Friday, February 16, 2007

MotoGP: Qatar Test - Hopper Hospitalized

Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins ended up leaving the Losail circuit in an ambulance half way through day 3 of testing, after an enormous 120mph highside. He has suspected fractures to one hand and one foot, but is optimistic about returning in time for the main IRTA pre-season test at Jerez. That wouldn't be too much of a surprise, given that Hopper is one of the toughest riders out there.
Despite only being present for half of the day, Hopper set the 2nd fastest time on qualifying tyres.
Dani Pedrosa set the fastest time, with a scorching 1:55.471 that blew away Casey Stoner's 990cc qualifying record from last year. Incredibly, the next fastest Honda was Shinya Nakano in 10th, around 1.5 seconds slower than Dani.
Nicky Hayden had another nightmare, finishing in 14th.
There is something fishy about this result. Pedrosa has been no faster than Hayden for most of the testing season, and suddenly Hayden is lost at sea while Pedrosa is blitzing the opposition.
I suspect that there is something different about Dani's bike. Has he been secretly given a new chassis and engine that work well? Would Pedrosa's bike have passed scrutineering, which does not take place at unofficial tests?
There has to be some reason for Pedrosa's amazing performance. He's quick, but is he really more than a second faster than Hayden and Melandri? Not on equal machinery last year. Maybe he simply found a bike set-up that hit the sweet spot, and these conspiracy theories are completely unfounded.
We'll have to wait until the official IRTA test to find out. That will be the first time when all teams will be present and all bikes scrutineered. That will kill all rumours of teams running underweight, running engine maps whose fuel consumption is too high to last a race distance, or any other monkey business.


Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

Yes Pedrosa performance is a big question mark given what the rest of the Honda riders have done. They claim lack of power and Dani is really light, but is that enough to giustify such a big spread of times. I just hope that doesn't happen to much during the season because it would fuel the never ending rumors of unfair Honda strategies. Also, is Ducati ready to be a real player in the coming season?

Jimmy said...

I think Ducati look pretty fast, but according to little Capirex they have tyre problems.
I'm pretty sure they will do well when the tyres work for them. I'd be very surprised if Ducati don't win races.