In the heat of the Malaysian sun
The second day of the planned three-day MotoGP test session at the 5.548 k Sepang circuit, Malaysia started at 9.30, as soon as the damp track had been dried off by the burning sun. With ambient temperatures quickly rising to 34 plus degrees
combined with high humidity and the track surface eventually reaching 45 degrees the Honda riders returned to testing the RC212V MotoGP machines they will campaign in the 18-round world championship of 2007.
First out to take advantage of the almost ideal conditions was Repsol Hondas MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. The American played catch-up on the HRC test programme badly interrupted by the torrential rain of the opening day. Hayden set about improving the balance of his RCV having felt the weight distribution gave to heavy a feeling from the front end.
Once satisfied with the required chassis changes had the desired effect he moved on to evaluating engine mapping changes and suspension parts developed for the new generation of 800cc Honda GP machines. Following his machine development work Nicky moved on to test a range of Michelin tyres designed to maximise the potential performance of the prototype RC212V.
Toni Elias is the sole Gresini Honda rider in attendance at the test and the Spaniard continued his acclimatisation with the RC212V putting in 60-laps as he learned as much as possible about the characteristics of the new machine while chasing a base set up that will work as his guideline for future tests and eventually the grands prix.
Elias tested the overnight set up changes before evaluating the Bridgestone tyres he will use for the first time in earnest when the season opens at the Losail Circuit in Doha, Qatar on March 10 next year. Toni improved on his best lap time of yesterday by 1.1 seconds and announced himself happy with his days work albeit acknowledging both he and the team have a lot of work to do in the winter test season.
The third Honda RC212V rider out on track was Carlos Checa riding the LCR Honda. Checa only managed five full laps of the Sepang circuit yesterday but made up as much time as possible with running a marathon 81-lap stint today.
Checa worked on finding a better machine balance to improve corner entry speed. The team worked with various changes to the steering head angle to give Carlos a better feeling from the front tyre when he tipped the RCV into the corners. He also feels a need to improve the seating position by moving the seat back and possibly changes to the fuel tank for him to be more comfortable on the machine.
Nicky Hayden's Repsol Honda team-mate, Spaniard Dani Pedrosa who has already tested the RC212V twice, will resume testing his 2007 mount at Jerez on November 28. Pedrosa recently underwent pre-scheduled surgery to his left forearm. He will be joined at Jerez by Italian Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda) another rider returning to testing following minor surgery. Melandri will make his RC212V debut at Jerez as will Japanese star Shinya Nakano who will be making his debut as a Honda MotoGP rider in 2007, racing the Konica Minolta Honda.
Honda rider lap times and quotes :
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda : 2m 03.73s - 77 laps
"We were a little bit faster today but we have a lot of work to do, me to I have to work harder. Today we moved the swinging arm pivot both up and down to check the feed-back looking for better rear grip and a good feeling. We also tried a new shock but that was not really what we were looking for, we need something in between. I tried some changes on the mapping and other electronic stuff. Basically we just need to understand the bike better than we do right now. But I didn't really give my best today. My brother Tommy crashed today testing his US Superbike and what with running to the phone to check out his condition and testing the day could have been much better. Luckily Tommy's OK so I will go into tomorrow in better shape."
Toni Elias, Gresini Honda : 2m 03.903s - 60 laps
"We have to improve many things but today we didn't change too much on the bike, nothing big on chassis and suspension because we are trying to understand how the bike behaves on Bridgestone tyres. I am happy about the Bridgestone performance. Machine balance is not so bad and we can definitely improve with chassis and suspension changes. Basically this was my first full day of testing with the new generation RCV and I just need more laps on the machine to understand but its definitely easier to ride than the 990cc, its more like a 250 and has higher corner speed, you can get on the gas hard and very early with this bike."
Carlos Checa, LCR Honda : 2m 04.085s - 81 laps
"Yesterday was my first time on the bike but in five laps I learned nothing. Today we got in a full day of testing and I realised that the power is not the strong point of an 800cc bike. We worked on the front end to try and find a better feeling going into the corners. We tried different off-sets because the front felt a little heavy. With those changes we needed to test tyres to check the character of this bike using these tyres. In the passed two years I have used both Bridgestone and Dunlop tyres so I have to learn all about the new generation of Michelin tyres, they are a different concept to the last time I used Michelins. During this test we have to clarify the good and not so good features of the machine for the engineers to work the best way before we return to test here again in January."