Honda MotoGP Riders Back In Action At Sepang.
From Honda Racing
The MotoGP winter testing programme resumed at the 5.548km Sepang circuit in Malaysia with the majority of world championship teams taking part in three-day test. Seven Honda riders, racing for four different teams took the opportunity to test the latest developments made to the five-cylinder 990cc RC211V.

For both the established Honda riders and the new to Honda for the 2005 season, Troy Bayliss (Camel Honda) and Marco Melandri the morning session was spent finding the best machine settings for fast circuit before getting down to serious work after lunch.

First Honda riders to take to the track Repsol Honda teammates Max Biaggi and Nicky Hayden, the two riders working under the supervision of legendary American race engineer Erv Kanemoto. For Biaggi the day began cautiously as the Italian has still not regained 100% movement in the right ankle he broke in a Supermotard accident in November. However, as the dare wore on Biaggi began to lower his lap time as he found his rhythm, eventually circulating just under the existing lap record.

Max concentrated his efforts on testing engine-braking systems and clutch parts while team- mate Hayden worked on refining suspension linkages and the steering of his RCV. The young American worked hard all day putting in an amazing 90 laps of the sun drenched circuit where temperatures rose to 35’ with a track top temperature of 50’.

Fastest Honda rider on the track was Brazilian Alex Barros who returns to the Camel Honda team from the Repsol Honda squad. Barros quickly assessed the changes made to the RCV the changes made to the RCV since the last test session, in November then put in a series of fast laps to end the session with a time of 2m 02.71s.

New boy to the Camel Honda team Troy Bayliss understandably took time to adjust to the Honda at Sepang but towards the end of the day the Australia former World Superbike Champion was lapping two seconds off lap record time.

Japanese star Makoto Tamada paraded his new Konica Minolta Honda. Tamada in now in his third year of GP racing his first with Michelin tyres. The ever-smiling Tamada has to rethink machine set up at each circuit having spent his career riding on Bridgestone rubber. Despite a slow crash Tamada was very happy with his days work.

Telefonica MoviStar teamsters Sete Gibernau, second in the 2004 MotoGP Championship, and Marco Melandri had very different experiences on the opening day. Melandri continued his adaptation to the characteristics of the RCV setting respectable lap times in the afternoon session. In contrast Gibernau suffered from a niggling electrical problem that held him back. The Spaniard managed just 37 laps over the day.

Honda Team Quotes:

Alex Barros, Camel Honda: 2m 02.71s – 52 laps: “I’m happy, Things went better today than I had expected after two months spent a long way from the bike. I thought I’d have to spend more time getting used to it again but in fact I felt comfortable straight away. That meant I was able to work on a lot of different settings for my RCV, from engine braking to the clutch, acceleration and front brakes. We didn’t do any tyre work but we’ll do that tomorrow. I am really satisfied with the times that I set because I was consistently faster than I was at the GP here in October, right from the morning. It really is a good start to the test.”

Ramon Forcada, Camel Honda, (Chief technician for Alex Barros) : “I’m happy with the work we’ve done on the bike because we’ve completed the programme of set-up work we decided on yesterday, without any interruptions and improving step by step. So now we’re ready for the work we have to do tomorrow, which will be different tyre and suspension tests. Alex was particularly concentrated and determined, quick from the first lap and consistent from then on, continually improving. The time is very good, particularly because we didn’t use a qualifier or even a soft tyre, just race tyres.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 2m 03.17s – 90 laps: “Nice to be back on a bike again! I wish it was the first race of the year and not the first test of the year but I know that testing is so important. These are the hard yards when you get your legs under you and set yourself up for the next few months that are so important. Sometimes when you’ve been off the bike a while you have to knock off the rust but I really didn’t feel too bad today.”

Max Biaggi , Repsol Honda: 2m 03.35s – 52 laps: “Today is a great day. I’m back on the bike and I can ride. This is the most important thing. The ankle still hurts, but I don’t want to complain anymore. The first test was this one on the foot. Soon I will throw the crutches away. We are already working on the bike. New components need intense work. We must build “The Winning Machine”. Being in HRC, with Erv Kanemoto, means great joy and honour but also a big responsibility."

Erv Kanemoto, Repsol Honda: “It’s a real challenge and one I’m really looking forward to. I’ll be working hard looking at all aspects of the machine and how both riders can get the most performance from the bike and from themselves. It is very early days and we gather information. We come back to Sepang next month with the 2005 machine and move forward. I’ve worked successfully with Max in the past and we have a good relationship; I look forward to working with Nicky in the same productive way.”

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda: 2m 03.40s – 37 laps: "Our first day of testing here in Sepang focused on understaning the reasons of the problems we had here during the last GP. In order to record all the data, many transponders (sensori) were installed on the bike. This work took a lot of time, moroeover I had to stop frequently to check every single problem so I could make only a few laps . During my last exit on track, I coud make three laps on a row and it seemed that everything was working well. Now we need to analyse all the data and keep on working."

Marco Melandri, Telefonica MoviStar Honda: 2m 03.50s – 62 laps: "I'm very happy of the feeling I had with the bike. The engine was lighty different from the one I had tested in November, the engine I have tested today is the same of Sete and I got a good feeling. I had a good rythm during all the day , I lapped constantly on 2.03.5 and lap by lap my confidence with the bike improved. We decided to stop a little bit earlier because I had already made a lot of laps. Today we focused on working with the standard setting so that tomorrow we can start making small changes."

Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 2m 03.63s – 40 laps: “Now I have changed to Michelin tyres I have to rethink set up at every track so once I had found a good setting today I tried many big changes to the RCV. I worked mainly on the engine braking systems and suspension, and tyres of course. The crash was very slow. When I went out on new tyres I told my mechanics I would do 20 laps but the bike felt really good so I got up to speed to quickly and lost the front end. But I’m OK no problem.”

Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda: 2m 04.81s – 80 laps: “I still haven’t found the feeling I had at the previous tests with the RC211V but I think that’s pretty normal considering how different the conditions are. At the moment I’m trying to find better traction and the data we gathered today will help us to continue working tomorrow, when we will also combine suspension and tyre tests.”

Santiago Mulero, Camel Honda (Chief technician for Troy Bayliss) : “We’ve worked a lot today, using all the time available in the session to get Troy in the best possible conditions to understand the bike at this circuit, which is very different to Jerez and Valencia in terms of both the track layout and the climatic conditions. We did a lot of work on the suspension to improve traction, the point that Troy wanted to concentrate most on. We’ve gathered a lot of data and over the next two days I’m sure we will find the perfect set-up”.

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Honda MotoGP Riders Back In Action At Sepang. () 01/24 10:18 AM

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