“Today was hard, but we learnt a lot”
It was another delayed start for the Kawasaki Racing Team this morning as persistent fog at the 4.423 km Jerez circuit meant that, like yesterday, Randy de Puniet and Olivier Jacque were forced to await an improvement in the weather
before commencing their planned test schedule.
Once the sun had finally burnt through the mist, de Puniet was straight out on track to continue work on refining the set-up of his Ninja ZX-RR, as well as testing a number of different race tyre options from Bridgestone.
The 26-year-old Frenchman was quick to settle into a good rhythm around the tight and technical Jerez circuit, staying close to the top of the timesheet for most of the day. The Kawasaki pilot then completed a race distance run to confirm his race tyre selection, posting consistent lap times throughout.
Late in the afternoon de Puniet switched to a qualifier on the rear of his Ninja ZX-RR, and despite being held up towards the end of his flying lap, it was on this tyre that the Kawasaki pilot set his fastest time of the day, to claim eighth position on the final timesheet.
For Olivier Jacque and his crew, today's test provided yet another opportunity to further the development of Kawasaki's new 800cc MotoGP racer. Working with just one bike, after his number one machine suffered a mechanical problem early on in the session, the 33-year-old former World Champion worked his way through an intensive test and evaluation programme with Kawasaki's development engineers.
Tomorrow the Kawasaki pilot will put aside his development responsibilities to concentrate fully on the annual televised qualifying shoot-out, which will be the highlight of this last pre-season test.
Jacque goes into tomorrow's final day of testing in confident mood, and is looking forward to taking part in his first MotoGP timed session since his last race appearance for Kawasaki in 2005.
Randy de Puniet: 8th - 83 Laps - Best Lap 1'41.151
"It was a long but interesting day. We found a good base set up on the bike, and we've also identified some options on race tyres for this circuit. I was happy with my lap times today; the speed was good, but so was the consistency, and this is important. The race simulation was my best so far in the run up to the new season, but I still think there is room for further improvement tomorrow. I tried a qualifier late in the session, on which I set my fastest lap, but I was slowed by another rider, so I know I can go faster here. Anyway, the performance of the bike on race tyres is more important, and I'm happy with what we've achieved today. Tomorrow we will focus on set-up for the qualifying session; sure I'd like to win the car, but I guess I won't be the only one out there with the same idea!"
Olivier Jacque: 15th - 62 laps - Best Lap 1'41.777
"The characteristics of the Jerez circuit are very different to those of Sepang and Qatar where we've tested previously, and this means that we're experiencing some problems we've not had up to now. My feeling is that, at this track and on the gearing we ran today, the power delivery is a little bit too aggressive. This makes it difficult to find traction out of the turns, and it's also making the bike more prone to lifting the front wheel under acceleration. However, we know what changes we need to make for tomorrow; it just wasn't possible to make them today because we had some problems with my number one bike and we didn't want to lose out on track time while we made the necessary changes to my spare machine. Tomorrow I need to switch from development to race mode for the qualifying session. I need to stop being so analytical on track and, instead, concentrate on finding a good rhythm on the bike in the morning, before switching to a qualifying tyre for the timed session. Today was hard, but we learnt a lot and I hope this will work to our advantage tomorrow."
Naoya Kaneko: Technical Manager
"Once the track had dried completely this afternoon both riders were able to work their way through our planned test programme, and the lap times improved with every track session. More track time today meant that we were able to evaluate several different race tyre options, and Randy's times and consistency during his race simulation show that we've made some progress in this area. Tomorrow we will focus on further refining the set-up, ahead of the first timed session of the new season. There is still some work to do, but we know we are working in the right direction and I'm confident that we will see further improvements before this final test concludes tomorrow afternoon."