2009 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 1 - Stoner Leads, Lorenzo Close

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. 

Results: 

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff
1 27 Casey Stoner Ducati 1'32.660  
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'32.685 0.025
3 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'32.826 0.166
4 3 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'33.088 0.428
5 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'33.358 0.698
6 11 Ben Spies Yamaha 1'33.496 0.836
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'33.675 1.015
8 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'33.726 1.066
9 14 Randy de Puniet Honda 1'33.775 1.115
10 33 Marco Melandri Honda 1'33.839 1.179
11 41 Aleix Espargaro Ducati 1'33.878 1.218
12 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 1'33.929 1.269
13 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'34.144 1.484
14 58 Marco Simoncelli Honda 1'35.229 2.569
15 19 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1'35.772 3.112
16 40 Hector Barbera Ducati 1'36.204 3.544
17 400 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 1'37.964 5.304
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

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Comments

You writing is so excellent I hate to point out little typos like this, but I'm sure you mean 'preparation for the 2010 season'.

Thanks for that. I may be able to string a sentence together on occasion, but it doesn't stop me from being an idiot occasionally. 

I wonder if Colin Edwards will respond and try even harder to run at the front this year. He's been the head of the satellite class for a few years and now he may be pulling up the Yamaha rear. I'd like to see him have a great race and get a win. Maybe Donnington or Assen will be the place for him to put his brain aside and risk his life for a check mark in the 1st place finish column.

So much talent on the grid.

I expected Ducatis change in technical direction.

When Rossi complained about the lack of power of his Big Bang Yamaha in 2007 I then thought whether Yamaha didn't make the wiser choice.

Yes they lost on the straight line, but at the corners they had the advantage. And there are not so many circuits with long straight line, and even there they could gain on the twisty parts.

Ducati announced last year that they where giving up power in exchange for rideability.
So finally Ducati recognized that brute power mitigated by sophisticated electronic won't cut it at the long run.
And I guess Preziosi came under pressure the last years with none (except Stoner of course) being able to ride the Screamer motor.

If the GP10 of Ducati is really a radical redesign this also means Ducati confirms that the previous designs where wrong.
Which of course makes Casey's achievements even more stellar.

Spies just continues to impress. I thought he may have to change his style a little or setup his bike a little differently from Colin to suit his style of riding more but it seems like he's already found a nice balance on the M1. Also it saddens me that there is no Kawasaki's out there. Even though Hayate didn't have factory support, not full anyway, that mean looking black bike was still green underneath.

1). Were the fastest times for Stoner and Hayden on the new motor?

2). I've been thinking all weekend, "... this is the first time this year that Hayden has been steadily within a second of Stoner..." Correct?  And now it continues on the new bike!

And I think the speed is likely to keep coming. Watching Hayden pass on Sunday, it was clear that he was able to do so on corner entry which is exactly what he has been struggling with.

Yes, both fastest times were set on the new engine. But that isn't Hayden's biggest problem. His problem is that they arrive at a track without a base setup. They turn the bike upside down looking for something that works, and sometimes they find it and Hayden finishes in the top 7, sometimes they don't and he finishes in the bottom 7.

Hayden is confident that next year, they'll do better, as he'll have a base setup everywhere they go. It also points up the weakness of the Ducati, that the bike is really hard to setup. 

David, do you know whether Hayden has now the riding position he wants with the GP10 ?

Because I remember reading that they changed his riding position somewhere mid year, he commented that it was feeling awkward but he was faster with it (weight transfer?).

The other problem with the GP9 was instability at bumpy tracks, and instability in general at corner exit.
I've seen 1 small shot of the GP10 so far, is my impression correct that the pivot point of the rear swing arm was moved upward? In theory this should improve "bump swallowing" performance of the rear end.