Honda's main rival for the 2012 MotoGP title is Yamaha, so lets take a quick look at how the team fared in pre-season testing at Sepang in Malaysia.
Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies spent the three track days allocated working to arrive at the base settings for the new 1000cc YZR-M1 before serious testing begins next month. Both riders and technicians focused on the overall balance of the M1 chassis as well as optimizing the increasingly important electronics package/rider interface in order to tame the extra torque of 20 percent bigger engine, as well as coming to grips with the new control tires from Bridgestone.
The final session saw Lorenzo the second fastest rider, 0.59 seconds behind Casey Stoner (Honda RC213V). Team mate Spies ended up in fourth position, some 0.88 seconds behind Stoner.
The team had a good package throughout the 2011 season, and whatever changes have been wrought for 2012 are hard to find. Hopefully more will be revealed as the season progresses.
Here's what the riders had to say:
Jorge Lorenzo - Position 2nd - Time 2.00.198 - Laps 35
"I'm really, really satisfied, I have improved on my best record here in Sepang. We tried a lot of things; some have been a lot better, especially one major improvement. We also know where we have to improve in the future. The electronics are not perfect yet, we still need to make it smoother but the bike has so much potential we are very optimistic. The Yamaha engineers have worked really hard so they have done a good job. I made my best time today at midday which is the hardest time with the conditions so it was pretty good. Let's see what we can do when we come back."
Ben Spies - Position 4th - Time 2.00.495 - Laps 16
"It's been a good test, we've got a lot of things accomplished, we're definitely moving in the right direction with my bike. I tried the Yamaha test rider's bike today which had a slightly different set up to make a fair comparison with mine. I made a small mistake, losing the front but that's testing; it can happen when you're working out the good and bad! All in all it's been great and I'm really happy and looking forward to coming back and seeing what's new."
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team of Crutchlow and DoviziosoBritish rider Cal Crutchlow wasted no time in getting back up to speed to clock the third fastest time on the opening day and he was one of the outstanding performers for the duration of the test. Making only his second appearance on Yamaha's 1000cc machine, Crutchlow worked through a range of set-up options to improve his speed and confidence with the all-new YZR-M1. He walked away unhurt from a small front-end crash at Turn 13 on the final morning and he eventually finished with a quickest time of 2.01.108.
Andrea Dovizioso demonstrated his determination to quickly get to grips with the YZR-M1, with the Italian rider giving his absolute maximum effort just three weeks after he broke his right collarbone in a motocross training accident. The intense heat and humidity always makes riding at the Sepang International Circuit a tough physical examination, but Dovizioso also had to contend with the pain and discomfort from his recovering right collarbone to complete 102 crucial development laps on board the YZR-M1. He set a best time of 2.01.257 to finish just behind Crutchlow on the leaderboard.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team continues its pre-season testing campaign back at the Sepang International Circuit for another three-day test, which commences on February 28.