Gordon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
Honda and Yamaha factory riders set up a thrilling 2012 season
Casey Stoner ended up on top of the timing sheets on day three of the final MotoGP test at the Circuito de Jerez today before the season opener, the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar on 8th April. The reigning World Champion built on his already highly impressive pre-season form ahead of his main rivals Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner was consistently fast throughout the final day and made significant progress with his RC213V but it was in the last 15 minutes where he moved ahead of Lorenzo and posted his fastest time of 1m 38.780s on his final lap. Stoner said, "Today we were really pleased with the lap times we're running but I think we can still improve the bike quite a bit before the race here. Anyway we feel like we've made some progress on a track like this for us. Towards the end of the day we had some chattering but we have an idea what caused this and it's not the same as in Sepang. We did a lot of laps and a longer run to get a little more understanding of fuel consumption and things like this and in general we're satisfied with how the whole test has gone for us. Now we can go racing which is what we really enjoy".
In general we're satisfied with how the whole test has gone for us. Now we can go racing which is what we really enjoy.
While Stoner walked away on top today, it was Lorenzo who was the fastest rider for most of the day on board his YZR-M1 and worked on race simulation with a used front tire. His Yamaha team is confident there is more to come from The 1000cc machine. Lorenzo was very content with his final day of testing saying, “I’m really happy because we tried to make some good lap times so we put new tyres on the rear this morning to make the 1m 38.953s which is a good time. This afternoon we improved the bike for a race simulation, which went really well. In general we are very happy, it’s not just me, Ben is also very close to the competition as are Cal and Andrea. We need to improve our braking a little, if we can do that we could gain some more tenths of a second.”
Pedrosa was also happy with his progress today with the Spaniard very close to the two the front and after setting a best time of 1m 39.157s he said, "We've been working a lot with the chassis in the morning to prepare the race simulation. But by the time we were ready, we had to stop twice in the box for an issue with the rear brake. Finally, on my third exit, I could make it. I did the full race distance, 27 laps, and I'm quite satisfied with the result, the lap times were pretty good even though it was very windy in the afternoon, it's also been also good physical training for me. In general, I think we've done a good pre-season, we only need to improve a little more on braking and corner entry… It would help us for the first race of the season".
The top three riders were followed by Ben Spies on his Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 with the American rider setting a best lap time of 1m 39.495s ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow, who was the quickest of the satellite machines with a time of 1m 39.585s. Sixth position was the best that a resurgent Valentino Rossi on his Ducati GP12 could manage today. The Italian being able to make much more progress on his new machine, working on better corner grip and ended his session on a best lap of 1m 39.733s. Rossi finished ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who was ill yesterday but managed to get back on track today and post a best time of 1m 39.860s.
Nicky Hayden was the last rider under the 1m 40s bracket with a best lap of 1m 39.919s for the Ducati team with San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista posting a 1m 40.017s, despite a high speed crash in the afternoon. Rookie Stefan Bradl ended his pre-season testing in the top ten after setting a best time of 1m 40.098s ahead of Pramac Racing rider Hector Barbera (1m 40.287s) and Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham who set a time of 1m 40.579s.
Power Electronics Aspar teammates Randy De Puniet (1m 40.601s) and Aleix Espargaro (1m 41.645s) were the top CRT riders respectively with Danilo Petrucci next up with a best time of 1m 41.926s for the Came IodaRacing Project team. Ducati’s test rider Franco Battaini (1m 42.057s) finished in front of NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards with a lap of 1m 42.073s. Mattia Pasini was next in line with a 1m 42.184s lap for his Speed Master team while Michele Pirro ended his day in 19th place for the San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT effort with a best time of 1m 42.212s. James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsport) posted a 1m 42.437s closely followed by Ivan Silva (1m 42.446s) and his Avintia Racing MotoGP teammate Yonny Hernandez (1m 42.906s).