The good news for Valentino Rossi is he managed to narrow the gap in lap times between his Ducati Desmosedici and Casey Stoner‘s Honda RC213V. The bad news is other riders improved more than he did.
Rossi completed 57 laps and set a time of 2:01.550 on the third and final day of the second MotoGP test at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit. That puts him just a bit over a second behind the fastest time set by Casey Stoner at 2:00.473. Unfortunately, Rossi’s time put him down at 10th on the day, with seven other riders within a second of Stoner.
New electronics seemed to help but Ducati was unable to find a good setup.
One small positive note to the day is that we reduced the gap to the front a little bit. It was 1.2 seconds, and now it’s 1 second. It’s also nice that the new electronics work well, but it hurts being down on the timesheets compared to all the others. We tried a bunch of things in order to take a step forward from the first test, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it and were actually worse. It was harder for me to ride well compared to three weeks ago, especially my corner speed. It’s true that this test was more difficult in terms of weather and track conditions, but it seemed to affect us more than the others. Honestly, I expected to do better than tenth. – Rossi
Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden was 11th on the time sheets with a time of 2:01.609. Hayden had faster lap times than Rossi on the first two days of the test and was just 0.059 seconds behind on the final day. The Kentucky native has also been careful not to aggravate his still-healing shoulder.
Of course I would prefer to have been closer to the front, but it’s my first real test of the year. The bike feels better on braking and into the corner, and I like the feedback it gives me. Also, the lap times don’t seem as affected when the track gets hot and greasy. We need to work on some chatter and on corner exits. We have plenty of ideas, as there are a lot of things we didn’t get to try this week because of the weather. Toward the end, I lost the front end in Turn 1 and crashed, but it was an easy one and I’m fine. I’m happy with how my shoulder is coming along. – Hayden
While the factory riders were disappointed with their pace of improvement, Hector Barbera and the Pramac Ducati satellite team should be pleased with his result. Barbera was sixth fastest on Day 3 with a time of 2:01.231, about three-quarters of a second behind Stoner. Barbera made significant progress through the three-day test, cutting 2.328 seconds off his fastest lap time from Day One.