pan-pacific preseason wrapup: phillip island + sepang III

the motogp paddock split up after the january’s sepang preseason test and either stayed or flew south (waaaay south) for the phillip island test. fiat-yamaha “took the week off” and hung around the the malaysian circuit while the rest of the paddock did work on the island. note the quotes as i’m sure fiat yamaha didn’t sit back and relax.
in phillip island, casey stoner dominated the three day test and crushed the circuit lap record set by dani pedrosa last year during qualifying. not only is he good on qualifiers but his race pace is scary fast. casey and ducati are firing on all cylinders and look to be a formidable team beat. wish i could say the same for marco and the pramac crew who can’t seem to get to grips with the gp8.
like sepang a few weeks ago, nicky was again fast on qualifiers but the michelin package can’t hang during race simulation. he was around 1.5 secs slower than the world champ. rookie, james toseland, also impressed on the final day with a nice time on qualifiers that would’ve landed him on the outside of the first row. and his tech-3 teammate, colin edwards, showed some speed on the first day taking fastest time.
the paddock returned to sepang circuit until next fall’s race minus a couple red duc’s. fiat-yamaha brought in reinforcements for this test to help rossi develop the m1/bridgestone package. poor jorge… he must feel all alone in the neighboring garage :( but it looks like the japanese rubber is paying dividends as rossi lit the tarmac up with a devastatingly quick qualifying lap on the first day and the circuit lap record was once again broken. this is very good news for bridgestone since their qualifiers couldn’t match michelin last year. rossi seems to have the bike sorted as well on race tires. teammate, lorenzo, was also quick on his michelin-shod m1 taking the fastest time on the third day of testing. yoink!!!
honda factory rider, nicky hayden, also hung in there trailing fiat-yamaha’s coattails. surprisingly, the honda seems down on power compared to yamaha and ducati. they’ll be looking to make progress in the engine dept as the first race is looming in the not-so-far distance (about 30 days).
next up, the official irta test in jerez, spain from feb 16-18. this year is shaping up to be a good one (knock on wood). factory ducati and yamaha seem to be on point while honda is struggling to make up ground. the fact that pedrosa is out doesn’t help either. and it’s anyone guess which satellite team will scrap it out with the leaders. damn it feels good to be a gangster!!!
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