The year’s second Moto GP test, this one at Australia’s Philip Island circuit, is complete. To nobody’s great surprise Casey Stoner on the new version of the Ducati Desmosedici was fastest, a kick-in-the-face entire second faster than the next quickest rider, Repsol Honda’s Nicky Hayden.
The official lap record of 1.29.002 belongs to Hayden, from the 2006 race; Stoner’s time on qualifiers was 1.28.777. Most teams did race-distance simulations on the last day, and those laps were all in the 1.30 and up range.
Four other riders got below the 1.30 mark: a surprising James Toseland on the Tech 3 Yamaha, Andrea Dovizioso on the JiR Scot Honda, and Toseland’s team-mate Colin Edwards.
Stoner and his new team-mate Marco Melandri said they were pleased with what they’d accomplished; Melandri was down in 12th position overall but is still learning the bike and was working on a base set-up. Hayden, in spite of his fast time, wasn’t all that pleased; he said that he felt they’d been chasing their tail a bit in spite of having accomplished a great deal of effective tire testing for Michelin.
As at the last test in Sepang, he used both the "conventional" and the new pneumatic spring motor, with the conventional version the workhorse for most of the test. His team-mate Dani Pedrosa is still in Spain recovering from surgery on his hand from his big incident at the Sepang test.
With the official Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo no-shows, Yamaha must have been encouraged by the performance of the Tech 3 satellite team. Moto GP newcomer James Toseland was particularly pumped, saying, "I’m really happy. I was always looking forward to coming here with my track knowledge [from his WSB days] and it’s nice to see the difference where I stand in the order with that experience. To be at the sharp end of the times and see my name up there has put a bigger smile on my face."
Kawasaki had to load up the work on Anthony West, as newly-hired star John Hopkins crashed in the horrifyingly fast first turn early in the test and tore a groin muscle. He was briefly hospitalized for diagnosis and did return to the track for moral support, but will be seeing the GP rider’s friend Dr. Arthur Ting in San Francisco as soon as he gets home.
Next stop on the testing schedule is February 16-18 in Spain.
Final times from Philip Island with the number of laps done by each rider:
1. Casey STONER (Ducati) 1:28.777 (51)
2. Nicky HAYDEN (Honda) 1:29.734 (102)
3. James TOSELAND (Yamaha) 1:29.754 (89)
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Honda) 1:29.780 (90)
5. Colin EDWARDS (Yamaha) 1:29.795 (56)
6. Chris VERMEULEN (Suzuki) 1:30.216 (73)
7. Alex DE ANGELIS (Honda) 1:30.438 (91)
8. Shinya NAKANO (Honda) 1:30.728 (89)
9. Toni ELIAS (Ducati) 1:30.966 (97)
10. Randy DE PUNIET (Honda) 1:30.978 (115)
11. Sylvain GUINTOLI (Ducati) 1:30.983 (58)
12. Marco MELANDRI (Ducati) 1:31.377 (108)
13. Loris CAPIROSSI (Suzuki) 1:31.508 (75)
14. Anthony WEST (Kawasaki) 1:31.957 (90)