Thursday, November 02, 2006

MotoGP: New 800cc Machines Debut

Some of the new 800cc 2007-spec MotoGP machines have started testing at Valencia. There were also 990cc bikes at the test yesterday, so we can compare lap times. has a list of lap times (which are unofficial), and they make interesting reading.
The 990cc Honda of Valentino Rossi was fastest with a 1 minute 32.70 second lap. Toni Elias and Marco Melandri were also in the 1:32's as they tested out their old bikes on Bridgestone tyres and were quickly on the pace.
However, it is the pace of the new 800cc bikes that is the real eye-opener.
Rossi, Loris Capirossi, John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen all put in laps within 8 hundredths of a second of each other, with Rossi doing a 1:33.10, Capirossi a 1:33.11, Hopper a 1:33.14, and Vermeulen a 1:33.18. Dani Pedrosa on his 800cc Honda was just a few hundredths further back, with a 1:33.21, and Casey Stoner's new 800cc Ducati on 1:33.41.
I am especially impressed by the pace of the two Suzuki bikes, which are 2006 chassis with next year's 800cc engine bolted in.
I think most of us were expecting Honda to be much faster than everybody, since it was them who pushed for the 800cc engines, which some people claimed was designed to benefit HRC's golden boy Dani Pedrosa.
The fact that the Yamaha (admittedly with Rossi riding), Ducati, Suzuki and Honda bikes were all within a tenth of a second of each other is surprising. The fact that these bikes were on the race pace of the Valencia GP is amazing. I think we were tricked by the slowish pace of the new Ilmor, which is after all an absolutely brand new bike built from scratch. Ilmor were also at the test, with Jeremy McWilliams lapping at 1.35.80 (faster than Garry McCoy's best lap in the GP) and Andrew Pitt at 1:36.60.
The pace of these 800cc bikes, which lose out on top speed and acceleration but have much higher corner speed than the 990cc machines, is hugely impressive. They will be slower on tracks that rely on power rather than corner speed. The Valencia track is very tight and twisty. It still bodes well for next year. If Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Honda are all within a tenth of each other next year, the 2007 championship will be incredible.


Anonymous said...

Could we imagine a "fake performance" to hide the real potential of the bikes for a while?

Jimmy said...

Well, it's always hard to tell from pre-season testing, isn't it?
Fast teams want to look slow, so their rivals won't realize their full potential.
Slow teams want to look fast, so they can attract sponsors.