As Hayden makes further progress
The first test session of the 2009 preseason ended this weekend at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, with another day of intense work for the MotoGP teams and riders, who were able to take advantage of stable yet typically demanding conditions.
Casey Stoner shaved another four tenths of a second off his best lap time from Friday to finish the session on top of the time sheets.
The Australian is satisfied with the work he has been able to do on the Desmosedici and the Bridgestone tyres, although he feels there is still plenty more to come when he is fit enough to push himself harder. Another priority for the former World Champion is to regain the range of mobility required from his wrist to be able to ride the bike without pain in the next test.
“Today wasn't bad! The more I ride the GP9 the more we understand how to improve the set-up of the new chassis and today we made a big step forward with improving grip and feel with the new bike. Considering that I have recently had an operation and my wrist has still not full recovered, to be the fastest rider here is a dream to be honest”, he admitted. “Now I have to work hard on improving my physical condition and recovering the level of movement I need to ride the bike properly without pain. Now I know that I can step up training on my arm and hopefully the situation will have improved for the Qatar test. The GP9 is a good bike and in every test we've done with it we've come out on top. That doesn't mean to say that we can afford to relax, though, and we'll keep our heads down and keep working.
I set pretty much the same lap time on both tyre compounds and I actually prefer the harder one. The fact we've gone to a single tyre rule doesn't seem to have an adverse effect on the performance of the Bridgestones - they're doing a great job, as usual.”
Nicky Hayden has made continual progress over the three days of the test and he was able to improve by another half second on Saturday, although he would have ideally liked to have been even faster. The American is determined to use the information gathered over the past three days to full effect in the next test, having already shown the team his famous dedication to the task. The lap times set by his own team-mate have given Hayden belief that there is a lot more to come from himself and his bike, giving him a crucial mix of confidence and motivation ahead of the new season.
“We started out on the right foot again today and I managed to knock six tenths of a second off my best lap from yesterday. Then in the early part of the afternoon I had a little crash in turn two, where to be honest they've done a bad job of resurfacing the track and it has caught a few riders out this week. Luckily I wasn't hurt”, he said. “Obviously I'm not happy with my lap times, I was expecting more from myself, but I have to stay positive. I've improved my lap times every day and we have gathered a lot of data to work from in the next test. The fact Casey is already so fast means that the bike has the potential – it can only be a good thing that he is going so quick. The team is working hard and they are just as determined as I am to get the results, so that's a good thing. I wasn't too bad in the first two sectors but I was losing too much in T3 and T4, where the problem I'm having with the bike being unstable and unpredictable on the exit was the worst. The Bridgestones are really consistent and I was able to do my first long run on the Ducati without any tyre life problems.”
The next appointment for the Ducati Marlboro Team is a test session from 1st to 3rd March at the Losail circuit in Qatar.