Photography By: Gold & Goose
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner ended today’s opening day of the final three-day MotoGP test of the pre-season in the same shape as he ended last season and every test since. In tip-top shape, thank you very much.
Stoner and his Repsol Honda lapped the Spanish circuit of Jerez at 1:39.146, the defending World Champion clocking 54 laps on a day that ended with high winds and a threat of rain for tomorrow’s second day. By contrast, the second-fastest rider of the opening day, Jorge Lorenzo, completed 76 laps – one less than workhorse Nicky Hayden.
“Today has been quite good, we did race distance with a soft set tires this morning and we were getting quicker and quicker as we progressed but I think also the circuit was getting better,” Stoner said in a Honda release. “Then we put the hard tire on and did a tyre comparison and we had very similar feelings to what we had in Sepang. We tried a few things with the chassis as the bike was proving slow to turn in the corner, but in general it is working well especially at the end of the tire life. On the last exit we did our fastest lap on a new soft rear tire. It’s been a good first day”.
Lorenzo was just .273 of a second off Stoner’s best, the Yamaha factory rider barely getting the best of his Spanish countryman Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo had led most of the day until Stoner came along. Pedrosa, on the second Repsol Honda, lapped at 1:39.579 – .166 of a second slower than Lorenzo and .433 off Stoner’s mark.
“Today was a very long day because we started at 10 a.m. and finished at 6 p.m,” Lorenzo said in a Yamaha release. “We did a lot of laps and it was very interesting to see how different the bike was compared to Sepang because it’s a different track. Here it is much slower and more corners, not so many straights. The 1000cc is not so easy compared to the 800cc here. At the end of the day we were able to be very fast and stay in the first three positions so we are satisfied.”
Ben Spies was the final rider to crack the 1:40 barrier, the Texan and his factory Yamaha putting down a 1:39.984.
“Today was a positive day; we actually got more than we thought accomplished,” Spies said. “We were able to look at the two tires Bridgestone wanted us to test and also went through a couple of different settings on the bike. We did a race simulation to get one out of the way and we might do one more before the end of the test just get me and the bike in tune for that many laps. Today’s was to test the fuel consumption and we were happy with that. We can now focus pretty much on going fast and trying to improve the bike lap time wise and also improve me around the track! This isn’t a strong track for me so I’m quite happy that we’ve shown some decent pace around here. We’ve got a lot done and it’s been a good day.”
Brit Cal Crutchlow was fifth best, the Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha rider posting a 1:40.130 – the last man to circulate within a second of Stoner.
Then came Hayden on the Marlboro Ducati, the Kentuckian working hard but 1.3 seconds behind Stoner. Still he was ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi, the Italian ending the day in ninth place as he struggled to get comfortable on corner entry.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista followed Hayden by just .033 of a second.
Crutchlow’s Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Andrea Dovizioso was eighth, one spot better than Rossi, with class rookie Stefan Bradl 10th.
The best of the CRT men was Randy de Puniet in 11th, the Frenchman recovering from a mid-day crash on the Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia to record a 1:41.015.
Texan Colin Edwards, meanwhile, ended the day in 16th place on the NGM Mobile Forward Suter BMW.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:39.146
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:39.419
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:39.579
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:39.984
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:40.130
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:40.512
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:40.545
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:40.665
9. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:40.920
10. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:40.983