Friday, November 17, 2006

MotoGP Sepang Test - Suzuki Still Fast

Boy, these 800cc MotoGP machines are quick.
The MotoGP test at Sepang, Malaysia is over, and the times from Day 3 have been posted on Suzuki topped the time sheets, showing that their impressive pace from Valencia wasn't a one-off. John Hopkins put in the fastest time with a 2:01.64 on experimental race tyres. (Apparently he did a 5-lap stint on these tyres, so they were definitely not qualifiers.) Incredibly, this is more than 9 tenths of a second faster than he managed in the Sepang race a few months ago, and just 4 tenths slower than the fastest race lap set by Capirossi.
Day 1 of the test had been a washout, with one corner being literally several feet underwater, but Colin Edwards set the fastest time in the limited running. Day 2 belonged to the Suzukis, as did day 3.
Journalist Matthew Birt, who was at the test, has blogged that the Suzukis were fastest through the speed traps on day 2, at 187.65mph (302km/h). It seems that Suzuki have produced an 800cc engine which is greatly more impressive than their 990. Birt also reports that the 800s are much kinder to their tyres. This could make an interesting twist to the Michelin - Bridgestone tyre war next season.
Ducati were not at the test, and other top riders missing included Melandri and Pedrosa, who are both recovering from surgery, and Valentino Rossi, who is busy driving in Rally New Zealand.
However, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden were both testing their factory machines (on Michelin tyres), and both were comfortably outpaced by the Suzuki boys. How much of this is down to tyres and how much to bikes is an open question, but the straight line speeds don't really lie. It will be interesting to see the Suzuki go up against the new Ducati on a fast track. Yamaha and Honda will of course do a massive amount of work on the new 800cc bikes, but Suzuki have really hit the ground running for next season. Let's hope they can keep it up, so that we can have 4 different race-winning manufacturers next year.


Alessandro Matteucci said...

What do you think about Honda's choise to use a different frame while the rest of the crowd decided to mount the new engine on the old frame?

Jimmy said...

Well, Honda have been testing new parts for the 800cc bike on Nicky Hayden's 990cc bike all year, so they should know what they're doing.
It's interesting that they are changing both chassis and engine at once. They will have to iron out problems with the entire bike, not just the new 800cc engine. Also, the other teams are using smaller versions of their existing 990cc engines, while Honda have a brand new V4.
Honda are changing everything, while others sensibly change as little as possible.
2007 could be a difficult year for Honda.