2008 Challenge Gets Underway For Yamaha In Sepang Valentino Rossi completed a mainly positive first day of testing in Malaysia today as the first of four pre-season tests began for the Fiat Yamaha Team. Rossi's second test on Bridgestone tyres...
2008 Challenge Gets Underway For Yamaha In Sepang
Valentino Rossi completed a mainly positive first day of testing in Malaysia today as the first of four pre-season tests began for the Fiat Yamaha Team. Rossi's second test on Bridgestone tyres was interrupted when he crashed entering turn two on his twentieth lap of the day, but the Italian was unhurt and completed 44 laps and some important development work.
It was a typically hot and humid Sepang day and the track surface caused some problems with several riders, including Rossi's new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, also hitting the gravel at some point. Rossi and his team concentrated on a variety of things throughout the day as they continued to work on the development of the 2008 YZR-M1, recording positive results with a new 2008 specification pneumatic-valve engine, new electronics and of course some tyre work with Bridgestone. Rossi's time of 2'02.490, recorded on his final lap of the day, put him in sixth place.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 6th Time: 2'02.490 Laps: 44
"It feels good to be back on the bike after the winter break, and me and all my team are feeling very motivated about the task ahead. I still have some pain in my hand but I had it checked out again last week and the fracture is okay, so I know it's not a problem to ride. Today we continued where we left off with Bridgestone and it seems we're making good progress, we did many laps with the same tyre and I'm pleased with things so far. Unfortunately I had a crash today; I was on an out lap and maybe I pushed a little bit too hard, too soon, with not enough temperature in the tyre and I lost the front. Luckily I was not hurt, my hand is okay and I was able to continue with the day's work! As well as tyres we tried a new-spec engine and I was quite pleased with this, as well as with some new electronics. The surface wasn't good today and it wasn't possible to go so fast but I hope tomorrow it will improve and we will be able to keep improving in all areas."
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
"It was unfortunate that Valentino crashed, as well as quite a few other riders, but he is fine, the bike was okay after some work and it didn't interrupt things too much. The surface was quite poor and this caused problems for everyone but anyway we were able to get quite a lot of work done and overall it's been a good first day, despite Valentino's problem! Of course we're working a lot with Bridgestone, continuing from the work we did in Jerez, and so far we seem to be going well. Tomorrow we might try a long-run and check the situation with the tyres over many laps, so this will be interesting."
After being officially welcomed into the Yamaha fold at the Team's presentation in Turin last week, Jorge Lorenzo was out on track in Fiat Yamaha Team colours for the first time today in Sepang. The three-day Malaysian test is the first of four pre-season tests before the Spanish rookie makes his MotoGP debut in March.
It was an interesting day for the Michelin-shod 20-year-old, who completed some promising work despite an incident at turn 13, when he lost the front and slid into the gravel. Like his team-mate Valentino Rossi, who suffered a similar fate, Lorenzo was entirely unhurt and was back out on his second bike almost immediately. He completed 43 laps on a scorching Sepang day, trying out a new 2008-specification engine and also some new electronics, registering improvements with both. The Michelin rider stayed on base tyres today and will begin tyre-testing tomorrow as he continues in his task of getting to grips with his new YZR-M1. His time of 2'02.563 was good enough for ninth place. Randy de Puniet was fastest today after recording a lap of 2'01.377.
Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 9th Time: 2'02.563 Laps: 43
"Unfortunately I lost the front and crashed at turn 13 but it wasn't a big fall and I wasn't hurt at all. I went back to the pits and went out on my other bike, forgot about the problem and started improving straight away! In this way it was a positive day for me. We had the chance to test a new engine, with which I found to be an improvement compared to the previous one, and we also worked on some new electronics. I still need to improve some things about my riding style, and we need to work on the bike in the hard braking areas because I am lacking some stability there. Today we didn't change anything with the tyres but tomorrow we will start some tyre testing with Michelin."
Daniele Romagnoli - Team Manager "Luckily Jorge wasn't hurt so despite his crash it was a good day's work for us. We continued with the base set-up we had in Jerez, where he was quite fast, and it seems to work okay. The main area we need to work on is the hard braking areas, where we still have some vibration, so we need to concentrate on improving the bike for those parts of the track. We tried a new-specification engine and some new electronics and Jorge felt very comfortable with these. Tomorrow we will continue with general set-up work and also start testing new tyres with Michelin; we have a lot to do but so far things are going quite well."
First day of action for new-look Tech 3 in Sepang
The Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP team began their 2008 campaign under hot Malaysian sun at the Sepang circuit today for the first of three days of testing.New riders James Toseland, the 2007 World Superbike champion, and Colin Edwards, a former two-time Superbike number one, completed 74 laps between them and posted best lap-times to rest 13th and 7th respectively from a full complement of MotoGP teams and riders.
The first shakedown test of the year saw the Briton and American getting re-accustomed to their machinery after two sessions towards the end of 2007 and before the forced winter break. The pair worked on the data accumulated last time at Sepang and Jerez in Spain to begin building the competitive basis of their M1 motorcycle for this season.
Colin Edwards - Position: 7th Time: 2:02.549Laps: 29
"We are not quite on the new stuff yet but we are slowly morphing into the next version; we will have a new chassis for tomorrow," commented Edwards who rounded the fast layout for 29 laps and is currently preparing for his fourth season with Yamaha in MotoGP. "We started out getting the setting right and backing up what we found out from the last November test. Everything went well in the morning. We did not test anything special from Michelin but more the good tyres we had selected from the last outing."
Edwards was third quickest early on but relentless sunshine baked the asphalt in the afternoon and caused some problems, even prompting a slow-speed spill for the Texan. "After lunch the temperature on the ground went up to sixty degrees or something crazy like that and then things became difficult," he recounted. "It was hard to stop the bike and I had perhaps the most stupid crash I've ever done. I was braking for the hair-pin and the bike stepped sideways. I tried to manage it straight, but it flicked back again and high-sided me in a straight-line. I was fine and the bike was the one we were going to change the chassis on anyway. We still have some work ahead."
Toseland --a MotoGP debutant and the only British rider in the premier class of the world championship -- understandably circulated the breezy but sizzling Sepang circuit for as much track mileage as possible. He lapped 45 times in what was his third outing on the Yamaha M1.
James Toseland - Position: 13th Time: 2:03.264 Laps: 45
"Today was pretty good even if it did take me a bit of time to get back into things after the break. My quickest time here in November was 2:03.5 and then I was mostly in the 04s and 05s. On my last run today, when the track was at its hottest, I was constantly in the low 03s, so we have made progress and I am pretty pleased with that," he said.
"We have got some new forks which are quite stable under braking," he added. "Along with an increase in engine performance this is the main thing that I noticed compared to the old bike. The new rear swinging arm was working well and I did not feel as much chatter around this track as I did before. The bike is not hugely different so far but the subtle changes are a step in the right direction."
With all the manufacturers on the 2008 MotoGP grid represented at Sepang, the test gave the team a decent chance to set their benchmarks against the opposition they will battle through the eighteen round calendar that begins on March 9th in Qatar.
The French crew will continue work on Wednesday and Thursday before shipping out to Phillip Island in Australia for further development next week.