The first day of the official IRTA test, the last test before the season finally gets underway, started inauspiciously. The weather gods, who were so unkind to MotoGP last season, continued to display their fickle nature, with the morning's session almost unusable, with the track neither wet nor dry. The Jerez track has been fairly well drenched throughout the 250 and 125 tests which took place earlier in the week, and the track surface stubbornly refused to dry throughout the morning, yet not wet enough to run rain tires, leaving little to be learnt from such a changeable surface. Only the hard-working test riders, Ducati's Vittoriano Guareschi and Shinichi Ito, and John Hopkins' replacement at Suzuki, Kousuke Akiyoshi were out putting in the laps before lunchtime, the rest of the riders preferring to stay inside a warm garage.
Ironically, it was the first proper rain shower which brought the riders out on to the track, keen to learn from the properly wet conditions. The riders' appearance seemed to appease the entity in charge of the waterworks, as the rained eased, then stopped after an hour or so, and the Southern Spanish track started to dry out properly. But though the action picked up a little, it remained a pretty low key affair, until about an hour from the end of the session, at which point a frenzy akin to the last ten minutes of qualifying broke out, with everyone out running hot laps.
So, thought times were set and a pecking order established, the conditions were far too variable to be able to draw reliable conclusions from the day's results. Even Marco Melandri's fastest time is 2 seconds slower than Valentino Rossi's race lap record, and over 2.6 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa's fastest time set the last time the MotoGP grid was here, back in November.
But Melandri, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were all fast, with Carlos Checa a little way behind, Alex Barros hot on the Spanish veteran's heels. The big surprises were further down the timesheet, with Valentino Rossi setting only the 13th fastest time, nearly 2 seconds behind Melandri, and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden down in 19th, over 3.3 seconds slower. But conditions being the way they were, the times were all fairly meaningless.
The test continues tomorrow, with everyone hoping for better conditions.
|1||Marco Melandri||Honda Gresini||1'42.563|
|2||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro Team||1'42.634|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||1'42.796|
|4||Carlos Checa||Honda LCR||1'43.206|
|5||Alex Barros||Pramac d'Antin||1'43.214|
|6||Randy de Puniet||Kawasaki Racing Team||1'43.315|
|7||Loris Capirossi||Ducati Marlboro Team||1'43.475|
|8||Alex Hofmann||Pramac d'Antin||1'43.673|
|9||Toni Elias||Honda Gresini||1'43.687|
|10||Shinya Nakano||Konica Minolta Honda||1'43.817|
|11||Colin Edwards||Yamaha Factory Racing||1'43.845|
|12||Chris Vermeulen||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||1'44.052|
|13||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha Factory Racing Team||1'44.494|
|14||Olivier Jacque||Kawasaki Racing Team||1'44.659|
|15||Makoto Tamada||Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3||1'45.081|
|16||Sylvain Guintoli||Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3||1'45.208|
|17||Vittoriano Guareschi||Ducati Marlboro||1'45.603|
|18||Shinichi Ito||Ducati Marlboro||1'45.826|
|19||Nicky Hayden||Repsol Honda||1'45.901|
|20||Kousuke Akiyoshi||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||1'47.191|
|21||Kenny Roberts Jr.||Team Roberts||1'45.937|
|22||Jeremy McWilliams||Ilmor GP||1'47.191|
|23||Andrew Pitt||Ilmor GP||1'49.365|