Testing concluded today at Sepang, and the picture created during the first two days has shifted a little. Where previously the Suzukis dominated, today it was Valentino Rossi's turn to shine. The Doctor set a blistering pace, just 0.3 seconds off his pole position set in September. John Hopkins set the 2nd time, less than a tenth slower than Rossi, showing the Suzukis are still well in contention. Chris Vermeulen's 5th time confirms this impression.
Between the two Suzukis are two bikes which had been looking a little lost for pace on the first two days: Loris Capirossi set the 3rd time on the factory Ducati, ahead of Dani Pedrosa on the Honda, who so far had failed to live up to the expectations as HRC favorite.
Behind Vermeulen's Suzuki is another surprise package. Randy de Puniet is forcibly removing any doubts that may have lingered about Kawasaki's progress over the winter, setting an excellent 6th fastest time. Reigning world champion Nicky Hayden is 7th fastest, ahead of Yamaha's Colin Edwards and Casey Stoner on the other Ducati. The customer Hondas have moved up the standings a little, and the d'Antin Ducatis have dropped down the standings.
All in all, some interesting shifts. What is clear, however, is that the qualifiers went on today. With the new tire restrictions coming into force this season, the value of qualifying tires will diminish, but they remain a useful tool for learning how a bike reacts when pushed to the very limit.
Testing continues next week at Phillip Island, Australia.
1. Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Racing 2â€™00.936
2. John Hopkins - Rizla Suzuki 2â€™01.026
3. Loris Capirossi - Ducati MotoGP 2â€™01.274
4. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda 2â€™01.664
5. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki 2â€™01.691
6. Randy De Puniet - Kawasaki Racing 2â€™01.878
7. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda 2â€™01.884
8. Colin Edwards - Yamaha Racing 2â€™02.266
9. Casey Stoner - Ducati MotoGP 2â€™02.407
10. Marco Melandri - Honda Gresini 2â€™02.489
11. Carlos Checa - Honda LCR 2â€™02.583
12. Alex Barros - Pramac d'Antin 2â€™02.630
13. Toni Elias - Honda Gresini 2â€™02.927
14. Alex Hofmann - Pramac d'Antin 2â€™03.040
15. Shinya Nakano - Konica Minolta Honda 2â€™03.077
16. Makoto Tamada - Yamaha Tech 3 2â€™03.308
17. Kenny Roberts JR - Team Roberts 2â€™03.330
18. Olivier Jacque - Kawasaki Racing 2â€™03.592
19. Shinichi Ito - Bridgestone MotoGP 2â€™03.973
Times from MotoGrandPrix.it once again.