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Honda riders work hard on May Day

Honda riders work hard on May Day

Honda riders work hard on May Day

Following a sensational 22-lap Grand Prix of Turkey at the 5.340 km Istanbul Park circuit on Sunday many of the competing MotoGP stars stayed on for a day of tyre testing with French tyre supplier Michelin.

The three Honda riders who dominated Sundays MotoGP podium, Marco Melandri, Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden took the opportunity to test new Michelin race tyres and try several alternative chassis and suspension settings on their 990cc five-cylinder 250PS plus grand prix machines.

American Nicky Hayden, whose third place finish in the race took him to the championship lead, was particularly busy man. Hayden, 24 from Owensboro Kentucky put in 86-laps while testing several chassis -and suspension combinations before moving on to evaluating new Michelin front tyres. The former AMA Superbike Champion was pleased with his day's work having improved the performance of the latest development of the Repsol Honda factory machine.

Hayden's Repsol Honda team mate, Dani Pedrosa, who crashed on the final lap of Sundays race when the front end folded in on him while holding third place, did some useful work despite the low 21 degrees track temperature. Pedrosa, the reigning double 250cc World Champion, is in his debut MotoGP season and is chasing a better feeling with his RCV late in the race. The young Spaniard was bitterly disappointed with the crash when under no pressure and vowed to learn from the mistake.

Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda), who won Sunday's Grand Prix of Turkey for the second consecutive season, put in a personally satisfying 81-lap stint while testing tyres for Michelin. Melandri grows in confidence each time he takes the 2006 RC211V out on track and today as no different. The young Italian and Michelin worked hard to improve the front tyre and ended the day in buoyant mood having found a front tyre better suited to his riding style.

Melandri's Fortuna Honda teammate, Toni Elias did not test RC21V today. The young Spaniard, who set the fastest lap of the race on Sunday on the penultimate lap of the 22-lap thriller, had little to test and decided to sit out the cold damp day.

Australian Casey Stoner, who almost held off last corner challenge of the more experienced Marco Melandri, was the fastest RC211V rider out on track today. Running Michelin race tyres Stoner put in lap at 1m 52.42s.42s, 0.8s faster than his best time in the race - and did it on a front tyre that had already run 19-laps!

Japanese star Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda) is beginning to shake off the front-end blues that have been holding him back since the start of the season. Tamada worked hard on developing his feeling for the RC211V with a new Michelin front tyre and ended the test with a very positive frame of mind. He performed better in Sunday's race than his 10th place suggests and with renewed motivation he hopes to carry his current momentum into the Chinese GP in two weeks time.

The Team Roberts KR211V struggled to find corner entry speed during qualifying and practice for the grand prix, which denied them the corner speed they need to have to be competitive.

The combination of a lack of quality track time and having only one rider has hampered progress but today team rider Kenny Roberts Jnr put in a good performance on the Team Roberts chassis equipped with a Honda RC211V engine. Running race tyres Californian Roberts Jnr ran a 1m 53.6s lap, almost two seconds faster than the best lap time he set in Sunday's Grand Prix.

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1m 52.90s - 86 laps:

"We put in a nice day's work and definitely sorted out a few little issues we had yesterday that we didn't get time to test with the washout on Saturday. There were some suspension combinations and different springs that we wanted to test - nothing major - and few new Michelin tyres too. We found some settings we liked and few things that didn't work, so it was definitely worth it and I appreciate all the boys from Repsol Honda and Michelin sticking around and working hard today."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1m 56.36s - 48 laps:

"Today we worked on some ideas we had over the weekend that are a little bit dangerous to test on a race weekend - things that could help to improve our feelings during the race. We also tested three new front Michelin tyres because yesterday I had some problems with the front! The weather conditions weren't ideal today it just didn't warm up so it was difficult to get temperature in the tyres. Nevertheless, the really good thing was to feel the way the tyres were working and get some good information for Michelin to analyse. I still feel disappointed about yesterday because I crashed on the last lap with nobody pushing me, and I could have had another podium in my debut season. But it happened and I can learn from this."

Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda: 1m 53.s - 81 laps:

"To be honest I was very tired when I arrived at the track this morning but it turned out to be a very good day for us. We worked hard with Michelin testing both front and rear tyres and the results were positive, especially with the front tyre. When you brake as had as we do now, and so many times each lap like the race here yesterday the tyre temperature builds up and the characteristic of the tyre changes late in the race. But today we found a tyre that keeps its performance level in the closing laps. Basically we are looking to find a tyre with the same grip level in a stronger construction and so far things have gone well because the tyre also suits my riding style. I am very happy with what we achieved today."

Casey Stoner, LCR Honda: 1m 52.42s - 55 laps:

"We spent the day bringing my second bike up to as close in performance to that of my race bike and then went on to tyre testing with Michelin. I just needed to try stuff we just don't have time to try in GP practice. The team tried some new things on settings, swapped a few things from one bike to the other and it worked fine. When we got it where we wanted it I ran my fastest lap on race tyres and set the time with 19-laps on the front tyre so I have to be pleased with that. When I consider my lack of experience on a MotoGP bike I have to be happy."


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