As Hayden takes important step forward
The deserts of Qatar are the last place you would expect to find an English climate but that is exactly what has greeted the MotoGP riders over a three-day test that ended today with low temperatures making for tricky track conditions
after Sunday's rain and yesterday's high winds.
Three riders were caught out by the conditions - Loris Capirossi, Niccolò Canepa and Casey Stoner all crashing but fortunately escaping without injury.
The Ducati Marlboro Team's Australian rider was able to return to the track immediately, shaking off any after effects with a series of hot laps including two efforts inside the 1'56 mark. His quickest time of 1'55.744 would prove to be the fastest overall, even though he stayed in his garage for the final available hour as track conditions got even more difficult and dangerous.
“I'm obviously very happy with the lap time and the rhythm we put together today although I would have liked to have been able to get a few more laps in and test some more stuff. We knew the track conditions would get worse at around ten o'clock and that proved to be the case”, he said. “The crash was on the way into turn 2 and it was very similar to the one here last year – practically from an upright position. I got straight back on the other bike but with such an unpredictable track we decided to finish an hour early because the conditions were only getting worse. We still managed to try a few things with the electronics – some of them good and some not so good and we confirmed the good feeling I had yesterday with the new swingarm, although we still need more time to work on it and that's what we'll be doing at Jerez. The wrist has responded quite well – it's not as painful as it was at Sepang even though the mobility still hasn't improved much. We'll have to see how at feels at circuits with harder braking and more left-hand corners, which is where I struggle the most.
Nicky Hayden can also look back on a positive test, the American finishing up in the top five of the unofficial standings, just a few tenths of a second off the second placed rider.
“That was definitely a good day and we've made plenty of progress so I'm really pleased”, he commented. “I was thinking this morning that this would be the right time to take a step forward because we've only got two more days of testing before the season started so it's obviously very satisfying to have done that. There is still plenty to do but my team has worked well and now we have a lot of information to work on. I got a good feel for the new swingarm straight away but we still have work to do and we need to make more comparisons with the previous version before drawing definite conclusions. I would have liked to have done more laps but after ten o'clock the conditions were on the limit, to the point that there were a few guys crashing and running straight, so we decided not to take any risks. I also did a practice start today and a test at switching bikes quickly in case of a race interrupted by rain.”
The next appointment for the Ducati Marlboro Team is the final test session of the 2009 preseason at Jerez de la Frontera, in the south of Spain on the 28th and 29th March.