Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner set the pace with a time of 2:01.043 at the Sepang International Circuit. Defending MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi was second while Loris Capirossi riding for a resurgent Suzuki squad was third. American Colin Edwards set the fourth fastest time for Tech 3 Yamaha while Toni Elias rounded out the top five with a time of 2:01.560 for San Carlo Gresini Honda.
Still recovering from corrective surgery in his wrist, Stoner set the fastest time on the last of his 38 laps.
“Considering that I have recently had an operation and my wrist has still not full recovered, to be the fastest rider here is a dream to be honest. Now I have to work hard on improving my physical condition and recovering the level of movement I need to ride the bike properly without pain,” says Stoner. “Now I know that I can step up training on my arm and hopefully the situation will have improved for the Qatar test. The GP9 is a good bike and in every test we’ve done with it we’ve come out on top. That doesn’t mean to say that we can afford to relax, though, and we’ll keep our heads down and keep working.”
Rossi was recovering from injuries of his own. Though the cuts to his hand and foot weren’t too serious, they did prevent him from making a long run through the test.
“We didn’t do the long run, but actually we didn’t need to. Without my injury maybe it would have been possible, but in this situation we decided to leave it. My injuries are getting better each day because they’re only cuts and they’re healing fast,” says Rossi. “I don't think that they made much difference to my speed here and by the Qatar test I will be back in perfect shape.”
Capirossi and the re-designed Suzuki GSV-R were consistently fast through the three-day test. The 35-year-old was the only rider to lap under 2:02 on all three days. Now in his 20th Grand Prix season, Capirossi is poised to bounce back from a disappointing 2008 season.
“I struggled a lot last year because the bike was a bit too big for me, so I asked for a different seat, with a smaller tank,” Capirossi told MotoGP.com. “They have done that and now I am much more comfortable on the bike and that is a big success.”
Edwards showed steady improvement on each day of the Sepang test. The Houston native completed only 22 laps on the final day of testing – fewest among all riders – but he told MotoGP.com that quality is better than quantity.
“It felt good. The new bike is fantastic and I’m really happy with it. After three days I haven’t actually had to do too many laps. I did the race simulation on Friday and tested a few things on Saturday morning with suspension,” says Edwards. “There is no point just doing lap after lap. We didn’t do many laps on the last day but we have done quality laps and I think on all three days we have done good quality laps. It is a different way of testing now that we only have one tire supplier but I am happy with it.”
Nicky Hayden set the tenth fastest time as he continues to adapt to the Desmosedici GP9. The Ducati Marlboro rider suffered a small crash on day three but still managed to lead all riders with 62 laps.
“We started out on the right foot again today and I managed to knock six tenths of a second off my best lap from yesterday,” says Hayden. “Then in the early part of the afternoon I had a little crash in turn two, where to be honest they’ve done a bad job of resurfacing the track and it has caught a few riders out this week. Luckily I wasn’t hurt.”
Hayden says he is still not happy with his results. Pramac Ducati’s Mika Kallio was a fraction of a second quicker than Hayden so the Kentucky Kid was the third fastest Ducati rider in the test.
“Obviously I’m not happy with my lap times, I was expecting more from myself, but I have to stay positive. I’ve improved my lap times every day and we have gathered a lot of data to work from in the next test,” says Hayden. “The fact Casey is already so fast means that the bike has the potential – it can only be a good thing that he is going so quick. The team is working hard and they are just as determined as I am to get the results, so that’s a good thing. I wasn’t too bad in the first two sectors but I was losing too much in T3 and T4, where the problem I’m having with the bike being unstable and unpredictable on the exit was the worst. The Bridgestones are really consistent and I was able to do my first long run on the Ducati without any tire life problems.”
The MotoGP teams will have nearly a month to process the data from the Sepang test before returning to the track for the next session, March 1-3 at the Losail circuit in Doha, Qatar.
|2009 MotoGP Sepang test day three results|
|1st||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro||2:01.043|
|2nd||Valentino Rossi||Fiat Yamaha||2:01.137|
|3rd||Loris Capirossi||Team Suzuki||2:01.262|
|4th||Colin Edwards||Tech 3 Yamaha||2:01.413|
|5th||Toni Elias||San Carlo Gresini Honda||2:01.560|
|6th||Chris Vermeulen||Team Suzuki||2:01.666|
|7th||Jorge Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||2:01.907|
|8th||Andrea Dovizioso||Repsol Honda||2:01.955|
|9th||Mika Kallio||Pramac Ducati||2:02.386|
|10th||Nicky Hayden||Ducati Marlboro||2:02.497|
|11th||Alex De Angelis||San Carlo Gresini Honda||2:02.523|
|12th||Sete Gibernau||ONDE 2000 Ducati||2:02.727|
|13th||Randy de Puniet||LCR Honda||2:03.418|
|14th||Yuki Takahashi||Scot Racing Honda||2:03.474|
|15th||Niccolo Canepa||Pramac Ducati||2:03.901|
|16th||James Toseland||Tech 3 Yamaha||2:03.953|
|17th||Yamaha Test Rider||Yamaha Factory||2:04.328|
|18th||Yamaha Test Rider||Yamaha Factory||2:04.614|