean more towards the standard frame, but tomorrow will give us more confirmation on this. We found the new forks to be quite amazing in the braking points; in hard braking I didn’t need to use half as much pressure and I was able to stop for the corner much quicker, but found a lot more chattering in the last part of the corner. We managed to reduce this, but we just seemed to lack the extra feeling that the alternative forks were giving.”Pedrosa said he was “testing mainly suspension parts, a new front fork in the morning that gives us a more positive feeling on braking, and a rear shock in the afternoon that improves the feeling with the rear tire, so I’m satisfied with the work we’ve done together with Ohlins. We also tried different settings for the chassis and I’d like to be in the position tomorrow to decide which one we will use for this season. Now, both chassis give me a good feeling and I have to put my head down and think about it because it’s a very important decision.”Since coming into MotoGP, this test, together with the 2006 winter test on the 990cc bike, is the best pre-season. In 2006, I remember we had a very good last test that allowed us to face the first race well prepared and with a lot of confidence, and now it feels very similar. The bike is responding in the areas we need, although the first race is where you see clearly where you win and where you lose. I think Yamaha will be closer than they are now, so we have to keep an eye on them.”Yamahas were further down the order in fourth and fifth, with both Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo behind Andrea Dovizioso, the third Repsol Honda rider. Dovi just missed joining his teammates under the previous outright fastest lap, finishing the day with a best of 2:00.531 mins. The Italian admitted to not being fast in testing, which made today’s performance encouraging.”In terms of tested items, today we did nothing in particular, just tried a few things that you don’t have time to test during the season, and we were consistent all day,” he said. “The plan for tomorrow is to do a simulation, and it will be a good training to start the season in Qatar with more information about how the tires and bike work in race distance.”Yamaha’s Spies finished .293 sec. behind Dovizioso, despite a small crash at the end of the day. Both he and teammate Lorenzo suffered a speed deficit to the Hondas.”I think we had a really successful day,” he said. “We tried a little bit of a different chassis set-up to try and improve the rear grip and we definitely succeeded in that. We did a few long runs and were quite fast on a hot track so it has been really productive finding how to be consistent in the heat. It’s a pity I made a small mistake at the end of the day however I think we’ve gained a lot, especially with the rear grip of the bike.”Lorenzo rode both a test bike and his 2011 race bike to “reconfirm a number of new developments. We confirmed that the direction is right, so we will continue tomorrow with this direction on my M1. We’ve definitely improved the traction a lot, although we could still do with some more power.”San Carlo Honda Gresini teammates Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama were sixth and seventh, respectively, giving Honda five of the top seven spots.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was eighth fastest, well in front of teammate Cal Crutchlow, who was 18th and the last of the series regulars. Only Suzuki test rider Nobu Aoki was slower.The first Ducati didn’t come from the Ducati Marlboro factory team. Valentino Rossi arrived at the track with a flu and was advised to return to the hotel to recover in advance of the final day of testing. Teammate Nicky Hayden finished with the 12th fastest time. Mapfre Aspar Team’s Hector Barbera was tenth fastest and 0.3 sec. faster than Hayden, who was more than two seconds slower than former teammate Stoner.”It wasn’t the smoothest day, as we had a couple of time-consuming glitches,” he said. “We had planned to put on some fresh tires at the end to see how good the changes we’d made really were, but we had a small problem with the gearbox near the end, and there wasn’t time to go back out. We still did 44 laps, though, and it was a pretty solid day overall. The team really worked hard today, so thanks to them as always.”Our gap to the front is still quite big, but we’ve definitely managed to get the chatter a lot better. It’s not completely cured, but it’s good enough that we can focus on some other stuff. I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, so hopefully we can take a big step and leave here positive.”


1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2:00.171

2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:00.229

3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:00.531

4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:00.824

5. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:00.931

6. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2:01.033

7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 2:01.439

8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:01.738

10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:01.909

11. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 2:02.035

12. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.208


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.