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6th-Dec-2005 01:21 pm - THIS WEEK IN YOUR SPORT

This photo of Tamada celebrating his birthday last month has nothing to do with the fact that he wasn’t in Malaysia, but we figured we’d run it anyway.
Matteo Vitello photo
While the 2006 motocross season kicks off with this weekend’s Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP opener in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (read DC’s Racerhead on www.racerxill.com for details), the MotoGP series has officially entered its off-season, as the winter testing ban kicked off yesterday. Okay, so the AMA still has their biggest off-season test—the Dunlop tire test at Daytona International Speedway—on deck for next weekend, but the teams will soon be taking a short break from the racetrack. Of course with early first rounds looming (February 25 in Qatar for World Superbike, March 11 at Daytona for AMA, March 25 in Jerez for MotoGP), you can bet that some of the technicians are putting in long hours in the shop, right through the holidays.

The MotoGP boys snuck in one last test right before the deadline, with Marlboro Ducati lapping in Jerez along with a few 250cc riders, while most of the teams (including Repsol Honda, Gresini Honda, Pons Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Tech3 Yamaha) gathered data in Malaysia. The latter test, in Sepang, was three days long, with the last day being rain-affected. (Missing was JiR Honda, whose Makoto Tamada will once again be on Michelin, despite having expressed a desire to return to Bridgestone.) No more MotoGP testing will be allowed until the end of January.


Nicky Hayden got to try out the '06 Honda chassis
in Sepang.

Andrew Northcott photo

I wasn’t at either test, but RRX shooter Andrew Northcott was in Sepang, and we’re somewhat randomly peppering today’s Road Racerhead with his photos.

First, the basic facts in regards to the Malaysia test: Valentino Rossi turned the fastest lap time of the test, notching a 2:02.61 aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 on the second day. (That’s almost four-tenths quicker than Nicky Hayden’s lap record of 2:02.993.) The next four-fastest riders were all on Honda RC211Vs—Fortuna Honda’s Marco Melandri was the rider with the second-fastest time, at 2:02.65, also on day two, and several riders turned in laps in the 2:02.70 range: Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, with a 2:77 on day one; Fortuna Honda’s Toni Elias, with a 2:78 on day two; and Repsol Honda’s Hayden, with a 2:78 on day one.

Speaking of Hayden, the middle brother of the OWB clan recently signed a deal with Tissot watches. The Swiss company has just two other athlete-ambassadors—soccer-player Michael Owen and CART driver Danicka Patrick—so it’s quite an honor. Tissot plans to release a limited-edition Nicky Hayden watch that will be orange and black, with motorcycle details and a #69 engraved on the back. Nicky also recently re-signed with Oakley, whose cool gray-on-gray ball cap he was sporting while in Malaysia. And don’t forget that the Haydens are selling two different 2006 calendars—one with just Nicky and another with all three brothers—on Nicky’s website, www.nickyhayden.com.


Colin Edwards got to try out the '06 YZR-M1 on day three.
Andrew Northcott photo

In Malaysia, the only other riders to lap in the 2:02 range were Yamaha’s Colin Edwards, on day two; Pons Honda’s Carlos Checa, also on day two; and Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano, on day one, although Suzuki’s John Hopkins was just outside with 2:03.1 laps on both day one and day two. Apart from Pedrosa (who set the fastest time on the third day), the MotoGP rookies struggled somewhat, with Casey Stoner bagging a 2:03.56 on his Pons Honda, Randy De Puniet collecting a best lap of 2:04.27 on his Kawasaki, and Chris Vermeulen posting a 2:04.50 on his Suzuki. The best that James Ellison could do on his Dunlop-shod Tech3 Yamaha was a 2:05.00.

One rider who wasn’t on hand in Sepang was Max Biaggi, although word out of England this week is that the Italian could very well be on a third factory Kawasaki ZX-RR in ’06, with the whole team running Camel branding (though with some green still on the bike as well). Stay tuned to see if this turns out to be true.


With the skilled nurturing of Gresini Racing, expect good things from Toni Elias next season.
Andrew Northcott photo

Okay, now that we’ve got the lap times established, forget everything you just read, since it means next to nothing. First of all, there’s the fact that these times are anything but official or reliable. In his new autobiography, Rossi talks about testing his new Yamaha prior to the 2004 season, and he admits that he and his team inflated his lap times so that the competition wouldn’t suspect how competitive the M1 had become. (When they got to the official IRTA test, where timing is official, Rossi posted the fastest time, and as we all know now, he won his first race on the Yamaha, in South Africa.)

In addition, you must consider the fact that not everyone was on next year’s bikes, and the ’06 machinery that was out there was anything but finalized. Rossi was on the new M1 for all three days, but Edwards’ only time on that bike came on the damp third day. (For an idea of what Rossi’s ’05 YZR-M1 was like, check out Neale Bayly’s great story over on www.motorcycle-usa.com, right here.) Most of the Honda riders were on ’05 bikes, although Hayden used a 2006 chassis. Hopkins was on an early version of the 2006 GSV-R (apparently with an ’05 engine), and Vermeulen was on a full-’05 unit. That’s significant, as the ’06 engine will have Magneti Marelli electronics, which should offer a significant performance improvement over the crude ’05 electronics.


Now that KR Jr. has moved on, Hopper is the lead rider for Suzuki.
Andrew Northcott photo

By the way, here’s a cool little tidbit that Hopkins told me when, at the Valencia MotoGP last month, I asked him what he’ll do when he’s finished with Grand Prix racing (sorry for not posting it earlier, but it slipped through the cracks during deadline): “I’ll go from here [MotoGP] to AMA for a couple years before I completely retire. I want to get the chance to race AMA Superbike. I’ve never ridden a superbike in my life—never, ever in my life. I talked to Paul [Denning, Suzuki team manager] about doing something with the Rizla Suzuki team [in British Superbike]. I was going to do it this year, but I ended up breaking my foot. I’ve ridden Formula Xtreme bikes, which is kind of similar, but never a superbike. Next year I’ll try out one of Paul’s in England. The only problem is they’re on Dunlops, so we’d have to put Bridgestones on it.”

That should be a fun story to follow. Hopper also told me a bit about his testing philosophy, now that he’s Suzuki’s lead rider: “I try and do as much testing as I can,” he said. “If I can get those [Bridgestone] tires to work around my riding style and get the advantage on everyone else who’s running Bridgestone, that’s what I want to do. If I can get those tires to work for me and no one else, that’s perfect. That’s a key point for me and my crew chief, just putting in as many laps as we can just to get those things working for us.”

Back to the Malaysia test, about which it’s also worth mentioning that these were just single lap times, which is a whole different animal from race times. For example, word out of Malaysia was that although he set the second-fastest time of the test, the diminutive Pedrosa was extremely tired from muscling the big MotoGP bike around in the stifling Malaysia heat, despite doing mainly short stints.


James Ellison was the only rider in Malaysia on Dunlops.
Andrew Northcott photo

For more significant data, we’ll have to wait for the January test, as Rossi himself alluded to in the Dorna press release: “We worked a lot on the new M1 and the first impression is not bad,” he said. “The bike is already fast, I was able to do some good lap times, but it is the first prototype, so we need to work to improve it. Already it is a little more powerful, a little more stable, and we hope it will be more easy to set up.”

On second thought, maybe Rossi’s top time should have the competition worrying….

As for Jerez, www.crash.net reported that Loris Capirossi set a fast time of 1:40.947, with Sete Gibernau’s fastest time being a 1:41.024 as he accustomed himself to the new bike and tires. Both of those times are slightly faster than Ducati’s previous best at Jerez, though slower than Rossi’s lap record.

“It was useful to get to know exactly what I need to find the right feeling with the new bike,” Gibernau told Dorna. “We made progress and managed to find a path that seemed right. We are making small steps forward to avoid going in the wrong direction.”


Back in Fortuna colors, Marco Melandri showed that he'll continue to threaten Rossi.
Andrew Northcott photo

By the way, did you catch the news this week that venture-capital company CVC—the same company that owns MotoGP promoter Dorna—has acquired a controlling interest in Formula One? Dennis Noyes has a great column about the move on www.speedtv.com (read it right here), and it sounds like the respected journalist thinks this could be a plus for MotoGP:

“The fact that the world’s premier automobile and motorcycle roadracing championships are now owned by the same venture capital company and that both purchases were directly overseen by CVC’s Hardy McLain, is probably not a coincidence,” Noyes says in his column. “The prospect of a joint TV package being put together that would have 19 F1 and 17 MotoGP events always on different weekends and using the same Central European start time of 2:00 PM would give the owners of the TV package a NASCAR-like schedule in Europe of no less than 36 races spread over eight and a half months. There is also the possibility of the increased bargaining position of a unified F1-MotoGP entity when dealing with circuit owners on behalf of the two World Championship events that bring the most spectator and merchandising revenue.”


Dani Pedrosa was fast but reportedly tired quickly.
Andrew Northcott photo

Want to see a pretty convincing argument for wearing a helmet? Check this out.

Meanwhile, back here in the states, the AMA boys were off this week, and their test last week at California Speedway was off-limits to the media. I spoke with Tommy Hayden early this week to see how things went for Kawasaki.

“It was good,” Hayden said. “We had great weather, and the bike’s definitely getting closer to a superbike—not 100 percent, but maybe 60 percent of the way the bike will show up at Daytona for the race. That’s more than enough for the first test. We used every minute we had, so that was good. It was definitely really positive for us; we learned a lot, and at the end, everyone was happy with where we were for this part of the year and this part of our starting point.”


Someone in Baja likes Rog.
Jordan Miller photo

Hayden added that the ZX-10 superbike was much further along than what he and brother Roger Lee had tested in Japan a few weeks earlier. Specifically, they had the brakes and suspension that the team will be using next season. “We’re definitely getting closer to what we’ll have,” Tommy said. “There’s absolutely no comparison [to the ’05 bike]. I can’t imagine there being a bigger difference if I switched brands. Stock-to-stock, the bikes are just so different, plus all the stuff that we’re doing to turn it into a superbike.”

On the Hayden topic, Red Bull’s Jordan Miller spent last weekend down in Baja, Mexico, watching Red Bull racer Johnny Campbell (along with Steve Hengeveld and Mike Childress) win yet another Baja 1000. Baja residents and racers don’t seem like likely road race fans, but judging by this sticker that Miller saw in a bar in the middle of the desert, someone must be.

Tommy added that the biggest single difference he noticed was the brakes. “I mean, it’s just unbelievable how good the brakes are,” he enthused. “Honestly, it was hard to get used to. I’m still scared to really use them too much, but that’s a good problem to have. I’ll take too much right now and work into them. When you’re riding, so much is that last little bit of trail-braking into the turn, and you have to really have a good feel for it to be able to do it accurately lap after lap. That’s all part of the process.”


The Doctor quickly came to terms with his '06 Yamaha, setting the fastest lap time in Sepang.
Andrew Northcott photo

I also checked in with Honda Competition Manager Chuck Miller a couple days ago, to see how their superbike is coming along. “So far, everything’s good,” he said. “We’re really excited that we’ve gotten an earlier start this year. We have machines already, and we’ve had three tests in the last six weeks. Things are progressing.”

Miller confirmed that the team is testing both Showa and Ohlins suspension, but he said that a final decision would be made after the Daytona test. The team also has confirmation on which bits they’ll be getting from Japan for next season.

“The way we’re looking at it is, all the stuff that we wanted to do at the end of last season when we were racing, we’re now trying to weed through and make some improvements,” Miller said. “Last year was our first year really doing everything on our own, and we had to do a lot of testing at the racetrack. Right now, it’s really important to weed through some of the stuff so that come race time, Miguel [Duhamel] and Jake [Zemke] have everything they need to do their jobs.”

Honda has been doing some Formula Xtreme testing in preparation for the Daytona 200, but Chuck said that putting more emphasis on the superbikes has better enabled Duhamel and Zemke to stay focused.


Shinya Nakano on the ZX-RR. Will he and De Puniet be teamed with Max Biaggi next season?
Andrew Northcott photo

Speaking of Zemke, he was the subject of Eric Johnson’s Tuesday Conversation this week, and when EJ mentioned to the Team Honda rider that the AMA Superbike series seems to be picking up steam, Zemke agreed. “It really is,” Zemke said. “Suzuki, Ducati, Honda, and Kawasaki will all be there in 2006. All but Yamaha will be in the class. It’s really good to see Kawasaki back. Tommy and Roger Lee [Hayden] are both race winners and will be very tough when they get their bikes sorted out. They’re both definitely Superbike material. Yamaha will be back in Superbike in 2007, and then things will be really awesome. All the best riders will be in the class together for the first time in a long time. The depth of the field will be great for the sport. It seems like our sport is becoming more popular, and that’ll bring more publicity and press.”

As for Yamaha’s decision to stay out of Superbike next season, Bob Starr and Keith McCarty both had some interesting things to say in an article over on www.superbikeplanet.com this week. Check it out right here.


MotoGP rookie Randy De Puniet gets used to his new ZX-RR.
Andrew Northcott photo

One thing that should help the Superbike class is the fact that organizers are going with a smaller field starting next season. I spoke with AMA Pro Racing Vice President, Director of Communications Kerry Graeber for this week’s Between the Races, and he confirmed that the top riders should expect some reprieve from lappers. “With the exception of Daytona, we’re going forward with plans to limit the grid to 36 or 108 percent of the pole time in Superbike,” Graeber said. “This will create a more competitive field by making Superbike more exclusive. It will also increase safety by minimizing the speed differential between each of the competitors in the class.”

For comparison’s sake, the AMA used a 110-percent rule this season, and fields varied from a minimum of 36 riders (Daytona and Pikes Peak) to a maximum of 44 (California Speedway), with an average field of 39.6 riders. I’ve consistently argued for smaller fields in Superbike (as have many others), and I applaud the AMA for going in this direction. Between the more-competitive field (nine factory riders in ’06 compared to seven in ’05) and the smaller grid, the 2006 season does indeed promise a better show. Maybe it will be good enough to earn the series title sponsor.

Not everyone is testing, by the way. I spoke with Jordan Suzuki’s Steve Rapp yesterday, and he said his first test will be at next week’s Daytona tire test. With his free time, the Californian has been focusing on getting himself ready, putting in two sessions per day at the gym and lots of miles on his road bicycle. “I’m also doing some remodeling on my house,” Rapp said.

Have you seen any of the photos from the Maxxis EnduroCross a couple weeks ago in Las Vegas? The winner was David Knight, who-like Neil Hodgson-is from the Isle of Man. In fact, although it looks like he's sporting a rebel flag on his helmet, those aren't stars on the blue cross. They're the island's three-legged symbol-the three legs of Mann. Some people assume that the design is actually specific to the TT, but it is actually the national sumbol and has roots that stretch back to pagan times.


EnduroCross winner David Knight honored the Isle of Man on his lid.
Steve Bruhn photo

If you get time, head over to www.motohistory.net, a cool and informative site put together by former AMA president Ed Youngblood. Ed recently updated the site, adding a cool commentary on whether or not money will kill the Isle of Man TT and images of repli-racers for The World’s Fastest Indian, a Anthony Hopkins motorcycle movie that promises to be quite good.

Oh, and speaking of good motorcycle movies, have you ever seen Peter Starr’s classic film Take it to the Limit? The film features Kenny Roberts, Mike Hailwood, Barry Sheene, Steve Baker, plus motocrossers Roger DeCoster and Marty Smith, and it’s currently celebrating its 25 th anniversary. If you haven’t seen it, you really should, and Bay Area shop Mission Motorcycles will be hosting a free showing on Tuesday at Century Theaters on 1901 Junipero Serra Blvd. in Daly City. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. You can pick up tickets at tomorrow’s open house at Mission Motorcycles, or go to www.takeittothelimit.tv for more details.

That’s about it for me, but before I hand this off to Miriam Deitcher for some dirt track news, here’s a peek at our next cover.

6th-Dec-2005 01:18 pm - MOTO RACING: Test Results

MotoGP Tests: Sepang

Day one

  1. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda, 2:02.95
  2. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda, 2:03.20
  3. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda, 2:03.58
  4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda, 2:03.75
  5. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha, 2:03.78
  6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha, 2:03.80
  7. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda, 2:04.05
  8. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki, 2:04.13
  9. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda, 2:04.29
  10. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki, 2:04.90
  11. James Ellison (GBR) Yamaha, 2:05.10
  12. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki, 2:05.56
  13. Randy du Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki, 2:05.60

Valentino Rossi.
Andrew Northcott photo

Day two

  1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha, 2:02.61
  2. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda, 2:02.65
  3. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda, 2:02.78
  4. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha, 2:02.94
  5. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda, 2:02.96
  6. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda, 2:03.05
  7. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki, 2:03.10
  8. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda, 2:03.15
  9. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki, 2:03.52
  10. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda, 2:03.56
  11. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki, 2:04.50
  12. Randy du Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki, 2:04.50
  13. James Ellison (GBR) Yamaha, 2:05.52

Marco Melandri.
Andrew Northcott photo

Day three

  1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda, 2:02.77
  2. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda, 2:02.79
  3. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda, 2:02.86
  4. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki, 2:02.93
  5. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki, 2:03.10
  6. Carlos Checa (SPA) Honda, 2:03.39
  7. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha, 2:03.61
  8. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda, 2:03.70
  9. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha, 2:03.85
  10. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda, 2:03.95
  11. Randy du Puniet (FRA) Kawasaki, 2:04.27
  12. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki, 2:04.50
  13. James Ellison (GBR) Yamaha, 2:05.00

Nicky Hayden.
Andrew Northcott photo

Combined Overall Times

  1. Valentino Rossi 2:02.61
  2. Marco Melandri 2:02.65
  3. Dani Pedrosa 2:02.77
  4. Toni Elias 2:02.78
  5. Nicky Hayden 2:02.79
  6. Shinya Nakano 2:02.93
  7. Colin Edwards 2:02.94
  8. Carlos Checa 2:02.96
  9. John Hopkins 2:03.10
  10. Casey Stoner 2:03.56
  11. Randy De Puniet 2:04.27
  12. Chris Vermeulen 2:04.50
  13. James Ellison 2:05.52

World SBK tests: Qatar

Superbike

  1. Troy Corser (Suzuki) 2:00.44
  2. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati) 2:00.88
  3. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 2:01.22
  4. James Toseland (Honda) 2:01.76
  5. Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) 2:01.90
  6. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 2:01.97
  7. Karl Muggeridge (Honda) 2:02.18
  8. Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) 2:02.60
  9. Steve Martin (Petronas) 2:04.00
  10. Craig Jones (Petronas) 2:04.54

Supersport

  1. Sebastien Charpentier (Honda) 2:03.00
  2. Kenan Sofuoglu (Honda) 2:06.70

The following release is from Winston Ten Kate Honda:

 

Winston Ten Kate Honda’s 2006 World Superbike championship pairing of Karl Muggeridge and James Toseland today completed a three-day test at the Losail circuit in Qatar in conjunction with tyre supplier Pirelli.

The duo tested new components on the 2005 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade in readiness for the 2006 version of the machine they will race in next season’s World Superbike championship, which opens in Qatar on 25

February. Ronald ten Kate – team manager:

“It’s been a very busy three days in which we have tested all the material that we wanted to try – swingarms, linkage systems, engine parts, ignition and injection systems, front forks, etc. It took all of the first two days to get through everything, after which we concentrated on finding a good setting for the circuit. Until about mid-afternoon, we were hampered by chatter problems, which prevented either rider doing a very fast lap. However, both Karl and James are happy with the settings we’ve found and we’re definitely in the right ballpark. It’s been a very successful test to determine the direction that we head in next season because all the work was done with the 2005 bike. From now on, we’ll build up the 2006 version of the Fireblade and concentrate on what we have discovered here in Qatar. We have a few options for our next pre-season test but the circuit here is one of our favourites.”

Karl Muggeridge – best lap: 2m00.09s

“Three days is a long test and I’m pretty tired. I spent seven days back in Australia before coming here and had five days of treatment on my back so I’m shaping up pretty good physically again now. We came across this chatter problem today for some reason and one or two other niggles made things a little frustrating, but we definitely made some progress over the first two days. We were going well today, too, but the sun just drops out of the sky at around 5.00pm so we just ran out of time really. We’ve learned a heap about the bike which we’ll be able to transfer to the 2006 machine so I think it would be a really good idea to come back here early next year to do some back-to-back comparisons.”

James Toseland – best lap: 2m00.8s

“The chatter problem led us up against a brick wall for a while there but we found some new tyres from Pirelli that definitely helped. Everything was promising over the first two days as we got through the different parts we needed to test. We were able to do consistently fast laps but not one blistering one. To be honest, with the chatter problem, I feel I should have been about three seconds off the quick times rather than around one second, which is where I ended up. The different things we had to test made it a bit difficult to get into a rhythm and the chatter problem was a little frustrating. We tested a hell of a lot of stuff though, so we’re all confident that we know which way to go. It was good just to ride the bike for three solid days in good weather – I did a lot of laps so I’m feeling pretty tired after it all. But I’m looking forward to getting the new bike, which is being launched by Honda here this week, and finding a good base setting for it.”

Three days of tests for a host of MotoGP World Championship teams concluded on opposite sides of the globe today, bringing to an end all track action for 2005 ahead of the traditional winter testing ban, which runs from December 1st to January 20th 2006 inclusive. Representatives from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki were at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia whilst back in Europe the factory Ducati outfit were put through their paces at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was the fastest rider over the three days at Sepang as Yamaha rolled out their 2006 version YZR-M1 machine for the first time. The Italian clocked an unofficial best time of 2’02.61 on the second day of the test, some three tenths of a second inside the current official lap record of 2’02.993 held by Nicky Hayden, before a spell of morning rain prevented any hope of improvements on the final day.

“The test was not so bad, especially yesterday we did a good job,” commented Rossi. “We worked a lot on the new M1 and the first impression is not bad. The bike is already fast, I was able to do some good lap times but it is the first prototype so we need to work to improve it. Already it is a little more powerful, a little more stable and we hope it will be more easy to set up.”

A handful of new challengers to Rossi’s MotoGP dominance got their first true taste of life alongside the Italian in Malaysia, with 250cc World Champion Dani Pedrosa and his former quarter-litre rival Casey Stoner racking up the laps aboard Honda RC211V machines and ex-World Superbike star Chris Vermeulen getting to grips with his new Suzuki GSV-R. Frenchman Randy de Puniet, another rider to have taken part in 250 this year, also completed his first full test on board the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR, whilst Briton James Ellison took hold of the Tech3 team’s Yamaha M1 in a test on Dunlop tyres.

“We’ve made big steps forward in terms of getting to know the bike,” said Pedrosa, who set the quickest time on the final day with 2’02.77 despite the damp track conditions in the morning. “It has basically been a tough three days for me because I’ve never done three days of continuous testing before and never on such a demanding bike! I’m physically drained but we’ve found a few positive things out about the machine, especially today, and the important thing is we keep making positive steps forward.”

Pedrosa’s compatriot Sete Gibernau knows precisely what is required to beat Rossi and the experienced Spaniard worked with that goal in mind as he completed his second test with Ducati at Jerez. Gibernau switched from Honda at the end of the 2005 season and is already feeling at home with the Italian team, despite also having switched from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres.

"It was useful to get to know exactly what I need to find the right feeling with the new bike,” said Gibernau. “We made progress and managed to find a path that seemed right. We are making small steps forward to avoid going in the wrong direction. I also tested the new tyres and started to give a few indications to the Bridgestone guys.”

A handful of 250cc riders also lapped at Jerez, most notably with Sebastián Porto making his return to Honda where he tested along with factory colleague Andrea Dovizioso.

Preseason testing for the 2006 MotoGP World Championship will continue for the majority of teams at Sepang on January 23rd.

6th-Dec-2005 01:14 pm - WSBK: Bayliss stuns in Qatar test

 


Former World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss has made a fairytale return to the series by pacing the three-day test at Qatar this week. The Australian, who suffered in his two-year stint in MotoGP, clocked a best time of 1:58.600 to beat the unwell Troy Corser into second by over half a second.



The lap times dropped like a stone on the third and final day of testing at the Losail circuit as the riders tested the latest generation of qualifying tyres, but it was Bayliss who made the biggest impact as he slashed almost a second off his previous best lap.

"I'm very happy with the way things went here, we made progress every day," declared Bayliss. "I did a great time on qualifying tyres today but the best thing is the improvement made by the Pirelli race tyres since the start of the year.

"I did a full race simulation, with lots of laps in the 59s so things are looking good," he added.

Reigning champion Corser had also set his aims on a sub 1min 58sec lap on the final day of the test until a virus sidelined him for the entire day, leaving him second overall.

"I think I must have got the stomach virus from some water or food," Corser said. "Last night I felt really crook and had to call the doctor out because I was aching and paining and feeling sick. He gave me some different medicines and I certainly felt better today, but not really up to riding fast.

"Troy (Bayliss) did go quicker in the end today, but he was on a qualifier, whereas all my times were done on race rubber, so I don't feel too bad," he added.

Italian Lorenzo Lanzi remained in third position overall with Britain's James Toseland also making steady progress with his Ten Kate Honda as he moved into fourth, just ahead of Yamaha's Noryuki Haga and Suzuki's Yukio Kagayama.

Australian Karl Muggeridge dropped from his fourth position on Monday to seventh by the end of running on Tuesday, with compatriots Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) eighth, Steve Martin (FPR) ninth and Britain's World SBK rookie Chris Jones (FPR) tenth

OVERALL TIMES:

1. Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1'58"60
2. Troy Corser (Suzuki) 1'59"17
3. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 1'59"40
4. James Toseland (Honda) 2'00"10
5. Noryuki Haga (Yamaha) 2'00"46
6. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 2'00"62
7. Karl Muggeridge (Honda) 2'00"68
8. Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) 2'00"81
9. Steve Martin (Petronas) 2'01"80
10. Chris Jones (Petronas) 2'02"50


Eurosport - Barry Thomas - 06/12/2005
6th-Dec-2005 01:14 pm - WSBK: Corser tops Qatar test

 


World Superbike champion Troy Croser has picked up where he left off in 2005 by topping the timesheets on the second day of testing at Qatar on Monday. The Australian clocked a best time of 1:59.170 seconds to beat compatriot Troy Bayliss into second with Lorenzo Lanzi third.



It was the second day in a row that Corser had topped the times, but the surprise so far has been the performance of former champion Troy Baliss, who after two years away from the sport, is already right on the pace despite it being only his second test on the Xerox Ducati 999.

Bayliss knocked almost two seconds off his lap time to end up second quickest, despite a harmless crash on the last lap of his final run of the day. "I'm really happy with today, the track was perfect and we made a lot of progress" declared Bayliss.

"The 999 still feels similar to the Ducati Superbikes I rode a few years back, although the tyres are different," he added. "Pirelli have made a big step forward and I'm really getting used to them now."

Team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi concluded today's session one hour before the end after suffering the effects of yesterday's crash. Even though he was unable to get under the two-minute mark, Lanzi shaved a few tenths off his time to end up third quickest rider of the day.

"I'm quite pleased with my performance today," commented Lorenzo. "I'm still in a bit of pain after yesterday's crash, in which I scraped my right arm and bruised my back and right shoulder."

Suzuki's Yukio Kagayama was fourth quickest with Australian Karl Muggeridge just edging out Ten Kate Honda team-mate James Toseland in fifth. Noryuki Haga was seventh for Yamaha, ahead of team-mate Andrew Pitt, with Steve Martin a fine ninth after making his return from injury.

"It's fantastic to be back on the bike and I'm pretty happy with the first day," Martin said. "When I first got here I just wanted to ease myself back into things but I've already exceeded my expectations and am definitely on the road to full recovery."

DAY 2 TIMES:

1. Troy Corser (Suzuki) 1m59.17s
2. Troy Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1m59.40s
3. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 2m00.48s
4. Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 2m00.64s
5. Karl Muggeridge (Honda) 2m00.68s
6. James Toseland (Honda) 2m00.90s
7. Noryuki Haga (Yamaha) 2m01.50s
8. Andrew Pitt (Yamaha) 2m01.80s
9. Steve Martin (Petronas) 2m03.10s


Eurosport - BT - 06/12/2005

 


Dani Pedrosa has played down suggestions he could challenge Valentino Rossi for the world crown in his first Moto GP season. The Spaniard won a second straight 250cc title this year before moving up to the elite with Honda, but says his chances of going toe-to-toe with Rossi have been hyped up.



 Pedrosa shines in practice
 Malaysia testing results

"I think it has all been exaggerated a little bit," Pedrosa said on Friday. "Everything will depend on how well I do during the winter and the pre-season."

After moving up from the 125cc class as champion Pedrosa won the 250cc title at the first attempt in 2004, something even Rossi never managed.

Rossi, now with Yamaha, always took a season to adjust to a new class before winning the title.

"The step up between 250cc and MotoGP is much bigger than that from 125cc to 250cc," said Pedrosa. "It takes you much longer to adapt."

The 20-year-old, who will ride with American Nicky Hayden for the factory Honda team next year, started testing the bigger bike last month and clocked some impressive times in Malaysia earlier this week.

"Everyone says it's is not easy to arrive at this level and o well straight away, as it's very different to 250cc," Pedrosa added. "The riders are stronger and experience is that much more important.

"I have noticed there are a lot more things that can influence whether you do well or not, which is something that didn't happen in the other categories.

"It's too early to set objectives but I will put the expectation to one side and do what I think is best for me."


Eurosport - 02/12/2005
6th-Dec-2005 01:12 pm - MOTOGP: Pedrosa shines

 


Reigning 250cc champion Dani Pedrosa has proven that he has the ability to shine in MotoGP after setting the pace on the final day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday. The Spaniard was expected to struggle due to his diminutive frame but outshone his rivals in only his fourth day on the RC211V.



 Biaggi close to Kawasaki deal - report

"I tried three different tyres today and at the end I began to feel the difference with each tyre, understanding where the limit of the slide was," Pedrosa said.

"It was a very positive experience but I'm tired, very, very tired.

"I think I will have to rest for five days when I get home to get over it."

Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden was just two hundredths of a second adrift in second, setting his best time of the test, with Italian Marco Melandri making completing a hat-trick of times in the top three in third.

Japan's Shinya Nakano was fourth fastest on the Kawasaki with Suzuki's John Hopkins fifth, proving that the Bridgestone runners still have the pace at Sepang following Loris Capirossi's victory here late last season.

Spain's Carlos Checa was sixth fastest after deciding to avoid any wet-weather running, which was probably wise as he continues to find his feet with the RCV, with American Colin Edwards seventh, Australia Casey Stoner eighth and Valentino Rossi ninth on the 2006-spec M1.

Rossi, however, was delighted with the performance of the new M1 as he heads into the winter break knowing that the new machine was good enough to set the fastest time in the three-day test despite it being his first run out of the box.

Spain's Toni Elias, France's Randy de Puniet, Australia's Chris Vermeulen and Britain's James Ellision completed the 13-man field.

1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:02.77
2. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 2:02.79
3. Marco Melandri (Honda) 2:02.86
4. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) 2:02.93
5. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 2:03.1
6. Carlos Checa (Honda) 2:03.39
7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 2:03.61
8. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2:03.7
9. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 2:03.85
10. Toni Elias (Honda) 2:03.95
11. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) 2:04.27
12. Chris Vermulen (Suzuki) 2:04.5
13. James Ellison (Yamaha) 2:05


Eurosport - 30/11/2005 - BT

 


Three-time Moto GP runner-up Max Biaggi is close to signing on as a third rider for Kawasaki, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian newspaper reported Wednesday that Camel, the 34-year old Italian's sponsor, has made an offer to back the currently unemployed three-time Moto GP runner up.



 PROFILE: Max Biaggi

Under the deal, Biaggi would ride a third Kawasaki alongside Shinja Nakano and Randy De Puniet.

Repsol Honda let Biaggi go after a disappointing 2005. The newspaper reports that the deal could be sealed "in a matter of hours."

Gazzetta also reports that Camel has also made a 9-million euro offer to paint in yellow the Sito Pons satellite Hondas of Carlos Checa and Casey Stoner.


Eurosport - fp 30/11/2005
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