Hayden Within 0.2sec of Rossi @ PI

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
Today I got the final HRC press release from the 3 day test at Phillip Island. I've been following the progress of young Mr. Hayden and noting that he has been making steady improvement. Today however, I see that not only has he knocked another second off of his fastest lap, but he finished the day just 2/10ths behind Valentino Rossi, same day, same bike, same track.

Read on for further ramblings, Honda's Press Release, and combined times from the test.

Hayden credits Rossi with showing him a few fast lines and helping him to knock that last second off of his times. Rossi complained about the conditions today and was infact 6/10ths slower than his fastest time from yesterday. At the end of the Press Release, I've tacked on the times from all three days of testing, as well as a combined ranking of everyones fastest lap. Here is the final PR and the time charts:

*PRESS RELEASE* HRC Winter test Phillip Island, February 27, 2003.
The HRC three-day MotoGP test at Phillip Island ended today with the Honda engineers and rider's content with the results achieved and the data gathered during the test session. The teams and riders left the track more than happy with the new RC211V, and the progress HRC have made over the winter. The final day of the test was interrupted by a thunderstorm that left the track wet for short period, restricting dry running time but the teams were able to dedicate some of their time on valuable wet weather settings for the new RCV.

Repsol Honda teammates, MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, and American Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden, worked hard with the time available to them. Rossi and Hayden worked on machine and suspension settings, with Hayden also taking advantage of the conditions to get in wet weather practice on his RC211V five-cylinder 990cc four-stroke.

Valentino Rossi: "Basically a good three days at Phillip Island working on the new bike and finding the solutions for the best set-ups. The weather was not so good this morning and it was not possible to make the best time. The number of laps was down as I was in and out of the box making many changes and adjustments. It was a very heavy workday. HRC have worked very well to develop the bike and the technicians will go back to Japan with a huge amount of data. I'm very happy we decided to test in Sepang and Australia because I hear the weather in Europe has not so good. We did the right choice. I now go back to London and get some rest. I'm looking forward to Catalunya which will be a very important test because for the first time we are all together with the new entry."

Nicky Hayden: "Today was good. The weather was kinda' iffy this mornin' and I went out and did about 20 laps in the damp which was good experience. The bike felt good and I was real comfortable. In the afternoon we did some longer runs looking at the tyres. The coolest thing was that I got to get behind Valentino for a few laps and knocked off like a second from my lap time. He was cool enough to let me sit behind him, which was fun because
I've been testing here for three days and basically been ridin' around here by myself. Not only did I learn some stuff by watchin' him I also saw the areas that I need to improve in. I'm pretty excited about goin' home now and getting to Daytona even though I don't get to race there. I've been goin' to Bike Week since I was a little kid so for me it's a real fun week. Then over to Catalunya in March for the next tests. I like the track and they'll be a lotta riders there. Should be interesting."

The rain shower was not a totally negative event for the Pramac Honda team. Bridgestone test rider Shinichi Itoh took his RC211V out to test a range of wet tyres for Bridgestone. Makoto Tamada worked on finding the best machine and suspension settings for the wet conditions, data that will be invaluable to him at some point during his MotoGP debut season. Both riders embarked on race distance simulation test but conditions brought that to an end before the riders had completed the distance.

Shinichi Itoh: "The day was not lost to the weather, we did get the chance to test some of the rain tyres Bridgestone had brought with them. The performance was encouraging, like most of what we have done here. I go home for a rest now, it's been hard work on the last two tests. In all we have tried some 300 tyres in recent testing. That will give Bridgestone enough data to work with."

Makoto Tamada: "We finished the test and I'm quite happy with the work we have done. I feel a lot more comfortable on the bike now and the tyre testing has gone very well. It's a pity about the weather today, it didn't allow me to try for a faster time than yesterday. We will see how we go at Catalunya next month."

The Honda MotoGP teams will now take a two week break before recommencing testing at the IRTA test at the Montmelo circuit, close to Barcelona, on March 15 - 16.

Day 1 Results:

Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 1:32.1 (92 laps)

Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 1:34.5 (85 laps)

Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 1:33.0 (78 laps)

Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 1:34.3 (88 laps)

Day 2 Results:

Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 1:31.6 (67 laps)

Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 1:33.5 (85 laps)

Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 1:33.0 (70 laps)

Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 1:33.3 (65 laps)

Day 3 Results:

Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 1m 32.2 (52 laps)

Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 1m 32.47 (62 laps)

Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 1m 32.9 (39 laps)

Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 1m 33.3 (38 laps)

Combined Fastest Laps:

Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 1m 31.6

Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 1m 32.47

Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 1m 32.9

Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 1m 33.3
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Sean Alexander
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