New RC211V Found to be "Superior" in the Wet
The second day of the MotoGP test at Phillip Island, Australia hampered the progress made by the MotoGP teams on the opening day of the three-day test at the 4.448 km GP circuit.
The rain restricted the teams and riders to general wet weather settings in conjunction with rain tyre testing with Michelin. The more experienced MotoGP riders took to the wet track in a bid to determine how winter chassis development had improved the handling of the RCV in wet conditions.
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) both found the 2006 version superior to its predecessor on a wet track. Hayden will be partnered by MotoGP debutant Dani Pedrosa for the 2006 season and as the more experienced of the two he will take the lead in pre-season testing. He was first to take to the wet track and was pleased with the performance of the new RC211V in the fast corners.
Melandri believes the feed-back he gets from the new chassis in wet conditions is better and he has a much better feeling with the machine than he did with the 2005 version.
The real beneficiaries of the wet conditions were two of the Honda 'Young Guns' Pedrosa and LCR Honda rider Casey Stoner. The two 20 year olds have come to grips with the 250 PS plus 990cc four-stroke RCV on a dry track.
However, the RCV is a completely different animal in wet conditions.
The smooth linear power delivery of the user-friendly engine is a bonus but on a wet track 250 PS can be more of a liability than an asset. Racing a MotoGP machine on a wet track is a wheel spinning sideways on flag to flag experience. Wet weather riding skills are vital for any rider dreaming of winning world titles and the young riders need all the wet track time they can get in before the season begins on March 26.
Despite a brief wet session at Sepang last week Pedrosa and Stoner both fell at Phillip Island today. Spaniard Pedrosa lasting 11 laps before crashing exiting turn one Stoner a few laps later at Lucky Heights. Both riders escaped unscathed and both continued testing.
Konica Minolta Honda rider Makoto Tamada was quite satisfied with his day, despite the ever-changing track conditions. (Photo: Honda Pro Images)
Konica Minolta Honda rider Makoto Tamada was quite satisfied with his day, despite the ever-changing track conditions. The popular Japanese rider retained the good feeling he had with his RCV on the opening day of the test, his first of the new season.
Kenny Roberts Jnr did not test the prototype KR211V on the wet track top. Team Roberts preferring to prepare the machine for the final day of testing when they will use an updated chassis.
Repsol Honda rider Nicky Hayden walks across the wet tarmac at Phillip Island. (Photo: Honda Pro Images)
Honda rider lap times and quotes.
Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda: 1m 42.60s - 19 laps. "I did two sessions in the wet today and managed 19 laps. I wanted to test on wet tyres with the new bike. The feeling was good but we didn't have new wets to test so we stopped early. I hear it will be wet tomorrow morning but dry after lunch so we will continue our dry test when the rain stops."
Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda: 1m 42.96s - 45 laps. "I'm very happy. I already tried the bike in the wet at Sepang but it was quite slippery then. I have a better feeling with the bike in the wet here at Phillip Island. I am quite satisfied with the sensations I feel from the bike."
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 1m 42.62s - 47 laps. "We haven't made too much changes on the bike today, we've tested just general suspensions and settings for the wet allowed the bike to be better on the fast corners.
These laps in wet are useful, for sure, but would be nice tomorrow get a dry day because we have some work to do. Basically we felt well with the rain all the day, I just try to get some settings on the rain, with the set up I used last year with the wet. The sensations have been good, even we don't have a lot of wet tyres, but to make laps is good to get comfortable".
Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda: 1m44.87s - 32 laps. "Today it has been raining all day. We started calm at the beginning and I felt pretty good when suddenly I crash at the exit of the first corner. Fortunately I'm OK. We could start again, and I didn't make so many laps, but al least we could improve and get experience with the crash and rain setting. Our lap time isn't really fast, but it's quite good for today after the crash and with just 32 laps. Tomorrow if it rains we'll concentrate to get a better feeling and lap time on the bike."
Makoto Tanaka - Repsol Honda Team Manager: "Dani crashed today at the middle of the session, but fortunately he didn't hurt himself. With MotoGP machine, with much power, it's difficult to control the bike in wet conditions and Dani has no experience yet. But for him today has been a good experience. I hope a dry day for tomorrow to keep working with the RC211V. Nicky did a good job today also; the last two years he didn't like wet condition, but now he feels more and more comfortable with the rain."
Casey Stoner, LCR Honda: "I need to get in as many laps as possible to learn all I can about the RCV but with it raining the whole day we didn't get too much done. Still we got to try a couple of Michelin wet tyres and learned a little. Then I crashed at Lucky Heights. I'm OK and will test again tomorrow."
Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 1m 43.74s - 15 laps. "I really get bored today, as most of the other riders present in Phillip Island, waiting for the rain stopping to fall. When I decided to make some laps the flooding level of the track seemed to be stabilized. Half an hour later, rain had decreased, and I decided to stop. It had no sense to continue, the never-ending change of the track conditions did not allow me to have a valid reference to elaborate any comments for my technicians. Anyway, I'm really satisfied because I have found the same good feeling of yesterday when I rode the new RC211V for the first time."
Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR. Did not test