Valentino Rossi finished the second day of testing at Sepang in the same style he finished the first day: On top of the timesheets, with a comfortable lead over his closest rival Casey Stoner. The Italian smashed his existing pole record on a used tire early on the session, before going on to work on the electronics of his Fiat Yamaha M1. At the end of the day, Rossi pronounced himself very happy with the progress of the Yamaha, and even took time to try the Yamaha Test Team's bike, setting the 15th fastest time in the process on a bike not set up for him.
Rossi finished nearly a quarter of a second faster than Casey Stoner, the Australian having also lapped under Rossi's previous pole record. There was also good news for Stoner's teammate, 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden. After struggling yesterday, Hayden improved his time by over 1.5 seconds, setting his best ever testing result on the Ducati. The Kentucky Kid had complained of a lack of strength from the arm pump surgery he had just a couple of weeks ago, but a day back on the bike was sufficient to sort those problems out too. Hayden took it a little easier than his usual marathon testing sessions, with 10 other riders doing more laps than the American.
The Texans of Tech 3 made it places 3 through 5 an all-American affair, or, as Ben Spies put it on his Twitter page, "3 boys from the ol' CMRA in the top 5 - nice!" Colin Edwards managed to hold off his rookie teammate on Friday, after having been beaten by him on Thursday, but again, the difference was minimal. Both men dropped some nine tenths of a second off their best times from yesterday, Edwards even cracking into the 2'00 bracket in the process. Spies progress continues to be impressive, and for the first time after the session, Spies stopped referring to taking "baby steps." The young Texan is getting comfortable, and that looks worrying for the competition.
The Suzukis continued their strong outing at Sepang, Loris Capirossi dropping to 6th after having been further up the timesheets earlier in the day. Meanwhile his teammate Alvaro Bautista got into the top 10 again, taking another three tenths off his time from yesterday. The new engine for the GSV-R is clearly big improvement, and the bike is making good progress, but the worry for Suzuki must be that they have a history of performing extremely well in tests at Sepang, only to slide down the order once the season starts. Another strong showing at the final test at Qatar would underline Suzuki's improvement.
The Hondas are having much less luck. Dani Pedrosa, in particular, is having to put in a lot of work to get the new RC212V set up with the Ohlins suspension. After the test, Pedrosa complained of a lack of stability, which the team hadn't been able to fix despite a trying a number of solutions. Pedrosa ended the day in 8th, over a second behind Valentino Rossi and a few hundredths behind his teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
The best of the other rookies was Hiroshi Aoyama, the Interwetten-Honda rider working methodically on the new bike and finding an extra eight tenths of a second. Aoyama could throw up a few surprises this season, as he continues his MotoGP education.
The contrast with Marco Simoncelli could not be greater. Ill fortune has dogged Simoncelli since he made the step up to MotoGP, and today was no exception. The Italian prodigy suffered a huge highside early on in the session, landing on his head hard enough to crack his helmet. Simoncelli was dazed and confused shortly after the crash, and was taken from the track for a CAT scan at a local hospital. Nothing serious was found there, and as Simoncelli's memory of the events had returned, he was pronounced relatively healthy, though he did not return to racing.
The teams and riders now pack up and head to Qatar, where the next test is due to take place from March 17-19, four weeks before the season opener at the Losail circuit.
Times from Day 2 at the Sepang MotoGP Test, from MotoGP.com:
|Pos.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff||Diff previous||Fast lap||Total|
|11||Randy De Puniet||Honda||2'01.980||1.709||0.248||4||58|
|15||Yamaha Test T||Yamaha||2'02.287||2.016||0.205||17||18|
|18||Yamaha Test O||Yamaha||2'04.500||4.229||0.811||11||43|