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Pirelli 'not surprised' after setting MotoGP pace

8 December 2005

Having taken considerable criticism for the past two seasons, since the World Superbike control tyre rule was introduced, for a lack of lap record improvements - Pirelli were justifiably pleased with the impressive 'MotoGP pace' shown during this week's Qatar test.

It could be argued that complaints about the failure of WSBK to beat most previous lap records is something of a dubious concern: MotoGP and Formula One have little problem in going ever faster each year - but that has simply meant that (expensive) rule changes have been made to slow them down again, largely for safety reasons (2.4litre V8 engines will replace 3.0litre V10s in F1 next year, while 800cc engines will replace 990cc in MotoGP from 2007).

There is no doubt that most racing riders like to go ever faster - due partly to the perception that greater speed means greater skill - but is it not harder to control a 200bhp machine with relatively low tyre grip than to control a 250bhp machine with much higher tyre grip... just as it is harder to ride in the wet than the dry?

Regardless of the 'more speed means more skill' argument, World Superbike's credibility would no doubt be enhanced by beating all the old lap records set during the free reign 'factory tyre' era before 2004 - and if the results of the Qatar test are anything to go by, WSBK could not only establish all new lap records in 2006, but hold its own against the pace of the MotoGP prototypes.

Ten riders from five of the six main World Superbike manufacturers - Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, Suzuki and Foggy Petronas (Kawasaki was absent) - attended the three day Losail test, designed specifically to help develop next season's Pirelli tyres.

Series returnee Troy Bayliss would finish the test fastest of all, on both qualifying and race rubber, after setting a best times of 1min 58.6secs and 1min 59.17secs respectively on his factory Ducati Xerox 999. It is reasonable to believe that reigning world champion Troy Corser, fastest on the first two days for Alstare Suzuki, may have bettered both of those times had he not been forced to sit out the final day due to a stomach virus.

Nevertheless, Bayliss's qualifying pace was a massive 2.644secs quicker than the fastest lap from the 2005 season opening Qatar WSBK event, with his race tyre best 2.722secs quicker than the fastest race lap from the same event... If Pirelli and the World Superbike manufacturers continue improving at that pace they'll soon be able to boost about the same 'how can we slow them down' problems suffered by MotoGP and F1.

Indeed, when the Qatar test times are combined with MotoGP lap times from October's Qatar Grand Prix, it can be seen that Bayliss would have qualified 13th on the MotoGP grid with his best test time - while all ten WSBK riders would be comfortably within the 107% qualifying time needed to make the race, even though only half tested with qualifying tyres.

In terms of race pace the WSBK riders were even more competitive with Bayliss and Corser a head turning eighth and ninth on the combined WSBK/MotoGP list (see below) - Bayliss also bettered Regis Laconi's Qatar WSBK race winning pace by 46-seconds during an 18 lap race simulation.

"At the end of this test we are happy, but not surprised," said Pirelli racing manager Giorgio Barbier of the test results. "Two years of restless evolution drove us to have many good solutions to face this upcoming season.

"We have now good 'weapons', it means that year after year - thanks to this role as official tyres supplier for the championship - we have more competitive products.

"After two years we have found a good working method with the riders and they trust us more and more. This helps our development, together with the presence in this championship of riders of great capacity and experience," concluded Barbier.

The 2006 Corona Extra World Superbike championship will start at Qatar on February 25, 2006.




Qatar MotoGP qualifying times and WSBK test times

MotoGP times set during Qatar Grand Prix on 30 Sepember 2005, WSBK test times (in bold) set on 4-6 December 2005

1. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 56.917 secs
2. Sete Gibernau SPA Team Movistar Honda 1min 56.994 secs
3. Valentino Rossi ITA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1min 57.36 secs
4. Colin Edwards USA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1min 57.447 secs
5. Marco Melandri ITA Team Movistar Honda 1min 57.468 secs
6. Carlos Checa ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 57.481 secs
7. Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 1min 57.697 secs
8. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team 1min 57.872 secs
9. Toni Elias SPA Fortuna Yamaha Team 1min 57.902 secs
10. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 58.317 secs
11. Kenny Roberts USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 1min 58.329 secs
12. John Hopkins USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 1min 58.527 secs
13. Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Xerox 999 1min 58.6 secs
14. Max Biaggi ITA Repsol Honda Team 1min 58.622 secs
15. Alex Barros BRA Camel Honda 1min 59.084 secs
16. Troy Corser AUS Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 1min 59.17 secs*
17. Roberto Rolfo ITA D'Antin Ducati Pramac 1min 59.392 secs
18. Lorenzo Lanzi ITA Ducati Xerox 999 1min 59.4 secs
19. Ruben Xaus SPA Fortuna Yamaha Team 1min 59.482 secs
20. Karl Muggeridge AUS Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 2min 0.09 secs
21. Shane Byrne GBR Camel Honda 2min 0.097 secs
22. James Ellison GBR Blata WCM 2min 0.909 secs
23. James Toseland GBR Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 2min 0.1 secs*
24. Franco Battaini ITA Blata WCM 2min 1.678 secs
25. Yukio Kagayama JPN Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 2min 0.38 secs
26. Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 2min 0.46 secs*
27. Andrew Pitt AUS Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 2min 0.56 secs
28. Steve Martin AUS Foggy Petronas Racing FP1 2min 1.8 secs*
29. Craig Jones GBR Foggy Petronas Racing FP1 2min 2.56 secs*

* Time set using race tyres (not qualifying tyres).

Capirossi 107% qualifying time: 2mins 5.10secs


Qatar MotoGP fastest race laps and WSBK test times (on race tyres)

MotoGP times set during Qatar Grand Prix on 1 October 2005, WSBK test times (in bold) set on 4-6 December 2005

1. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team 1min 57.903 secs
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1min 57.910 secs
3. Marco Melandri ITA Team Movistar Honda 1min 57.939 secs
4. Sete Gibernau SPA Team Movistar Honda 1min 58.079 secs
5. Colin Edwards USA Gauloises Yamaha Team 1min 58.345 secs
6. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 58.904 secs
7. Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 1min 58.939 secs
8. Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Xerox 999 1min 59.13 secs
9. Troy Corser AUS Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 1min 59.17 secs
10. Carlos Checa ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 59.177 secs
11. Max Biaggi ITA Repsol Honda Team 1min 59.285 secs
12. Toni Elias SPA Fortuna Yamaha Team 1min 59.316 secs
13. Lorenzo Lanzi ITA Ducati Xerox 999 1min 59.4 secs
14. Alex Barros BRA Camel Honda 1min 59.434 secs
15. Kenny Roberts USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 1min 59.488 secs
16. John Hopkins USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 1min 59.724 secs
17. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 59.764 secs
18. Roberto Rolfo ITA D'Antin Ducati Pramac 1min 59.951 secs
19. James Toseland GBR Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 2min 0.1 secs
20. Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 2min 0.46 secs
21. Shane Byrne GBR Camel Honda 2min 0.526 secs
22. Yukio Kagayama JPN Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 2min 0.62 secs
23. Karl Muggeridge AUS Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR 2min 0.81 secs
24. Andrew Pitt AUS Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 2min 1.0 secs
25. Ruben Xaus SPA Fortuna Yamaha Team 2min 1.194 secs
26. Steve Martin AUS Foggy Petronas Racing FP1 2min 1.8 secs
27. James Ellison GBR Blata WCM 2min 2.387 secs
28. Craig Jones GBR Foggy Petronas Racing FP1 2min 2.56 secs
29. Franco Battaini ITA Blata WCM 2min 4.663 secs


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