The final testing session before the start of the 2011 MotoGP season has just wrapped up at Qatar. The MotoGP riders will take to the same track in just a few days to kickoff the 2011 racing season.
Consistently at the top of the time sheets during the preseason tests has been Honda’s RC212V. The Honda machine has typically claimed the top spot, usually thanks to Dani Pedrosa or Casey Stoner, and has been followed by a handful of Hondas finishing in the top ten.
The Yamaha duo of Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo have also had a successful preseason. Lorenzo and Spies haven’t been able to match the pace of Pedrosa or Stoner, but they have given them their toughest competition.
For Ducati, the preseason wasn’t as successful as they had hoped. Although the Ducati team is still confident about their chances.
The legendary Valentino Rossi moved to Ducati this year, giving the Italian manufacturer some serious motivation to ready the perfect race machine. Rossi and the Ducati team have worked well together, but unfortunately, Rossi’s shoulder is still limiting his speed.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team 13th – 1:56.988)
“I’d say that today was pretty challenging: the weather conditions were much tougher than yesterday, and I had another crash when I slipped on a white line. Fortunately, I just fell over on the ground—it was nothing serious. The real problem was that at about an hour and a half from the finish, I started to lose strength in my shoulder, and I just couldn’t push anymore. It’s a shame, because I had just done my best time, and I may have been able to drop it a little more from there. Instead, we didn’t even mount the two soft tyres that we had. I started on a long run, but I stopped because I was losing tenths lap after lap. Let’s say that we’re not as far back as it looks, although we still have a lot of work to do, regarding both the bike and myself, because the shoulder is evidently not yet able to bear two such intense days of testing. Between now and Thursday, I’ll do some light exercise and have it massaged, and then we’ll see.”
Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden has also seen mixed results throughout the preseason. Hayden knows that the competition will be fierce this year, but he is ready to give it his all during the 2011 MotoGP season.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team 9th – 1:56.726)
“When we got here this afternoon, I wasn’t sure how much riding we were going to get to do, because the wind was really gusting. It started dying down about the time we started, though, and they did a good job of cleaning the track. We tried some different options and got a little bit better, but not like we really wanted to. I did two longer runs and was able to string together some laps at a decent pace, on both hard and soft tyres. I ended the day with a crash in Turn 2, where a lot of guys have gone down this week. I just lost the front end. Anyway, that’s enough testing, because this weekend it will really mean something. We know it’s going to be a tough one, because everyone is pushing so hard, but we’ll do our best to come in here and make a good showing.”
Pramac Racing rider Randy De Puniet was the fastest Ducati during the Qatar test. Puniet had a couple of crashes during the Qatar test, but is confident about the work that he and his team put in.
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Rider - 6th fastest lap time in 1’56.445)
“As they went the last two Tests in Malaysia, next year we will only come here in Qatar to test. Jokes apart, at this circuit the situation is completely different than the six days of work in Malaysia. I feel better riding my Ducati and I really enjoyed today. My team did a fantastic job after two crashes yesterday. We tried many different solutions changing tires to understand the various reactions in anticipation of Sunday’s race. We are confident.”
The other Pramac Racing rider also suffered a crash at Qatar. Veteran Loris Capirosi spent five years with Ducati in the MotoGP, and will be returning to the Italian manufacturers garage this year for the first time in three years. Capirossi is coming off of his worst MotoGP season to date, but is calm and confident about this weekend’s race.
“Today I felt good on the track, everything seemed to go in the right direction, but after the crash at more than 200km/h, things did not go as expected. However, I remain very calm for the first race here in Qatar this weekend. We tried some technical solutions that should allow us to be competitive and register significantly lower lap times. Now we enjoy a couple of relaxing days and finally the new season kick off.”
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com