Honda teams continue to improve at sun drenched Phillip Island test
Day two of three at Honda's official testing session at the Australian circuit on Phillip Island took place today, with temperatures soaring once more and conditions near perfect for the MotoGP riders who took to the track. The air temperature was recorded at around 25ΊC although it certainly felt a great deal more out of the shade, whilst the track itself fluctuated in temperature between 35Ί and 40Ί depending on the strength of the breezes which continue to blow gently around the picturesque track.
Telefonica MoviStar pairing of Sete Gibernau and Colin Edwards have consistently produced results during recent test sessions, and continued in the same vain today, both posting improved times from yesterday, and proving that they will undoubtedly be in the hunt for the 2004 MotoGP title.
Also sure to be in the title chase are Repsol Honda duo Nicky Hayden and Alex Barros who had their own slight problems today. Hayden, who ran a race distance simulation, was seeking a faster line through two corners, while team debutant Barros spent his time comparing various wheelbase and suspension settings on his RC211V.
Nobody would discount the chances of three-time MotoGP runner-up Max Biaggi in the 16-round series but the Italian is suffering from a cold and did not deliver his best performance today. Biaggi's daring Camel Honda teammate Makoto Tamada, the only RCV rider using Bridgestone tyres, concentrated his efforts on front end of his machine trying various front fork, and a multitude of settings in a bid to find the best tyre - suspension performance.
Sete Gibernau - 1m 30.81s 60 laps
"We made a big improvement in terms of setting up the bike today, just by making some small adjustments to the machine has made a big difference. This hasn't ever been the best track for me, because I've never quite been able to get the right balance on the bike. Usually I've got too much on the front or then on the rear, and not been able to use both wheels at the same time at the critical parts of the track. This time though I'm consistently going well, and that's my goal, to focus on the racing aspect. My concern is to get my pace right, to ride in my own style, and it's coming together here."
Colin Edwards - 1m 30.97s. 58 laps
"Today was awesome, my best day of testing with the Honda so far. I felt good, the bike was good and did a full race simulation of 27 laps. I was about 21 seconds faster than Valentino's time in the race, and we all know he pushed it hard here after that yellow flag. A 1'31.6 must have been my slowest I reckon, it was good, and my best lap of 1'30.97 came on lap three of the simulation, so I was pleased. We made some small gear ratio changes overnight, it wasn't the be all and end all but it certainly helped a bit. This place is fun though and I know it well, when I did the race simulation I just forgot about it and got on with the laps, I soon forgot how many I'd done and it was much easier than say 10 laps at Sepang, I'm just comfortable."
Max Biaggi - 1m 31.07s. 86 laps
"I've spent most of today with a cold to be honest. My temperature's normal, but it's just a bit of a cough and I feel cold all the time. Other than that we have two bikes, one we didn't use because there is a lot of front wheel jumping, like a big chatter. Also in Malaysia we couldn't fix this, it feels like maybe a structural problem or something, maybe with the swinging arm or chassis, we don't know. So yesterday and today I just concentrated on my second bike, which has no chatter, but doesn't quite have the same feeling. I can't go really fast because I don't feel as confident in it. I've tried but it's easy to go straight on. We don't have a spare chassis, and it's no advantage to use one bike. But we'll keep working hard on it tomorrow, and see what we can do. "
Nicky Hayden - 1m 31.18s. 88 laps
"Today was OK but I still would have liked to have made more progress. We've been trying to find a good base set-up after the big tyre test yesterday. We changed things around a little and found a base that worked better although we still tried some more tyres today. I did a long 25- lap run that was faster than my race time (Hayden finished third in the race). I did my best lap time at the end of the day, which is encouraging. I've got a few things to think about tonight - where I can really gain a little time - the S-corner in particular. I want to end the test on a high tomorrow and have a big day - just like the final day in Sepang."
Makoto Tamada - 1m 31.25s. 54 laps
"I've been working on the front fork and tyre settings mainly today, as well as some engine mapping. Our Bridgestone tyres mean that me can't use the same data as the other Honda riders who are all on Michelins, so we've been looking at improving the engine's performance, and especially in finding some more rear wheel grip. When I came here the bike was set-up well, we're just looking to try to improve it. I never get tired of testing and would go on past tomorrow if I could, to make sure we get it all right."
Alex Barros - 1m 31.59s. 88 laps
"Yesterday I made a lot of laps - many of them consecutive - and felt pretty sore this morning with the shoulder. We made quite a few changes on the machine to help it turn better - we use the 16.5 inch front rim - and everything started to feel better and it was possible to go faster. However as the day moved on my shoulder started to feel some pain so I listen to my body. I will take a good rest tonight and use the ice again that helps. Tomorrow we will start with the same settings and hope to finish this important test session in good shape."