Sepang, Malaysia

2011 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 3 Round Up - Be Afraid

The second and final test at Sepang is over, and if you needed to get a feel for the mood among the teams, all you need to do is read the press releases. The tone of the Repsol Honda press release is positively jubilant, and with good reason. As predicted - even by members of remote tribes in the depths of the Amazon forest who have never even heard of MotoGP - Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa smashed the 2'00 barrier for the first time on two wheels. Even more impressive was when: Stoner on just his second flying lap, Pedrosa managing it on the third. Both men followed up with an impressive race simulation, with a handful of 2'00s and a truckload of 2'01s, fast enough to have blitzed last year's race by a giant margin. The Hondas, as you have now heard ad nauseam, are fast.

Compare and contrast with Ducati. When the title of the press release is merely "Last Day Of Testing For Ducati Marlboro In Malaysia," then you know they're in trouble. Fastest of the Ducatis was once again Hector Barbera, the Mapfre Aspar rider ending the day in 10th, nearly 1.7 seconds off the time of Casey Stoner. Valentino Rossi, returning to testing after missing yesterday due to a fever, could manage just the 11th fastest time, 1.8 seconds behind Stoner, and with an identical time to his teammate Nicky Hayden.

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2011 MotoGP Sepang 1 vs Sepang 2 Comparison Times - Honda Fastest, And Also Most Improved

Below is a comparison of the best times from the Sepang 1 test at the start of February with the best times from the Sepang 2 test, which has just finished. The one thing that you immediately notice is that not only were the Repsol Hondas fastest at the test, they also showed the most improvement, with Casey Stoner knocking well over a second off his time, while Dani Pedrosa took just under a second off between Sepang 1 and Sepang 2.

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2011 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 2 Roundup - Same Ol' Same Ol'

If the fact that Honda appear to have produced a fairly competitive racing motorcycle in the 2011 RC212V had managed to pass you by, the times from the second day of testing at Sepang will have grabbed you, punched you in the face and screamed "IT'S REALLY, REALLY FAST!" In fact reports from the second MotoGP test at Sepang have become fairly monotonous, with the headlines almost writing themselves: Honda Fastest on Day {insert day here} of Testing.

Wednesday was no exception. Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso took to the track at 10:30 on Wednesday morning, pounded out a few laps at blistering pace, and did not cede the top three spots on the timesheet for the rest of the day. By 6pm, Stoner had posted 42 laps, 5 of which were 2'00 flat, and 21 of which were 2'01s. The bike, in case I haven't mentioned this before, is fast; so fast, in fact, that their biggest problem is now choosing between two really good chassis. Dovizioso, Pedrosa and Stoner have yet to make up their minds which is the better frame, the 2011 version of the bike or the 2010 version, and so little is there to choose in terms of performance that Pedrosa told the press that he was actually starting to find it rather stressful.

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2011 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 1 Round Up - And The Winner Is ...

Two-and-a-half weeks after they departed, the MotoGP riders are back in Malaysia, and it's almost as if they had never been away. The Hondas and - to a lesser extent - the Yamahas are dominating, with the Ducatis further back, and Valentino Rossi still a second off the fastest man, who, once again, is Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda.

Despite the resemblances to the first Sepang tests, there are some subtle differences, however. Casey Stoner is clearly fast, but just how fast only becomes clear when you look at the Australian's lap chart. While a group of riders, including Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso had managed a handful of laps in the 2'01 bracket, Stoner set fully 17 laps in 2'01, two of those within a tenth of cracking into the 2'00s. And he was on that pace all day, in the cooler morning and evening, as well as the heat of the day.

The Honda is clearly the bike to beat, as the timesheets will attest, and the bike is only getting better. Both Stoner and Pedrosa spent the first day of the test swapping between the 2010 and 2011 chassis, and neither man feels able to make a choice between the two just yet. A request by the Australian to combine parts from the two to get the best of both was met with a curt "No" from HRC, but given the shape the RC212V is in, that is hardly surprising. 

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