The final day of MotoGP testing in Qatar today saw the times tumble yet again, as several riders opted to try qualifying tyres and three of them, Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi included, dipped under the 1'55 mark. As usual on the final day of a test, both Rossi and team-mate Colin Edwards tried their 800cc Yamaha's on a long-run, enabling them to gather crucial information about tyre performance and fuel consumption ahead of the first race here in three week's time. Edwards' was in fact forced to do two extended sessions after his initial long-run, started towards the end of the morning, was red-flagged when Suzuki rider John Hopkins crashed, breaking a bone in his foot.
After topping the time sheets for the last two days, the Yamaha pair slipped down the order a little today, Rossi coming in third behind Dani Pedrosa (Honda, 1'55.471) and Hopkins (1'55.825) with a time of 1'55.954, set in the morning session using a Michelin qualifying tyre. After running into a few small problems with the qualifying tyre, Edwards was unable to better his time from yesterday and finished the day fifth with a best lap of 1'56.371.
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team will now head to European shores for the first time since December for the Official MotoGP Test on 23rd, 24th and 25th February, at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain. This will be the final pre-season test before the Grand Prix paddock reconvenes in Qatar for the first race of the season on 10th March.
Valentino Rossi (3rd, 1'55.954, 62 Laps);
"It's been a good test overall, despite running into a few problems. Like I said yesterday, it's better to find the problems now so we have the chance to fix them! As I expected, the other riders have improved a lot over these three days and Colin and I weren't able to stay at the top today. Still, we're quite fast and our bike is quite good, so we're happy. The long run was okay, the situation with the rear tyre wasn't perfect but we knew it wasn't going to be and nothing happened that we didn't expect. Anyway, we're not worried about it and we know how to go from here. I was still able to do 1'56.5s okay, so I think if the race was tomorrow then we would be in a position to fight for the victory, as would Colin. We still have one more test in Jerez so we've got the chance to do some more good work and try to make our bike perfect for the first race. We're still working on the suspension and stability, we've talked a lot with our engineers and we've got some good ideas to try next week. We've been sharing a lot of information in our garage between Colin and I; he's tried my settings and I've tried his which has been very helpful. Now I'm looking forward to seeing how the bike will go in Jerez next week."
Colin EdwardsS (5th, 1'56.371, 61 Laps);
"We were a little bit unlucky today; we wanted to finish up early so we started our long-run in the morning and it was all going well when the red flags came out after about 14 laps. I was doing pretty good times in that and was happy with how things were going, so it was pity I had to stop. Anyway, our engineers needed me to have another go this afternoon as we really needed to get some information about the fuel consumption. Unfortunately we couldn't have the same tyre again and we had to use something a bit older, so the second long run wasn't so great, but we got all the information we needed. We tried a qualifier this morning and actually we had a tiny bit of movement with that which was a surprise after how fantastic it was in Sepang. I couldn't quite better my time from yesterday, when I was on race tyres. Valentino had a go later and I think he fixed the issue, so we're not panicking about that. It's been a really good test and I think we've got a lot of options with this bike. Now it's on to something different again in Jerez so we'll see how things go there, hopefully we can continue the good work."
Davide Brivio - Team Director;
"It's been a very interesting and important test for us and both riders have shown that they're in a position to fight at the top. We've got a few areas which we need to work on, but overall we're happy. It's nice to see both riders being consistently fast and having fun riding the bike and it's great to see such good teamwork, with both crews working closely together and sharing all their information. This really helps us in the task of developing the bike. Now we go to Jerez for the final test and it's going to be another very important three days for us all; our rivals are strong and we need to be in the best possible shape when we come back here for the first race.
Dani Pedrosa, 1'55.471s, 87 laps, 468 Km;
"This has been the last day and we have only tested a few things. We chose the best settings of the first days and then we just began to lap. We've also made a small race simulation and eventually tested qualifying tyres. It's been a day dedicated to me rather than to the bike and that's good. It was important for me to get good feelings on this circuit because it will be the venue of the first race, so let's hope that things will work out fine when we come back and that the work done these days has been useful. The others are obviously doing well: the Yamahas and the Suzukis are very fast. The Ducatis as well. We just have to see how the tyres will do, and therefore everything will be in the air until we get to the first race. One of the things to check was the performance of the bike during the last laps and I think that today we've managed to get a first information that's always important. From there is where we have to try to improve."
Nicky Hayden, 1'57.269 s, 97 laps, 522 Km;
"After yesterday I just needed to come in and do some laps to try to get the feeling back, so today I got comfortable and didn't get too carried away chasing laptimes. I've been trying to get some more feeling front the front - that's what we're working towards. I'd have liked to have gone a bit faster today but we're still positive and we'll go back to work in Jerez and make some improvements. Things started out so good on the first morning here - since then it's been a tough couple of days. Sometimes this is a hard a game and you've got to adjust to it - I go away from here healthy and hopefully we'll go to the next test and get some things sorted out with me and the bike. I want to thank my team because yesterday was pretty hard on those guys and they were really cool about it."
Loris Capirossi (62 laps, best time: 1m56.807s);
"I am quite pleased with the way things went today in race configuration. I did a complete 22-lap race simulation at a good pace. The tyres remained pretty constant throughout and we look to be in pretty good shape in comparison with the others: the bike has improved and so have the tyres. There's still a lot of work to do with qualifying tyres however. For the moment we are unable to get the best out of them. We have to work a lot with Bridgestone to avoid starting too far down the grid and risk jeopardizing the race. If we analyse everything today, we are quite happy with the situation. We still have to improve the set-up of the bike when there is not much grip, like yesterday, but we are OK if track conditions are good. We went well at Sepang, Phillip Island and here. Next week Jerez will be an important session to bring these winter tests to a conclusion"
Casey Stoner (36 laps, best time: 1m56.834s);
"It was another positive day. I was unable to finish the race simulation I was doing because they put the red flags out after 14 laps after someone crashed, but I was going well until then. We tried several different tyres which were satisfactory, so was happy with that. Today I didn't do many laps because I didn't feel well, like several other guys in the team, and I decided to call it a day before the end of the session and not test the qualifying tyres. In the last three days, and since the start of the 2007 tests in Sepang, we have gradually improved and the feeling with the Ducati is getting better all the time. It will be interesting to go back to Jerez next week. For the first time we will test at a circuit where we have already been and this will help to check on the progress we have made so far "
Marco Melandri (62 laps, 1.56"980):
"The team is doing a great job. I like the
bike, I have a good feeling when I'm riding. I feel very comfortable with chassis and suspensions. Now we have to work on the engine to make a further step forward. We continued tyres testing with Bridgestone and we found some interesting solutions that can be good in preparation for the race. In the afternoon I tried also a qualifying tyre to gather some data and prepare for the season. I couldn't use the qualifying tyre at his best, while my race pace was quite good. I trust a lot our partners so I'm confident".
Toni Elias (71 laps, 1.57.246):):
"We are struggling a bit because in this moment we cannot find a good compromise in the package Honda - Bridgestone, we still haven't found the tyre that it's good for my riding style and my characteristics. I'm confident because we are working hard with the Bridgestone technicians. We will get probably some new stuff to test in Jerez for the next Irta test session, this would be very important for us".
Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP Rider:
"I don't think we can underestimate how much work we still have
ahead of us. I'm definitely not where I want to be speed wise yet but we will have some new engine parts to
play with in Jerez so hopefully that will make a difference. On a positive note, I tried out a new 16 inch front
tyre from Michelin today and it was great, it really helped on the corners."
Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP Rider:
"We tried out some different settings this morning at the rear of the bike with
the shock and pivot and I definitely felt the benefits of the changes we made to the chassis. It was frustrating
not being back out this afternoon but as I said on Tuesday we are definitely making progress, we're starting to
catch up with the rest and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Jerez next week."
"I'm feeling pretty beat up at the moment - a 120mph high-side does that to you! I've got bruises on all four limbs and a couple of broken bones. I'm flying straight back to England to see a specialist first thing tomorrow, and then we'll know a bit more about the injuries. It was a sad way to end the test because we had made good progress here. I am quite happy with the way the three days went and we got through everything we needed to before the crash. I'm sure we'll be in a good position when we come back here in about three weeks and I'll certainly be at the first race - just try and stop me!"
"We made a lot of progress over the three day test in the engine, chassis and tyre areas. I did a race distance run of 22 laps today and although we are still looking for a little bit more speed we are certainly in a much stronger position now than we were 12 months ago. The track temperatures dropped this afternoon so I didn't get the chance to test some qualifying tyres, but we have got John's information on them so that's good. I would like to pass on my best wishes to John, obviously he had a big crash today and I hope he's alright and will be back riding at Jerez. He did a lot of good work here and we hope he is fully fit soon."
Alex Barros (1'56.950 qualification tyres - 1'57.324 race tyres):
"Today felt better than yesterday; we have completely changed bike's set-up and I found a good feeling. The feeling that the Bridgest one tires gave us today was decidedly better with respect to yesterday. We could have made a better time, but on my last lap with qualification tires, I fell down and I wasn't able to fully utilize the one at my disposal. At the end of this test, I'm satisfied and confident that we're headed in the right direction to begin the championship in a good way."
Alex Hofmann (1'56.315 qualification tyres - 1'57.200 race tyres):
"Today was a good day, the Team did a great job and we were able to obtain some pretty good results. We worked a lot on the bike, constantly tweaking with the general set -up. The Bridgestone tires felt very good, and my racepace is constant. I'm fast with the current configuration and also my race one, which allowed me to obtain my best times. For me, it was an important day because I s olidified my confidence in the bike and just like in Australia, I showed that I can be fast. We'll be ready for the first championship race!"
"I know that today's result is not so positive compared to Pedrosa's best lap time but I feel
pretty satisfied about these days' work. Honestly we sill have to improve on qualifying tyres but
the pace we got on this machine makes me very confident for the beginning of the season. Since
the first test in Sepang last November we have been working very hard to find the right direction
to go and I can easily say the things are going in the right way. Today I rode also a race simulation
and the feeling with the bike is getting better day after day. Now we move to Jerez for the last test
session before the season's kick off and w will use those days to fix up the last things".
Shinya Nakano - Rider, Konica Minolta Honda (73 laps - 1'56.980");
"During these three days on the Losail track, I did the best I could and rode hard. I'm happy about the level of feeling I'm now getting from the front tyre, as this was our target during this test and we've achieved that. Every test I make with the new bike, I'm able to make a further step forward and I hope to move ahead again next week during the IRTA test. This is vital if I'm to be in the best shape for the first race of the season here in Qatar in 2007."
Randy de Puniet: 96 Laps - Best Lap 1'56.753;
"It's been a long and exhausting day; I have done almost 100 laps! In the afternoon we did a complete race simulation first, followed by a half-race distance, and the lap times were not so bad. We still need to improve our performance from the middle of the race until the end. We found a very good rear tyre but it seems that the front choice was not the best one for a whole race, as it dropped after ten laps. I kept my rhythm steady but for sure without the movement I could have ridden three or four tenths faster. I was tired then but I wanted to try another qualifier. Unlike this morning, I couldn't get the most out of it though. Apart from that, it was good to see the potential of the bike over race distance. There is still some room for improvement in both tyres and bike performance, but we are heading in the right direction."
Olivier Jacque: 12 Laps - Best Lap 2'02.081;
"This morning I thought that I was fit enough to ride, but when I got on the bike I realised that I was not. After a couple of laps I started to feel a little bit dizzy. My sight wasn't right and I couldn't ride the bike as always. It was too dangerous to continue and we decided to stop instead of doing a bad job and worsening the situation. I'm really disappointed because I really like this track. I did many tests here in the past and was expecting a lot from these three days. Anyway, now this is past and I only have Jerez in my mind. I will try and make up the time there."
Unofficial Lap Times:
- 1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1'55.471
- 2. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki - 1'55.825
- 3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha - 1'55.954
- 4. Alex Hofmann (GER) Ducati - 1'56.315
- 5. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha - 1'56.371
- 6. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki - 1'56.753
- 7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati - 1'56.807
- 8. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati - 1'56.834
- 9. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati - 1'56.950
- 10. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda - 1'56.980
- 11. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda - 1'56.980
- 12. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Yamaha - 1'57.232
- 13. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda - 1'57.246
- 14. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda - 1'57.269
- 15. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki - 1'57.365
- 16. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team KR - 1'57.408
- 17. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda - 1'57.497
- 18. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Yamaha - 1'58.379
- 19. Shinichi Ito (JPN) Bridgestone Test - 1'58.974
- 20. Andrew Pitt (AUS) Ilmor - 2'00.455
- 21. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Kawasaki - 2'02.081
- 22. Jeremy McWilliams (IRE) Ilmor - 2'02.612