The second day of this final pre-season test was mostly lost to wet weather. The day started out cold and damp with a gale blowing over the circuit around lunch time, leaving the racing line damp for most of the afternoon. Only in the final 20 minutes of the session was the surface just about dry enough to tempt a good number of riders out of the pits.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) were not among them, the Repsol Honda team-mates deciding it would be more profitable to wait for tomorrow, when better weather is forecast.
World Champion Stoner, who topped the first two tests of the year at Sepang and was again fastest in the dry yesterday, only rode three laps today because the track was never dry enough or wet enough for a proper run. But Pedrosa decided that it was worth venturing out to do a long run when the rain was at its heaviest. During that outing the Spaniard used the rear light required by new regulations to increase machine visibility in heavy spray.
Top Honda rider of the day was Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) who was fourth quickest as he continues to acclimatise to his Honda. The Spaniard put in his best lap at the very end of the day, but admitted that he did not learn a great deal in the conditions.
Fastest man of all was Nicky Hayden (Ducati) who also set his best time during the final minutes, the American's lap about one second outside the lap record.
Michel Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini-FTR) ended the day eighth quickest aboard his CBR1000RR-powered CRT machine, riding his fastest lap in the morning before the storm arrived. This is only Pirro's second test on the machine, the Italian having completed a shakedown outing at Imola just a few days ago, so he had more reason than most to rue today's conditions.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) went out for a wet set-up at about the same time as Pedrosa. The MotoGP rookie's second wet outing aboard a MotoGP bike went well, but eventually he too returned to the pits because the track was not wet enough to produce useful wet-weather data.
Tomorrow's weather at Jerez is expected to be a big improvement, with warm and dry conditions expected throughout the day. It will be an important day for everyone, the last outing before the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix in two weeks.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V): 4th, 1m 42.711s
"It has been a similar day to the second test at Sepang in Malaysia, but we at least managed to get some laps in the wet and the first impressions are good because I have confidence in the bike so that's positive. Then the track started to dry out, but there was no point riding because the wet tyres just tore up. In the final 30 minutes we got some track time and I was happy with what we achieved but it wasn't really dry. In conclusion is hasn't been a productive day so we just have to hope for better conditions tomorrow."
Michel Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V): 8th, 1m 44.761s
"A real shame because with such a young bike it is important for us to get some laps, but the weather has played us a bad hand today. We have lost a day of testing and will have to try and make it up tomorrow, which makes life difficult. Patience! We managed to get some laps in the final 30 minutes even though the conditions weren't perfect and at least got some information to work from tomorrow. "
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V): 10th, 1m 49.822s
"I decided to go out when it started raining properly because it's always good to get some information about the behaviour of the bike in wet conditions before the beginning of the season, and even more important with a new bike. Obviously, the set up of the bike was pretty standard on chassis and electronics, but I had good feelings riding it, the bike worked well and it gives me confidence. If it's not raining tomorrow we will go back to the testing program we had planned for today: basically to try some new ideas for the chassis and the electronics and if we have time I'd like to do a race simulation. Everything has been positive and smooth so far, so let's hope to close the pre season with a good result".
Stefan Bradl (Team LCR Honda RC213V): 17th, 1m 51.778s
"Well, today we could not lap so much because of the bad weather conditions but as soon as it started to rain consistently we went out for a couple of laps. Immediately I had a good feeling with the bike, the tyres and everything was good from the beginning. Then we made a change to make the bike turn easier and it worked: we went out on another set of tyres that had me lapping comfortably and I could improve the lap time quite easy. Unfortunately the asphalt was not fully wet so this means that you destroy the tyres too quickly and we have decided to finish the session earlier. We'll see if the weather is sunny tomorrow for the last outing."
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V): 18th, 1m 51.856s
"We realised that the weather conditions weren't really suitable for what we needed to work on today so we decided to wait for the heavier rain, which never appeared. We went out briefly, but realised it wasn't really wet enough to work on anything regarding wet set-up and there was no reason for us to stay out on track and ruin sets of tyres. They were 50/50 conditions and you never set up a bike for these circumstances. I hope the weather improves tomorrow so we can continue our plan."