Friday, November 30, 2007

MotoGP: Jerez Testing Roundup

The Jerez test has finished, and the MotoGP circus has packed up its big top until next year. Let's have a quick look at what happened.

Casey Stoner was ludicrously fast, as always, but fell off on day 1 and hurt his shoulder. Then fell off again on day 2 and hurt his other shoulder. I'm not sure whether he's turning into the old Casey Stoner or the new Sete Gibernau...

Valentino Rossi was ludicrously fast almost from the get-go on his new Bridgestone tyres, which bodes well for the next season. However on day 3 his still-broken hand was giving him so much gyp that he gave up and went home.

Dani Pedrosa was ludicrously fast, especially on day 3, but he was on the 2007-spec Honda so it doesn't really matter. Nicky Hayden was very quick on the new 2008 Honda when he used qualifying tyres, but then Nicky is always very quick on qualifiers. It's race pace and tyre life that he'll be demanding from his new machine.

Marco Melandri wasn't very quick on the Ducati, but it's hard to draw any conclusions as it's still very early days for him on the Bologna Bullet. I'm sure he would've liked to be quick on it, though.

Surprise rookie superstar was Andrea "Dovi" Dovizioso. The Italian impressed everyone this year in the 250cc class, riding a Honda which was an utter dog compared to Jorge Lorenzo's Aprilia. Dovi jumped on the 800cc Honda 4-stroke, complained about the excessive electrickery, then wiped the floor with the other rookies for the majority of the test. Extremely impressive.

James Toseland edged ever closer to the pace using his distinctive brand of sheer bloody mindedness. The double WSBK champ was never too far away from fellow Yamaha/Michelin runner Jorge Lorenzo, who you would expect to be quick after winning the 250 championship again this year. The cocky little Spanish git will be fuming that rival Dovizioso has had such a great start, although Lorenzo did manage to beat the Italian on qualifiers at the end of the test.

Randy de Puniet was, as always, both staggeringly fast and as mad as a bucket of frogs. He set good times on the Honda when he wasn't falling off it.

The Kwaka boys had a kwiet time of it, plugging away on their green machines, which will evolve rather than being replaced by a new model for next year. Hopper was comfortably the kwicker Kwacker, beating Ant West, but of course conditions didn't suit the Aussie (i.e. no torrential rain, standing water or generally unrideable weather).

Who else? Uh... Colin Edwards was there or thereabouts. As usual. He's a great bloke and a hell of a Superbike rider, but in MotoGP he's always "there or thereabouts". At least he'll be a goldmine of info for Toseland. Alex De Angelis has been the Colin Edwards of 250GP for the last while, managing to be quick always and winner hardly ever. The Italian kept up that kind of performance by being there or thereabouts on the Honda. Shinya Nakano? Close to De Angelis most of the time.

Meanwhile, Rizla Suzuki tested alone at Philip Island, where they are always rubbish. You could say this was because they wanted to improve on their terrible performances at The Island. Or that they didn't want to be embarrassed by people finding how slow they still are there. Of course, it could just be an excuse for a nice trip to Oz. Chris Vermeulen would be able to visit his old drinking grounds, and known Australia-fan Loris Capirossi could disappear into the outback for a while (by standing 3 feet from the nearest observer). Anyway, they revealed no times but claimed to have done well.

That's it for testing for a while. More next year.

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