MotoGP Malaysia: Suzuki team 1-2, Honda report
The Repsol Honda Team began their 2007 world championship campaign today at the Sepang circuit as almost the entire MotoGP field reassembled following the winter testing ban. Bidding to repeat their spectacular successes of 2006 the new World Champion Nicky Hayden and his team-mate Dani Pedrosa resumed testing of the RC212V at the challenging 5.548 km (3.447 miles) Malaysian track.
This was Hayden's first outing on a MotoGP bike since his successful shoulder operation on November 30 and the 25-year-old American immediately set an impressive pace. With an early lap time of 2m 03.413s, Hayden was almost able to match his best lap of 2m 03.300s recorded at the last three-day test here in November. It proved to be the fastest time of the morning and enabled Hayden to finish the day as the fastest Honda rider.
Though a little frustrated not to improve in the 30-degree heat of the afternoon, Hayden remained upbeat about the likelihood of further progress tomorrow.
21-year-old Spaniard Dani Pedrosa was riding the RC212V for the first time at Sepang, having missed the November test here, and so methodically eased himself back onto the pace. The 2006 MotoGP Rookie of the Year finished the day just over 0.2s behind Hayden with a lap time of 2m 03.620s as he adapted to the different techniques required to get the best out of the 800cc RC212V.
The three-day test continues tomorrow with the Repsol Honda Team hoping for another rain-free day.
Nicky Hayden Best lap time: 2m 03.413s - 73 laps "I'm happy to be on a bike again and excited to be back with my boys and the team - I really enjoyed riding out there today. This morning felt pretty good but this afternoon we didn't quite go forwards as much as I'd have liked to. We've got some work to do to be ready for the new season. I went at about the same pace as I did here in November - I did that lap quite early in the day, and then didn't go faster which was slightly frustrating.
The shoulder feels ok - the pain has gone away, though it still feels a little weak. That's one of the reasons I didn't go crazy with the number of laps because the doctor told me to take it pretty easy. Sometimes shoulders can take a while to heal but it wasn't hurting me on the lap times - I was just getting tired a little quicker than usual. It actually felt better today than I thought it would so we're looking good for the rest of the test."
Dani Pedrosa Best lap time: 2m 03.620 - 77 laps "I felt that it had been a long time since I last rode the bike so I took it slowly today, especially in the morning. We were just going back to basics and getting used to the work and the feelings from the bike. As I was not at the test here in November I was getting a feeling for the new RC212V at this circuit. We also did some tire testing for Michelin. The feeling of the track has changed a little with this bike, and you notice the braking points have moved. The bike also feels quite different to the last test in Jerez because the gears ratios are quite long here so the force under acceleration is slightly changed. You really feel that the 800 has less power than the 990 at this track, and the bike feels better in some ways too. It was good to get back in the saddle today and I'm looking forward to making some good progress over the rest of the test." Unofficial lap times:
1 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki 2m 02.277s 82 laps
2 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 2m 03.049s 46
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2m 03.184s 67
4 Colin Edwards Yamaha 2m 03.337s 61
5 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 2m 03.413s 73
6 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 03.538s 38
7 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing 2m 03.542s 63
8 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 2m 03.620s 77
9 Makoto Tamada Tech 3 Yamaha 2m 03.785s 66
10 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 03.944s 45
11 Alex Hofmann D'Antin Ducati 2m 04.003s 53
12 Alex Barros D'Antin Ducati 2m 04.011s 39
13 Kenny Roberts Jr Team Roberts Honda 2m 04.088s 63
14 Carlos Checa LCR Honda 2m 04.101s 49
15 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 2m 04.138s 56
16 Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 2m 04.270s 57
17 Toni Elias Gresini Honda 2m 04.710s 64
18 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing 2m 04.718s 52