Moto GP

Lorenzo tops the time sheets at Valencia test – Day 1


The first day of the long awaited post-season MotoGP test at Valencia started with grey skies and light drizzle this morning, which left the track unsuitable for the opening hour of the session between 9 and 10 when, luckily, the sun emerged to gradually dry the track surface.

Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider Jorge Lorenzo topped the timesheets ahead of Honda mountedCasey Stoner and Lorenzo's new team-mate Ben Spies as only three of five riders to dip below the 1.33 minute mark . Rain in the morning saw the day's session delayed until the track had dried with all riders waiting until the afternoon before venturing out onto the circuit.

Reigning 2010 World Champion Lorenzo continued to show the form that delivered the world title this year, taking just five warm up laps to go straight to the top of the timesheets where he remained unbeaten for the entire session. The Mallorcan split his riding time between the 2011 prototype YZR-M1 and an updated version of his 2010 machine.

"Today we tried the new chassis on the 2011 M1 which felt good, although it is still to early to say too much about it. We also tried the new Ohlins suspension which felt better to me on the track. The new engine seems to have less wheelie but we will see more tomorrow in the next session," Lorenzo said.

Casey Stoner made his return to Honda machinery after a four year absence, his last season for Honda was in 2006 when he raced a 990cc RC211V for LCR Honda. With the blessing of Ducati The Australian rode the factory Repsol Honda RC212V 800cc machine for the first time, clocking an astonishing second fastest time of the day at 1m 32.775s was just 0.763s down on pole sitter Lorenzo's time. He was just a tenth of a second outside his own FP3 time from the grand prix.

Stoner ran with the 2010 version of the RCV chassis, using one of Dani Pedrosa's 2010 race machines. He concentrated his efforts on finding the best possible riding position to suit his style and when reasonably comfortable on the RCV moved on to setting up the RCV for serious lap times. As in all forms of automoto racing the electronics play a huge part in machine set up and the RC212V debutant devoted considerable attention to that aspect of machine performance.

Taking his first outing as a Yamaha Factory rider, the 2010 'Rookie of the Year' Spies spent the majority of the afternoon riding the 2011 prototype YZR-M1. The American rider and his crew used their inaugural session to focus on the chassis settings of the new bike, moving quickly up the timesheets, delivering consistent fast laps to end as the third fastest rider of the day.

"For the first day of testing I'm super happy with the team, a lot of things are new including obviously riding the prototype bike," Spies said.There are a lot of subtle changes from last year so I spent some time getting used to it along with working with a new Japanese engineer who is very, very good. I had a couple of new mechanics who were learning the ropes as well so it was a lot of learning today. I'm really happy, I can feel the potential of the bike and I think there's quite a bit more to come."

Dani Pedrosa, the most experience of the RC212V riders, ended the day with fourth fastest time at 1m 32.912s just outside his fastest GP lap at 1m 32.914s on Sunday. The Spaniard is still suffering the after effects of a lingering collarbone break and ran for just 55 laps while evaluating improvements to his 2010 chassis and testing the first version of the proposed 2011 chassis chasing improved stability.

Fifth fastest, Marco Simoncelli, spent his first day as a full factory supported rider testing a new chassis that gave him improved traction and new front fork options.

After finishing the day seventh fastest Andrea Dovizioso spent his day testing new Honda Repsol chassis and swing arm combinations before moving on to trying various electronic settings which, together with chassis modifications he hopes to improve stability under braking. The Italian expressed satisfaction with the progress made on day one of the two day test.

After spending Monday testing the Tech3 Moto2 machin, Colin Edwards was seventh fastest on his MotoGP bike working with his crew as he evaluated an updated YZR-M1 engine and revised chassis. He also tested different spec Bridgestone rear tyres with positive results.

Suzuki's sole rider for 2011 Alvaro Bautista was eighth quickest.

"Today we have had a good test even though we lost some time due to the rain," Bautista said. "We tested two different front forks and one felt the same as the ones I'd used in the race, but the other one was much better overall. It helped me in the mid-corner braking, because it gave me more confidence to release the brake than it had done before and this gave me more speed so I could exit better. I also tested a new swinging arm, it was not a big difference but it also helped a little. I am very happy with the first day because I've done close to my best time and the conditions were much worse than in qualifying."

Ducati's Nicky Hayden made several outings on both versions, also starting on the 2011 'big bang' before switching to the 'screamer'. The American completed 54 lapsfor the ninth fastest time of 1'33.882.

"We had a lot of things to try today, especially in terms of the engine," Hayden said. "We were able to get some laps in and I can say that the 2011 version of the big bang engine is definitely an improvement. We switched to the screamer at about three o'clock and in some areas it's also really strong, I like it. Before making a choice to move forward with we need to test some more, get all the data together and make a calm, considered decision."

At 10:55am Valentino Rossi arrived in the garage where Filippo Preziosi, Jeremy Burgess and his crew as well as engineers and technicians from Ducati's Reparto Corse were waiting for him. At precisely 11:46am the official Ducati test rider Franco Battaini took to the track for a first shakedown on the black 'carbon' coloured GP11 and finally, at 12:23, the nine-time World Champion rode the Ducati Desmosedici for the first time.

Rossi started out on a Desmosedici GP11 fitted with a 'big bang' version of the engine, which he used for virtually the entire day as he worked on geometry and other settings. As the day drew to a close he made one final run on the 'screamer' version and clocked the tenth fastest time for the day.

"It has been an exciting day for sure," General Director Ducati Corse Filippo Preziosi said. "The main thing that hit me today was Vale's positive feedback and his capacity for analysis. Today he tested the GP11 with the 'big bang' engine on a standard setting, which he modified step by step to adapt it to his riding style. His first comment when he lifted his visor up was a positive one about the power delivery and then he gave some impressive technical details. We certainly have a lot to do to adapt the bike to his riding style but it is really nice and very interesting to work in this way. We worked on the geometry and setting today to see how the bike responded and to get a bit of experience working with both Vale and Jeremy (Burgess). At the end of the session he went out on the screamer version but we will make more of an analysis between the two engines tomorrow because they deliver the power in very different ways - the big bang has a more regular power curve whereas the screamer is more aggressive but also more powerful. Nicky tried both versions today and this evening we will have a look at all the data."

Randy De Puniet made his Pramac Ducati debut with the 11th fastest time.

"Today I found my self at ease on my Ducati," De Puniet said. "I really like for the delivery of engine power and the way to control it. The thing that surprised me most is the ease of entry into the curve. I can always break at the last moment and keep the brakes in the first part of the turn. When I release the brake the bike runs with incredible speed. I'm really happy with the work done today and I hope that tomorrow, weather permitting, we will work hard to further improve my feeling with the bike."

Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera where 12th and 13th fastest while Cal Crutchlow made his MotoGP debut with the 14th fastest time.

"It was good to be finally part of MotoGP and to get in some dry track time on the bike because the rain hampered my first ride in Japan." Crutchlow said.

"It wasn't the easiest day I'll have because there is just so much to learn about riding a MotoGP bike fast, but my pace was good and I'm happy with my times. I'm happy with my performance and so are the team and it was good to start working with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew. I'm losing most of my time in just three points of the track but that is just down to experience. I had a small crash at the left-hander before the back straight. I think it must have been the wind because I had a slower corner speed and less brake pressure than before. But these things will happen when I'm on such a big learning curve. Lap times and position are not bothering at my moment. I just need to be getting laps in on the bike to build up my experience and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Loris Capirossi was 15th fastest after spending most of the day just getting used to the Ducati.

Moto2 Champion Toni Elias and MotoGP Rookie and final Moto2 race winner Karel Abraham rounded out the time sheets.

Testing continues today.

Main Photo: Jorge Lorenzo Credit: Yamaha

Unofficial lap times Tuesday 9th November
1. Jorge Lorenzo 1:32.012
2. Casey Stoner 1:32.775
3. Ben Spies 1:32.878
4. Dani Pedrosa 1:32.912
5. Marco Simoncelli 1:32.919
6. Andrea Dovizioso 1:33.190
7. Colin Edwards 1:33.513
8. Alvaro Bautista 1:33.558
9. Nicky Hayden 1:33.716
10. Valentino Rossi 1:33.882
11. Randy De Puniet 1:33.914
12. Hiroshi Aoyama 1:33.953
13. Hector Barbera 1:34.110
14. Cal Crutchlow 1:34.314
15. Loris Capirossi 1:34.631
16. Toni Elias 1:35.058
17. Karel Abraham 1:35.076

Circuit Record: Casey Stoner (Ducati - 2008), 1'32.582 ‰ÛÒ 155.732 Km/h>
Best Pole: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2006), 1'31.002 ‰ÛÒ 158.436 Km/>

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