September 26, 2006 Images of next year’s MotoGP bikes and reports on the new bikes began to filter in yesterday as the major factories returned to action at the Motegi circuit for an afternoon of testing the next generation of machinery following Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan. Repsol Honda team riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa were present with Hayden testing newly developed parts for his ‘New Generation’ RC211V while Pedrosa gave the V4 800cc MotoGP machine its first public viewing. At the same time Suzuki tested its 2007 V4 800cc machine with domestic test riders and Ducati rolled out the 800cc Desmosedici for both Capirossi and Gibernau to try. Pneumatic valves are likely to be run by all the machinery with realistic chances next year.
Sete Gibernau, who rode the 800 for the first time, confirmed the positive impressions that Capirossi received at Brno during the Italian's first contact with the GP7. Sete did a total of 43 laps, setting a best time of 1m47.44s
Loris Capirossi did the same number of laps, concentrating mainly on testing braking components, which come under considerable stress at the Japanese circuit.
Loris set a good pace and a quickest time of 1m47.91s, a time that would have made him competitive in the previous day’s race.
Spaniard Pedrosa put in 30-laps of the 4.801km Japanese circuit to give the HRC race engineers valuable data as they prepare the machine to comply with the 800cc MotoGP regulations scheduled for the 2007 season.
The initial shake-down test was positive and after a few visits to the pits for adjustments to various areas of machine set up the youngster lapped the multi-purpose race track at 1m 48.210s – a time just over half a second slower than his best lap time set in Sundays Japanese grand prix.
MotoGP world championship leader Hayden concentrated his efforts on improving his race starts with new clutch parts brought to the test by HRC engineers in a bid to help the American. Once he was satisfied with performance Hayden set about improving the corner speed stability of his RC211V.
Hayden will now turn his attention to the V4 800cc Honda and hopes the forecast rain showers hold off long enough for him to evaluate the performance of the V4 as the test team prepare the machine for next test following the Grand Prix of Valencia in late October.
Team Roberts arrived at Motegi with the first of the New Generation’ frames for the KR. The new machine was built in time for Friday morning practice. However, testing during a race weekend is very rarely successful and team rider Kenny Roberts Jnr struggled to find the necessary balance required for the super grippy surface at the Japanese circuit.
Kenny improved the handling characteristics of the machine throughout practice for the main event and took ninth place in the race. Today with five hours track time the team the new chassis performed up to design expectations and their day ended with Kenny reeling off a series off fast laps under his best race lap time, the best at 1m 47.57s.
Dani Pedrosa, had a best time of 1m 48.210s over the 30 laps he trilled the new 800cc machine. “The first feeling is that the new bike runs well and this is very important - it works normally and everything feels fine,” said Pedrosa. “The engine character feels a little different and this is to be expected but the package feels quite similar to the RC211V. Some things about the bike fees smaller and the rear seat is much shorter which makes the whole bike look more compact.”
“The bike has some characteristics which are a little more like a 250cc but it’s still a MotoGP bike. The lap time today is quite good for a first test – though it’s too early to say whether it will be faster than the 990. The cornering speeds feel very similar to the RCV – though the corner speed at Motegi is very low because there are many hairpins, so it’s very difficult to say definitely whether it’ll be quicker. This was a good first test though.”