After last weekend’s Qatar outing, with just one official test left (at Jerez in Spain at the end of this month), the Moto GP season is looking pretty much as expected from the earlier test sessions.
Casey Stoner is fastest on the Marlboro Ducati despite his still-healing and painful wrist, followed by the Fiat Yamaha boys of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, while the improving Nicky Hayden on the second factory Duck is sandwiched by the surprising Suzukis of Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi.
Repsol Honda suffered a blow when The Guy Honda Hopes Will Be God, midget Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, crashed on the second of three days and suffered the painful indignity of having his Honda land on top of him, re-injuring the wrist and knee he’s been working on all winter. TGHHWBG flew home to Spain, where doctors diagnosed a new break in his radius bone above the wrist and did "another" skin graft to close up his knee. Yech.
Fastest Honda in the test was LCR rider Randy De Puniet, just ahead of new factory guy Andrea Dovizioso. With a third of the grid on Hondas, you can bet the gentlemen back in Tokyo were not pleased to have only three bikes in the top 10, and those at the bottom of the list at that.
The Hayate showed up, with Marco Melandri on board. If you’ve never heard of a Hayate, welcome to the group. A more accurate name might be The Bike Formerly Known as a Kawasaki, the factory having hived off one bike to respected tech guy Ichiro Yoda for Marco Melandri to ride. However, Melandri has been making no bones about the fact that if the bike isn’t up to being competitive he’d just as soon stay home, and with a best time more than three seconds off Stoner’s best time you’d have to think he must be thinking about it.
Qatar times ended up as follows:
1. Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1:55.744
2. Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha Team 1:56.733
3. Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1:56.972
4. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki MotoGP 1:57.224
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 1:57.225
6. Loris Capirossi Suzuki MotoGP 1:57.253
7. Randy De Puniet LCR Honda MotoGP 1:57.401
8. Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 1:57.449
9. Colin Edwards Tech3 Yamaha 1:57.515
10. Alex De Angelis San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:57.591
11. Toni Elias San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:57.804
12. Mika Kallio Pramac Racing Ducati 1:57.938
13. Niccolo Canepa Pramac Racing Ducati 1:57.946
14. Yuki Takahashi Scot Racing Team Honda 1:58.412
15. James Toseland Tech3 Yamaha 1:58.786
16. Marco Melandri Hayate Racing Team 1:58.851
Rossi’s always sandbaggin’ until he’s in a race for points. He knows he can start last & still win if he feels like it. Anyway, go Nicky!!!
I guess Tosland took it a little too easy.
Yamaha is just giving Stoner a psyche job. Trackside reports confirm that both Yamaha riders were told “to take at easy” after the Pedrosa incident.
If it is any concelation everyone is a second behind Stoner and he’s only a tenth off the vastly better Tech 3 Yamaha.
I had planned to make a snarky comment about Melandri’s time being somewhere down the WSBK field but a quick search shows the ’06 record (Haga) at 2 min flat proving even last in MotoGP is hauling!