Less than 24 hours after the 2009 season ended, the MotoGP riders were back out on the track, turning laps in preparation for the 2010 season. The weather was a little warmer than yesterday, but the wind was just as bad as it has been all weekend, sapping the heat out of both track and tires. The field was a real mixture, with the veterans out along with a gaggle of new bugs finding their feet on the MotoGP bikes, as well as a couple of Moto2 bikes undergoing the first shakedown test.
Leading the timesheet were the same names that had dominated all weekend, Casey Stoner returning to the top of the timesheets with a radically-revised Ducati Desmosedici. No details were given on the changes, but the engine sounded completely different, much more like the big bang configuration of the 990cc version of the bike, rather than the 800cc screamer. Filippo Preziosi has nicknamed the engine "V Twin" though according to the Italian site GPOne.com, it is not the same as the old "twin pulse" firing order used by the 2002 Desmosedici 990. Stoner praised the extra grip the engine provided, saying it was much smoother. Nicky Hayden agreed, but said it felt like it was a little bit down on power.
Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were both close to Stoner, and were both testing a longer chassis, which both riders felt was an improvement. Dani Pedrosa was 4th fastest, a little way off the front three, but Pedrosa told journalists that he hadn't been trying to set a time, he'd been focusing on testing the Ohlins and trying to figure out the different feel. He was happy so far with the results, and with the almost completely new version of the RC212V he had been given to test. Fellow Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso felt the same, the bike had a new chassis, swing arm and engine, which had greatly improved stability under braking, and was better throughout the corner.
Nicky Hayden finished the day in 5th, pleased to have made a significant step forward, but less satisfied with still needing another step to get closer to the front runners. Fellow American Ben Spies was 6th fastest of the afternoon, and pronounced himself pleased with the progress he had made. The Texan said that he felt he was starting to work the bike now, and was getting closer to finding the limits. Spies' crew chief Tom Houseworth concurred, saying the team had worked well, and Spies had made the expected progress. Spies was still basically running the same setup he had used all weekend, having changed nothing on the bike. He was looking forward to Tuesday, though. "I have a few ideas I'd like to try, and I think I'm close to understanding the bike well enough to try them," he said. Spies also reiterated that the bike he had ridden during the race was identical to the one ridden by the Tech 3 team, the only physical difference being the color of the paintjob.
Marco Simoncelli was fastest of the "absolute" rookies, the riders sitting on the bike for the first time. Simoncelli was still over 2.5 seconds off the pace of Stoner, and 1.2 seconds slower than Aleix Espargaro on the Pramac Ducati. Casey Stoner said he'd been surprised by Simoncelli's lack of pace, and had expected the Italian to be faster, especially after what he did on his World Superbike wildcard at Imola.
Much interest surrounded the introduction of the Moto2 bikes, though the state of development of the bikes does not really provide a realistic comparison. The test was very much a shakedown for all three of the bikes on the track, and the Promoracing team faced the added difficulty of only having one bike for two riders. The bikes were beautiful to look at, and very loud: still quieter than a MotoGP bike, but with the high-pitched screech of a 360 degree inline four.
After the test, Promoracing's Kenny Noyes, who has raced a 1000cc bike for the past five years in the Spanish Championship, spoke of his surprise at how light and nimble the bikes were. They were very easy to turn, yet also very stiff, requiring the same kind of precision as a GP bike. He was looking forward to getting back to work on Tuesday, to exploit the adjustability that they prototype chassis affords.
Valentino Rossi injected a lighter note into the proceedings, turning up with a new helmet. The helmet featured a very large, surprised looking chicken on the crown of the head, with an egg-shaped number 9 on the back of the helmet.
Testing continues tomorrow, and will finish at lunchtime on Wednesday.
|9||14||Randy de Puniet||Honda||1'33.775||1.115|
|18||9||Kenny Noyes||Promoracing Moto2||1'38.654||5.994|
|19||5||Joan Olive||Promoracing Moto2||1'39.815||7.155|
|20||14||Ratthapark Wilairot||Stop & Go Moto2||1'41.989||9.329|