The biggest threat on the track this evening for Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies was not other riders but fiercely strong winds blowing across the Losail circuit in Qatar. The final pre-season MotoGP test session before next weekend’s opening race was a battle against the elements.
American rider Spies built steadily up the time sheets, slotting in as second fastest rider just before the midway point of the session. He took his last opportunity before the race weekend to work through some further geometry settings with Crew Chief Tom Houseworth as they hunted down extra grip on the track, wrapping up at the end in third 0.613 seconds from the front. Spies’ team mate Lorenzo struggled to make a significant step forward from yesterday’s session, hampered by the winds the Mallorcan was unable to find the best set up for the conditions. He finished the session with an extended run to check on fuel consumption, ending the final test of the winter off-season in seventh position on the time sheets.
Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Racing Rider – 3rd, 1’56.294 (45 laps)
“It’s been a good test, I’m happy with it. We tried a few different things today and improved the bike some more. We’ve now got a couple of days to look over the data ready for the four day weekend, there’ll be plenty more riding opportunities before Sunday. I was pretty confident coming here after Sepang, hopefully we can make the bike even better before the race. Last year we saw that the M1 worked well at every track, it’s Yamaha’s strong point and I think it’s the same this year.”
Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Factory Racing Rider – 7th, 1’56.707 (48 laps)
“Today wasn’t the best day for me. It was not because my riding is bad, I always admit when it is, we struggled with the set up of the bike during the session and unfortunately we didn’t make a step forward. The wind was tough but that was a problem for everyone. We also tried a different swing arm today but it didn’t make an improvement. We will work over the next few days to be ready to improve in the next sessions on Thursday.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Today was a very windy day in Qatar, compared to yesterday we struggled a little bit with the feeling and the balance of the bike because of it. We made a long run at the end even though we hadn’t found a perfect feeling to see what our fuel consumption was and also gather some more electronic information. The bike set up wasn’t perfect for it but it was necessary to do.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“We are satisfied with Ben’s bike set up, he was consistently quite fast. Ben didn’t push 100% which makes us confident for the race weekend. We didn’t try a really long run but managed to maintain a consistent fast pace with a used tyre. We didn’t make as big a step forward today on Jorge’s side as we would have liked however we completed a useful longer run to gather some valuable data. We’re confident that we have enough sessions before Sunday’s race for both riders to find an optimum and competitive set up.”
Edwards and Crutchlow eager to kick off 2011 MotoGP challenge
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team completed its winter testing campaign in Qatar tonight, with Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow quickly turning their attention to the start of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend.
Edwards was delighted with his progress at the conclusion of preparations for his ninth MotoGP campaign, the Texan working meticulously through a range of chassis and suspension set-up options to give him a base from which to work from when practice for the opening race in Doha commences on Thursday evening.
A fierce gusting wind tonight made for unpredictable conditions at the Losail International Circuit, though Edwards was still able to lap marginally quicker than he did in more favourable weather last night. He ended with a best time of 1.56.716 to finish eighth tonight, having finished sixth on the opening night.
Crutchlow’s pre-season ended in premature and painful fashion after he’d shown encouraging progress throughout the test, the British rider dedicating much of his time to improving his braking technique on the YZR-M1 machine.
The British rider effortlessly adjusted to the unique challenge of riding under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights for the first time last night. Crutchlow has previous experience of the Doha venue, but only in daylight when he raced in the 2009 World Supersport series. But he made light work of adapting to riding at night, ending the opening evening just over 0.5s away from the top ten.
Changes to the front-end of his YZR-M1 machine tonight further increased his confidence but he was unfortunately unable to take any further part in proceedings following a heavy crash at Turn 10 shortly before 9pm.
Crutchlow suffered a nasty wound to his left little finger, which required lengthy treatment in the circuit medical centre. He lost the tip of his little finger when his hand became trapped underneath his handlebar, though fortunately there was no bone damage that required surgery. He will now undergo constant monitoring in the next 48 hours with Clinica Mobile staff ahead of the opening practice session on Thursday.
Colin Edwards – 1.56.716 – 99 laps
“It has been another positive test and now I’m really looking forward to the racing starting. The bike has been working awesome again at this track and it shows the hard work we put in during the two tests at Sepang recently has really paid off. We haven’t really needed to make any major changes to the bike and that is a good sign. If you can take the bike to a completely different track and it works then it shows we’ve found a good set-up and I’m confident we go into the new season with a really good package. I ran through a few tyre options for Bridgestone tonight and got some good information but the conditions were really windy. I want to be further up the timesheets with a better lap time but it is the last day of testing before we start racing and I just didn’t want to risk pushing for an outright lap time in those conditions. The wind was so bad in places it was blowing the front –end out from underneath you, so I didn’t want to be caught out. I feel really motivated and excited and while I know it is going to be a tough year, I feel we can put up a good fight. The field is probably the strongest it’s ever been but I’m ready to go out there and fight for some good results.”
Cal Crutchlow – 1.57.730 – 79 laps
“The test certainly didn’t end how I wanted and it is a real shame because we had made some changes to the balance of the bike that really helped my confidence with the front-end tonight. But I made a silly little mistake at Turn 10. I lost the rear and closed the throttle but then lost the front and I couldn’t get my left hand out from underneath the handlebar. I’ve basically taken the tip off my left little finger and it is really sore now. I don’t need surgery but it is obviously going to be uncomfortable this weekend for the race now. It is a shame because I was only 0.5s away from the top ten last night. I adapted to riding under the floodlights really quickly once I realised the shadows weren’t somebody trying to overtake me! I was confident of taking another step tonight and I’m sure I could have done without the crash. It cost me nearly three hours of track time, which I can’t really afford to lose at this stage, but I’m still looking forward to my MotoGP debut. It will be an honour to line-up against this field on Sunday night and as always I’ll be giving it my best.”
Day Two Results
1. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.681s (46)
2. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.745s (39)
3. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 56.294s (45)
4. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.433s (70)
5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1m 56.439s (58)
6. Randy de Puniet FRA Pramac Racing Team 1m 56.445s (67)
7. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 56.707s (48)
8. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 56.716s (57)
9. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.726s (68)
10. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.740s (73)
11. Hector Barbera ESP Mapfre Aspar Team 1m 56.798s (62)
12. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 56.931s (63)
13. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.988s (50)
14. Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing Team 1m 57.345s (62)
15. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 57.730s (28)
16. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1m 57.846s (49)
17. Toni Elias ESP LCR Honda MotoGP 1m 58.536s (57)