Friday, February 08, 2008

MotoGP Testing: Sepang Again

If you're looking for biassed and offhand analysis of the final Sepang test, you've come to the right place. (If you're looking for a detailed and professional analysis of the Phillip Island test, check out Dennis Noyes at the SpeedTV site.)

FIAT Yamaha showed up to this test, having missed Phillip Island. Nicky Hayden was there for the first couple of days. Pedrosa is still injured, but has cheered himself up by changing his race number. He will now be number 2, which sums up his remarks about Hayden's bike development abilities. Most of the other teams either weren't there or just sent a test team.

Valentino Rossi is now getting used to the Bridgestone tyres and getting his bike dialled into their characteristics. This isn't too surprising, considering the combined brainpower of race engineer Jeremy Burgess (IQ 395) and Valentino Rossi (race IQ 180, falling to 27 when filling in tax forms). Rossi has supposedly reached a settlement with the Italian tax authorities. He will keep the race number 46 because that's how many Euros are left in his bank account. Yamaha's test team has switched to Bridgestone tyres, although The Doctor reckons the test riders are so slow that he doesn't really give a monkey's.

The Doctor put in some outstanding laps, which will have Ducati pausing for thought and the rest of us rubbing our hands and looking forward to the first real head-to-head between all the top guys at the upcoming IRTA test, where somebody will walk off with the keys to a BMW for posting fastest time in a dummy qualifying session.

Rossi's cocky partial team-mate Jorge Lorenzo did well on qualifiers (which hide a multitude of sins), but is struggling with front-end feel on the Yamaha. He was a good few tenths adrift of Valentino on race tyres. Apparently his riding style may have to change, which does make a mockery of the idea that 800cc bikes are custom designed for 250cc riders. Casey Stoner did once say that he and Pedrosa don't really have classical 250cc riding styles, but tend to pick the bike up much earlier than expected. Lorenzo's style in 250GP was noticeably different to his rival Andrea Dovizioso, who took much tighter lines and is doing brilliantly on an 800cc MotoGP machine. It could be a tough year for the comically arrogant Lorenzo.

Having said that, all talk of riding styles should be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, Max Biaggi has a 250cc riding style worthy of painting on the Sistine Chapel, and he didn't do too badly last year on a heavy, squishy, point-and-shoot WSBK machine.

Nicky Hayden did a million and four laps on the first 2 days of the test, mostly involving an out lap, flying lap, in lap and some tinkering with the bike. Repeat as required (i.e. lots). HRC's main problem is that the new pneumatic valve engine is rubbish compared to the new steel-spring engine, which is rubbish compared to last year's steel-spring engine. Hopefully Honda will sort the pneumatic valve system so we can talk about Dani Pedrosa's air-sprung dwarf technique...


Alessandro Matteucci aka Alex 555 said...

so, who is going to leave the paddocks with the BMW?

Jimmy said...

Well, Stoner isn't brilliant at qualifying, so I'm going to say Rossi will win the car.

Rob said...

Stoner's new BMW is an ominous sign for the 2008 season. Uh-oh.