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Honda Winter Tests

5021 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  captainwhoopass
The Curcuit fastest lap in 2002 was by Barros at about 2:04.4, and they beat that the first day of testing on brand new bikes. Looking good! And NH is coming along.
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I hate to say it, but unless Hayden improves dramatically, he's going to get his a$$ handed to him this season.
but don't they typically run a couple of seconds faster in the winter here than during the races?
I don't know. Anyway, most of the riders were working on setup rather than hot laps. Nicky was probably learning one turn or turn sequence at a time. Day two should be significantly faster.
Early days

Rossi and Kato rode well but didn't win in their first year in each class series. All their championships came in the second year, and they are exceptional. It takes years of experience for most riders.

P.S.: Rossi was champion in his first year of MotoGP, but since it was the first MotoGP anyone who won could say that.

P.P.S.: I wouldn't be at all surprised if NH improved dramatically. Nor would Honda, I'm sure. He's showing good sense creeping up on the limits. Rubber side down forever!
Re: Early days

I'm not sure about Kato, but Rossi DID win races in his first year in 125, 250, 500, and now MotoGP.

Also, I'm not saying that Hayden isn't talented, just that Honda jumped the gun and moved him to the top class too soon. They should have stuck with Edwards.
I believe that is true. I think Rossi was at least a second faster last winter (on a brand-new bike) than his qualifying times for the GP.

I would have to go back and check other test times this winter, but I believe that virtually everyone is at least a couple seconds faster than their times at the last race. Seems to be a characteristic of the track.
Day 2 Times

From a press release issued by Honda Racing:

HRC winter test Sepang, Malaysia, February 20,2003.

HRC Complete Successful MotoGP Test at Sepang

The two-day HRC MotoGP test session at the Sepang circuit, Malaysia, ended with all teams and riders in up-beat mood. HRC are pleased with the progress they have made, and the results achieved, over the two-days of non-stop testing with the latest version of the RC211V 990cc five-cylinder four-stroke grand prix machine.

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was in scintillating form over the two days and set consistently fast times. Italian Rossi, and his teammate Nicky Hayden, the AMA Superbike Champion, both improved on the times they set on the opening day. Rossi circulated the 5.548km circuit in a time of 2:02.9. MotoGP new comer Hayden lowered his time by half-a-second, ending the day with a best time of 2:04.8.

Valentino Rossi: "Basically very happy with the results of the two-day tests. The whole point of this session has been to test set-up on the 2003 bike and not go just for fast time, which we were really trying to do with the tests here last month. The team has worked hard and we are happy with the results. We did some long simulated race runs and are happy with the way things went especially with the way the Michelins worked. I feel much more comfortable on the bike today. I'm recovering from a little surgery on my butt and yesterday was pretty uncomfortable! Today I'm much happier. I can concentrate on riding now, not thinking how much it hurts! I'm going to have a few days rest here in Malaysia before travelling directly to Australia and onto Phillip Island."

Nicky Hayden: "The two days here have been not so bad. I guess it's a little frustrating at times 'cause I want to make progress faster but it's coming. I just gotta keep plugging away - I know it's there. The team seem happy with some of the times - my fastest one was on a long run and all the laps were consistent in being pretty fast. The new bike feels good and I'm learning just how the little tweeks make a big difference. We're off to Phillip Island next which I'm really looking forward to. I'm really keen to learn more circuits before the season starts."

But it was diminutive Japanese star Daijiro Kato who did the most to impress. Kato is much more at home on the new bike than his 2002 model and he put in the best lap of the day at 2:02.8 to top the unofficial time sheet. The Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini rider has been in superb form on the new RCV since he arrived at Sepang. Fastest man on both days of the test, Kato goes into the HRC test at Phillip Island next week in buoyant mood.

Daijiro Kato: "Today I am again very satisfied with my results; the team's work here in Sepang has been great, they have supported me a lot and enabled me to improve my personal best on this circuit. I believe we are working well and in the right direction, my results prove it. Next test is scheduled at the Mugello circuit, a racetrack where I never rode too fast; it will be very important for me."

Kato's teammate, Spaniard Sete Gibernau had a good second day at Sepang, setting a personal best lap time at the circuit, slashing a second off his best time on the opening day.

Sete Gibernau: "My crew did a great job today and I am satisfied with my results. I feel like at home in this new team, we all get along very well and thanks to my mechanics and technicians I managed to improve my personal best. Little by little I am becoming faster and faster and I hope to keep on improving. At Mugello we will keep on working on the bike's set up; I am extremely motivated!"

Fausto Gresini Team Manager: "Another positive day, actually the whole trip to Malaysia has been positive. I am extremely satisfied with both my riders: Daijiro was incredibly motivated and aggressive, while Sete keeps on improving little by little. This testing session at Sepang has been very important for us, since we had the opportunity to test new materials and tyres; the team's morale also took some benefits, there is a lot of co-operation and thanks to the brilliant results, everybody is satisfied. It is especially rewarding to see my team so happy. I believe during this year's championship we will be one of the teams to keep an eye on".

Camel Pramac Honda rider Max Biaggi has settled in well with the Camel Pramac team, and his new technicians. Biaggi worked hard over the two days of testing and pronounced himself satisfied with the results.

Max Biaggi: "The two days here have been good training for me, we have covered many kilometers at this test. Today we again tried several different things on machine set-up but ended the test with settings close to those we used at the January test at Sepang, and set around the same lap times. This shows we did a good job in January, the team is able to find a good set up quickly. The other riders tried many things at Sepang so we hope to have something new next time we test. Now I go back to Nice, then on to a Moto Exhibition, in Lanciano, with my fans."

Tohru Ukawa's best lap time on day two of the test was close to teammate Biaggi. After spending the opening day chasing a good set up for his new RCV Ukawa went looking for fast times today. He was successful, ending the session just two-tenths of a second slower than Biaggi.

Tohru Ukawa: "The results of this test are very satisfying. On the first day I spent my time setting up the machine to suit my riding style. Today we were after a fast lap time in race simulation and I was two seconds faster than my fastest time at Sepang last year. I feel good with my new team and I really like the new RC211V. I'm very optimistic about the season."

The Pramac Honda Team rider, Makoto Tamada, and Bridgestone tyre development rider Shinichi Itoh completed their test schedule on time and both they and the team leave Sepang in positive mood.

Shinichi Itoh spent two very disciplined days tyre testing. The near veteran Japanese rider had a stack of different tyres to evaluate and was never in a position to look for a fast time at Sepang.

Makoto Tamada: "Confidence is growing, with both the bike and tyres. I am deeply involved in testing with Bridgestone and they have made a big step forward at Sepang. I would have loved to go for a real fast lap but my job here is to give feedback. We go onto Phillip Island now, a track where Bridgestone performed very well at the GP down there last year. That could be the place for me to go for fast times."

Shinichi Itoh: "I am happy with the results of this test and we will see the benefit later. I spent the whole day yesterday testing front tyres, and today concentrated on rears. We go to Phillip Island now and I will be able to gauge progress as I raced with Bridgestone's at Phillip Island last year where they performed really well, in qualifying and in the race."

Daijiro Kato, JPN, Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini, 2:02.8, 60+ laps

Valentino Rossi, ITA, Repsol Honda, 2:02.9, 60 laps

Max Biaggi, ITA, Camel Pramac Honda, 2:02.9, 61 laps

Tohru Ukawa, JPN, Camel Pramac Honda, 2:03.1

Sete Gibernau, SPA, Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini, 2:03.7

Nicky Hayden, USA, Repsol Honda, 2:04.8, 69 laps

Makoto Tamada, JPN, Pramac Honda, 2:04.9, 44 laps

Shinichi Itoh, JPN, Pramac Honda, 2:05.3, 50 laps
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Re: Early days

Prior to his first full season (2000) Kato had entered 4 rounds (all in Japan, as a wild card) and had won 2 of these. In his first full season, he finished 3rd in the championship (20 points back) and had 5 wins and 11 podiums.

Rossi won races in his first season in 125, nearly won the championship in his first season in 250 (3 points back), and in 500, was also second (49 points back). In each case, he won the championship the 2nd year in each class.

Of top GP riders in recent years, the only one who did not make an almost immediate impression in his first season was Barros, who did not get his first podium until his 3rd season, and his first win until his 4th season.
January Sepang times

From 01/22/03:

Best Lap Times Compiled From Team Sources Following Recent Tests:

1. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 2:02.65

2. Max Biaggi, Honda RC211V, 2:02.8

3. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, 2:03.4

4. Daijiro Kato, Honda RC211V, 2:03.7

5. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Desmosedici, 2:03.9

6. Troy Bayliss, Ducati Desmosedici, 2:04.0

7. Sete Gibernau, Honda RC211V, 2:04.3

8. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, 2:05.1

9. John Hopkins, Suzuki GSV-R, 2:05.46

10. Nicky Hayden, Honda RC211V, 2:05.47

11. Shinichi Itoh, Honda RC211V, 2:05.6

12. Andrew Pitt, Kawasaki ZX-RR, 2:06.31

13. Garry McCoy, Kawasaki ZX-RR, 2:06.40

14. Makoto Tamada, Honda RC211V, 2:06.5

15. Alex Hofmann, Kawasaki ZX-RR, 2:06.62

16. Akira Yanagawa, Kawasaki ZX-RR, 2:06.73

2002 MotoGP Pole Position: Barros, Honda RC211V, 2:04.487

2002 MotoGP Circuit Best Lap: Barros, Honda RC211V, 2:04.376

2002 Race Fastest Lap: Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, 2:04.925
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Re: Pull finger Nicky

You guys in the US your boy is going to have to pull finger if he is going to compete. A couple of seconds off the pace won't cut it.

Re: Pull finger Nicky

I agree with your comment. My only (maybe dumb) question is, what do you mean by "pull finger"? I've never seen the phrase used this way.
Re: Early days

I agree that Honda shoulda, coulda, woulda gone with Colin, but that is history. Now that Haydon got the opportunity, I don't think anyone expects him to contend the first year, considering all the first time situations he's facing:

1. international racing

2. culture and language acclimation

3. unfamiliar tracks

4. new bike and tires (Dunlop before)

5. rookie psychology

6. etc, etc.

By the time Rossi, Biaggi, et al. made the move to 500's, they were well acclimated to the travel, competition, and tracks. I think Honda is grooming him for the future as he is only 21 or so, just as RedBull Yamaha took on John Hopkins last year who happened to do quite well for himself even though he never even competed in AMA Superbike prior.
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Re: Pull finger Nicky

Your forgot about Colin. Thats where im puttin my money.
The bikes could also be underweight too. Remember, they have to be around 145 kg or something for races, but they would likely build the bikes lighter so they can play with ballast positioning.

There is also the "cool air" effect where you get more air in for the same effort. And that means more power.
Re: Pull finger Nicky

Its a saying we use down here and I guess it originates from something like pull your finger out of your butt and get moving or pull it out from wherever it is and concentrate on the job at hand.

Re: Early days

I'm sure Honda didn't place him in the Repsol team to compete with Rossi! This year is learning curve time for Nicky, and what a teacher he has!
Re: January Sepang times

Honda says "this". Nicky is showing real maturity. Kato is flying.
Re: Early days

I agree. In fact, a lot of people speculate that they did not pick Colin specifically because he WOULD have expected to challenge Rossi, and they already have plenty who can do that (Biaggi, Kato, Ukawa). I think they are doing the samt thing Yamaha did with Melandri -- they are recruiting the riders they hope to be contending for the 2005+ seasons.

Nicky HAS shown real maturity (as well as an exceptional work ethic) in testing, by not losing patience with his relatively slow times and simply riding over his head. Riding using his brain more than his testicles.

I will be really interested to see how he measures up with Hopper this year. Interestingly, their recent Sepang times are very similar. Hopper has had one year of GP experience, but probably less time on the 4-stroke bikes than Nicky. Also, Hopper was on the 2002 Suzuki, which clearly was not in the same league as the RCV (or M1). Hopper is even younger than Nicky.

Hopefully, we will get some TV coverage of the mid pack battles this year. Last year was pretty good that way, but with Rossi dominating at the front, the real battles were often in mid-pack. The front looks more competitive this year so we may not see as much of these riders as before.


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