Testing continued for the MotoGP CRT machines at Jerez on Tuesday under blue skies and balmy temperatures, but despite ideal conditions, the track offered much less grip than it did on Monday. The tricky conditions saw a number of crashes during the day, with Aleix Espargaro going down twice, Danilo Petrucci crashing once and Karel Abraham crashing the satellite Ducati he was testing, stating afterwards that he thought there could be oil on the track.
Despite the conditions, work continued on developing the machines at the track, with almost everyone spending the day working on electronics strategies. Randy de Puniet spent working on both traction control out of and engine braking into the corners, saying afterwards that the Aspar team had found some improvements, and was working on getting more grip. The pace of improvement was solid, De Puniet told the official MotoGP.com website, the Frenchman saying he felt much more comfortable on the bike now, having found a good riding position, and this was allowing De Puniet to post much more consistent lap times. The one area of concern was the tires, he added, saying that the 2012 tires appeared to be producing more chatter than the 2011 tires, a phenomenon which the MotoGP prototypes had also noticed. At the end of the day, De Puniet had cut some seven tenths off his fastest time from Monday, finishing over a second ahead of Speed Master's Mattia Pasini, with Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci and James Ellison all some distance behind.
De Puniet's Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro spent more time on the bike on Tuesday, after flu-like symptoms, saw him break off testing early on Monday. After sleeping for twelve hours, a much-improved Espargaro resumed work on Tuesday, though problems with concentration meant that the Spaniard crashed twice during the day. Espargaro's biggest problem is a lack of grip in the fast corners, he said at the end of the day. The bike does not want to turn, leaving him running wide in the fast corners, though the Aprilia ART is fine in the slower turns.
No such problems for Mattia Pasini, who had a much more productive day at the track on the Speed Master bike. Pasini took 1.3 seconds off his time from Monday, spending time working on adapting his riding style to the MotoGP machine and to the electronics. The team had spent Monday ironing out the problems inherent in a new machine, Pasini said, and that had meant he could concentrate on riding and working on the bike.
Newcomer James Ellison and his PBM team spent the day doing what Pasini had done on Monday, running through the new bike and getting everything set up to his liking. He was still learning his way around the machine, and trying to understand what the machine was capable of. So far, he had not got anywhere near the limit of the Bridgestone tires, he said, and he and the team were working their way methodically through the process of getting to know the Aprilia ART machine. It felt like a real race bike, he said, despite the fact that the bike was still using the standard steel brakes, rather than the carbon brakes the other teams were using, which PBM will only receive at Aragon in two weeks' time. His aim, he said, was to leave the test with the bike still in one piece.
That was an aim shared by Danilo Petrucci, but one which the IODA Racing rider failed to achieve. The Italian crashed heavily during the day, with his crash perhaps related to an earlier crash by Karel Abraham, Petrucci speculated. That crash had left the steel-trellis-framed IODA chassis in bad shape, leaving Petrucci to continue with the standard ART bike he had used on Monday. New Bridgestones could also have been a contributory factor, Petrucci conceded, admitting that he could have been caught out by new tires which had not yet fully reached their temperature. The IODA team was uncertain whether they would be able to repair the bike in time for the final day of testing, as the chassis is so new that the team has a severe lack of spares.
The same fate could also plague the Ducati team, Karel Abraham told MotoGP.com, as the Cardion AB rider had managed to completely destroy the satellite bike which the Ducati test team had brought along to Jerez. The cause of the crash was mysterious - a patch of oil on the track could have been to blame, Abraham said, but the crash saw the bike catch fire, destroying the front end of the bike and damaging the chassis. Up until he had crashed the bike, the test had been going very well, Abraham said; he had a good feeling with the bike and had spent a lot of time testing electronics. But Abraham's crash not only brought proceedings to a halt for the Czech rider, but could also endanger Hector Barbera's participation in the test, as the Pramac rider was due on Wednesday to ride the bike which Abraham had destroyed today.
Ducati test rider Franco Battaini, meanwhile had spent almost all day working on electronics. The Italian had performed numerous test starts in pit lane throughout the day, clearly working on launch control strategies for the Ducati.
With no times made available for the Ducatis, it is hard to tell how close the Aprilias are getting to factory prototype machines. De Puniet's 1'40.9 is a second slower than the fastest time he posted at the circuit during the Spanish Grand Prix back in April of last year. The team will have to find at least another second to start to get in among the satellite bikes, and with another test at Aragon before the IRTA test at Jerez at the end of March, there is still room to find some improvement. But the bikes clearly have some way to go before they become competitive.
Unofficial times supplied by the teams to MotoGP.com:
|1||Randy De Puniet||ART||1:40.9|
Jerez MotoGP race lap record: 2010, Dani Pedrosa - 1:39.731
Fastest lap at previous CRT test at Jerez at the end of November: Randy de Puniet, 1:41.5