The Repsol Honda Team began their 2007 world championship campaign today at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia as almost the entire MotoGP field reassembled following the winter testing ban. Bidding to repeat the spectacular successes of 2006 the new World Champion Nicky Hayden and his team-mate Dani Pedrosa resumed testing of the RC212V at the challenging 5.548 km (3.447 miles) track.
This was Hayden's first outing on a MotoGP bike since his successful shoulder operation on November 30 and the 25-year-old American immediately set an impressive pace. With an early laptime of 2m 03.413s, Hayden was almost able to match his best lap of 2m 03.300s recorded at the last three-day test here in November. It proved to be the fastest time of the morning enabled Hayden to finish the day as the fastest Honda rider. Though a little frustrated not to improve in the 30-degree heat of the afternoon, Hayden remained upbeat about the likelihood of progress tomorrow.
21-year-old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was riding the RC212V for the first time at Sepang, having missed the November test here, and so methodically eased himself back onto the pace. The 2006 MotoGP Rookie of the Year finished the day just over 0.2s behind Hayden with a laptime of 2m 03.620s as he adapted to the different techniques required to get the best out of the new-for-2007 800cc RC212V.
The three-day test continues tomorrow and the Repsol Honda team will be hoping for another rain-free day.
Nicky Hayden, Best laptime 2m 03.413s - 73 laps;
"I'm happy to be on a bike again and excited to be back with my boys and the team - I really enjoyed riding out there today. This morning felt pretty good but this afternoon we didn't quite go forwards as much as I'd have liked to. We've got some work to do to be ready for the season. I went at about the same pace as I did here in November - I did that lap quite early in the day, and then didn't go faster which was slightly frustrating. The shoulder feels ok - the pain has gone away, though it still feels a little weak. That's one of the reasons I didn't go crazy with the number of laps because the doctor told me to take it pretty easy. Sometimes shoulders can take a while to heal but it wasn't hurting me on the lap times - I was just getting tired a little quicker than usual. It actually felt better today than I thought it would so we're looking good for the rest of the test."
Dani Pedrosa, Best laptime - 2m 03.620 - 77 laps;
"I felt that it had been a long time since I last rode so I took it slowly today, especially in the morning. We were just going back to basics and getting used to the work and the feelings from the bike. As I was not at the test here in November I was getting a feeling for the new RC212V at this circuit. We also did some tyre testing for Michelin. The feeling of the track has changed a little with this bike, and you notice the braking points have moved. The bike also feels quite different to the last test in Jerez because the gears ratios are quite long here so the force under acceleration is slightly changed. You really feel that the 800 has less power than the 990 at this track, and also the bike feels better in some ways too. It was good to get back in the saddle today and I'm looking forward to making some good progress over the rest of the test."
Valentino Rossi (Position: 3rd, Laps: 67) Time: 2'03.184;
"I am feeling very confident at the start of this test and the new season. I've made the most of my holidays, had a good rest and I think I am starting in the best shape possible. Everyone is very motivated and excited now! The bike I am riding here is basically the same as the one I rode in Jerez at the last test and everything feels very good with it still. You have to ride these bikes slightly differently to the old 990cc bikes, you need to be slightly softer, but we understand more about them every day. Some things still need to be improved but the chassis is good and we don't have any of the problems we had at the start of last season. We need to be fast from the start this year and at the moment it seems that's the case. The power delivery of the bike is good, better than I hoped for at this early stage of the season, and I am feeling quite confident overall about the situation we're in. Today we mainly worked on setting and tyres and we've definitely made a good start to the new year, now we will try to continue like this for the next two days.
Colin Edwards (Position: 4th, Laps: 61) Time: 2'03.337;
"It's been good to have a bit of a break and some time at home with the family, but I'm excited about the new season and it's good to be back on the bike! The rain held off so we got started on time this morning. The bike feels pretty similar to what we were riding before Christmas, of course there are some subtle tweaks here and there and some new stuff, but nothing too drastic and it still feels really good. This morning we worked on tyres with Michelin before testing a couple of new things with the bike this afternoon, but mostly we were just backing up everything we worked out at the last two tests, double and triple-checking every setting to ensure that we're working in the right direction. It's obvious that everyone's already at a high level and the times are fast, so it's going to be hard work for us all from now on!"
Loris Capirossi (41 laps - 2m03.537s);
"It was not bad for the first day of testing after a break of over six weeks" commented Loris Capirossi after his first contact with the track. "We've still got a few problems in the general set-up of the bike but it's normal at this stage of the year. We are here for this reason and for sure we've got a lot of margin for improvement. Today we tested a few things that worked and we put aside some other solutions as we have organised the work for the next couple of days. We have opted to test a few more things tomorrow and I think we can improve a lot. I'm also very confident about the performance of the tyres because even though we haven't yet begun to test with the new ones, the ones we have used today already perform really well".
Casey Stoner (55 laps - 2m03.940s);
"I am very pleased with the way things have gone today" declared Casey Stoner, who tested the Italian machine for the third time. "We have made a lot of progress since the Jerez test even though we still have to improve some of the characteristics of the engine. I am really pleased with the tyres: the front is already perfect, the rear is good and for sure we can improve. However my best time was set with a rear that had already done an entire race distance and that's a good sign! The team is working really well and I already feel part of the family!".
Randy de Puniet: #14 - 72 Laps - Best Lap 2'03.542;
"It is hard to believe that this is the same bike that we tested back in November. Two months ago we could see that the bike had some potential, but my feeling then was that realising this potential was going to take some time. But, this morning, I couldn't believe the transformation Kawasaki's engineers have made in such a short time. Already the bike feels competitive, but I think there is more performance to be found once we get down to refining the set-up further. I completed more than 70 laps without any problems today, and my lap time was pretty good, but we will be looking to improve further over the next two days. Today was a good start to our test programme, but there is still some work to be done over the next few weeks if we are to be ready for the first race of the season."
Olivier Jacque: #19 - 60 Laps - Best Lap 2'04.718;
"I'm happy with what we've achieved today. From the first lap this morning it was obvious that Kawasaki's engineers have made some big improvements to the bike since our first test here last year. Our priority today was to identify a good base set-up on the bike, and I think we've achieved that, so tomorrow we can move on to the next thing on our test schedule. It's been easy to find a good way of working with Fiorenzo Fanali and my new crew, and I think the working relationship will get even easier as we progress through a heavy test programme ahead of the first race. Overall, today was a good way to start the new season."
Marco Melandri (66 laps, 2.04.02):
"Today we worked on suspensions and chassis in order to prepare a base set up so that tomorrow we can focus on tyre testing together with Bridgestone technicians. I think that it's important to focus on tyres here while I will work more on the set up of the bike starting from next test session in Phillip Island, Australia. After the two surgeries I underwent in November and December and the physiotherapy to the muscles of my leg, I feel better now, I'm almost 70% fit. On this track I was suffering a lot, while today it was much better".
Toni Elias (70 laps, 2.04.7):
"I'm quite satisfied of this first day of testing. After two months of break, it was important to go back to the track. Today I completed 70 laps, which is a lot. We only made some small modification in order to find a base set up. Tomorrow we will continue working on the suspension and chassis and start testing tyres for Bridgestone. I'm confident" .
Alex Barros (2.04.011 - 44 laps):
"The first day back was a hard but satisfying day. Working on the chassis and with the software, we have tried to make the overall configuration better, to further develop both the bike and the tires over the next few days. In comparison with Jerez's tests, we have made good progress, changing some settings so that I'm more comfortable. I'm very satisfied with the work the team has made, and I'm really sure which is the right way to proceed. I'm confident I will ride well. Tomorrow we'll continue the work we started today and we'll focus more of our attention on testing tires."
Alex Hofmann (2.04.003 - 63 laps):
" I'm very satisfied. It was a tough day,and p hysically also, because we made a lot of laps to find the best general setting. I've got great confidece with the new package, both the bike and the tires, and we managed to identify a good solution for the front. Although I've already had a strong winter training regimen, it was critical for me to start riding the new motorbike to find the right feeling. The riding characteristics of the 800cc are good from my perspective. Even though we still have a lot of work to do, I know that our potential is very high, and I'm sure we can be faster!"
"We have a clear plan regarding the development of the new bike for the following days. Today we
concentrated on the chassis set up including the clutch, the engine brake etc. Honestly the feeling is not at
100% yet but we are working hard together with HRC technicians to adapt to the new bike. Tomorrow we
will focus our work on the tyres choice putting more miles on the bike. Basically I am not interested in the
fastest lap now because firstly we must fit the bike at 100% to become more competitive".
Unofficial Lap Times;
- 1. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki - 2'02.277
- 2. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki - 2'03.049
- 3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha - 2'03.184
- 4. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha - 2'03.337
- 5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda - 2'03.413
- 6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati - 2'03.538
- 7. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki - 2'03.542
- 8. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda - 2'03.620
- 9. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Yamaha - 2'03.785
- 10. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati - 2'03.944
- 11. Alex Hoffman (GER) Ducati - 2'04.003
- 12. Alex Barros (BRA) Ducati - 2'04.011
- 13. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team KR - 2'04.088
- 14. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda - 2'04.101
- 15. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Honda - 2'04.138
- 16. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda - 2'04.270
- 17. Shinichi Ito (JPN) Bridgestone Test - 2'04.641
- 18. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda - 2'04.710
- 19. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Kawasaki - 2'04.718
- 20. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Yamaha - 2'07.403
Sepang Lap Record;
- Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 2006 - 2'02.127
Sepang Best Lap;
- Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2006 - 2'00.605