Sepang 1 Test Overall Times - Fantastic Four Finish On Top

Looking back at the two days of MotoGP testing at Sepang throws up only a few surprises. The Aliens continue to dominate, as ever, and Colin Edwards is still firmly in place as #5. Behind, the top 5, the picture is a little more interesting. Loris Capirossi's strong outing on Thursday shows that the Suzuki can be fast, but the GSV-R has a long history of being outstanding in testing, yet falling short during the season. Whether it's business-as-usual for Suzuki or a breakthrough will have to wait until the first few rounds have been run.

Ben Spies continues his methodical improvement, but with the Texan complaining of jet lag and telling reporters that he is still very much just learning, he should soon be edging Colin Edwards out of 5th spot and closing on the top 4. Spies is holding station with Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian improving but still looking for more pace.

Key to Dovizioso's effort is the pace of the Honda. HRC have made some major changes to the bike, altering the chassis to improve mass centralization and allow the bike to turn in better, as well as changing the suspension linkage to suit the Ohlins better, and of course add durability to the engine to ensure they last for six whole races. The future of both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso hinges on HRC getting more performance from this evolution of the RC212V, but there is no doubt that the Japanese giant is committed to achieving these goals.

Spies heads the rookies, but what is more interesting is the story of what is going on behind him. Aleix Espargaro - not really a rookie, having already ridden four races in 2009 - is not far off Spies as the 2nd quickest rookie, while Hector Barbera is the strongest of the genuine newcomers. Hiroshi Aoyama leads last year's 250 title candidates, but the gap between Aoyama, Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista is minimal.

The Yamaha remains the best bike on the grid, all 4 riders in the top 7. But Ducati has shown a marked improvement, with Nicky Hayden heading up four Ducatis from 9th to 13th place. The Hondas are at the bottom of the grid, the four satellite bikes stuck between 12th and 16th with only Marco Melandri ahead of the Ducati of Barbera, while Alvaro Bautista's 17th fastest time puts him at the bottom of the grid.

Overall times from the two day test:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Previous Day
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2'00.925 0.000 0.000 Friday
2 Casey Stoner Ducati 2'01.320 0.395 0.395 Friday
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2'01.680 0.755 0.360 Friday
4 Dani Pedrosa Honda 2'01.822 0.897 0.142 Friday
5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 2'01.932 1.007 0.110 Thursday
6 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 2'02.102 1.177 0.170 Thursday
7 Ben Spies Yamaha 2'02.266 1.341 0.164 Friday
8 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2'02.272 1.347 0.006 Friday
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati 2'02.493 1.568 0.221 Friday
10 Aleix Espargaro Ducati 2'02.647 1.722 0.154 Friday
11 Marco Melandri Honda 2'02.810 1.885 0.163 Friday
12 Mika Kallio Ducati 2'02.987 2.062 0.177 Thursday
13 Hector Barbera Ducati 2'03.032 2.107 0.045 Friday
14 Randy de Puniet Honda 2'03.043 2.118 0.011 Friday
15 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 2'03.195 2.270 0.152 Friday
16 Marco Simoncelli Honda 2'03.245 2.320 0.050 Friday
17 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 2'03.274 2.349 0.029 Friday
18 Yamaha Test Rider Yamaha 2'05.732 4.807 2.458 Thursday
19 Yamaha Test Rider Yamaha 2'06.206 5.281 0.474 Thursday

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Ben Spies said after Thursday, he had "a good half-second" to pick up, just in lacking familiarity with the track (and jet-lag).  That means he gained an additional .4 seconds from "somewhere else".  Maybe Colin Edwards gave it to him... (how else to explain him slowing down about that much?)

And, as suggested, Espargaro isn't as much a rookie here, since he already has time at this circuit, with his current team.

I am surprised they didn't want to get any rain testing in...  Was it a deluge?  I would think they want as many miles on the motors as possible, so the factories can look at them between the tests.  And, again, it doesn't appear that they've slowed down at a track that rewards horsepower.  Is anyone posting trap speeds and sector times to compare to 4 months ago?

Criticism is welcome. Idiots are not. There are a thousand other bulletin boards where you can get your fill of idiots arguing. That is the only criteria I apply in moderating the comments.

Just do it politely.

Reading it over again, and maybe SBK can enlighten me, was the comment meant to be a light-hearted jab?
If so...Sorry!

To btw, is full of fantastic, original content, I will fully admit I'm a fan of all moto journo's who bring me content and interviews that I wish I could do about you? This will be my last comment to you, directly.

Now for the criticism :) I think that Hayden and the Ducati don't look that improved, at least on paper. Marco is on a new bike (which someone posted that he took in the wrong direction on day 1 with Jerez settings? True?) and 3 other rookies are down below. Should I be expecting better stuff out of the young'ns?...Maybe.

As for RdP, and the pseudo-factory Honda...I never know what to make of him!
The Suzuki will continue to break hearts...this is one of Capi and Suzuki's tracks, and seeing Alvaro down so low must be a worry for the brass.
I'd like to see Dovi do a bit better as well, he's a solid rider and real nice guy. If he doesn't, he might get the Commodore 64 Honda by mid-year.

On a side note...I find it odd that the biggest gaps are at the top of the timesheets.

It may simply suggest that the efforts or success of the top 4 stand-outs was varied while the rest of the pack of mortals showed how they are in a class amongst themselves.

But on the other hand...with the tire supplier regulated by the series such set of gaps at the top end may be a sign that the de facto suspension supplier may be giving more or less attention to some riders. It's not a control part, so I don't see why they couldn't vary their level of support. It's the wild card outside of factories and tires.

I - and many others, I believe - prefer David to place his time and effort on the superb race previews and reports which are far better anything else on the 'net and remain for the future as a definitive reference, than worrying overly much about matters of lesser significance. That this site has achieved so much for the sport from the unpaid efforts of David, Rusty, Rats and Scott vs. the usually trite reporting on is a small miracle.

And as far as 'cutting and pasting' goes, what other site does not do this? At least here we get an intelligent and informed synthesis of the information available.

Its a shame sarcasm never translates very well to text. Great job as usual David. ;) I didn't realize that some people have a memory as short as mine and that they could forget about Mrs. Hopkins snipe at Mr. Emmet's journalistic ability? That was all it was, I was not trying to ruffle any feathers. My sincere apologies.

 You don't have to worry, some of us got it right away...  most importantly David.

I got a good laugh out of it, to be sure.

Well, It is late and I don't have all my tools at hand so you get the crappy Excel chart.

This is the gap from first.

With just this little bit of evidence, I have got to at least start to believe that the 250s are not the best source for MotoGP riders.

Two recent 250cc champs at the bottom while two WSBK champs are in the top 7

Though you have done a fantastic job with the numbers, Rats, and with your work over at, don't you think that a day and a half on track is just a fraction too early to be leaping to conclusions about the 250s and World Superbikes? After all, the top four are all former 250 riders, and they seem pretty decent ;-)

 ...the point is subtle, but I think he is suggesting there is a commonly held theory that the 800's (have been) so much more like 250's that the time for re-adjustment is minimal.  Said another way:  250 riders don't have to change much to be as good on 800's as they were on 250's.  Whether that theory really had any credence, Ben Spies is blowing it up, with the help of the new engine rules and resultant change in power characteristics.

Further, since Honda have said their satellite bikes are not suffering an inferiority to the HRC factory bikes, there certainly is a question begged by the two reigning 250cc champions being linked together by small fractions of a second near the bottom of the charts.

Of course, we now can expect a graph like this at every test... ;-)

Perhaps the 250cc riders just aren't as good as we think. And perhaps Spies is better than we realize...

 ...what I was getting at.  Hiro and Simo are not Dani and Yorge, to be sure.  But, being on the one GP bike most like the ride he left behind can't be a bad thing for The Ben.

And, I can't take credit for being early to the Spies "bandwagon", but as you know, it's unlikely he could be better than I thought.

My Opinion is that the selection process has been skewed by a belief that 250s are the only route to MotoGP and so, we have no idea how good these guys really are.

I think there might be a tendency to swing wildly the other way because of Spies but I do believe that he is an anomaly.

Basically, because there isn't a good mechanism for evaluating riders in different series, many riders are excluded from consideration completely.

I am hoping that Spies has opened the window enough for Crutchlow to get a shot.

Moto2 is going to be fascinating in that respect. It may provide a bridge between WSBK and MotoGP, giving riders a chance to learn on completely adjustable, incredibly stiff prototype racing chassis.

For pointing us that are still wet behind the ears to Great stuff Rats!