break out the qualifiers: sepang preseason test – day 3

nicky hayden, the hardest working man in motogp, finished the sepang preseason test with the fastest time of the day and overall. this time was faster than last year’s pole by more than a second and even bested the circuit lap record by almost 3-tenths of a second. granted, nicky was on qualifiers but so were most of the riders today.

1. Hayden 2.00.326 / 77
2. Stoner 2.00.660 / 27
3. Lorenzo 2.00.766 / 63
4. Edwards 2.01.179 / 34
5. Hopkins 2.01.198 / 42
6. Rossi 2.01.425 / 48
7. Dovizioso 2.01.447 / 51
8. Toseland 2.01.745 / 45
9. Vermeulen 2.01.748 / 70
10. Capirossi 2.01.778 / 62
11. De Puniet 2.01.873 / 56
12. Nakano 2.02.032 / 38
13. De Angelis 2.02.198 / 37
14. Melandri 2.02.725 / 58
15. West 2.02.978 / 39
16. Elias 2.02.995 / 67
17. Jacque 2.03.030 / 40
18. Guintoli 2.03.628 / 39
19. Canepa 2.03.703 / 49
20. Serizawa 2.04.354 / 27

as u can see from the fastest lap time chart below for all three days, de puniet was consistently the faster rider (order determined by avg time). current world champ stoner trailed in second followed by rookie lorenzo. they’re avg times along with hayden were significantly helped by the running qualifiers on the last day. edwards and rossi along top half of the field look good. 

as reported yesterday, hayden was testing a pneumatic-valve engine but it turns out that he was in fact running the traditional spring-valve engine today. he was running the ’07 engine in the ’08 chassis which led to the record breaking laps along with setting his fastest lap on a race tire. when hayden spoke to crash.net, he stated that  “the pneumatic-valve engine – as much as I hate to say it, because i know it’s the future and where we need to be – is just not fast enough. i mean the engine performance is not fast enough to check anything.” however, he’s hoping that honda will figure it out by the season-opener.

rossi was undeterred by his teammates faster pace and felt that his bike (new chassis + new engine + new tires) is more balanced on the whole… except on qualifiers. “this afternoon i tried out different rear qualifying tires and wasn’t particularly quick. in my opinion that’s the area we need to work on the most with bridgestone.” has rossi’s gamble with bridgestone rubber paid off??? not yet as he’s got several michelin riders ahead of him and more importantly his main rival for 2008, casey stoner.

one other development that came to light on the final day of testing came from kawasaki. they are not only developing a pneumatic-valve system but also a “screamer” engine. kawasaki have been using the gas-charged valvetrain since the start of the 2007 and haven’t had any real problems with it. instead of retrofitting it to an existing engine, they developed the engine from ground up around the system. they’ve also been sending out their test riders (jacque and serizawa) on “screamer” engines. motogp inline-4’s are typically operate on “big-bang” timing where a pair of cylinders fire, followed by a long break, and then the second pair of cylinders fire, followed by a long break. this helps with traction giving the rear tire time to recover from the power pulses. a screamer engine fires each cyclinder one after the other. advantages according to kawasaki are higher revs, smaller package, and lower cg.

next week brings the second preseason test at phillip island. it’ll give us three more days to scrutinize and speculate on the season to come.

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