Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards completed their final pre-season test in Jerez today in front of hordes of Spanish fans, after riding thousands of kilometres during a total of fifteen days' testing since January. Following a strong showing at the Barcelona Test last week, the Camel Yamaha Team's preparations have suffered something of a set back here and both riders have been hampered by vibration problems throughout the three days of this test.
Despite not making as many improvements as they had hoped today, important information has been gathered over the three days which will hopefully enable the Yamaha engineers and Michelin to come up with a solution for the impending race.
The time-sheets were topped today by Ducati duo Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau, with Capirossi lapping under Rossi's pole-time from 2005 with a lap of 1'39.411. Rossi, Edwards and the Camel Yamaha Team now have the chance to relax at home for ten days before they return to this circuit for the season-opening Spanish Grand Prix on 26th March.
Colin Edwards (7th, 1'40.721, 82 laps);
"It would be nice if I could say that we've solved all our problems today, but sadly it's just not the case and we're still struggling a bit. I think we've really gone in circles a bit here. We've changed a lot of things and we haven't really concentrated on a race simulation or the endurance of the tyre, we've just been trying to find ways to dial out the problems we have. To be honest our pace isn't bad but it's certainly not a winning pace, which is frustrating when we saw in Barcelona last weekend how great our package is when it's all working!
Yamaha and Michelin have more than enough information after three days and I am confident that they will come back with something to solve our problems. Anyway, that's it for testing! I'm heading home for ten days to chill out a little bit and let's hope that the new stuff we have when we come back for the race will help us out so we can challenge for a win."
Valentino Rossi (10th, 1'40.907, 83 laps);
"There were so many people here today, it was like a race! Of course it's really nice to have so many spanish fans, but today it's been quite difficult for me even to go from the hospitality to the team truck! Yesterday I was confident that we could find some big improvements today but honestly that hasn't happened and now I am quite worried. The vibration has remained and at the moment we don't know how to solve it. Yamaha and Michelin have done a lot of good work today and we've tried many different tyres and settings, but we are still slow.
This is the last test and throughout the whole pre-season period we've always been fast and the bike has felt good, but this test has been completely different. At the moment I am not sure what will happen in the race, we'll have to wait and see. I hope that Jeremy, together with the Japanese engineers and the Michelin technicians, can use all the data they have now to understand the problem and see how to solve it."
Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director;
"After this test we don't know how the race will go, but it's been very important to have this chance to test before it. As the riders say, we've tried many different things and collected a lot of information. Now our engineers will have ten days to work on this and come up with some new ideas and solutions.
This is the end of winter testing and we've seen that our bike can work very well at different tracks. We need to understand why this hasn't been the case here, but we're convinced we can find a way forward and we know that we still have a very good package."
Like the factory team the Yamaha Tech 3 squad also had tough times in Jerez compared to the previous tests in Barcelona and Qatar. When Checa looked to challenge the top five times he crashed on a hot lap. He was taken to hospital for x-rays just to confirm he did not suffer any serious injuries. Team mate Ellison experimented with his riding style and tyres. Although he managed to eliminate chatter problems, he still needs to find a way to use his qualifying tyres come the race in less then two weeks time.
Carlos Checa (11th - 1'41.134);
"We're still improving a lot but we have a long way to go with the endurance of the tyre. It's hard to know at the moment what will happen over race distance. We've had a lot more problems here than in Qatar or Barcelona and of course this is disappointing, but we need to stay calm about this and remember that it's very early days.
The bike is working well but there is a lot of work to do on the package. For now we can all relax for a short while and then finally start racing!"
James Ellison (18th - 1'42.686);
"It's been slow, steady progress. Every time I get to a new circuit it's taking me longer than everyone else to get comfortable on the bike and so I'm not making progress as quickly as I should, but I am getting there. The first couple of days I tried to follow Carlos and see how and learn something from him. I've been trying to copy his riding style but to be honest it wasn't really working for me. This morning I went back to riding how I've always ridden and I went second quicker straight away. Now the bike isn't moving around so much and I'm feeling more comfortable.
On race tyres my pace isn't so bad, I'm feeling okay. On the qualifiers I'm three seconds down, and they're not really making much difference to my times. I don't have much experience with them and so it's taking me time to learn. I'm not that worried. It seems that I got rid of the chatter today, going back to my old riding style, so it's just the durability of the tyres that we have to worry about now.
I'm looking forward to the race, I love the track, although it's been difficult to get used to with this bike because everything happens faster! It's my first race with the Yamaha and I've got to take things slowly, but I would like top ten or at least top 15. I know I am nowhere near the peak of my capabilities yet and I know I can keep improving as the season goes on.
Herve Poncheral - Team Manager Yamaha Tech 3;
"Unfortunately Carlos had a crash when he went out at the end of the day on a qualifying tyre. He was very fast and it was looking like a top five lap, but then he fell. The most important thing is that he's been checked out by the doctors and he's okay.
We've been to four different tracks and for sure here we've had the most problems. However we're still not too unhappy because we've done a lot of laps and the pace hasn't been so bad. James has improved every day - from .44 to .42s consistently, and he's more comfortable and confident. He needs more miles before he can really start to push.
I want to thank everyone for their hard work over the winter and Carlos especially for everything he's brought to the team. He's done a great job and he's pushing every step of the way. He's a huge help to the Yamaha/Dunlop project."
- 1.Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team, 1'39.411
- 2.Sete Gibernau (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team, 1'39.663
- 3.Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team, 1'39.776
- 4.Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team, 1'40.416
- 5.Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki Racing Team, 1'40.468
- 6.Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team, 1'40.570
- 7.Colin Edwards (USA) Camel Yamaha Team, 1'40.721
- 8.Toni Elias (SPA) Fortuna Honda, 1'40.732
- 9.Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 1'40.750
- 10.Valentino Rossi (ITA) Camel Yamaha Team, 1'40.907
- 11.Carlos Checa (SPA) Tech 3 Yamaha, 1'41.134
- 12.Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Honda, 1'41.208
- 13.John Hopkins (USA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, 1'41.208
- 14.Makoto Tamada (JPN) Konica Minolta Honda, 1'41.380
- 15.Kenny Roberts (USA) Team Roberts, 1'41.673
- 16.Jose Luis Cardoso (SPA) D'Antin Pramac, 1'41.761
- 17.Alex Hofmann (GER) D'Antin Pramac, 1'42.034
- 18.James Ellison (GBR) Tech 3 Yamaha, 1'42.686
- 19.Vittoriano Guareschi (ITA) Ducati, 1'42.759
- 20.Tadayuki Okada (JPN) HRC, 1'43.513
- Jerez Lap Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2005 - 1'40.596
- Jerez Best Lap: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2005 - 1'39.419