Makoto Tamada may have only a few months of experience using Michelin tires, but you would not be able to know this by looking at his times on the final day of testing at Sepang. The Japanese SBK champion was the only rider to dip below the 2:01...
Makoto Tamada may have only a few months of experience using Michelin tires, but you would not be able to know this by looking at his times on the final day of testing at Sepang. The Japanese SBK champion was the only rider to dip below the 2:01 second mark, albeit using qualifying tires.
As for his feelings on the test Tamada said, "Today we have obtained great results and this makes me feel really satisfied with the work done in this first test with the new Honda RC211V. My physical condition has got better and this allowed me to be more aggressive on the race track, resulting in me being the fastest rider. This test only confirms that this season we'll be protagonists. The team is fully dedicated to me, therefore I'm sure that we'll be able to find as soon as possible a good setting to be able to compete on every circuit on the 2005 calendar. Now we will go on the difficult Australian circuit of Philip Island for three more days of testing. This circuit will be a great exam for the upcoming season."
Max Biaggi, the Roman Emperor, was second fastest, just six hundredths of a second slower than his former teammate. "It's been a great three days, hard work at times, but overall the balance is extremely positive. We collected a lot of really important data working from several areas of the new Honda; chassis, suspension and tires. We are going to the Philip Island test with a much more clear idea about the work we have to do. The data we now have will give the base to develop new parts that will be available after the Australia test," stated the Italian.
As for his fast times he said, "Fast laps were not our priority but they came anyway. Yesterday I was the fastest rider on the track, today I went even faster. We definitely destroyed last year's pole position time. I repeat once again that laps are not important at this particular moment in time but it felt wonderful to come back in the garage and see the satisfaction on my team's faces. The good, solid feeling with my new team grows day by day. We all share the same desire to do a great job."
Third fastest went to former HRC number one rider, Alex Barros, who switched garages with Biaggi at the end of the season. "I'm leaving Malaysia with a big smile, because everything has gone well, apart from having caught a bird with my right arm today, which was a little painful, but nothing. The summary of these three days is therefore a positive one, from every point of view. The atmosphere in the squad is perfect, I feel comfortable and we are all working calmly and we are focused. The 2005 bike is different to last year, mainly because of the electronic management, on which we worked hard on its set-up: I would say that at least eighty percent of the new things we have tested have proven to be useful. In the engine and the chassis the differences are less apparent, but in any case we have found a general base set-up," said the Brazilian rider.
Valentino Rossi, who was absent yesterday due to a high fever, finished the test fourth fastest. Rossi explained, "Unfortunately I caught a virus yesterday and I wasn't able to test. I felt a bit better today and this morning we did a good job. We made some good laps and a race simulation, but I started to feel tired again over the last five laps. The bike is good and I have a good feeling with it; we've fixed some problems and tried some new tires. Now I need to go and get some sleep so I can be ready to test in Phillip Island.
Nicky Hayden, HRC's number two rider was fifth fastest at the test, just a half a second slower than Tamada.
"After a really good day yesterday I was hoping for better things today but the overnight rain left the track a little bit slick and that didn't help things. It led to me trying too hard and I just couldn't get the right feeling to get into the rhythm I needed. We've had three good days here and it's taught me that I need to find a little bit more speed from myself, then get the consistency to put in regular laps at a good pace. Overall we've had a good test, Michelin brought some good new tires to test and HRC have worked really hard. It's OK saying a rider has to work hard in 100-degree heat but so do the team. After six days at Sepang I'm really ready now to move on to Phillip Island," stated the Kentucky rider.
The MotoGP teams will continue their testing program next week, at the Phillip Island circuit.