Yamaha Factory Racing commenced the latest stage of their pre-season testing schedule today, joining the rest of their MotoGP counterparts on track at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. This third test of the season is arguably the most important so far, as Losail will play host to the first race of the season in just over three week's time. After two successive tests in Malaysia, the change of venue offers Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards the chance to gauge the performance of their 800cc Yamahas in different conditions, as well as to measure themselves alongside a full line-up of their rivals. Once again the new 800cc bikes were proven to be just as fast as their 990 predecessors, with five riders lapping under the current lap record, set by Rossi on route to victory here last year. Edwards and Rossi were out in front of the field, with the American posting the fastest lap of the day in a time of 1'56 774. Rossi was just over a tenth of a second behind him with a best time of 1'56.891, followed by Casey Stoner (Ducati) with a time of 1'56.960.
Colin Edwards, Position: 1st - Time: 1'56.774; Laps: 67;
"We're coming here off the back of a fantastic test in Sepang and we've started on pretty good form again today. Things aren't totally perfect; the first-choice front tyre that we found in Malaysia and which I was super-happy with isn't available here at the moment and I felt I was lacking a bit of feeling in the morning, but we changed a few things on the setting and at the end of the day everything made sense. Despite the good time we've definitely got room for improvement, which we hope will come with a couple of different tyres tomorrow and some new things we want to try on the setting. Anyway, the really encouraging thing is that we've come to a new track and the bike has worked well straight out of the box; let's hope that's the case everywhere this year! We did a lot of work on the braking in Sepang and we don't have any problems with that here, so it looks like we fixed those problems. It's been a very productive first day in every aspect."
Valentino Rossi, Position: 2nd - Time: 1'56.891; Laps: 59;
"This is a very important test because the first race is here in just a few weeks, so we're working really hard in order to have the bike ready for that! Today was quite good and I am happy with the work we've done as a team; we were fast straight away and it's good to see that our bike works well at a different track. We continued to develop some things with the setting and we also worked on tyres with Michelin. This is a hard track for them so it's important we are ready with the tyres for the first race. The bike felt very good from the start and you can ride it well; we don't have any chatter, or any particular problems at all, so we're in a better position than last year. I am also happy because Colin is fast; in fact, he's a little bit faster than me! This is a good sign though, because it shows how good our bike is. Of course we still have areas to improve and so we will continue to work hard for the next two days."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"It was a good start to the test for us, because both riders are fast and the bike seems to work well here. For sure everybody else will also improve in the coming days, so we can't afford to be complacent, but we will continue to work as hard as we can and hopefully we can keep going like this."
Nicky Hayden, 1'57.07s - 82 laps, 441 Km;
"This is the best I've felt on the new bike straight out of the gate and I definitely think we're getting the base settings right for me - we didn't have to change too much at all for this track to be semi-close. For most of the day we were going forward which is good because it was nice to see that progress. We're not quite down in those 1m 56s laps where we need to be but we've learned some things that we can build on. There are a lot of good guys in my corner, a lot of good engineers from Honda and a good team around me and I've got to use that to my advantage with getting the bike dialled in. This is an important test because the opening race of the season is right here in Qatar so we've got to be ready to go. Conditions were good, though the day went fast so we'll be looking for two more good days to try a lot more stuff".
Dani Pedrosa, 1'57.73s - 79 laps, 425 Km;
"We had a good first practice and that's positive because it's important here to be in good shape for the first round of the season. The weather is perfect at this stage (neither hot nor windy) and we will see these days how much we can improve the bike. Today we were trying to find the limits on the bike and I think it's funny to ride the 800 here. You can feel less power on the long straight but not into the corners. We still have two days to test Michelin tyres and choose the best ones for the race".
Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP Rider:
"I feel good but I feel like my performance could definitely have been
better. It was great to be back out on the bike though, it felt fantastic. As I've said before there is an enormous
amount of work ahead of us but I'm confident that we're making real progress. The circuit here is good, it's a
technical track and physically demanding but when you're on form, it's great fun to ride."
Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP Rider:
"We're certainly making progress, I feel much happier than I did in Sepang last
week. I spent most of today working with the electronics team and we're really starting to chip away at the
teething problems we have been experiencing. I'm looking forward to doing more over the next couple of
Alex Barros (1'57.690 - 50 laps):
"I am quite satisfied of this first test day. I continued my adaptation to the Ducati GP7 800cc machine working on the base setting which will allow me to be faster and consistent in the next two days of testing. We have to improve hence tomorrow we will continue the work on the chassis further to the test several Bridgestone tires. I am sure we will be better tomorrow".
Marco Melandri (64 laps, 1.57.76):
"Today we worked on chassis, suspensions and tyre testing in order to find the best base on this track. I'm very happy with my bike, I feel confortable and I have a good feeling. We lapped always with race tyres, focusing on the distance in preparation of the race. At the moment we are not 100 per cent but I'm confident. We are working with Bridgestone technicians to decide the line to follow in preparation of the race".
Toni Elias (54 laps, 1.59.04):
"We started with the base of the previous test sessions and we worked on the bike setting and made some tyre testing. We tested several tyres but for the moment we haven't found one for my characteristics, but I'm confident because the Bridgestone technicians are working hard".
Alex Hofmann (1'57.800 - 55 laps):
"Good first day of testing. We worked a lot so we found the right setting of the GP7 which will allow me to work well tomorrow on the tires, especially on the rear. We will have many options to test and I am sure we will improve a lot. Today I clocked my best laptime alone on the track. I was constant on the pace and this is the most important thing for me. I am not satisfied about the gap but I have to say that ten riders are very close, all in less of a second".
"This first day has been quite positive. We are still working to develop the new machine
gathering useful data for the season's "kick off". I lapped on the base set-up we used in Australia
and I feel satisfied because it worked very well even if this track is completely different from Phillip
Island. This means that we found the right direction to go. However there are still a couple of
things to fix up. Tomorrow we will focus on the front end testing different tyres".
Randy de Puniet: 88 Laps - Best Lap 1'57.73;
"It was a good test. We focused on working on the set up this morning before doing some rear tyre testing for Bridgestone in the afternoon. The objective is to find a good tyre for the first race of the season, but for this moment we don't know yet which tyre will we going to use neither for the race, nor for tomorrow's race simulation. We still have some more tyres to try though. Tyre endurance is essential here and tomorrow we will check it. We also need to improve the setting as we have mainly focused on tyres today. We have to improve all the set up but mainly front suspension in order to gain more corner speed. I'm pretty fast at the fastest parts of the track but I need to improve on the first part. Today it's been the first day and I'm sure tomorrow I will be able to improve my lap times."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, Konica Minolta Honda;
"At this time of year in Qatar the temperature is just perfect for testing. Furthermore, we need to thank the Superbike riders who were here up until yesterday for the condition of the track, as it was very good and clean from sand. Thank you! We started today using the settings we found in Phillip Island as a base and continued testing small adjustments to the bike many of the changes made the new Honda RC212V feel better and better. We concentrated on the overall geometry of the bike to try and improve handling still further. Tomorrow we will spend our time testing different Michelin tyres and at the end of the test we will go for that fast lap!"
Unofficial Lap Times;
- 1. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha - 1'56.774
- 2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha - 1'56.891
- 3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati - 1'56.960
- 4. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team KR - 1'57.064
- 5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda - 1'57.070
- 6. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki - 1'57.350
- 7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati - 1'57.360
- 8. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda - 1'57.370
- 9. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati - 1'57.690
- 10. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda - 1'57.700
- 11. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki - 1'57.730
- 12. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda - 1'57.760
- 13. Alex Hoffman (GER) Ducati - 1'57.800
- 14. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda - 1'57.850
- 15. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki - 1'57.900
- 16. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Yamaha - 1'58.408
- 17. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Kawasaki - 1'58.740
- 18. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda - 1'59.400
- 19. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Yamaha - 1'59.700
- 20. Shinichi Ito (JPN) Bridgestone Test - 1'59.966
- 21. Andrew Pitt (AUS) Ilmor - 2'01.667
- 22. Jeremy McWilliams (IRE) - 2'10.341
Qatar Lap Record (990cc);
- Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2006 - 1'57.305
Qatar Best Lap (990cc);
- Casey Stoner (Honda) 2006 - 1'55.683