Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo topped the timesheets in scorching hot conditions at the end of a one-day MotoGP test at the Motorland Aragon track in Spain today.
The factory Yamaha rider clocked a best time of 1.49.187 to finish 0.255s ahead of team-mate Ben Spies, who was also second at Monday’s Catalunya test.
Lorenzo continued to put in development miles on an updated YZR-M1 engine but as in Catalunya earlier this week, he reported only minimal improvements in performance.
Lorenzo, who heads to next week’s British Grand Prix with a 20-point lead over title rival Casey Stoner, said he also lacked front-end grip with the new softer construction front tyre not in today’s test allocation from Bridgestone.
Fears that the barren landscape that surrounds the Motorland Aragon track would make lap times hard to come by because of a dirty surface fortunately didn’t materialise.
Glorious sun shone for the entire day and Lorenzo was only 0.1s off Casey Stoner’s 2011 lap record of 1.49.046, while Spies took second with a best pace of 1.49.422.
The Texan also completed more laps on Yamaha’s new motor while also assessing a revised electronics package and new triple clamp.
Spies concentrated a lot on traction control and anti-wheelie settings, with Yamaha admitting sometimes its sophisticated electronics system cuts too much power, which as a result hurts corner exit acceleration.
British rider Cal Crutchlow was third fastest on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. A huge early crash during Monday’s Catalunya test meant he couldn’t properly assess a new electronics package and updated engine.
Hot temperatures that peaked at well over 35 degrees and better than expected grip levels allowed Crutchlow to complete 67 laps.
The electronics helped make power delivery mid-corner smoother, according to Crutchlow, while the engine improved acceleration in the first three gears but slightly reduced top end performance.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was fourth quickest but barely able to contain his delight with the progress he is making in adapting to the YZR-M1.
The Italian set a best time of 1.49.887 as he worked on confirming the new electronics worked as well at Motorland Aragon as they did when he topped the timesheets at Catalunya on Monday.
Once again he found the upgrade to offer better rear tyre endurance and improved performance on worn rubber on a track he has previously struggled on at Honda. Hector Barbera was leading Ducati in fifth ahead of factory GP12 rider Nicky Hayden.
The American logged a best time of 1.50.204 but as is becoming a familiar story now at Ducati there was little or no progress in improving the performance of the Desmosedici.
The gap to the front was still just over a second and team-mate Valentino Rossi was eighth quickest with a fastest time of 1.50.369.
There was no sign of Ducati’s aluminium swingarm today. Hayden had never intended to use it after discarding it following a private test at Mugello prior to the Catalunya race. The 2006 world champion had been hampered by too much chatter to consider it an option.
Rossi had preferred it at Mugello but after he encountered chatter at Catalunya, he reverted back to the carbon fibre option after the first day of practice.
Rossi again tried the aluminium swingarm during Monday’s Catalunya test but the chatter was a major issue, particularly on corner entry as soon as he released the brakes.
He had intended to try the aluminium swingarm again today at the Motorland Aragon. But both his bikes were fitted with the carbon model and he didn’t attempt one lap on the aluminium swingarm.
With none of the new spec softer construction Bridgestone front tyres available to test today, factory Honda duo Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were high profile absentees.
The new tyre will be the standard option front from next weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but Stoner and Pedrosa have been critical of its introduction and performance.