The sun is out at Valencia and the bikes are circulating, though the times are not yet anywhere near the lap record. The two Hondas lead, Casey Stoner faster than Dani Pedrosa by two tenths of a second, while Yamaha's Ben Spies is in 3rd, half a second off Stoner's pace. Spies is the only factory Yamaha rider at the test, Jorge Lorenzo already having pulled out due to the finger injury he is still carrying.
Valentino Rossi is 4th fastest, now finally out on the Ducati with the aluminium twin spar frame. Ducati are constantly refusing to call this bike the GP12, as this test will form the basis for the bike to be raced next year, but Hector Barbera, speaking at lunchtime, was very positive about the machine. "It feels more like my Aprilia 250," he said, saying that he could now feel the front end on corner entry, something he could not do the 800 bike with the carbon fiber chassis using the engine as a stressed member. The power and gearbox were incredible, he said, but he was most pleased with the feel of the bike.
Of the newcomers or brand switchers, Andrea Dovizioso leads the field, having first gone out on the 800 Yamaha to get a direct comparison with the Honda. Dovizioso also has a new crew chief, Tom O'Kane having left Suzuki to join the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha effort. Stefan Bradl also posted a good time on the Honda 800 in a ride that is widely regarded as an audition for LCR Honda. If Bradl is close enough, and his sponsor is willing to cough up the shortfall that LCR still has in its budget, Bradl could well switch to MotoGP for 2012.
LCR's former rider Randy de Puniet is also out on track, but this time on the Suzuki 800. No decision has yet been made on the factory's future involvement, but Paul Denning and the team are soldiering on in the hope of persuading Suzuki top management to fund the program for next year.
There are also a handful of CRT bikes out on track, but their times are still a long way off the pace. It is the first time out on track for nearly everyone, both in terms of bikes and riders, and so there is plenty of room for improvement. By the end of Wednesday, a slightly better picture should have emerged.
Times from 2pm local time:
|9||0||Stefan Bradl||Honda 800||1:35.592||2.863||0.752|
|11||14||Randy de Puniet||Suzuki||1:36.100||3.371||0.069|
|12||22||Ivan Silva||BQR Inmotec||1:38.074||5.345||1.974|
|13||31||Carmelo Morales||Suter BMW||1:38.989||6.260||0.915|
|14||0||Gianluca Nannelli||Gapam BMW||1:42.970||10.241||3.981|