Don’t always believe the lap time hype

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Even if the weather was more Mallory than Malaga, there were some real revelations at Cartagena in the first real BSB pre-season test of 2010.

First came the shock of seeing Rob McElnea’s team unloading two factory Yamahas out of the truck.

Then came the news that Dan Linfoot was outpacing, not only his team-mate Neil Hodgson, but most of the established BSB stars too.

Were the times for real? Or a typical case of the game that happens every year when there’s a big test and no official timing system?

Most riders initially refused to accept Linfoot being so fast. After all, he looked like he was a crash waiting to happen in his two meetings on the R1 last year.

But that was before the team got a good steer on chassis set-up from James Ellison. And now they have factory bikes too it’s just like Linfoot is riding a big 250 again.

Some had been on track with Linfoot and been unimpressed by his pace but I knew by the undeniable buzz in the Motorpoint camp (that I’d not seen in a while) that something positive was happening there. And it wasn’t Rob Mac prizing his wallet open!

By the final day people were stating to believe. I was granted a look at the data so I know the truth. And even if Linfoot wasn’t sticking in the long consistent runs like say Suzuki, he was still fast.

To be frank, paying too much attention to any times from this test would be churlish at best. It’s Cartagena for one thing – not Cadwell!

There’s no question Tommy Hill was quick on the Worx Suzuki. He’s done more testing than most – and you know what? Yukio Kagayama was impressive too given his lack of local circuit knowledge.

I was in the Suzuki garage right at the end of the test and Tommy was fastest but then I read the team’s PR on Monday morning and it was Yuki by hundredths

 And even then they had to send the PR out twice because the first release had a totally unbelievable time attributed to Yukio.

It seems he did the time on a fresh tyre at the very last knockings when the track temperature was right down and it was nearly dusk. Impressive eh? 

Everyone agreed James Ellison was on it too – and Stuart Easton – on the Swan Hondas and I know their times because I saw their the data too!

And Alastair Seeley and Michael Laverty both looked fast on the Relentless by TAS Suzukis though again no one seems to be able to agree on exactly what times they were doing.

But if you just pay attention to the lap times then HM Plant Honda should be gloom and doom? Far from it. There were brand new Motec electronics and Ohlins suspension to set up. 

So don’t even think about sacking Kiyo and Brookes from your fantasy teams just yet. They will be on it – but let them get the donkey work done first.

The bottom line is that Cartagena was a shakedown run-out for most. I know websites and media in general thirst for lap times (and we’re just as guilty here at MCN) but don’t believe all the hype.

From what I saw at Cartagena BSB is shaping up for a seriously competitive season.
And my guess is that we’re going to see some serious action at Guadix this week.

But you know what, even then the games won’t finally stop until we reach that critical moment when the flag drops at Brands Hatch on April 5.

Then we’ll know for sure who is fast!

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin