2008-11-27 05:44
Five of Honda's six MotoGP riders completed a useful two-day test session at Jerez today, their final outing of 2008 before the sport's traditional midwinter testing moratorium.

Weather conditions were not ideal, with bitterly cold winds on the first day, then overnight rain which kept most riders off track on day two until after lunch. But lap times were quite fast, despite low temperatures, because the recently resurfaced track proved both very grippy and very smooth.

Factory Repsol Honda men Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso both tried 2009 prototype RC212V machines and were impressed by the bike's overall performance. The design concept for the machine is enhanced controllability, from both engine and chassis, and so far this aim seems to have been achieved.

Pedrosa worked methodically as ever, devoting the first day to trying different engine settings and the second day to working with chassis set-up. He ended up a very close second fastest, well inside his own lap record, established during his runaway victory at last April's Spanish GP. Dovizioso was delighted by the performance of the 2009 prototype RCV, which he judged much improved against the 2008 factory RCV he rode for the first time at last month's Valencia tests.

San Carlo Honda Gresini riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis also went well, running end-of-2008 spec satellite bikes, as used by the team's outgoing rider Shinya Nakano in the final 2008 MotoGP race at Valencia. De Angelis enjoyed this spec machine, which fits him better and gives him a much-improved feeling. Elias also had a very helpful two days, his second test outing since returning to Honda machinery after one season with Ducati. Elias rode Honda MotoGP bikes in 2005 and 2006.

Class rookie Yuki Takahashi continued his acclimatisation process aboard the Scot Honda RC212V, improving his pace during both days. This was only the former 250 rider's second ride on a MotoGP machine, so his approach was the same as it had been at Valencia — to get steadily up to speed without taking any big risks. Today he improved his feeling with the electronics and the tyres and bettered his Wednesday lap time by almost 1.4 seconds.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) missed the tests because he wanted to rest a wrist injury suffered during the late stages of the 2008 season. The Frenchman will return to action with his fellow RCV riders at the first test session of 2009 at Sepang, Malaysia, on February 5, 6 and 7.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), fastest lap: 1m 39.447s
"They resurfaced the whole track in August and the new asphalt is very grippy and smooth, so I was able to do some good lap times despite the cold temperatures. On the first day we focused mainly on the engine and did some work on electronics, working to improve corner-entry performance and so on. Today we concentrated on the chassis. We worked to improve the behaviour of the machine during braking and in the turns. Once again the weather was problem, so we didn't get so much time on the bike today. We had to wait for the track to dry, so we didn't start until 2pm, and we finished at five. But we worked well and got the most out of those three hours. I found a good feeling with the bike this afternoon, so now we can sit down and analyse all the data we've gathered here in order to be ready for our next testing appointment at Sepang next year."

Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), fastest lap: 1m 40.448s
"I'm very happy to be back in the Gresini team and back on a Honda. We started out yesterday working step by step because I want to work in a calm, logical manner to avoid mistakes. We worked mostly on the rear end, because I have had some traction problems. We tested some different set-up solutions, focusing on adapting the bike to the new Bridgestone tyres. I'm happy because today we found a good compromise between bike set-up and the tyres and I also has a better feeling with the rear tyre. My lap times were faster and I felt more comfortable. Of course, we need to keep working but I think we did a very good job here, preparing for the Sepang tests when we will get the bike that we will use during the 2009 season."

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), fastest lap: 1m 40.486s
"It was a very important test session. We worked mainly on the set-up, studying the behaviour of the new Bridgestone tyres. With the new tyre regulation it's very important to adapt the bike to the tyres and not vice versa as was the case before. Of course, we will keep working on the settings to find the best set-up that will allow us to get the maximum out of the bike. I have to say that the first impressions are positive. I like this bike — both the engine and the chassis are better, so I have a better feeling than with the bike I used last season. This bike is also better for my size. Today we made a big step forward. We worked on chassis geometry and I could go quite fast, ending up very close to the third fastest guy. Since Valencia I'm working with a new crew chief — Antonio Jimenez, who worked with Nakano last year — and I'm very happy with this new arrangement."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda Team), fastest lap: 1m 40.966s
"Conditions were not perfect here, but we had many things to try and to adjust, which is why we were first on track yesterday morning! Again today we didn't have too much time, because the track was wet this morning. Yesterday we did three or four exits with the 2008 bike and then moved to the 2009 prototype machine, and the feeling was immediately much better, so we have stayed focused on that bike. The whole package is better with the 2009 bike, the engine is smoother and it is easier to feel the limit with the chassis, which makes it easier to ride fast. Today our target was to find the best riding position for my style. We made quite a few changes to the position and we understood many things. We didn't really have time to make any other big changes. We are working to try and find a good setting for the Bridgestone tyres, but this isn't so easy because the tyre construction is very different to what we're used to. We saw last season with other riders who switched to Bridgestone that it takes a while to find the best setting. I wasn't so fast here but it is still early days and now we have many ideas to try at Sepang. Dani was very fast and that proves the bike has a great potential."

Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing Team Honda), fastest lap: 1m 42.918s
"I had fun during these two days, it is a nice feeling to ride a Honda MotoGP bike, but the real fun will come later when I have reached full confidence with the machine. My goal here was to ride as much as possible, to do as many miles as possible, always working to better understand how the bike reacts to technical changes, because the whole package is new to me. It wasn't appropriate to try too hard here just to seek a quick lap time, especially because next year we will have a new motorcycle. This morning we didn't ride because it was cold and damp. Even this afternoon when conditions were better it wasn't worth taking any big risks. At Valencia, after the last race of 2008, I rode without really using the electronic controls, but here I started working with the set-up of the electronics."

1: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha): 1m 39.429s
2. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team): 1m 39.447s
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha): 1m 40.426s
4. Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini): 1m 40.448s
5. Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini): 1m 40.486s
6. Nicky Hayden (Ducati): 1m 40.486s
7. Mika Kallio (Ducati): 1m 40.564s
8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha): 1m 40.604s
9. Sete Gibernau (Ducati): 1m 40.856s
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda Team): 1m 40.966s
11. Niccol� Canepa (Ducati): 1m 41.077s
12. James Toseland (Yamaha): 1m 41.539s
13. Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati): 1m 42.906s
14. Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing Team Honda): 1m 42.918s

Source: Honda Pro Image

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