With the IRTA Test behind us, it is an interesting exercise to map out the best times for all of the riders over the entire two-day weekend of testing at Jerez. Unsurprisingly, the best times for most people were set during the BMW M Award session, but the lack of qualifying tires this year, combined with the fact that that 45 minute session was disrupted by both the weather and James Toseland's crash meant that there was not so much in it. Casey Stoner came out of both the M Award and the entire weekend as the clear winner, although both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were closer than these times suggest. Jorge Lorenzo, in particular, made a big step forward, and looks like he could run with Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa this season, though he is still not ready to challenge for the title. At least, that's what he says.
But the Suzukis are back on track again too. This is the third different track at which Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen have been competitive, and it looks like they could be close to the fight for the podium this year again. Mika Kallio pulled out a single perfect lap for the M Award session, but otherwise, was further off the pace, and the Ducatis which aren't ridden by Casey Stoner seem to be struggling once again. Vito Guareschi, Ducati's test rider, was out with a cast aluminium chassis, suggesting they may be experimenting with a chassis which copes with crashing better, anticipating the single bike rule expected to come into effect in 2010, but the factory riders stayed with the carbon fiber frame. Casey Stoner tried both an aluminium and a carbon fiber swingarm, and ended up on the carbon fiber item.
Honda look to be struggling still, and are badly missing the input of the injured Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso still lacking experience in bike development, though he is learning fast. HRC will have a lot of catching up to do once Pedrosa's knee is healed, and the Spaniard is back in action. While Hayate seem to have solved some of the rear traction problems they were having, at least on a dry track which has some heat in it. Marco Melandri may not end up being 18th everywhere after all, though Qatar could still be a problem, where a cold track could cause him problems.
In two weeks time, all this speculation will end, thank heavens, as the riders hit the track and start racing once again. The time for talking is nearly at an end, and the time for twisting the throttle is almost here.
Aggregate times from all four sessions at the IRTA MotoGP test at Jerez
|1||27||Casey Stoner||Ducati||1'38.646||0.000||M Award|
|2||46||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||1'39.365||0.719||M Award|
|3||65||Loris Capirossi||Suzuki||1'39.757||1.111||M Award|
|5||7||Chris Vermeulen||Suzuki||1'39.848||1.202||M Award|
|6||36||Mika Kallio||Ducati||1'40.149||1.503||M Award|
|7||4||Andrea Dovizioso||Honda||1'40.168||1.522||M Award|
|8||59||Sete Gibernau||Ducati||1'40.228||1.582||M Award|
|9||24||Toni Elias||Honda||1'40.266||1.620||M Award|
|10||5||Colin Edwards||Yamaha||1'40.305||1.659||M Award|
|11||69||Nicky Hayden||Ducati||1'40.401||1.755||M Award|
|12||33||Marco Melandri||Kawasaki||1'40.405||1.759||M Award|
|13||14||Randy de Puniet||Honda||1'40.646||2.000||M Award|
|14||72||Yuki Takahashi||Honda||1'40.814||2.168||M Award|
|15||15||Alex de Angelis||Honda||1'40.869||2.223||M Award|
|17||22||Vito Guareschi||Ducati||1'41.485||2.839||M Award|
|18||88||Niccolo Canepa||Ducati||1'41.551||2.905||M Award|