Ducati dominate top speed charts
Top speeds recorded during last weekend's final MotoGP test at Jerez indicate that Ducati's Desmosedici GP7 currently enjoys a consistent advantage over its 2007 rivals.
A Ducati rider not only set the top speed during all five sessions over the weekend - but the six Desmosedicis were also often grouped together at the front, with no Ducati rider left lower than tenth (out of 23 riders present) through the speed trap during the three days.
New factory Ducati signing Casey Stoner recorded the highest speed in all but Sunday afternoon's final session, when he was replaced by team-mate Loris Capirossi. Stoner set the highest top speed of the weekend, a 277.6 km/h, on Sunday morning.
Honda's Dani Pedrosa was the fastest non-Ducati rider in every session - being ranked 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 3rd respectively as he reached a maximum of 273.8 km/h - fuelling rumours that the factory Hondas are running special 'power-up' parts. However, the performance of Pedrosa's world championship winning team-mate Nicky Hayden (19th, 9th, 8th, 11th and 6th) suggests that the young Spaniard's 'aerodynamic' size might also play a significant role.
Satellite Honda riders Carlos Checa and, to a lesser extent, Marco Melandri have both publicly called for increased engine power from their RC212Vs - and the Jerez top speeds confirm why: Michelin-shod Checa was ranked just 13th, 17th, 18th, 21st and 19th over the weekend, while Bridgestone-shod Melandri was left 10th, 16th, 16th, 18th and 15th. Checa's highest top speed was 268.1 km/h, with Melandri managing 268.7 km/h.
However, HRC might respond to such demands by pointing to the top speed of Valentino Rossi's factory Yamaha - the Italian finished the Jerez test fastest of all, yet was ranked just 14th, 14th, 13th, 8th and 20th on the top speed lists. The former five-times MotoGP champion's highest speed was 270.2 km/h proving that corner speed and braking, rather than straight line speed, was more crucial to his success. The fastest Yamaha was Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards, who hit 271.6 km/h.
Of the other manufacturers, the top speed set by a Suzuki rider was almost the same as Yamaha's best - a 271.2 km/h by Chris Vermeulen - but Kawasaki comparatively struggled with a peak of 267.9 km/h (by Randy de Puniet) which only just beat the best weekend speed by new team Ilmor; a 267.3 km/h set by Jeremy McWilliams.
A summary of the leading top speeds recorded each day at Jerez can be seen below:
1. Stoner (Ducati) 269.5 km/h
2. Pedrosa (Honda) 268.3 km/h
3. Guareschi (Ducati) 266.8 km/h
4. Capirossi (Ducati) 266.8 km/h
5. Ito (Ducati) 266.5 km/h
6. Barros (Ducati) 266.5 km/h
1. Stoner (Ducati) 274.2 km/h
2. Pedrosa (Honda) 273.8 km/h
3. Ito (Ducati) 273.5 km/h
4. Barros (Ducati) 273.5 km/h
5. Capirossi (Ducati) 272.9 km/h
6. Guareschi (Ducati) 272.9 km/h
1. Stoner (Ducati) 277.6 km/h
2. Barros (Ducati) 274.5 km/h
3. Capirossi (Ducati) 274.3 km/h
4. Pedrosa (Honda) 273.5 km/h
5. Ito (Ducati) 273.5 km/h
6. Elias (Honda) 272.5 km/h
1. Stoner (Ducati) 277.3 km/h
2. Barros (Ducati) 273.9 km/h
3. Ito (Ducati) 272.7 km/h
4. Capirossi (Ducati) 272.5 km/h
5. Hofmann (Ducati) 272.2 km/h
6. Pedrosa (Honda) 271.3 km/h
1. Capirossi (Ducati) 270.3 km/h
2. Barros (Ducati) 269.4 km/h
3. Pedrosa (Honda) 268.3 km/h
4. Stoner (Ducati) 268.1 km/h
5. Hofmann (Ducati) 268.0 km/h
6. Hayden (Honda) 267.1 km/h