Testing has finally concluded for the MotoGP class for this year - or rather, almost, as Alvaro Bautista will be testing in Estoril next week, while Hiroshi Aoyama will have a test in Sepang a few days before Christmas, the two rookies being allowed extra tests to acclimatize to the MotoGP bikes.
But the regulars go home with plenty to think about. Fastest of the three-day test was the man who had dominated practice, Casey Stoner topping the timesheets on the new iteration of Ducati's GP10. The bike features a radically revised firing order, changed to achieve two goals: to smooth power delivery and make the bike easier to ride, and to require less traction control, which in turn will use less fuel, leaving more fuel for the latter stages of the race. Both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden declared themselves pleased with the new engine, Stoner describing it as giving him "more feeling in the wrist."
The smoother power delivery also helps with pumping on exit and makes the bike easier to ride. That is going to be a benefit to everyone on a Ducati, as the satellite teams will be receiving the new engine specification from the Sepang tests onwards. No longer will taming the Ducati Desmosedici be such an intensely physical experience, leaving the riders with more energy towards the end of the race.
While Stoner was fastest, the gap between him, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa was minimal. The Yamaha riders all packed up on Tuesday, but both Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi ran through tests on a new chassis, as well as electronics and suspension changes, which improved the throttle response. Honda has a completely new chassis, which Andrea Dovizioso said that he liked, as it improved stability under braking. Dani Pedrosa spent his time still getting used to the Ohlins suspension, which he said felt completely different to the Showa units he had used previously. This test has encouraged Honda to elect to switch to Ohlins for the start of the 2010 season. Pedrosa also said that the engine response was still very aggressive, but that this was a problem they would not be working on until they have the suspension and chassis sorted out.
Hector Barbera was the fastest of the true rookies, the Spaniard getting up to speed very quickly with the Aspar Ducati. He finished ahead of Marco Simoncelli, who has been riding the factory spec test bikes in the Gresini garage, while Marco Melandri rode the customer-spec Gresini Honda that Alex de Angelis had previously used. Alvaro Bautista made several big improvements on the Suzuki, but that still left him as 16th fastest of the test. Last of the rookies, though, was Hiroshi Aoyama. The Japanese rider has been using the bike bequeathed by the Scot team, as the contract which his new Interwetten team has with Honda does not start until January 1st. Aoyama had started the test with no traction control at all, and has been gradually adding small amounts in one or two corners. It remains a remarkable sound to here, a MotoGP bike with a clean, crisp exhaust note, and none of the spitting and crackling as sparks are dropped to cut power. Power has not been Aoyama's problem, though, as the Japanese rider has had more problems getting used to the carbon brakes than anything. Having spent 10 seasons using the steel brakes on a 250, he has to turn the habits he learned around 180 degrees to get the most out of them.
The riders now all head off home, with the "overseas" riders looking especially pleased to be gone. Ben Spies had spent 8 days back in the US since coming over to Europe at the start of the season, and was looking forward to spending some time with his dog. Nicky Hayden was also looking forward to going back to the US, but said he had plenty of things to be working on, to try and close the 1 second gap which he has to the Fantastic Four.
Casey Stoner said he was looking forward to getting back to training, and going into the off-season without needing surgery. He is now "70% sure" that the mystery illness that has plagued him this season is down to lactose intolerance, as he accidentally ate something which had lactose in, and suffered a minor return of symptoms over the weekend. Part of Stoner's winter will involve more tests, to try and nail down the problem for certain.
Total times from all three days:
|1||27||Casey Stoner||Ducati||1'31.899||0.000||Day 3|
|2||99||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||1'31.939||0.040||Day 2|
|3||3||Dani Pedrosa||Honda||1'31.944||0.045||Day 3|
|4||46||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||1'32.528||0.629||Day 2|
|5||69||Nicky Hayden||Ducati||1'32.804||0.905||Day 3|
|6||4||Andrea Dovizioso||Honda||1'32.825||0.926||Day 3|
|7||33||Marco Melandri||Honda||1'32.935||1.036||Day 3|
|8||11||Ben Spies||Yamaha||1'32.942||1.043||Day 2|
|9||36||Mika Kallio||Ducati||1'32.988||1.089||Day 3|
|10||14||Randy de Puniet||Honda||1'33.111||1.212||Day 2|
|11||65||Loris Capirossi||Suzuki||1'33.211||1.312||Day 2|
|12||41||Aleix Espargaro||Ducati||1'33.275||1.376||Day 3|
|13||40||Hector Barbera||Ducati||1'33.786||1.887||Day 3|
|14||58||Marco Simoncelli||Honda||1'33.857||1.958||Day 3|
|15||5||Colin Edwards||Yamaha||1'33.929||2.030||Day 1|
|16||19||Alvaro Bautista||Suzuki||1'34.163||2.264||Day 3|
|17||400||Hiroshi Aoyama||Honda||1'34.821||2.922||Day 3|
|18||0||Toni Elias||Gresini Moto2||1'37.279||5.380||Day 2|
|19||9||Kenny Noyes||Promoracing Moto2||1'37.881||5.982||Day 2|
|20||5||Joan Olive||Promoracing Moto2||1'39.227||7.328||Day 3|
|21||14||Ratthapark Wilairot||Stop & Go Moto2||1'41.989||10.090||Day 1|