Michelin riders topped the timesheets during this penultimate test session at Jerez, with the fastest four riders and five riders in the first top six. 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) was the fastest man over the three days, recording his best lap on qualifiers at the end of the final day, his best lap half a second inside the pole position pace at last year’s Spanish GP. The weather was very changeable throughout the three days with cool, windy and rainy conditions.
Hayden was four tenths ahead of impressive MotoGP rookies Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin), while new Michelin man Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin) was fourth. Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) was sixth and James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) seventh. As is usual, most riders used qualifying tyres to set their fastest laps during the tests, though Michelin’s seven MotoGP riders also did some impressive runs in race trim.
“This test has been quite good for us,” said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin’s director of motorcycle racing. “We already had some useful information from the first day in dry conditions and yesterday we were able to do some good work with wets. Today we had to confirm a few things we tested on the first day and we had some new tyres to tests that we hadn’t had time to test because of the bad weather. We now have a good working basis with our latest family of tyres and I think all our teams now have a clear direction for race tyres, so everybody did a good job here. ................
“On Saturday we had some very good results with our 16-inch rear but when we tried it again today it wasn’t as good. So right now the 16 looks good, it’s getting better and it’s a direction we still keep in our development program.
“The Qatar tests are going to be very interesting, they run from 5pm to 12pm, which means we will be able to test in race conditions for MotoGP’s first night race. It will be a big challenge because the track temperature will gradually decrease into the night, which is the opposite of what we usually have during daytime! At the Qatar tests we have to adapt the tyres to the track specification."
The three-day session was affected by cool, windy, rainy weather, with Sunday’s traditional preseason ‘qualifying’ shootout taking place on a drying track. Michelin’s top performer in that outing was Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin), the 2006 MotoGP World Champion running third fastest. There was further rain this morning.
This was the fourth and penultimate preseason outing of 2008, following one session at Phillip Island and two at Sepang. The final tests will take place at Losail on February 28 and 29, one week before the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix on March 9.
Fastest man Hayden was happy with progress as he looks towards the first race. “The Michelins work good here, they give me good confidence,” he said. “We’ve tried a few different tyre options, and we’re still checking data between the 16 and 16.5 rears. We were really good in the full wet yesterday morning, the Michelins were working good and there was one front in particular that I liked.”
Michelin have worked hard throughout this winter, determined to win back the MotoGP world title in 2008. “One of our main aims has been to improve the working range of the tyres and we are quite happy with the work we’ve done in this area,” added Weber. “We have some new constructions, some new profiles and we have optimised compounds, because once you change one thing you have to adjust all the other parameters to suit.
“Of course, we have also made some good progress with our front tyres. Last year we had two front profiles, one wider than the other, and towards the end of the season we started testing an even bigger profile tyre. Last year half the riders used the narrower of the first two tyres, the other half used the wider of the first two tyres, but now it looks like everyone is switching to the wider tyre. We haven’t done so much testing with the widest profile because we didn’t want to confuse riders with too many front-tyre choices, so we will leave that work until later.
“At the moment we are very happy with our seven riders. On the one hand we have some experienced MotoGP riders like Nicky, Colin, Randy and Dani, who sadly hasn’t been able to do much testing because of his crash at Sepang. Then we have the new generation: Andrea, Jorge and James. It is really important to work with them because they are fast and extremely motivated."
COMBINED FREE PRACTISE TIMES - JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin): 1m 38.848
Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat-Yamaha Team-Michelin): 1m 39.252s
Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin): 1m 39.313s
Randy de Puniet (Honda LCR RC212V-Michelin): 1m 39.351s
Valentino Rossi (Fiat-Yamaha Team) : 1m 39.568
Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin): 1m 39.629s
James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin): 1m 39.678s
Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici): 1m 39.845s
Alex de Angelis (Honda Gresini RC212V): 1m 39.932s
Shinya Nakano (Honda Gresini RC212V): 1m 40.192s
Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R): 1m 40.442s
Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R): 1m 40.576s
Anthony West (Kawasaki Racing ZX-RR): 1m 41.026s
Sylvain Guintoli (Alice Ducati Desmosedici): 1m 41.177s
Marco Melandri (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici): 1m 41.292s
Toni Elias (Alice Ducati Desmosedici): 1m 41.311s
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin): 1m 41.352s
John Hopkins (Kawasaki Racing ZX-RR): 1m 41.901s
2007 SPANISH GP POLE POSITION
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC212V-Michelin), 1m 39.402s