I believe that the times above are the final ones, while your link was for day one. Still, it clearly is a horserace.
News from Colin's dad is that Aprilia were supposed to use a new, more flexible swingarm, but there was some unidentified technical problem with it and they had to go back to the stiffer swingarm. Supports my theory that additional tuned chassis flex is the main change that Colin and his team have been introducing to the Aprilia in the offseason.
BTW, dunno if anyone else has the problem I do with links to the MotoGP site -- the back arrow doesn't bring me back here (actually can't get out of the MotoGP News page with the back arrow.
It's all about keeping the tires on the ground, isn't it?
You must be right, 'cause the link times are slower.
They use some kind of Java page management that periodically reloads and adds to the history list. If you back arrow a few times it finally comes back (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to preview my post!).
Uh, I don't know what planet you are living on , but on this one Doohan won the championship in 1998, and soundly kicked Biaggi's ass that year and every year they raced against each other. I also highly doubt that Aprilia's slower bike will defeat Ducati.
You are, of course, correct about Doohan vs Biaggi on this planet. Maybe in some other dimension, Biaggi kicked his ass ;-)
As to Ducati vs Aprilia, I would be hard pressed to say which is faster at this time. Colin was faster than Capi at Suzuka and Jerez, but in other venues has been slower. I am not sure just where I would put my bets right now. Colin might be the better racer of the two, while Capi know the tracks and the competition better. All I know is that I will be cheering for both teams. Hell, there are so many riders I like in the field this year that I find yself cheering for almost everyone. Some for different reasons -- eg KRJR and Biaggi because they are underdogs (not because they are likeable himan beings).
I can cheer for Edwards and Capirossi because they seem like decent sportsmen with the desire to win. However, I can't lower myself to cheer for KRJR and Biatchi. They whine too much and always blame the bike when they don't win.
So I am on crack, uh? In my dreams, uh? Doohan may have won the 1998 championship but if I recall, Biaggi won his first ever GP 500 race in Suzuka against Doohan on a Honda in 1998. Can he do it again? Of course! The new 4 strokes are more like 250s.
As for Aprilia's, everyone KNOWS it is a better bike than Ducati's. Let's talk numbers: Aprilia, 22 GP championships (not counting motocross). Ducati? A couple of races in the '70s (hey! let's make a replica, shall we? There are a bunch of suckers out there!) and 8 or 9 SBK championships. Looks like Ducati is SO much better, right? Wrong. "Nuff said.
Whoop-de-do, so Biaggi won Suzuka one year. Doohan was never very good at that track- he only won it once during all his championship years. Besides, Biaggi's win meant nothing in the long run that year, because he couldn't hack it when it really counted (in the other races). BTW, I don't think the new MotoGP bikes have much, if anything, in common with the 250's that Biaggi rode (or any 250, for that matter).
Also, if you look at TESTING numbers for this year, Ducati has been faster than Aprilia in every one of them. I base my opinion on actual test data instead of Aprilia's numerous world championships in smaller classes. The number of championships Aprilia has won in the past has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with how well the current bike will perform.
I assume you meant 2'04.226 for Rossi's 2002 qualifying time.
It does seem that the track is somewhat slower this year, but the differences in bikes makes it hard to say how much of the time is due to that.
In addition to Rossi, Ukawa also improved his time -- 0.782 sec under his 2002 Q-time. Barros made exactly the same improvement, but of course his last year time was on a Honda 2-stroke so it is hard to compare.
Sete seems to have made the biggest gain (1.361 sec) but that is comparing an early 2002 Suzuki to a 2003 Honda RVC.
Capi, on the same 2-stroke was faster last year than he was with the Ducati this year. Most other riders, including Biaggi were also unable to match their 2002 times, which supports the hypothisis that the track is considerably slower now.
Are you ready with your race-day predictions?
I think you might need to make two seperate predictions -- one if it is wet (not unlikely) and another in the dry.
If the track stays dry, I don't pick Barros to win, and maybe not even make the podium -- the track is not a hard-braking track, so his strongest skill will be less valuable. In the wet, I think he would likely be near the front.
I'd probably have to go with Rossi for the win either wet or dry, but behind him the results are highly dependant on track moisture. If it is wet, I could see Sete and maybe KRJR right up there with Rossi and Barros. Edwards is also great in the rain, although I don't think he has a lot of rain time on the Cube, so that is a question mark.
If it is dry, I think Kato and Ukawa will right up near the front. Both are very good, on a track that they know well, and in front of home crowd. They will be tough to beat.
Colin could be a surprise in either wet or dry. He has a good track record from the 8-hours he has done there. His times at the test were hampered by the need to fit the old stiffer swingarm. (I understand that the last 2 tests had been done with the new one, which works much better. The one he was using was destroyed in his crash at Barcalona, and the replacement had a construction defect). Because of that, we don't really have a good indication of how good the Cube will be for Suzuka.
Capi qualified second fastest there last year, so I expected him to do better. Not sure if it is a problem he or the bike was having, or possibly if the Ducati is just not ideally suited to the track. From a recent interview with Ukawa, the track needs to be attacked differently than the European tracks -- it has mostly sweeping linked turns where maintaining mid-corner speed and precise lines work better than the toss it sideways and smoke out of the turn style that seems to work for the stop and go European circuits.
Ok. You got me. The fact that Edwards was 9th in qualifying today and Bayliss and Capirossi were 13th and 15th respectively absolutely does not show Aprilia is superior to Ducati. Was that enough data for you? Again, I rest my case.