Honda teams content with progress in Malaysian test //
POSTED: 02 Mar 2012 | SECTION: | POSTED BY:Adam Spence
Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished the second three-day MotoGP test of the pre-season with the fastest times.
Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished the second three-day MotoGP test of the pre-season with the fastest times, continuing on the strength they had built from the rain-interrupted first day. San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista was seventh fastest, with Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl ninth on the LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V.
The four Honda riders were back on track at the Sepang International Circuit after missing Wednesday while Honda technicians in Japan diagnosed an engine problem with the Repsol Honda RC213V of Dani Pedrosa. Making up for lost time, Stoner quickly re-established his superiority and continued his run on finishing on top in every session this test season in which he was a serious contender. (Stoner missed the opening day of the first Sepang test with a strained back and sat out Wednesday.) Stoner and team-mate Pedrosa spent their only full day of testing working on electronics and chassis settings, trying to lessen the front wheel chatter which has affected most of the new 1000cc machines.
The fastest of Stoner’s 34 laps was 2m, .473s, a time which was well off the 1m, 59.607s lap he had completed in the previous Sepang test. Stoner was confident he would have challenged the earlier time if he had had three full days of seat time.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V): 1st, 2m, 0.473s
“Again we’ve been unable to profit from the full three days of the test here in Sepang. The first day we only managed about 16 laps before the rain came and then yesterday we weren’t able to get out at all. So today it’s been good to have some nice weather, get out on track and find some different solutions on the bike. We’ve been trying a few different things with electronics to have the engine character the same way we like it. We’ve also tried shortening the wheelbase, aiming to reduce the chattering and we’ve been successful in decreasing it slightly, but at the moment we’re unable to eliminate it completely, so we still have quite a lot of work to do. The chassis balance feels good as does the traction on the bike; it’s turning well, but we really need to get rid of the chatter. In general we are happy with the bike.”
Pedrosa finished with a best lap of 2m, 0.648s, a time which was off Stoner’s pace by .175s. The Spaniard and his team were able to reduce front end chatter, but not completely eliminate it after completing 40 laps of the 5.458Km circuit. He expects more progress when the teams re-convene for the final test of the season in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain later this month.
“In general we’ve been working a lot on the chassis at this test, to find the best compromise. We tried different ideas and set ups and we leave quite happy with the feelings. This is a very specific track, so it’s important to have clear ideas for the future. We also made some progress on the braking and the chassis feels a little better because we have less chatter compared to the first test. We need to keep improving on entry and middle of the corner, but I think that we can expect improvements when we start to work more in depth with the engine and the electronics, which we will do in the Jerez test. Today I also used a different screen to be more comfortable on the straight, which felt better.” said Pedrosa.
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was seventh fastest after making the most of only full day of testing as he continued to adapt to the Honda RC213V. Bautista had a cold tyre crash that made one of his machines unusable, but he was still able to put in 51 laps.
With his lone Honda, he concentrated on suspension settings, both front and rear, and finished the test nearly a second closer to Stoner than he had earlier this month, while also clocking his best ever lap time at Sepang.
On the final day of his second MotoGP test on the LCR Honda RC213V, Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl took advantage of the hot and dry conditions to complete 54 laps. His diligence paid off, with the young German improving his first day time by over 1.3s to finish ninth fastest and just about a second off the pace of the two-time MotoGP World Champion Stoner.
The teams now have more than three weeks to continuing developing their motorcycles before the final pre-season test in Spain from March 23-25.