Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) led the charge on the second day of testing at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, with Honda riders sweeping five of the top six spots to confirm the off-season work done by the team's engineers on the Honda RC212V.
On a typically sweltering Malaysian day, Pedrosa threw down the marker early, improving his Tuesday lap time by almost 1.3s to on the fourth of his 39 laps to finish the day with one of the fastest laps ever of the 5548m circuit.
The lap of 2m 00.770s came close to the 2m 00.518s circuit best lap set in 2009 qualifying, and it was much faster than the fastest ever race lap. It was also comfortably faster than his team-mate Casey Stoner, who was second (2m 01.434s) at a gap of 0.664s.
Pedrosa tested a new engine, rear shocks and chassis configurations, already thinking ahead to the next test here in Sepang in roughly three weeks' time.
The Spaniard's performance was made more impressive because of his slightly diminished physical condition. Pedrosa broke his collarbone and injured his shoulder at last year's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi and has yet to regain full fitness.
Not so for Stoner, who dominated the first day's proceedings. In his second day in factory colours, the Australian slightly improved his lap time, while turning in an impressive 60 laps. The best of the 60 came on his penultimate lap.
Stoner couldn't get the most out of the softer rear Bridgestone as he continues to gain comfort and confidence with the RC212V.
Pedrosa and Stoner stayed on the 2010 front forks, while Andrea Dovizioso, the third member of the Repsol Honda team, tested the 2011 forks. Dovi finished with the fourth fastest time, only 0.078s slower than Stoner. The Italian improved his position by four places and his time by a second overnight. Like Stoner, Dovizioso wasn't able to make the most of the softer rear tyre, though he was hopeful of an improvement on Thursday.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) came within 0.010s of Dovizioso, while finishing with the fifth fastest time of 2m 01.522s. His new team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, was only 0.012s off Simoncelli's pace and the fifth Honda rider in the top six.
"Super Sic" was more concerned with being on the pace on race rubber, rather than an outright fast lap on soft tyres, and on that count he was successful. He plans to conduct a full race simulation on Thursday, which he admits will test his physical condition as well as the factory RC212V.
Aoyama scored the best finish of his rookie MotoGP season here at Sepang and he continued to take advantage of his familiarity with the circuit. The Japanese rider plans to consolidate his settings from the first two days of the test for day three.
The day wasn't as kind to Toni Elias (LRC Honda MotoGP). His re-entry into the premier MotoGP class after a one-year hiatus continued to be a challenge, with the 2010 Moto2 World Champion carding the 19th fastest time. The Spaniard made a number of changes to correct issues with braking and direction change, and he was confident that there was more to come on Thursday.
The test concludes on Thursday before a 19-day break, after which the teams will reconvene at Sepang for the second test of the pre-season.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 1st, 2m, 0.770s "I think it's the first time I've ridden so fast on this track, but you're just fresh in the morning and I did four very good first laps. I was not looking for a time, but I saw that the track conditions were good and I pushed. The closer you get to the limit, the clearer the changes you are doing on the bike become, which lead you in the right direction. Today I tried the new engine, which has improved from Valencia, some chassis configurations and rear shocks. Tomorrow the plan is to continue comparing both bikes and it would be great to come away with the chassis and engine decided for the next test."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd, 2m, 1.434s "Yesterday we really didn't expect the best time, today we expected a bigger difference with the soft tyre - but with the chassis we chose we just couldn't get the best out of the tyre. Tomorrow maybe we can focus a little more to compare the chassis again and then see which direction to go from there. We've got a few other small things here and there but they can wait until the next test. Now I'm starting to understand the bike a bit better and when I ride it, it feels more like home."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 4th, 2m, 1.512s "I'm satisfied with the work done today. We have a good base that works well on different tracks. We started comparing again the 2010 and 2011 front fork and decided to stick to the 2011 version because it allows me to brake harder even if a small vibration still remains in the middle of the corner. I'm very happy with the pace I had today, but I am still not happy with my ability to improve my lap time when I try to push harder on the softer tyre."
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 5th, 2m, 1.522s "I am really happy with today and, apart from the 'stratospheric' time set by Pedrosa, in race set-up I have been consistently amongst the best. We have improved the set-up compared to yesterday and experimented with some different electronic solutions. I can say that the base set-up of the bike is good and everybody, myself and the team, is finding that with more experience we are able to consolidate our work more. Last year when we spoke with the telemetry engineer from Honda we were struggling to understand but now everything is easier. After a positive first test at Valencia this is good confirmation for us at a track I have never really been fast at. So I am confident about the future and tomorrow we will try a race simulation, my physical condition permitting, of course, because as usual here in Malaysia the heat is tremendous!"
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 6th 2m, 1.534s "Today we opted to use a soft tyre to try and improve the set-up. I rode both bikes and we tried a number of different settings on each to make back to back comparisons with the balance and things like that. At the start of the day I was struggling a little but by the end we had improved and I could have maybe even pushed a little harder. I have improved my best lap time from yesterday, so that is a positive thing and tomorrow we will look for more consistency using the combined settings from the things we found with each bike today."
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP): 19th, 2m, 4.026s "It has been another full day for us as we are trying several solutions to find the right setting. I still have a strange feeling in the braking and in changing direction in the curves, so we had to change many things during the whole session. We are still very positive as we do have the experience, the will and the parts to improve our performances."