So, without much of a doubt, Honda has pretty much owned the pre-season MotoGP test sessions, which culminated in their dominance in Qatar.
All the Honda riders give their reactions below to the Qatar test, and unsurprisingly they are all pretty happy (well, except for maybe Toni Elias).
“I’m really happy. I didn’t think we would get any laps in tonight judging from the weather earlier in the day, it was a little tough but the wind seemed to settle and the track conditions improved a lot and we got some good test time in tonight. By the look of the lap times everyone seems to have taken a big step forward, but we’re happy with what we’ve achieved again here and we can enter the race weekend with confidence but at the same time everyone else will be improving their set-up so we can’t relax. We found a good rider position which I’m really happy with, having moved my position more towards the rear in Sepang – to try and find more grip, here we can run a more neutral set-up and everything seems to be working well. We did some more work on electronics tonight and also on the tyres, but generally worked in preparation for the weekend.”
“The conditions seemed very difficult when we arrived at the circuit today as it was so windy and on the way here the road was full of sand, but we managed to finally complete a good test. It was very windy out on track and quite difficult to ride at maximum, but the grip was not so bad. It was cooler than yesterday and we improved our lap times, which is positive. Today we tried the new front fork, we have continued to work with electronics and have tried both the hard and the softer tyres. We kept the good feeling we had at Sepang, the test here in Qatar also went well in general and we go to the first race with a competitive bike, but for the Grand Prix we will have to keep working hard because nobody will give away anything.”
“I am happy because I have improved by almost a second on yesterday and that shows that we are working well and things are looking good ahead of Sunday’s race. We went out feeling very motivated tonight and we found our way again after losing it a little last night. I have found some interesting things with the setting and now we are all feeling more confident. Whenever I was with other riders out there I was able to match them and that is a good sign that we have got the right pace at this circuit. The two fastest guys are obviously looking very strong but I am sure we can close the gap on Thursday in practice and be up there fighting with the best of them come Sunday.”
“It was a strange day of testing. At the beginning it was very windy and the track was dirty, but fortunately we managed to test. We worked on electronics and also on the set-up of the bike to improve the corner entry and at around 22.00 we did a race simulation. The temperatures today were cooler than yesterday with the ground
reaching 18 degrees. We used the hard tyre for the whole session and maybe this strategy was a mistake. In the past it was not possible to use the soft compound on this track whereas it seems possible this year. Only myself and Lorenzo made a race simulation so it’s difficult to compare the lap times with the other riders. If we look at the lap times, the gap to Casey and Dani is too big. I think this is because we used different tyres and did different work, for the race weekend we should be closer. Of course we need to keep working but I feel that we arrive at the first round competitive.”
“Overall I am happy with this last test here in Qatar and with our chances on Sunday. We tried some different settings tonight and that was our main focus. I was missing a little off my lap time but to be honest that wasn’t what we were looking for. At the end of the session we dialed in the setting I liked the best and I tried to
improve on my excellent lap time from yesterday but with the lower track temperature I wasn’t able to do so. I’m still confident though and we have yesterday’s lap time as a marker of what we are capable of. Overall, it leaves me sixth fastest and only a few tenths off third.”
“Today’s condition was not perfect because of the strong wind and sand on the surface, thus the grip was very poor. These conditions did not help us in our testing plan for today and our main issue remain the rear. I need to transfer more weight in the rear, but in the meantime we found some good solutions for our base chassis
set-up. I crashed in the last part of the session and I could not lap on soft tyres to improve my lap time, but we have got more important things to adjust ahead of Sunday’s race.”
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