San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli walked away from the third and final day of the first official MotoGP test for 2011 on top of the timing sheets at Sepang, Malaysia. Completing a total of 42 laps on the final day, Simoncelli set the...
'Super Sic' on top in with best overall time of first official MotoGP test in Sepang
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli walked away from the third and final day of the first official MotoGP test for 2011 on top of the timing sheets at Sepang, Malaysia. Completing a total of 42 laps on the final day, Simoncelli set the fastest overall time on his second lap posting a blistering 2'00.757 and this time was just over two tenths of a second off Valentino Rossi's 2009 lap record.
'Super Sic' finished ahead of Factory Honda rider Casey Stoner who set a best time of 2'00.811 on day three compared to his fastest lap of 2'01.574 on day one that saw him take the top spot.
Third place was 2010 MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo who set a best time of 2'00.845 after 46 laps while following close behind was Factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso in fourth spot.
Simoncelli said he was very happy with the way he and his team worked at the test and put his blistering lap down to building on improvements made to his RC212V Honda machine on the first two days.
"I am really happy today," smiled 'Super Sic'. "In the test at Valencia we realised that the new bike had potential and I already had a good feeling with it. Taking into account that this is not one of my favourite circuits we have still managed to build on our consistency from yesterday and this morning I was able to set an awesome lap."
Setting his best time on just his second lap the Italian then worked on race pace for the remainder of the day. "For the rest of the day we focused on a race simulation, setting a consistent pace and by the end of it I wasn't on the limit like I was in the race here. Overall I am 100% happy. The team has worked brilliantly, the changes have integrated well and everything has gone perfectly.
Obviously this is only the first test so we have to keep our feet on the ground and just continue like this," he added.
San Carlo Honda Gresini team owner Fausto Gresini commented that he is delighted with his number one rider but that the result was also a big surprise. "This is a real pleasure and a big boost for us. Simoncelli has been fantastic these last three days and I am delighted with him. We know we can be competitive but this level of performance was above our expectations. It shows that we are contenders and I have to say I am feeling euphoric right now!
"Naturally my thanks also go to Honda, who have provided us with an outstanding bike. San Carlo have once again showed their belief in us and together we are feeling very excited. Of course we have to stay calm and keep working hard but this is a fantastic day and I want to enjoy it!" Gresini added.
2007 Champion Stoner had a minor accident on track seeing him come off his bike but was not injured and said today was the best day for his team. "There is no doubt that this was the best day, in spite of the fall. In general we have taken several steps forward, alternating between work on the different chassis and trying to make it comfortable for me.
"We managed to make the engine work much better with worn tyres and with a different traction control which brakes the wheels a bit faster when the bike starts to slide, that has helped us to improve the speed through corners," said Stoner.
Yamaha Factory Racing pairing, Lorenzo and new teammate Ben Spies, both focused on set-up rather than outright pace on the final day of testing and both riders are happy with their progress.
"I'm very happy after the three days, it has been one of the best winter tests. The bike feels better but we still need to improve some points. I think the next test will see us take the next step.
"This afternoon when it was really hot on the track I still managed to put in a few fast laps which has given me the confidence that we are heading in a good direction," added reigning champion Lorenzo.
Lorenzo also spoke highly of Spies and is happier sharing data compared to last year when a wall divided his side of the garage to that of Valentino Rossi. "Ben is doing a very good job, I spoke with him yesterday and we discussed many things about the bike, he's a good team mate."
Spies, who finished the third day in fifth spot, echoed Lorenzo's comments and he leaves the test in high spirits. "We've definitely done what we needed to do here. It's been good riding alongside Jorge, we've both worked hard to deliver important information which the team can now take away and work with."
Meanwhile Dani Pedrosa came away from the third day in sixth spot and happy. He is very upbeat about the condition of his left arm and shoulder that he injured at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan last year.
"I am very pleased with these tests in general. The best news we can report is that my arm has recovered and the cramps and lack of strength that worried me so much have disappeared. This afternoon we did a long race simulation of 12 laps and it went well," said the Spaniard.
Pedrosa also revealed that he worked more on last year's bike with this year's RC212V yet to be put through its paces: "I concentrated more on the bike for 2010 and in the second test we will have more time to test this year's bike. Ohlins will also bring some new components and this may improve the whole setup even more. For me, the most important step we have taken is on the braking stability which was one of the things we set out to do."
Simoncelli's teammate Hiroshi Aoyama finished in seventh spot and one place higher than Nicky Hayden who put in a whopping 60 laps on his Ducati Desmosedici GP11.
"It's great to be back here, and to be back on the bike," said Hayden. "We had three important days with a lot of work to do. Of course I don't like to still be so far away from the leaders, but we've reduced the gap every day."
The 2006 champion tested a number of parts back-to-back today and is happy with the direction that he and his crew are taking. "We realize there's still a lot of work to do, and that starts with the rider. When we come back, we'll keep reducing the gap to the front guys," said the American.
Colin Edwards ended his day in ninth spot on his Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha one spot ahead of Ducati Marlboro rider Valentino Rossi. Speaking at the end of a trying three days because of the pain from his shoulder the he injured at the beginning of the 2010 campaign, Rossi remained upbeat but knows he has a lot of work to do.
"I'm very happy because before coming here, I expected to do 20, 30 laps per day, and as it turns out, I did around 40 each of the first two days and over 50 today," Rossi said. "But I'm really happy with my shoulder because it's improving day-by-day, and even after the stress of having ridden a MotoGP bike at the limit, I don't have any problems: now it's just a question of strength.
"Anyway, we worked well today too, and we were able to collect a lot of data and solve the chattering problem we were experiencing. Obviously, there's still a lot to do, but compared to the start of the test, we've definitely gotten closer to the base setup we're looking for," added the six time MotoGP champion.
Rossi also commented that while there are a number of things he is happy with he is still getting acquainted with the GP11. "I still have to do more kilometers in order to understand other aspects of the GP11 but, although I have to change my riding style a little, I now feel much more at home with the Ducati."
Spain's Hector Barbera ended his test with the Aspar Team in 11th setting a time of 2'02.030 on his Ducati while in 12th and 13th respectively were Pramac Racing Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet.
These three were closely followed by rookie Karel Abraham for the Cardion AB Motoracing team ahead of Britain's Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in 15th and LCR Honda's Toni Elias.
Suzuki's lone rider for 2011, Alvaro Bautista had to sit out the final day's testing after getting sick in his helmet and also in his garage when he returned to the pits and his team is yet to confirm what caused the sudden bout of Nausea.
The second official MotoGP test will take place at the same track in Sepang, Malaysia in just under three weeks from 22 to 24 February - for another three days of tests.