MotoGP Test Losail, Qatar, February 13, 2007

2007-02-13 19:56
The final 'Fly away' MotoGP pre-season test
session got underway at the 5.380 km Losail
circuit Qatar today, the opening day of a
three-day test. All 21 riders contesting the
18-round World Championship series are testing at
the same venue for the first time this year.

The six Honda RC212V riders, plus Kenny Roberts
Jnr aboard the Honda powered Team Roberts KR212V
put in a hard but fruitful day in near perfect
conditions with temperatures of 23' and very little wind.

World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) was
fast from the off holding fastest lap time until
just after lunch and eventually ending the day
with fifth fastest time as he worked his way
through the test programme laid out by the HRC engineers.

Hayden refined the settings he used at Phillip
Island during the last RC212V test. Working on
the chassis, suspension and engine settings the
World Champion felt real progress has been made
declaring that; "This is the best I've felt on
the new bike straight out of the gate." His best
lap time of 1m 57.07s was just 0.296s off the best lap time of the day.

Hayden's team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, a former
three-times world champion in the smaller
capacity classes, adopted his typical
step-by-step approach to testing. The young
Spaniard spent a very positive opening day
running through a series of refinements to the
base set up of his RC212V setting his best time
of the day on the very last lap of his 79 lap stint.

The Gresini Honda squad enjoyed mixed fortunes on
the opening day of the test. Marco Melandri spent
his day chasing a competitive base line setting
for his RCV. The Italian tested a range of
chassis, suspension and tyre combinations.
Melandri ran on race tyres all day focusing on race distance runs.

Melandri's team-mate, Spaniard Toni Elias had a
less productive day. Elias refined the base set
up of his RCV and spent time testing for
Bridgestone working hard with the tyre
technicians to find tyres to suit his unique
riding style. However, Elias is confident that
Bridgestone will develop the tyres he needs to be
fast in time for the first grand prix.

Kenny Roberts Jnr was the fastest Honda powered
rider on track today. Riding the Team Roberts
KR212V the American former 500cc world champion
shaded Champion Hayden by just 0.006s on the time
sheets. Working on the new chassis and suspension
Team Roberts managed to eradicate the mid-corner
handling problems they had experienced at recent
test sessions and Robert Jnr goes into tomorrow
in confident mood tyre testing for Michelin.

Carlos Checa worked on perfecting the base line
set up the LCR team established at Phillip Island
with Checa putting in 88 laps at consistent
times. The Spaniard will concentrate on tyre testing tomorrow.

Konica Minolta Honda rider Shinya Nakano feels
the team have taken a big step in the right
direction. Nakano retained the same basic set up
he ran with at the recent Phillip Island test and
this allowed the team to concentrate on the
overall geometry of the RCV in a bid to further
improve the handling characteristics.

The three-day test at Qatar is crucial for the
teams and riders preparing for the season as the
Losail circuit hosts the opening round of the 18 round series, on March 10.


Honda rider quotes and lap times.

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1m 57.07s - 82 laps.
"This is the best I've felt on the new bike
straight out of the gate and I definitely think
we're getting the base settings right for me - we
didn't have to change too much at all for this
track to be semi-close. For most of the day we
were going forward which is good because it was
nice to see that progress. We're not quite down
in those 1m 56s laps where we need to be but
we've learned some things that we can build on.
There are a lot of good guys in my corner, a lot
of good engineers from Honda and a good team
around me and I've got to use that to my
advantage with getting the bike dialled in. This
is an important test because the opening race of
the season is right here in Qatar so we've got to
be ready to go. Conditions were good, though the
day went fast so we'll be looking for two more
good days to make a lot more progress."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1m 57.73s - 79 laps
"We had a good first practice and that's positive
because it's important here to be in good shape
for the first round of the season. The weather is
perfect at this stage - neither hot nor windy -
and we will see over the course of the test how
much we can improve the bike. Today we were
trying to find the limits on the bike and I think
it's interesting to ride the 800cc bike here. You
can feel that there's less power on the long
straight but not into the corners. We also still
have two days to test Michelin tyres and choose the best ones for the race".

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 1m 57.760s - 64
laps. "Today we worked on chassis, suspension and
tyre testing in order to find the best base on
this track. I'm very happy with my bike, I feel
comfortable and I have a good feeling. We lapped
always with race tyres, focusing on the distance
in preparation of the race. At the moment we are
not 100 per cent but I'm confident. We are
working with Bridgestone technicians to decide
the line to follow in preparation of the race".

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 1m 59.400s - 54 laps.
"We started with the base of the previous test
sessions and we worked on the bike setting and
made some tyre testing. We tested several tyres
but for the moment we haven't found one for my
characteristics, but I'm confident because the
Bridgestone technicians are working hard".

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 1m 57.370s - 88 laps
"This first day has been quite positive. We are
still working to develop the new machine
gathering useful data for the season's "kick
off". I lapped on the base set-up we used in
Australia and I feel satisfied because it worked
very well even if this track is completely
different from Phillip Island. This means that we
found the right direction to go. However there
are still a couple of things to fix up. Tomorrow
we will focus on the front end testing different tyres".

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 1m 57.850s.
"At this time of year in Qatar the temperature is
just perfect for testing. Furthermore, we need to
thank the Superbike riders who were here up until
yesterday for the condition of the track, as it
was very good and clean from sand. Thank you! We
started today using the settings we found in
Phillip Island as a base and continued testing
small adjustments to the bike many of the changes
made the new Honda RC212V feel better and better.
We concentrated on the overall geometry of the
bike to try and improve handling still further.
Tomorrow we will spend our time testing different
Michelin tyres and at the end of the test we will go for that fast lap!"

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR212V: "Not too bad today,
much better. We made a step forward since the
Phillip Island test. We worked on a lot of
suspension and chassis stuff and got the bike to
work better in the middle of the corner. We
refined the general set up on the latest chassis
and we are pretty pleased with things so far. We
were fast and set consistent lap times all day.
At the end of the day we started testing with
Michelin and the stuff they gave us looks pretty
promising. We will do more work on tyres tomorrow
in combination with various chassis - suspension setting options."


MotoGP Official Test: Qatar Day 1 Unofficial Times

1. Colin Edwards, Yamaha - 1m 56.774s.
2. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha - 1m 56.891s.
3. Casey Stoner, Ducati - 1m 56.960s.
4. Kenny Roberts Jnr, Team Roberts KR212V - 1m 57.064s.
5. Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda - 1m 57.070s.
6. John Hopkins, Suzuki - 1m 57.350s.
7. Loris Capirossi, Ducati - 1m 57.360s.
8. Carlos Checa, Honda LCR - 1m 57.370s.
9. Alex Barros, Pramac d'Antin Ducati- 1m 57.690s.
10.Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda - 1´57.700s.
11. Randy de Puniet, Kawasaki Racing - 1m 57.730
12. Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda - 1m 57.760s.
13. Alex Hofmann, Pramac d'Antin Ducati - 1m 57.800s.
14. Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda - 1m 57.850s.
15. Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki - 1m 57.900s.
16. Makoto Tamada, Yamaha Tech 3 - 1m 58.408s.
17. Olivier Jacque, Kawasaki Racing - 1m 58.740s.
18. Toni Elias, Gresini Honda - 1m 59.400s.
19. Sylvain Guintoli, Yamaha Tech3 - 1m 59.700s.
20. Shinichi Ito, Ducati TTT - 1m 59.966s.
21. Andrew Pitt, Ilmor GP - 2m 01.667s.
22. Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor GP - 2m 10.341s.

Source: Honda Pro Image

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