Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hopkins heats up test

AMERICAN John Hopkins of Team Rizla Suzuki stamped his mark to lead the first MotoGP test session for 2007, which entered the final day under blue skies and glowing sunshine at the Sepang Circuit yesterday. After setting the fastest time on the first two days and upstaging more prominent riders, Hopkins continued his awesome form on his Suzuki GSV-R800 machine by topping yesterday’s morning session with a time of 2 minutes 01.026 seconds.

Bettering Monday’s fastest time of 2:01.806s, Hopkins prompted growing discussion across the paddock with various new theories over his performance, effectively making him the man to watch this season.

Hopkins, however, was quick to play down the attention by saying it was still a long way before the new season opens in Qatar on March 10 and that there was still plenty of testing and development to be done by all teams.

“Naturally, all the other teams will improve with all the other tests before the season starts.

“The bike is working very well. Obviously, Suzuki has upped their level of competitiveness and we need to continue the good work,he added.

The superb speed of the new GSV-R800 machine was further underlined by the performance of Hopkins’ Australian teammate Chris Vermeulen, who was second fastest with a time of 2:01.691s.

Kawasaki’s Randy du Puniet was third fastest with 2:01.878s while five-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi was sixth with 2:02.354s.

Clearly focusing on the new development aspects of his RC212V machine, world champion Nicky Hayden was surprisingly eighth with a time of 2:02.701s.

“We actually learnt quite a lot about how the new bike worked yesterday and we improved by almost half a second so it’s nice to see some progress, said Hayden, the Repsol Honda rider.

“We weren’t testing new parts, just working with suspension, wheelbase, springs – general settings for the bike to go a little bit quicker.

After Sepang, the teams will head to Phillip Island, Melbourne, for another three-day testing from Jan 30 before returning to Sepang for a tough second round of testing from Feb 5-7.

source:- MalayMail