James Toseland continued an impressive start to his MotoGP career on the second day in Jerez today.
The British rookie posted a best time of 1.41.278 in a 58-lap stint today, which was just 0.3s slower than Valentino Rossi’s best lap when the Italian won the 2007 Spanish GP back in March.
His best time was just 0.1s slower than Colin Edwards’ best Spanish GP race lap when the American finished third.
Toseland finished 12th on the timesheets, though unlike several riders, he opted against running a soft qualifying tyre on the second afternoon. On race tyres he was an impressive ninth fastest, finishing faster than Shinya Nakano, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex de Angelis, Anthony West and a struggling Marco Melandri.
Toseland, who had completed only 30-odd laps back in 1999 on a Honda World Supersport CBR600 at Jerez, told MCN: “I’m well chuffed. It was nice to come to a track that I actually knew roughly which direction it went in. After Sepang I was shattered what with learning the track and the bike too. It was nice to come here and know the bike and the team a bit more. I can’t remember actually going round here so it was still a big learning curve but I’m really happy with how things are going. I did a 41.2 today and I did a race run of 16 laps and my quickest lap time was a 1.41.2 and I finished on a 1.41.9. That was nearly podium pace in the race because Colin’s fastest lap was a 41.2 and he finished third.”
Toseland was forced to abandon a planned full race distance run this afternoon when fellow premier class rookie Alex de Angelis crashed his Gresini Honda RC212V in the stadium section. Toseland’s fastest time came on his third lap of the long run, which was 0.5s faster than his best on the opening day when he clocked a 1.41.776 in 69 laps. Despite the short delay, his Tech 3 team sent him back out on the same set of tyres and he completed a further eight laps, which included a best time of 1.41.986.
“I’d be lying after 15 laps that I wasn’t a bit relieved when I saw the red flags. By the time you’ve done 15 laps when you are not used to something I was feeling it a bit. But I got into a good rhythm and even when I was not wanting to push too much and not make a mistake, I could still do a high 1.41, “said Toseland, who has run his bike in all five days of testing so far in full race trim, using only race rubber and going out for every stint with a full fuel tank.
“The bike feels really good. The bumps aren’t as harsh as Sepang so the bike is a lot smoother and there is nowhere near as much chatter with it. It does a lot more that you want it to but I think that’s down to track knowledge as well really. I’ve just changed the handlebars a bit to get more comfortable for the braking because the braking force is so much greater than what I’m used to. It is really physical on the arms. I brought the handlebars back towards me 10mm and a bit higher just so my arms aren’t as stretched so far out to be a bit more comfortable, “said Toseland, who got his first chance to test Michelin’s new bigger profile front tyre today. He’d tried the new bigger profile rear yesterday and was immediately happy and added: “Yesterday I was on the new rear and today I tried the bigger front. That was better because the small profile front doesn’t really match the bigger profile rear, so with both I had a better balance. The rear is a massive advantage on the drive. It really does drive well off the corner.”
The double World Superbike champion though did have one big scare on the new front. He somehow saved a huge front-end slide in the second of the fast double-rights leading to the final corner.
“It is always difficult going to another profile front because it does feel quite a lot different and you need to get confident because I lost in the second fast right coming to the last corner. You could see the black line I left from the slide and I decided to change my underpants after that one. Jesus it could have been big, “said a relieved Toseland, who might get his first chance to try a soft Michelin qualifying tyre tomorrow.
He added: “I could stick my neck out and go faster with a qualifier or run less fuel but what is more important to me is to see the race times. And if I’m in the ballpark then I’m pleased with that. I’m not interested if somebody does a 1.39 on a qualifier. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll need to get experience of that because it is a massive part of racing. It doesn’t matter a damn if you re competitive on races tyres if you are 15th on the grid because then it is over. I will have to work hard on qualifiers because to get the confidence to go 1.5s faster in just one lap, you need to know exactly the bike and exactly what it is going to do, because that lap time is fast. It’s fast with race tyres and if a qualifier goes that much faster you are motoring. The speed I’m going now is fast. The boundaries keep getting moved but you are still the same guy sat on it. Everybody says you’ve just got to brake later and get on the gas earlier to go faster, but it’s not as simple as that.”