At final pre-season test
The Jerez circuit hosted this weekend the final pre-season test ahead of the 2009 MotoGP Championship, and the Repsol Honda team made maximum use of the time available to make final adjustments to the factory RC212V.
The day was effectively
split into three parts: a dry morning, the 45-minute official ‘qualifying' session which began at just after 2.05pm, and then a wet final afternoon session caused by a thunderstorm that hit the track in the dying moments of the televised shoot-out.
In the morning session, Repsol Honda's new signing for 2009, Andrea Dovizioso continued the good work from yesterday as he and his crew evaluated adjustments to chassis and engine settings. The Italian finished the morning in 5th position with a time of 1m 40.806s, which was an improvement on his best time from yesterday. Dovizioso went quicker still in the official timed session, clocking a best lap of 1m 40.168s, which was good enough for seventh place. Casey Stoner set the fastest time of the session to win the sports car.
“During these two days of testing the machine has improved quite a lot, especially the stability and power delivery which were two important areas we were working on. My lap times on paper look reasonably good on their own, but if you compare them with Casey's, the gap we need to close is still quite big”, he explained. “After the 45-minute shoot-out it started raining and this spoiled our programme for the afternoon, so we still have some things to try in dry conditions which might move us further forward. As far as the wet set-up, my feeling with the bike and tyres is good and I'm happy about this. Now I'm looking forward to getting to Qatar for the first race.
Kosuke Akiyoshi, who was standing in for Dani Pedrosa at this test as the Spaniard recovers from injury, also had a profitable day. Honda's Japanese test rider continued to evaluate chassis and engine mapping adjustments with Dani's team and gathered further useful data for the HRC engineers. He was unfortunate to have a slow-speed fall at the end of the timed session, but still left Jerez satisfied with the test.
“This was another positive day where we worked on both the chassis balance to improve the handling and the engine balance for driveability”, he said. “My pace on the first section of the lap was very good and actually nearly as fast as the quickest riders. We were losing some time however in the middle section of the lap. Towards the end of the timed session I had a fall at the hairpin which was a shame, but the overall results from this test, in spite of the rain today and yesterday, are quite good.”
“We've made some useful improvements at this test and this is positive for the Repsol Honda Team, though there is still a sizeable gap to the fastest riders and we will keep working to close this as quickly as possible”, added Team Manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “We are not at our maximum level of potential with this machine yet. Andrea did a good job at this test and worked very hard, putting in a lot of laps. Akiyoshi also made a very valuable contribution and his input has helped us. Now we must prepare for Qatar and get ready to fight at the first race.”
The Repsol Honda Team will now pack the crates ready to be flown to Qatar in preparation for the first race of the year which will take place at the Losail circuit under floodlights on Sunday 12 April.