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MotoGP Preseason Review

MotoGP Preseason Review

Before all the teams gather for their first collective Official Test of 2007 from 13th February, also in Qatar, motogp.com provides you with a summary of the story so far from the return to action after the winter break.

With the Official Tests of Qatar and Jerez just around the corner, and the season proper to follow soon after, MotoGP's participants are about to step up their 2007 preparations.

Of course this is a particularly intriguing pre-season, as the first new World Champion in five years, Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden, prepares to defend his title, whilst the premier class outfits make the historical change from 990cc engines to 800cc. Countless hours of hard graft have already been put in by all parties concerned, but there is still plenty to come before this year's championship gets underway at Qatar's Losail Circuit, on the second weekend in March.

Before all the teams gather for their first collective Official Test of 2007 from 13th February, also in Qatar, motogp.com provides you with a summary of the story so far from the return to action after the winter break.

January 22nd - 24th, 2007 – Sepang, Malaysia

The first MotoGP session in Sepang signalled the start of the 2007 preseason, with every team apart from Ilmor present at the Malaysian Circuit. The entire field had two 800cc bikes at their disposal for the first time, giving riders the opportunity to complete significant numbers of laps at the Asian track.

The five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi made a statement of intent after losing his title last year, setting the fastest lap time of the three-day visit to Sepang. The charismatic Italian clocked a blistering 2'00.936 lap on the third and final day of the test on his new 800cc Yamaha M1, in an ominous sign for the rest of the grid.

The majority of the teams undertook race simulations on the third day in intense heat and humidity, with Rossi closely followed by Suzuki's John Hopkins, Ducati's Loris Capirossi and Honda's Dani Pedrosa, putting four different factories in the top four spots on the unofficial timesheet.

Earlier in the test, Rizla Suzuki had maintained their impressive end of 2006 form by setting the pace on the new prototypes on the first two days. Indeed John Hopkins was undoubtedly the stand-out rider of the first part of the test, topping the unofficial timesheets on both days one and two.

With all the teams adapting to the 800cc bikes, certain outfits were also continuing to adjust to new tyre manufacturers - Gresini Honda and Pramac d'Antin Ducati both gave their Bridgestone compounds a rigorous test. Although Pramac d'Antin´s Alex Barros suffered a minor tumble on day two, the Brazilian veteran, who returns to MotoGP this season, recovered perfectly to record the fourth fastest time of the week.

World Champion Hayden put in a considerable number of laps as he continued his return from surgery in November on an injured shoulder, but neither he nor team-mate Dani Pedrosa quite achieved the pace they would have hoped for in Sepang.

January 30th - February 1st, 2007 – Phillip Island, Australia

However, it was a different story in the second test of 2007 at Australia's Phillip Island Circuit, where riders from Ducati, Honda, Team KR and Suzuki were present as the pre-season preparation continued apace. It was MotoGP's new World Champion Hayden who emerged as the outstanding rider of the final day, topping the timesheets with the fastest time of the whole test.

Hayden's time came despite an admission earlier in the week that his new bike would require alterations to its geometry to accommodate his slightly larger frame. The Kentucky Kid didn't seem to be too hindered however on the RC212V's final run-out of the week, clocking a scorching 1'29.52 lap which signalled Repsol Honda's first top spot of 2007. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was the second quickest rider on the final day, mirroring his form in the closing test of 2006 in Jerez where he also topped the timesheets.

On the previous days Alex Barros had impressively recorded the quickest times in both sessions on his Pramac d'Antin Desmosedici GP7, eventually putting in a 1'30.01 lap, whilst factory Ducati riders Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner were also enjoying quick times.

Unfortunately for Suzuki they were not enjoying the same success as in Sepang as Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen slipped down the timesheets behind the dominant Hondas and Ducatis. Meanwhile Team KR´s Kenny Roberts Jr was still finding his way with his new KR212V bike and will hope to make some improvements in Qatar.


February 5th – February 7th – Sepang, Malaysia

The absentees from the previous week's Australian session gathered in Sepang for Malaysia's second test session of the New Year. The factory Yamaha team, in addition to satellite outfit Dunlop Tech 3, were on track alongside Kawasaki Racing and the Ilmor Team, who made their first appearance outside of Europe at the three day session.

All eyes were sure be on Rossi at his second appearance of the year, with the Italian having announced the renewal of his Yamaha contract until the end of the 2008 season four days previously and having topped the timesheets on his previous visit to Malaysia.

However it was his Yamaha factory team-mate Colin Edwards who recorded the fastest time of the test, the American clocking a lap of 2'00.248 - a time under the 990cc pole position record and remarkably over a second quicker than his fastest lap from the previous day. Rossi and his M1 had topped the timesheets on day two, however, and the Italian's revenge mission, characterized by the Excalibur sword he bears on the front fairing of his bike seems to be in full swing.

Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet was the third fastest rider behind the Yamaha factory bikes on each day on the Ninja ZX-RR800. De Puniet showed no ill-effects from his minor crash on day two, whilst his compatriot and team-mate Olivier Jacque also made improvements during three positive days for the French duo.

Makoto Tamada began to make considerable progress after his switch in the off-season, and set the example for his new team-mate Sylvain Guintoli. The Frenchman is the only rookie in MotoGP this season, and both continued to make steady progress on board their Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 versions of the M1.

Ilmor only brought Andrew Pitt to Sepang, with the Australian putting vital laps on his new bike's clock, adding to the small number he was able to complete in a private test at Almeria, Spain, in January. Meanwhile his team-mate Jeremy McWilliams continues to recover after surgery on his broken leg, and is expected to return to action for the Official Test in Qatar.

The majority of the teams will be well aware of the tests and tweaks they have been able to undertake thus far, but will all be desperate to step up another level next week, as the entire MotoGP grid gathers for the first time in 2007 for the Official Test at the Losail circuit, and the dice are rolled for the start of the MotoGP season.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007

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