Yamaha's Ben Spies showed he'll be a force this year by posting the quickest time in the morning, only outdone by Stoner later in the afternoon.
Valentino Rossi chopped a half second off his Tuesday time, but others made more improvement, dropping him to seventh on the timesheets.
Nicky Hayden's injured shoulder is still bothering him, with weakness and endurance issues preventing him from going at full speed for any length of time.
Colin Edwards made some solid progress with the NGM Forward Racing CRT bike, carding a 2:05 that puts him much closer to the factory prototypes than ever before.
SEPANG, MALAYSIA, FEB 1 – Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner dominated the 2011 winter testing season by setting the fastest time on all three days of the second Malaysia test which he ended with the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle around the Sepang Circuit. Stoner lapped the track in 1:59.665, a time that beat Valentino Rossi’s pole time from 2009 of 2:00.518. But since it wasn’t an official session, Stoner’s time didn’t stand. But he may have a new record on the final day of the opening test of 2011 if conditions allow
Stoner sat out the first day of the test after his back locked up while he was preparing to ride. He was able to get into his leathers and make a few laps, but there was no point in continuing. He had physiotherapy at both the track and his hotel, to which he retired early in the day.
“Yesterday was far beyond anything I’ve ever had before,” Stoner said. “I was worried I actually did some bad damage to it.”
The damage he did was to the rest of the field. The 2011 MotoGP World Champion was fastest by .157 seconds after his lap of 2:00.895, the only lap under 2:01. The hot and steamy day wasn’t spent in pursuit of an outright fast lap—rather Stoner spent his time doing a comparison test between two frames of the Honda RC213V. He and his team were hoping to find a solution to the chattering that’s afflicted most MotoGP riders with the latest version of Bridgestone’s control rear tires. The new fronts, which not everyone’s tested, don’t seem to be a problem.
“We’ve got an updated (chassis) from Valencia and Jerez test, so we’ve been comparing those a little bit during the day,” said Stoner. “Then we’ve got a few other things to test tomorrow; clutch, different things like that to try and reduce a little bit of the chatter that we still have. It was little bit tricky to try and decide between chassis, they’ve both got positive points and negative points, but we’re trying to sort our way through it.
“They’re not huge changes, the updated version I think we’re getting a little bit more accuracy with the bike, it turns into the corner a little easier, a little bit more mid-turn speed. But unfortunately we’ve got a little bit more chattering with it at the moment so we’re not too sure if it’s a clutch issue we’re trying to figure out or if it’s more to do with the chassis, so we’re just trying to understand that, and we can make a bit more of a direct comparison.”
Today the temperature was 91ºF with attendant high humidity. The track was at its best in the morning and late in the afternoon. During the heart of the day it was much slower.
Yamaha’s Ben Spies was listed as the fastest rider in the final hour, but it was a mistake. He managed to trip the timer with a lap time in the 1:58s, much faster than anyone had ever gone and 2.5 seconds up on Stoner.
That lap wasn’t for real, but Spies was, leading the Yamaha charge, including third fastest teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
“There’s definitely…some room for improvement,” he said. “There’s some areas we’d like to make better and then areas we’re not even struggling in we want to make better again. We want to make the package better in every way. That’s more for the second test.
“We definitely have some stuff to try there and try make a big difference and see what we can do. But right now it was important to come out and not do too much, too fast, but get a good base set-up, a good foundation to work for all of this year. Like I said, we still have two months to the first race, so there’s no reason to get in a hurry, but it seems as though the bike with me and Jorge (Lorenzo) and (fifth fastest) Cal (Crutchlow) up there too, the starting package is going well.”
Behind Crutchlow came Pramac Racing’s Hector Barbera, then Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi, seventh fastest and nearly a second off the pace.
“Yeah, we modify the setting, we modify the weight of the bike and it’s positive,” he said. “We improve three-four tenths, that’s not so bad compared to yesterday, or maybe five.” It was a full half second that Rossi cut out of his lap time, but others also increased their pace. “But unfortunately some other problem we are not able to fix and I think we need more time because we need to modify a little bit the bike. it’s not a question of setting I think. But already going faster than yesterday is not so bad. And the level of our performance is quite good. But you know, is a hard job.”
The problems he was finding were “a little bit of understeer and especially difficult in acceleration. But we are very happy because now I brake, I enter in the corner with a good feeling compared to last year. We make a huge step and I think that was the worst problem. But now is early to say if we are able to arrive at the top and when.” He added, “I think we fix 50% of the problem over last year. Now we need the other 50%.
“Fix the entry but remain a little bit in acceleration something. But also, for example, the electronic system is a lot better than last year. The bike is more easy to ride, but we have to work also in that way. I follow one Honda, it was (Alvaro) Bautista and some place I’m quite good in some other place I lose. But I’m happy. It’s positive and I think we will have the situation more clear after tomorrow.”
Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden’s shoulder was continuing to bother him, preventing him from making any solid progress and forcing him to spend a lot of time getting physio-therapy in the pits. “Yeah it was not a very productive day,” lamented Hayden. “Went out this morning and on my first couple of laps felt OK, on my second lap I was able to do a pretty decent step from yesterday. But I’d just lose strength too quick in the shoulder and was not really able to ride consistent or fast enough to test stuff. The main thing is under braking, I’m OK when I can lock my shoulder out, but when the bike shakes, I don’t have enough strength to hold on, so it’s not really safe; I don’t wanna crash and cause bigger problems so I just have to chill out, do some physio, and maybe do a few more exits tomorrow and try to learn something so it’s not a complete wash.”
Colin Edwards made some positive steps with the latest iteration of the Forward NGM Racing CRT bike, which only got its first laps today after being sidelined yesterday with electrical problems. After struggling yesterday with the original version using a chassis that caused chatter with the new Bridgestone tires, Edwards still had some problems with chatter in the morning on the new bike. But the team made some changes that allowed Edwards to drop more than two seconds and get into the 2:05 range, including the new Bridgestone front tire that Edwards definitely liked. “We’re learning. We have to learn everything in the public eye. We made big steps today, especially engine braking; we came light years forward to make that more comfortable. Bike setting also, just learning what’s in our gravity it likes, and playing a little bit with the power and evening out the torque a little bit. So yeah, we’re making big steps forward, but it’s just slow going.”
MotoGP Sepang Test Day 2 results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 2:00.895
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:01.052
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:01.068
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:01.508
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 2:01.565
6. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 2:01.788
7. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 2:01.886
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 2:01.933
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 2:02.160
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:02.354
11. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 2:02.414
12. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 2:02.598
13. Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) 2:02.941
14. Franco Battaini (Ducati) 2:04.311
15. Colin Edwards (Suter/BMW) 2:05.603
16. Ivan Silva (FTR/Kawasaki) 2:10.297
17. Jordi Torres (FTR/Kawasaki) 2:11.893
18. Robertino Pietri (FTR/Kawasaki) 2:12.546