Americans rule at Sepang
At the second of three days at the Malaysian circuit of Sepang, where nearly the entire MotoGP grid for 2007 are testing after a six week ban, teams were able to put in a full uninterrupted session as they look to develop their 800cc machines for
the coming season.
As yesterday, Suzuki and Yamaha continue to lead the way at this first test of the year. John Hopkins has been the stand-out rider of the first two days, topping the unofficial timesheets for the second day in a row with a lap of 2'01.806.
The 23 year old was joined by countryman Colin Edwards as they became the only two riders to go round in under 2'02. The Texan Tornado cut just under 1.5 seconds from his fastest lap yesterday, and the duo frequently dipped under 990cc lap record pace.
Behind the Americans, Chris Vermeulen was also on form with the Suzuki GSV-R800. Using a new chassis today, the Australian is found at ease with the 800cc bike as he maintains his preseason form.
Despite taking a tumble earlier in the day, the returning Alex Barros was the fastest Ducati rider in the second session of the week, ahead of Pramac d'Antin team-mate Alex Hofmann and the official factory team duo of Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner. This could be further evidence of an elevation in competitiveness for the satellite team, who in the Brazilian have a proven podium finisher in their midst for 2007.
Barros' inclusion in the top four also put him faster than former World Champion Valentino Rossi, who had noted yesterday the tiredness induced by a break in the action over the winter.
Fellow Italian Capirossi was just behind the Yamaha star on the Desmosedici GP7, ahead of Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet. The seven fastest riders were all within a second of Hopkins' leading time, illustrating the closeness of the new 800cc bikes.
Down in eighth, World Champion Nicky Hayden was the quickest Honda rider on day two. Getting used to the bike again after returning from shoulder surgery, the Kentucky Kid went round in 2'02.948, followed by team-mate Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and fellow RC212V developers Marco Melandri, Shinya Nakano and Carlos Checa.
The weather stayed kind to the riders, who were spared wet conditions, although a continuation of the extreme humidity experienced over the past two days is forecast for tomorrow's final day.
Sepang MotoGP Test - Day 2 - Unofficial Times
1. John Hopkins- Rizla Suzuki 2'01.806
2. Colin Edwards - Yamaha Racing 2'01.930
3. Chris Vermeulen- Rizla Suzuki 2'02.275
4. Alex Barros - Pramac d'Antin 2'02.538
5. Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Racing 2'02.619
6. Loris Capirossi - Ducati MotoGP 2'02.793
7. Randy De Puniet - Kawasaki Racing 2'02.806
8. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda 2'02.948
9. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda 2'03.098
10. Casey Stoner - Ducati MotoGP 2'03.190
11. Marco Melandri - Honda Gresini 2'03.253
12. Shinya Nakano - Konica Minolta Honda 2'03.633
13. Carlos Checa - Honda LCR 2'03.681
14. Shinichi Ito - Bridgestone Test 2'03.700
15. Kenny Roberts JR - Team Roberts 2'03.800
16. Alex Hofmann - Pramac d'Antin 2'03.895
17. Toni Elias - Honda Gresini 2'04.124
18. Olivier Jacque - Kawasaki Racing 2'04.171
19. Makoto Tamada - Yamaha Tech 3 2'04.350
20. Sylvain Guintoli - Yamaha tech 3 2'04.892