The weather managed to play havoc again at the second day of the official Irta test at Jerez, with much of this morning's session lost entirely to fog. Once again, Suzuki's Kousuke Akiyoshi was the only rider to brave the unwelcoming conditions, the rest of the teams choosing to remain in the safety of the garages, waiting for the weather to improve. That improvement started around lunchtime, and soon afterwards, everyone was out trying to make up for the time they had lost yesterday and today.
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.
After John Hopkins nasty crash on the last day of testing in Qatar, in which he broke a bone in his wrist, it was patently obvious that Hopper would not be able to take part in the official IRTA test which starts on Friday at Jerez in Spain.
After Thursday's shock announcement that Kenny Roberts Sr may withdraw from the 2007 MotoGP season if a sponsor is forthcoming, questions are starting to be asked about Robert's sincerity. King Kenny is known to have a few sharp moves under his hat when it comes to negotiating tactics, and voices were raised almost immediately that this was just a negotiating tactic, to put pressure on either Dorna, or a potential sponsor, to speed up affairs.
Superbikeplanet.com has an interview with Kenny Roberts Sr in which King Kenny states he may be forced to withdraw from the 2007 MotoGP season due to a lack of funds. This would be a remarkable failure, as the story of Team KR is one of the most interesting in the entire paddock.
The last day of testing in Qatar threw up a whole bunch of surprises, clouding what had started to look like a pretty clear picture of the season to come. The first, but probably least, surprise, was that diminutive Spaniard Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets, setting a time 2/10ths faster than Stoner's pole record of 1'55.693, proving once again that the 800s are going to start smashing lap records from the first race. In second place was Suzuki's John Hopkins, who had set his fast lap in the morning.
Just minutes after posting a blistering 1'55.825 lap, just 0.2 seconds off Casey Stoner's pole record at Qatar, John Hopkins crashed out of the test, and into a local hospital. According to Motorcyclenews.com, Hopkins suffered a major highside out of turn 13. He was immediately taken from the track to a local hospital.
Something curious is going on over at MotoGP.com, the official website of MotoGP. Right in the middle of the second-biggest pre-season test, as public interest is building towards the start of an eagerly-anticipated season, they have taken the site down for maintenance. They also seem to have switched IP addresses, which would suggest they are moving servers in the middle of an event.
Testing continued in Qatar today, and the Camel Yamaha team continued to dominate. Colin Edwards was fastest once again, taking nearly half a second off yesterday's time, a second under the lap record. Team mate Valentino Rossi was 2nd fastest, a quarter of a second slower. Dani Pedrosa was the fastest Honda, setting the 3rd time, 2/10ths behind The Doctor.
Testing is in full swing in Qatar, in the first of the genuine pre-season shootouts before the real racing begins here in March, but this is no cold war. On the very first day of testing, lap records have been broken, and Colin Edwards has come within a second of Casey Stoner's pole record set last year on the 990cc Honda RC211V. Times are fast, with the top three all being inside of 1'57.
UK Motorcycle weekly Motorcycle News has a mid-morning update on the current tests at Qatar, and so far, the trend of fast times set at previous tests seems set to continue. The test is only half a day old and already, two riders have cracked Valentino Rossi's lap record set during the 2006 race. In a foretaste of what looks like being another great season, those two riders were former champion Valentino Rossi, and current champion Nicky Hayden.
I've updated the design, to make the layout a little easier to use. I hope you all like it, and if it doesn't work for you, let me know, and I'll try and fix it.
~~~ UPDATED 13 FEB ~~~
I've reverted to the old layout for the moment. I shall try and fix the problems you've been having this evening (my time). It seems like it's Internet Explorer which is causing the biggest problems, but I'm going to have to add some padding in the content cell for everyone. But it does seem like everyone prefers the new layout. Now I just have to fix the color scheme.
Day 2 of the Sepang test saw the results much as they were for Day 1.