The penultimate day of combined testing for the MotoGP and World Superbike teams at Jerez brought good news for Ducati, in both series. Nicky Hayden ended the day as fastest, posting the fastest timed lap set by a Ducati this year at Jerez, just a hair outside the 1:39 bracket at 1:40.090. That is nearly half a second quicker than the time he posted during qualifying back in April, despite cold conditions which made it difficult to get the Bridgestone tires up to temperature. Hayden was the fastest man of the day (using the chassis raced at the end of the 2012 season, not the evolution brought to the track for testing), three quarters of a second quicker than Marco Melandri on the BMW Italia WSBK machine. Melandri picked up the pace quickly at the test, closing in on the times set by Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes, both of whom have now flown home, Aprilia and Kawasaki having completed their test programs.
Andrea Iannone provided more good news for Ducati, the young Italian posting a very impressive lap of 1:40.989, which would have been good enough for 6th on the grid for the race in April. Iannone is showing signs of being exactly what Ducati had hoped for, a young man who can be fast because he has no expectations of how a MotoGP machine should behave. Iannone's problem has previously always been consistency; if he can fix that, he can be extremely competitive once the 2013 season gets under way.
Good news also for Ducati in WSBK, with Carlos Checa making massive steps forward on the brand new Panigale. On just his third run out on Ducati's new sports bike flagship, Checa has closed the gap to the WSBK front runners to around a second, with still plenty of work to be done on the bike. There were fears that the bike would not be capable of being competitive, with familiar complaints of a lack of front end feel from the truncated aluminium subframe-style chassis. So far, Checa is showing those fears to be unfounded.
The test finishes on Friday, but it will do so without Nicky Hayden, who has already flown home. Ducati are pinning their hopes on Andrea Dovizioso recovering sufficiently from the neck injury he inflicted on himself at the Monza Rally Show last weekend to be able to ride on the last day of testing. So far, the Italian has only posted a couple of laps on Wednesday, before abandoning the effort due to the pain. He did not ride at all on Thursday, and is hoping to be recovered enough to lap some more on the final day of the test.
Times at Jerez, courtesy of GPOne.com:
|6||7||Hiroshi Aoyama||FTR Kawasaki||MotoGP||1:41.975||1.885||0.135|
|7||8||Hector Barbera||FTR Kawasaki||MotoGP||1:42.507||2.417||0.532|
Andrea Dovizioso did not ride due to a continuing neck problem.