Repsol Honda trio on form in Malaysia

Repsol Honda trio on form in Malaysia

Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets on day two at the first official MotoGP test of 2011 in Sepang, Malaysia and the Spaniard set the best time of 2m 0.770s on just his fourth lap of the day. Pedrosa's new teammate, 2007 MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner...

Honda Leads the Way in Testing at Sepang circuit

Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets on day two at the first official MotoGP test of 2011 in Sepang, Malaysia and the Spaniard set the best time of 2m 0.770s on just his fourth lap of the day.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team.
Photo by Hazrin Yeob Men Shah.

Pedrosa's new teammate, 2007 MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner finished second on day two setting a best time of 2m 1.434s after completing 44 laps with that figure making a slight improvement on his day one time of 2m 1.574s that gave the Aussie the overall top spot.

New rider with the Yamaha factory team Ben Spies continued to impress on day two and he grabbed third with a time of 2m 1.508s. Factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso's best time of 2m 1.512s wasn't enough to make it a Honda one, two, three after narrowly missing out to the American rider.

Speaking afterwards about his lap and the 2011 RC212V bike unveiled just two days ago, Pedrosa said it was purely down to track conditions and the need to push harder to gauge whether the changes he and his crew made were working.

"I was not after a fast time but I saw that the track surface was good and I went for it. When you get closer and closer to the limit that is when you see more clearly where the changes you make are taking you, and whether you are going in the right direction.

"Today I tested the new engine, which has improved compared to Valencia, some new chassis setups and several rear shock absorbers," said Pedrosa.

Stoner came away from day two with mixed feelings and is still analysing the best way forward for his challenge on the final year of the MotoGP Championship where they will run 800cc machines.

"Yesterday I did not expect to set the fastest time and today I expected a bigger difference with the soft tyre, but with the chassis that we have chosen we were not able to take the best advantage of it," he said. Stoner, who rode a 990cc Honda in his first MotoGP Campaign in 2006 also said he is quickly finding his feet with this year's bike.

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda Team.
Photo by Hazrin Yeob Men Shah.

"We have another part to test, but that can wait until the next practice. I am now beginning to understand the bike a bit better and I feel that it is more and more like one of mine," added Stoner.

Spies finish today was four spots higher than teammate and 2010 Champion Jorge Lorenzo. With Lorenzo now doing most of the development work on the YZR-M1, Spies was tasked with working solely on electronics.

"Today went really well. We started out and got right up to speed. We worked pretty much just on electronics and also evaluated a couple of different engine configurations, both of which worked really well.

"The lap times were pretty similar so we need to work out which direction we want to go. We got a lot accomplished today, tomorrow we've got a couple more things on the engine to look at and we're going to try some tyres for Bridgestone," Spies said.

Meanwhile testing masses of parts and settings took its toll on Lorenzo today who ended the day in seventh position but last year's Champion wasn't worried after showing his potential on day one where he set the second fastest time behind Casey Stoner.

"Today we continued to work on the bike, we found some positive things and some not so good," Lorenzo explained. "I think we have found more traction but maybe a little vibration we need to resolve. I'm happy with the day, but it was very hot and I'm pretty tired. We've improved a lot of little things, I have to continue to work on improving my riding as well and to give the team the best explanations I can on the developments to help them move forward."

Meanwhile the question on everybody's lips was whether Valentino Rossi would fair better today than yesterday where he finished 12th on the factory Ducati.

Valentino Rossi, Ducati Marlboro Team.
Photo by Hazrin Yeob Men Shah.

However it wasn't to be for the six-time MotoGP Champion who has nine world titles in total after he finished the day in 13th position. Rossi explained that he was happy to be on the bike without too much pain in his shoulder.

He also spoke about areas on the bike that need addressing. "I'm happy because I was able to ride again today. I did another 42 laps, which is reassuring. Even when I work my shoulder hard, I'm finding that it doesn't get worse, and I don't suffer too much, to the extent that I was able to start again this morning without having lost anything compared to yesterday.

"We tested some new fairings, trying out the aerodynamics. There's still a little vibration at the front that we weren't able to eliminate, but we have some cards we can play tomorrow to address that. We have to get a little more experience to better understand the bike's reactions when we change tires, from soft to hard and vice versa," added Rossi.

Rossi ended by stating that he and his crew are still working on making the bike easier to ride but he is confident this will come. "If the weather stays nice, the track conditions will continue to improve, and I think lap times could drop a bit. Naturally, beyond feeling increasingly comfortable on the bike, one of our goals is to be able to ride it more easily. We're satisfied with the progress we're making."

Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden finished day two in seventh - a big improvement on day one where the 2006 MotoGP Champion finished behind Rossi in 13th. "Things definitely went a little bit smoother today - we dropped over a second from the lap time - but the gap to the front is still pretty big. I had a problem with vibration, and we spent a lot of time working to eliminate that.

Nicky Hayden, Ducati Marlboro Team.
Photo by Hazrin Yeob Men Shah.

"We checked a lot of fork settings, some riding positions, and different geometry. It's cool to see that the team atmosphere is really positive, not just between me and Valentino, but with the engineers too," continued the American.

Honda had by far the best results of the day with satellite riders San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama finishing fifth and sixth respectively while lone Suzuki GSV-R rider Alvaro Bautista continues to improve with the former 125cc World Champion finishing in eight.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards finished the day in ninth place year while his new teammate and MotoGP rookie Cal Crutchlow finished day two in 15th position putting him just ahead of veteran Loris Capirossi who rides the Pramac Racing Ducati this year.

Karel Abraham, another rookie for 2011, finished ahead of Toni Elias in 17th place. Elias was expected to get up to speed quicker on the LCR Honda after winning the inaugural Moto2 Championship last year.

The final day of testing in Sepang continues tomorrow (Thursday).

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Colin Edwards , Ben Spies , Alvaro Bautista , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Casey Stoner , Cal Crutchlow , Hiroshi Aoyama , Dani Pedrosa , Karel Abraham
Teams Pramac Racing , Repsol Honda Team , Tech 3