The Phillip Island pre-season test has come and gone. We know that Rossi set the fastest lap of the test, a 1:29.68. We also know Nicky Hayden was the fastest Honda at the test and that Sete Gibernau left one day early. Let us now look at the ...
The Phillip Island pre-season test has come and gone. We know that Rossi set the fastest lap of the test, a 1:29.68. We also know Nicky Hayden was the fastest Honda at the test and that Sete Gibernau left one day early.
Let us now look at the other side of the test. Like, why did Gibernau leave early?
According to MCN, Gibernau left the test early because his HRC parts were taken off his bike and given to Max Biaggi. After the test, I went online and looked for a post-test interview from Gibernau, to my surprise, it was in Italian. Yes, apparently Gibernau can speak Spanish, English and Italian (and perhaps another language of which I'm not aware). I found this odd because in the past most interviews will have a native-language version, which in Gibernau's case would have been Spanish, and an English version. Gibernau's post-race interview was only in Italian.
MCN reports Gibernau said in his interview that "I couldn't stay for the test last day because I had nothing to test. You guess where it is going. Ask Honda. I would have liked to stay to keep working, but I don't have any more items. The chassis is my direction, something I asked for. I can control what is inside my garage. But if the direction I have chosen has to go somewhere else, I finish," said Gibernau. When Biaggi was asked about the incident, the Italian was quick to say he did not know anything about the origins of the parts he tested. He did say "for sure, Sete said some things that doesn't make Honda happy".
Though Gibernau never said who got his parts, he did say the parts had gone to "another Honda team."
Now that we know why the two-time vice Champion went home one day early, how well did he do during his two-day stay at the Australian circuit?
Rossi is the king of consistency, and the motorcycle world for that matter, so when I first heard that Gibernau was 16 seconds faster than the six-time World Champion I could not believe it.
Part of testing is to find the right settings for race-day. Some riders are famous for being the fastest at a test, but as the season gets underway they fail to make any big impressions in the championship hunt. For example, at the last test in Sepang, Rossi finished fourth fastest, but his race simulation was half a minute faster than his race-winning time in 2004.
At Phillip Island, Gibernau traded places with the Italian and completed his 27-lap race simulation 29 seconds faster than Rossi's 2004 time. If that were not enough, he was a full 16 seconds faster than Rossi's own race simulation. "Gibernau made the long run faster than us. It shows it will be another hard battle in 2005," said Rossi.
"The rhythm of Gibernau remains very impressive and even with my bike improvements I don't know if I could match his time if I made another race simulation," concluded the Italian.
Last but not least, according to eye-witnesses, American John Hopkins made a scene after his GSV-R forced him to pit during testing due to a mechanical failure. After he pulled into the pits, Hopkins went on to do a burnout while the bike continued to leak oil from the mechanical problem. He then went around motorcycle and began to kick it, which caused one of his mechanics to almost drop the million-dollar prototype. "It was crazy. It is understandable that riders get frustrated but nobody else resorts to that sort of behavior," said the eye-witness.