The MotoGP riders are back to work again today, though some earlier than others. The Kawasaki and Suzuki teams have decided to skip the official Jerez test in favor of a private test at Australia's Phillip Island circuit. The choice is particularly important for Suzuki, as the team has struggled to get results at the circuit, the bike being down on both power and suffering with edge grip problems.
So far, the times released from the test, are still some way off the pace they need to run. Marco Melandri is still getting used to the Kawasaki ZX-RR, this being only his 2nd full day of testing on the bike, after the Valencia test in October was curtailed due to rain. But already Melandri is as quick on the Kawasaki as he was on the Ducati during the race here in October, though 0.7 seconds slower than during practice here in October.
John Hopkins was considerably slower, but the American has had some pain from the ankle injury he suffered at Assen in June. The tendons are rubbing on the plate put in place to fix the ankle every time he changes gear, and both knee and ankle are swelling up and painful.
But the fastest Kawasaki rider was test rider Olivier Jacque. The Frenchman is working on a revised chassis, which will form the basis for the 2009 Kawasaki MotoGP bike, due to make its debut at Sepang in February. Jacque believes the chassis should make it possible for him to run consistent 1'31s, which would be faster than the pace of the Kawasakis during the race here.
The Suzukis were both quicker than the Kawasaki men, Loris Capirossi faster his team mate Chris Vermeulen by 4/10ths of a second. But just as at Kawasaki, neither man is close to the times they set in early October, when MotoGP raced here. So despite the revised electronics and suspension, Suzuki still has some work to do.
Suzuki and Kawasaki will be testing at Phillip Island for two more days.
Times released from Phillip Island day 1
Yamaha, Honda and Ducati are running at Jerez in Spain today, and times should be released by the end of the day, local time. There is one surprise visitor present at the Spanish track, and that is Casey Stoner. The 2007 World Champion won't be riding at Jerez, as he is still convalescing from the operation he had at the end of October to fix the scaphoid problem he had. However, his presence in the Ducati garage, keeping a close eye on Nicky Hayden's progress on the Ducati GP9, is a sign of just how determined the Australian is to recover the title he lost this year.