MotoGP test Jerez, Spain. February 23, 2007

2007-02-24 00:24
Melandri shines on good day for Honda riders on
day one of final pre-season MotoGP test.

Gresini Honda rider Marco Melandri set the pace
on the opening day of the three-day MotoGP test
at Jerez, Spain - the final test session before
the season opens at Qatar on March 10. Five Honda
RC212V riders ended the day among the fastest top ten.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, set third fastest
time of the day with the LCR Honda of Carlos
Checa fourth. Melandri's tam-mate, Spaniard Toni
Elias and Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda
taking ninth and tenth places respectively.

The day got off to a slow start with dull
overcast weather that turned to rain as the
morning session began. The riders waited until
the sun began to filter through the clouds before
going out to begin their final shake-down test of the year.

Melandri was immediately fast out of the box, in
both damp and dry track conditions. The former
250cc world champion took to the track with the
same base set up that Team Gresini had used at
the November test at the 4.423 km Andalusia
circuit and Melandri fine-tuned the suspension of
the RCV then worked on the power delivery before
trying two new tyres for Bridgestone. But track
conditions were far from optimal and the Italian
called a halt to his day 20-minutes before the track closed.

Repsol Honda factory team rider Dani Pedrosa was
held back slightly by the weather conditions and
was not able to test as many developments as
planned. The young Spaniard kept an eye on track
conditions before deciding on tyres but as the
day wore down the track cooled and Pedrosa called
a halt hoping or better track conditions on day two of the test.

MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden experienced an
unrewarding day to say the least.
Having missed the test at Jerez last November
Hayden was debuting his 800cc RC212V at the
circuit but the track top still had several damp
patches when the Champion went out and he said.
"I was just uncomfortable and it felt a bit
sketchy." Consequently the American was unable to
call upon prior experience to improve his
understanding of his RCV in the prevailing track conditions.

Melandri's Gresini Honda team mate, Toni Elias
took a big step forward today his confidence in
the Bridgestone tyre engineers rewarded with new
tyres specifically produced to suit his riding
style. Having waited so long for improvements
Elias was held back by the tricky track
conditions but is confident Bridgestone and Team
Gresini have found the best direction for him to work in.

LCR Honda rider Carlos Checa worked on engine
braking and chassis set up but put in only 48
laps on the ever-changing track surface but
despite his cautious approach Checa took fourth fastest time of the day.

Konica Minolta rider Shinya Nakano continues his
steady progress towards finding his feet with the
RC212V, his new team and Michelin tyres. The
Japanese star made the best of the two hours of
track time he had concentrating on general
machine balance and suspension in order to have
suitable settings for the tyre testing session
planned for tomorrow, weather permitting.

Kenny Roberts Jnr was thwarted in his efforts to
set up his two machines in identical spec.
Roberts ran with his number on bike early I the
session, always in the top six while chasing a
base set up for Jerez. However, his fortunes
changed somewhat when he took his second machine
out on track. The American returned to the pits
immediately complaining of severe handling
problems. Team Roberts technicians discovered the
triple clamps were bent - the undetected legacy of a freighting accident!

Honda rider quotes and lap times.

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1m 45.901s - 63
laps."We've made good progress during some of the
winter tests but the weather didn't help us here
today. The track was still damp in some places
and where it was still patchy I was just
uncomfortable and it felt a bit sketchy. Also I
didn't test here at the last test in November,
which probably didn't help either. It's not
really how we'd wanted to start this test but
hopefully we'll get some better weather over the
next two days and we'll be able to move forward."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1m 42.706s - 50 laps.
"Today we were able to put in some good laps,
though the weather stopped us from testing too
much on the bike. For a lot of the time we were
unsure what to do - whether to go out on rain
tyres, on slick tyres or to wait in the garage.
We just kept an eye on the conditions and tried
to do some laps when things dried out. The track
improved at the end of the day, however there
were still two or three damp corners and the
temperature was going down so we'll look to make more progress tomorrow."

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 1m 42.563s - 34
laps. "I'm happy because we could verify the
improvements done during the winter test
sessions. Today the track conditions were
difficult, especially this morning because it was
neither wet nor dry. In the afternoon we could
start the work programme scheduled for today. I
like the rolling chassis and now I really start
to have fun in riding. Today we started working
on the power delivery of the engine and did a few
tyre testing. Tomorrow we will try some more
tyres and I'd like to do a race simulation and
try the qualifying tyre in order to be prepared for Sunday."

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 1m 43.687s - 51 laps.
"Today we did an important step forward and it's
a pity that we couldn't test the whole day,
because of the rain. Bridgestone brought us some
new tyres that should help me and in fact the
feeling was immediately better. Tomorrow we have
more tyres to test and I'm confident that we can
improve. If we have enough time, I'd like to do a
race simulation because I haven't done one during
the IRTA Test. There is still a lot of work to do
but I'm confident because we are going in the right direction".

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 1m 43.206s - 48 laps.
"Today the conditions were not the best but I
continued my adaptation to the new 800cc machine.
We worked especially on the engine braking and on
the chassis set up. I circulated in the wet for
10 laps to gather information for the wet
settings. As the circuit began to dry out the
conditions were too tricky for slick tyres so we
spent time in the box but towards the end I put
in some laps on intermediate tyres. Even though
we didn't put in too many laps today it was a productive test for the team."

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 1m 43.817s -
38 laps. "When in the afternoon we decided to
enter the track its surface was not completely
dry and so I decided not to push too much and
avoid useless risks. During the first laps I used
Michelin rain tyres for the first time but the
time was so short to have a precise idea of their
characteristics. Together with my staff we
started making some comparisons between the
setting defined in Qatar and the one of last
November in Jerez. Weather permitting, tomorrow
we will work on the definition of the front
suspension because I'm still suffering chattering
problems and we will try to find the right
combination permitting me to have a good rear grip."

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR212V: 1m 45.937s. "Not my
day! When I first went out we were running well,
always around fourth - fifth on lap times. When I
went in to take out my second bike it felt real
weird. The guys in the team had to work hard to
find out what was wrong with the thing. They took
two hours to figure it out and fix it. Believe me
or not the triple clamps had been bent in transit
somehow. Tomorrow we will try different set ups
on the two bikes and start tyre testing."

Day 1 Official Times

1. Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) - 1'42.563
2. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 1'42.634
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) - 1'42.796
4. Carlos Checa (Honda LCR) - 1'43.206
5. Alex Barros (Pramac d'Antin) - 1'43.214
6. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 1'43.315
7. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 1'43.475
8. Alex Hofmann (Pramac d'Antin) - 1'43.673
9. Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) - 1'43.687
10. Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda) - 1'43.817
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha Factory Racing) - 1'43.845
12. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'44.052
13. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing Team) - 1'44.494
14. Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 1'44.659
15. Makoto Tamada (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3) - 1'45.081
16. Sylvain Guintoli (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3) - 1'45.208
17. Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati Marlboro) - 1'45.603
18. Shinichi Ito (Ducati Marlboro) - 1'45.826
19. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) - 1'45.901
20. Kousuke Akiyoshi (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'47.191
21. Kenny Roberts Jr. (Team Roberts) - 1'45.937
22. Jeremy McWilliams (Ilmor GP) - 1'47.191
23. Andrew Pitt (Ilmor GP) - 1'49.365

Source: Honda Pro Image

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story