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Testing started today

22 Jan 2008
BACK TO WORK FOR KAWASAKI IN SEPANG

The Kawasaki Racing Team's John Hopkins and Anthony West finally got their 2008 MotoGP campaign underway today, during the first of three days of testing at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

After almost seven weeks off the bike, both Hopkins and West used this opening day of testing to get themselves back up to speed aboard their 2008 Ninja ZX-RR machines. Recalibrating the brain to MotoGP speeds is always a difficult process but an inconsistent track surface with varying degrees of grip made the job even more challenging for both riders.

Hopkins quickly mastered the tricky conditions, increasing his pace with every run and ending the day with a best time of 2'02.628 after 68 laps.

'Today was all about getting back up to speed on the bike after such a long layoff,' said the 24-year-old American, 'but we still managed to test some new chassis and engine components, with positive results.'

Hopkins, for whom 2008 is his first season for the squad, declared the ZX-RR much improved after Kawasaki engineers had spent the winter working on new parts for the 800cc machine.

'We will only get to see the full potential of the bike once we start the fine-tuning process over the next two days,' he continued. 'Tomorrow, we start tyre testing with Bridgestone, but we'll also continue working to improve the set-up of the bike, before switching back to focus on this completely during the final day here in Sepang. It's been a good start today, but tomorrow the real work begins.'

Meanwhile, his teammate, West, was caught out by the inconsistencies in the track surface after 56 laps of the Malaysian circuit.

On his last run of the day, he lost the front going into the final hairpin, bringing his first day of testing to a premature end after crashing without injury.

'Getting back on the bike after a long break is always a bit of an experience,' remarked the 26-year-old Australian. 'You feel like you're really motoring, only to come back to the pit box and find out that you're way off race pace. But it all comes back quite quickly, and I managed to improve my times with every run (his best time posted was 2'03.387). Unfortunately, my day ended slightly earlier than planned when I crashed. I turned in at the same speed as on my previous laps but I think my line was a little bit different and I hit a bump as a result.'

And West wasn't the only rider to fall. He was in somewhat illustrious company, with Valentino Rossi, Colin Edwards and newcomer Jorge Lorenzo also crashing, as did Dani Pedrosa, who was top of the leader boards when he came off his Honda RC212V for the second time, resulting in a suspected broken hand. The Spaniard ended up second fastest of the day, behind former Kawasaki rider, Randy de Puniet, who claimed top spot with a time of 2'01.377.

'Despite the crash, it's good to finally get the season underway and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow,' said West, philosophically.

Whilst today's test was essentially an acclimatisation day for the riders, both were able to start the evaluation program on new chassis and clutch components on their Ninja ZX-RR machines. This process will continue in earnest tomorrow, when Hopkins and West return for an intensive second day of testing, which will include a comprehensive tyre evaluation in conjunction with Bridgestone.

But while the workload promises to be punishing, the two regular race pilots will receive some welcome assistance from Kawasaki test and development riders, Olivier Jacque and Tamaki Serizawa, both of whom also completed a full schedule today.

Naoya Kaneko, the team's Technical Manager, was pleased with progress, overall

'It was a steady start today' he explained, 'but already we've had positive feedback from all four riders on the changes we've made to the bike for 2008. The real work starts tomorrow, when we start the process of refining the set-up of the bike, and working our way through a pretty heavy tyre testing schedule with Bridgestone.'

Reflecting on the pressures of running four riders during such a test, Kaneko conceded: 'The amount of data we collect definitely makes it worthwhile, as it allows us to accelerate our development process.'

Testing continues at Sepang until Thursday with more of the same next week at Phillip Island in Australia.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP on the pace from day one
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi started the 2008 pre-season testing schedule in good form today, as both riders recorded times inside the top-four.

Vermeulen completed 57 laps of the 5.5km Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and recorded a best time of 2?02.074, to give him third place on the timesheets. Team-mate Capirossi also made a strong start to his ?official? Rizla Suzuki MotoGP career by recording the fourth quickest lap of the track with a fastest time of 2?02.416 during his 61 laps.

Both riders took the first steps in a huge test programme that will continue not only at this test, but also forthcoming events in Australia, Spain and Qatar, to make the Suzuki GSV-R as competitive as possible come the start of the racing calendar. Vermeulen and Capirossi tested new aerodynamics, electronic control strategies, and new Bridgestone constructions and compounds - as well as the new 2008 GSV-R engine - and will also evaluate a new chassis and swing-arm specification, and a further comprehensive test of the latest generation of Bridgestone tyres. Suzuki?s two Grand Prix stars were able to use the 2008 spec engine during today?s tests and although further refinements are still required, both riders noticed a big step in performance from last year?s machine.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has two more days at Sepang before it moves on to Phillip Island in Australia next week.

Chris Vermeulen:

?It was good to finally get back out on the bike, although I did feel a bit rusty this morning! It?s been nearly seven weeks off and when I first went out it was quite exciting for the first couple of laps because my GSV-R is a bit quicker than my Suzuki RM250 back at home! Suzuki has done a great job in the off-season and we had a lot of new parts to test on the bike. We tested almost everything and found lots of positives and found new direction in which we could go, which makes it even better. We did a lot of tyre testing for Bridgestone and they have also done a good job since we last rode the bike, so everything at the moment seems to be going well. It?s only the first day, but hopefully tomorrow we can improve on today and take more steps forward.?

Loris Capirossi:

?I am really happy with everything and I think Suzuki, and the test riders, have done a great job with the bike since the last test. We tried many things and we still have more settings and things to try over the next two days to get the best package for me on the bike. I know we have a long way to go still, but this was a very positive first day of 2008! It was also really good to be out in the Rizla blue for the first time as well, I am happy to be part of this family!?

Sepang Test Day One Classification:

1. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2?02.377: 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +0.487: 3. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +0.697: 4. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +1.039: 5. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +1.080:

from crash.net

The opening day of 2008 MotoGP track action ended in dramatic style at Sepang on Tuesday, when Dani Pedrosa fractured his hand during a fiery fall

The 2007 MotoGPrunner-up was fastest for almost the entire day, thanks to a 2mins 1.864secs lap set during the morning, but that was of little consolation after the Repsol Hondarider suffered an RCV-destroying accident during the final hour.

Speaking soon after the incident, a team spokesperson told Crash.net that Pedrosa's fall occurred after he lost the front of his machine between turns 10 and 11. The fuel tank was then ruptured as his bike rolled to a halt, causing further fire (and extinguisher) damage. When the bike was returned to the pits there was little left undamaged by the accident.

Pedrosa was immediately taken to hospital and the spokesperson later stated that the double 2007 race winner has "fractured the back of his hand". Dani will now fly back to Spain for surgery.

The estimated recovery time is still unknown, but Pedrosa is sure to miss next week's Phillip Island test and is highly unlikely to be fit for the final Sepang test from February 5-7.

Pedrosa had previously escaped injury during a smaller morning fall (see pictures).

While Pedrosa was in hospital, satellite Honda rider Randy de Puniet bumped the Spaniard from the top by 0.487secs. Rizla Suzuki team-mates Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi finished day one third and fourth, with reigning world champion Casey Stoner fifth on his return from injury.

The second Sepang winter test continues on Wednesday and concludes on Thursday
 

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1. Randy de Puniet FRA Honda LCR (M) 2min 1.377 secs
2. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 2min 1.864 secs
3. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (
2min 2.074 secs
4. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (
2min 2.416 secs
5. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (
2min 2.457 secs
6. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (
2min 2.490 secs
7. Colin Edwards USA Yamaha Tech 3 (M) 2min 2.549 secs
8. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 2min 2.558 secs
9. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 2min 2.563 secs
10. Shinya Nakano JPN Honda Gresini (
2min 2.622 secs
11. John Hopkins USA Kawasaki Racing Team (
2min 2.628 secs
12. Andrea Dovizioso ITA JiR Team Scot (M) 2min 2.783 secs
13. James Toseland GBR Yamaha Tech 3 (M) 2min 3.264 secs
14. Alex de Angelis RSM Honda Gresini (
2min 3.301 secs
15. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (
2min 3.387 secs
16. Olivier Jacque FRA Kawasaki Test Rider (
2min 3.863 secs
17. Toni Elias SPA Alice Team (
2min 3.954 secs
18. Marco Melandri ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (
2min 4.414 secs
19. Nicola Canepa ITA Ducati Test Rider (
2min 5.580 secs
20 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Alice Team (
2min 6.000 secs
21 Tamaki serizawa JPN Kawasaki Test Rider (
2min 23.590 secs
 
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