Honda Riders Continue To Dominate MotoGP Preseason Testing
A common theme continues after the second MotoGP preseason test of 2011 – Honda means business.
Honda riders again dominated the speed charts in three days of testing Feb. 22-24 at the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, taking the top four spots. 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner was fastest overall at 1 minute, 59.665 seconds, beating Valentino Rossi’s track record from 2009 by nearly a second.
2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa, Stoner’s Repsol Honda factory teammate, was second at 1:59.803. Even Honda satellite teams are strong, as Marco Simoncelli was third at 2:00.163 on a San Carlo Gresini Honda.
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the Honda RC212V machine domination in fourth at 2:00.531.
“We had a good day comparing the chassis again, and I’m happy we have made our decision on which one we'll use for the season,” Stoner said. “We also tried a lot of electronics with engine braking and found improvements in a few areas and some losses in others, so we need to rectify these.
“The test here has been very productive for us, we did a long run here today – almost race distance – and gathered some key information. I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the RC212V, and I can’t wait to get to Qatar.”
The 2011 season opener is scheduled for Sunday, March 20 at the Grand Prix of Qatar. The 2011 season also includes the fourth annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Honda dominated the 990cc era of MotoGP from 2002-06. Its riders won three of the five World Championships during that span, with American Nicky Hayden earning Honda’s last title in 2006. But Honda has been shut out during the 800cc era, which started in 2007 and ends after this season as MotoGP is shifting to a 1000cc formula starting in 2012.
Stoner continued his impressive adjustment to the Repsol Honda team, which he joined this season after four seasons with Ducati. He was second-fastest in the initial preseason test earlier this month, also at Sepang.
All was not lost for Yamaha at this Sepang test. Yamaha riders occupied spots five through seven on the overall speed chart, with American Ben Spies fifth overall at 2:00.678. His Yamaha Factory teammate, reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, was sixth at 2:00.931.
American Colin Edwards was seventh overall at 2:00.966 on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, the fastest Yamaha satellite team rider.
“This test has been awesome for us, and I’ve had a lot of fun even though the conditions have been really extreme with the heat,” said Edwards, 36. “I’ve got a lot of experience, and I’ve been riding motorcycles forever, but even I’m still learning a lot and I’ve really enjoyed coming here and changing the bike to see what does and doesn’t work.
“I’ve figured out a lot of things with the new bike and the Bridgestone tires, and I’ve also learned that for an old guy, I’m not finished yet.”
Ducati’s struggles continued in Sepang. Hector Barbera was the fastest of six riders on the Italian bikes, 10th overall at 2:01.346 on an Aspar Team satellite bike.
Ducati Team factory riders Rossi and Hayden were tied at 11th overall at 2:01.469.
The final MotoGP preseason test is scheduled for March 13-14 under the floodlights at Qatar, site of the first race just a week later.
2011 tickets: 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP tickets are on sale now.
To buy tickets, visit www.imstix.com, call the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or visit the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street. Ticket office and phone hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
The 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at IMS.
Race Day general admission tickets cost $40, with Friday general admission $10 and Saturday general admission $20. A three-day general admission ticket is $60. A Friday-Saturday general admission ticket is $25.
Children ages 12 and under will be admitted free any of the three days of the event when accompanied by an adult with a general admission ticket.
Race Day reserved seat prices will start at $70.