And The Winner Is .....
The reasoning behind the switch to 800 cc for MotoGP, namely, that it would slow the bikes down, has been exposed for the sham that it is this afternoon. The season has yet to officially begin, but already Valentino Rossi has shattered the pole record at Jerez, taking over 6/10ths of a second off Loris Capirossi's time set during the 2006 qualifying session, setting an astonishing time of 1'38.394. If anyone doubted The Doctor's determination to reclaim his title, today's display must surely have dispelled any such doubts.
Rossi's dominance was far from complete, however, as Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa swapped the lead with the Italian for much of the session. But at the end of the session, Pedrosa came up just 0.133 seconds short of Rossi's blistering last lap, to clinch 2nd place. Behind Pedrosa, the Yamaha - Honda pattern repeated, with Colin Edwards taking 3rd ahead of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden, the two Americans running a good deal slower than their respective team mates. The difference was so great that Hayden's time, good enough for 4th place, was over a second behind Valentino Rossi's record pace.
In 5th place, Randy de Puniet confirmed his pre-season form, with a 1'39.832, fractionally ahead of Casey Stoner on the Ducati. Stoner's team mate Loris Capirossi took 7th, ahead of Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, and Kenny Roberts Jr on the Team KR KR212V. Carlos Checa rounded out the top 10. The man who had dominated the last two days of practice, Marco Melandri, finished down the field in 14th.
It is clear that, apart from Rossi and Pedrosa, the field is pretty close. 4th to 15th places were separated by less than a second. But the news is not so good for Honda. With the exception of the Repsol bikes, the Hondas were only to be found a way down the field, with the satellite bikes only managing to finish from 10th place on, running comparable times to the Dunlop-shod Tech 3 Yamahas.
One more practice session remains, terminating at 6pm local time, the last session before the season commences in Qatar on March 10th.
|01||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha YZR M1 800cc||1'38.394|
|02||Daniel Pedrosa||Honda RC212V||+ 0.133|
|03||Colin Edwards||Yamaha YZR M1 800cc||+ 0.906|
|04||Nicky Hayden||Honda RC212V||+ 1.162|
|05||Randy De Puniet||Kawasaki ZX-RR||+ 1.436|
|06||Casey Stoner||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 1.479|
|07||Loris Capirossi||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 1.493|
|08||Chris Vermeulen||Suzuki GSV-R 800cc||+ 1.649|
|09||Kenny Roberts Jr||KR Honda KR212V||+ 1.706|
|10||Carlos Checa||Honda RC212V||+ 1.706|
|11||Toni Elias||Honda RC212V||+ 1.808|
|12||Shinya Nakano||Honda RC212V||+ 1.848|
|13||Makoto Tamada||Yamaha YZR M1 800cc||+ 1.913|
|14||Marco Melandri||Honda RC212V||+ 2.002|
|15||Olivier Jacque||Kawasaki ZX-RR 800cc||+ 2.157|
|16||Alex Hofmann||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 2.287|
|17||Alex Barros||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 2.644|
|18||Kousuke Akiyoshi||Suzuki GSV-R 800cc||+ 3.411|
|19||Sylvain Guintoli||Yamaha YZR M1 800cc||+ 3.821|
|20||Vittoriano Guareschi||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 4.614|
|21||Andrew Pitt||Ilmor X3||+ 4.632|
|22||Shinichi Itoh||Ducati Desmosedici GP7||+ 4.679|
|23||Jeremy McWilliams||Ilmor X3||+ 4.808|