The 2010 season opened with the traditional post Valencia GP test, the first MotoGP winter test session where the teams and riders get to test the latest technical developments from the race machine manufacturers R&D departments.
Testing started after lunch and ended at 17.00. Early progress was hampered by fine sand blown onto the track surface by strong overnight winds. Once the track had developed a clean racing line the riders set about testing in earnest.
The Repsol Honda factory team have a full programme of testing with a new engine, chassis, electronics and suspension parts to test. Dani Pedrosa tested Ohlins suspension for the first time today taking his time to get a good feeling from the Swedish hi-tech suspension equipment. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has already done the hard work initial shake down test with Ohlins over the final half dozen races of the season. Pedrosa spent much of his time in the pit box as team technicians worked on the various setting possibilities restricting Pedrosa to 31 laps.
Italian Dovizioso spent the first afternoon of the test evaluating the new stiffer chassis, which features slight geometrical changes, and a new swinging arm developed to improve the weight distribution of the RC212V. Dovi was happy with the improvements made and goes into the second day of the test in a very positive frame of mind.
Frenchman Randy De Puniet set ninth fastest time of the afternoon on his LCR Honda. The team technicians worked to overcome a rear end problem that had deprived De Puniet of grip in Sunday’s GP. Problem solved the team moved on to test new suspension links and new traction control software.
San Carlo Gresini Honda will field a new two-rider line-up in 2010 with former teamster Marco Melandri rejoining the Italian squad where he is joined by the 2008 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli. Both men spent time working on basic machine set up, Simoncelli feeling more comfortable, and improving his lap times, as the day wore on, Melandri moulding the riding position.
Melandri last rode an RC212V in 2007 and was pleasantly surprised by the improvements made to the RCV during the intervening two season. Once he had accustomed himself to the riding position moved on to test various geometry settings in preparation for tomorrow’s full day on track.
Newly crowned, and last ever, 250cc World Champion Hiro Aoyama took to the track for his first ever MotoGP test aboard a Honda RC212V. Everything was new for Aoyama! New machine, engine type, carbon brakes, consequently the 250cc World Champion took his time while unravelling the mysteries of the 800cc V4 four-stroke Honda!
Several riders took to the track to test race machines that will contest the new, for 2010, Moto2 category. Thai rider Rathapark Wilairot setting a time of 1m 39.815s using a standard CBR600 engine in the SAG prepared chassis.
Rider lap times and quotes:
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 4th – 1m 33.088s, 31 laps
“We tested with the new 2010 bike today and also used Ohlins suspension. The key thing was to begin getting used to the new suspension because the feelings are quite different and we need some time to find the set-up for the new chassis. We didn’t do so many laps this afternoon because, with this kind of testing, you spend quite a lot of time in the box. The feeling from the chassis was quite similar today – it’s the suspension that really feels different, and I think this is normal when you make a change like this. The initial feeling is positive and we’ll come back tomorrow and get back down to work.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 7th – 1m 33.675s, 51 laps “Today we tried the 2010 machine with the new chassis and swing arm. It’s very early days of course, but the first impression is positive and the feeling is that we are working in a good direction. The weight distribution is different in order to improve the stability of the machine under braking and to better suit the Bridgestone tyres. We have two more days of testing here, and tomorrow we have the whole day to continue evaluating the new machine.”
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 9th – 1m 33.775s, 61 laps.“First we tried to understand what happened yesterday when I struggled with rear grip issues during the race but we have not found a real solution to that problem. After that we worked on some new things like the 2010 link of Ohlins suspensions, modified traction control software and some new braking system components. I am pretty satisfied about the performance of the bike but I would like to get more stability in the rear which is our main job for tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 10th – 1m 33.839s, 51 laps. “I had a very positive feeling this morning when I entered the garage and tested my position on the bike. It was a very good surprise to feel how different it is the current Honda machine to the bike I used to ride in 2007. We started working on the geometry of the machine while tomorrow we will focus on suspension and some other details but I’m really very happy. The engine is a little different to use compared to the one I was used this year and I need to get used to controlling the gas. Anyway my pace was quite consistent and not too far from the other Honda riders”.
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 14th – 1m 35.229s, 59 laps “I was impressed by the speed! It is not aggressive but the engine pushes. The first impression is that it’s not so easy as people say. After the test I shared with the technicians my first impressions and tomorrow we will continue working. We started with some settings studied for riders with different physical sizes than I so we did immediately important changes and I improved constantly. We have to continue like this, step by step as I need to understand the new machine and the direction to take for the set up”
Hiroshi Aoyama, Interwetten Honda MotoGP: 17th – 1m 37.964s, 40 laps “Today we started a little bit later than the other riders as last night we celebrated my 250 title. Yesterday my dream came true and today a new adventure starts. Even if I knew that I was going to ride a MotoGP bike, till yesterday I was 100 per cent focused on the 250. Today I tested a 4 stroke MotoGP bike for the first time. We lapped without traction control and electronic system (anti wheeling) to get used to the new machine. I was not used also to carbon brakes so today I concentrated to study the carbon brakes. For me everything was new today: new bike, new team so the first thing was to make laps and study the bike. Tomorrow we have the whole day to test, this would be very important as today we only completed 40 laps .”