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Nicky Hayden, the fastest Honda rider


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MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden ended the MotoGP test at Sepang as the fastest Honda rider over the three-day session. The American has always worked hard in testing and today was no different Nicky put in 70-laps of the 5.548 km track in dry conditions and ventured out for another 17-laps when the expected late afternoon rain storm arrived.

Hayden tested various alternative chassis and suspension parts and settings over the 70-laps. He started with different front and rear suspension and with the steering head raised slightly. The front suspension changes were of no distinct advantage but he felt happier with the rear end than at anytime this week.

Once comfortable on the RC212V Hayden began serious tyre testing for Michelin testing new tyres designed for the 800cc, which is easier on tyres than its 990cc predecessor. In sweltering heat he tried a selection of front and rear tyres giving the Michelin technicians quality feed back data that will help with their development work as they prepare for the Jerez MotoGP test later this month.

Toni Elias and the Gresini Honda were again impressive. The young Spaniard worked diligently all day, including an 18-lap session on wet tyres at the end of the day. Elias did not spend too much time on chassis work apart from trying head angle variations in combination with a different rear suspension unit. The team changed the gearbox ratios overnight and also made changes to the mapping to provide slightly less engine braking

After several laps with that configuration Elias returned to the original ’standard’ suspension unit then adjusted his riding position before dedicating the rest of the day to testing the Bridgestone tyres he will race on in 2007

Toni and the Bridgestone engineers began working on testing tyre construction and profiles before trying various rubber compounds. Elias ended the day faster than yesterday and more consistent with a best lap time of 2m 03.505s.

Elias took to the wet track late afternoon and was impressed with the performance of the Bridgestone rain tyres. Toni completed 18-laps in the rain before calling an end to the three day test.

Carlos Checa really began to get a feel for his RC212V around the 5.548 km circuit today. Checa put in another heavy-duty day of testing working step by step to get the best out of the prototype 800cc to provide the HRC engineers with valuable data to work with as they continue the development of the RC212V for the MotoGP test sessions in mid-January 2007.

Carlos began the day working on refining the base-line settings of the machine by altering the castor angle by half a degree to improve front-end feeling before switching his attention to ride height and working on the electronic mapping in a bid to improve the engine braking characteristics.

On day two of the test Checa thought he needed more help from the engine under deceleration but today he preferred a softer setting.

The Spaniard the moved on to tyre testing for Michelin trying reacquainting himself with the various newly developed tyre since he last race on Michelins. He tried various constructions profiles and compounds produced for racing by the French manufacturer.

The final Honda MotoGP test of 2006 will be held at the Jerez Circuit, Spain on November 27-29.

Honda rider lap times and quotes.

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 2m 03.30s - 70 dry laps, 17 wet laps.
"We learned a lot about the bike at this test and I’m beginning to understand it better. We went through a lot of stuff here and today I tried some suspension changes and improved the rear and made it a little better than yesterday, we have good traction. We also raised the front end a bit but that didn’t give me what I needed it to so we went back to the original setting. We definitely need to find more power and speed to stay in touch with our rivals but I’m confident that Honda and the guys in my team will find that before I test the bike again. In the afternoon concentrated on testing tyres for Michelin all sorts of stuff, different constructions and compounds and found a front I like. When the rain came I went out on wet tyres and it was productive because they gave me a front tyre that worked well in the wet. The strong point is definitely my team they are so positive, I mean everybody is working so hard."

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 2m 03.505s - 49 dry laps, 18 wet laps.
"I like the machine the seating position makes it easier to ride than the 990cc. I am very satisfied with the chassis although we didn’t work on that too much today apart from trying different rear shock and various suspension settings. We also changed the gearbox overnight because we were to close to the ratios we used on the 990cc machine. In the afternoon I concentrated on testing for Bridgestone and tried many different constructions and compounds. The Bridgestone’s are good in the wet and I did 18-laps in the rain and found a front tyre I really liked it gave me a good feeling with the wet track. I am getting more comfortable on the bike, not 100% yet but at the January test I’m sure we will finalise the base set up we need to make the bike perform the way we want it. We have a lot of work to do on the engine but I am confident HRC and my team will do their best to be ready for my next test." Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 2m 04.00s - 71 laps.

"Basically we spent a lot of time looking for better chassis settings trying to establish a better base line to work from in future testing. We played with the castor angle and ride height of the bike looking for a better base line. Traction is good but I found it a little difficult find a good contact feeling from the front, the bike needs to turn faster. The weather didn’t help us today I had hoped it would have held off so I could use the last hour of the day but no luck. But Honda know which areas of the bike they have to work on and we have helped to clarify the parts that need improving. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with this team and it has been good to be here and get to know everybody better."

Overall lap times:

John Hopkins, Suzuki: 2m 01.60s.
Chris Vermeulen, Suzuki: 2m 02.00s.
Colin Edwards, Yamaha: 2m 02.40s.
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 2m 03.30s.
Makoto Tamada, Yamaha: 2m 03.50s.
Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: 2m 03.505s.
Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 2m 04.00s.
Nobuatsu Aoki, Suzuki: 2m 05.65s.



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