|Pedrosa fast on Bridgestones, pneumatic.
|Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa makes Bridgestone debut and sets fast lap time with pneumatic-valve engine during testing at Misano.
Less than a day after his shock split from Michelin, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa made his Bridgestone debut during Monday's post-race Misano test - and set a head-turning lap time when combining his new rubber with Honda's pneumatic-valve engine.
The Spaniard started testing at 13:30 and completed a total of 81 circulations, divided into short runs of 6-8 laps. The original plan was to finish at 18:00, but the team asked the circuit management for another 15 minutes to complete the full testing schedule. Conditions were once again hot and sunny, with ambient temperature at 34 degrees and track temperature at 42 degrees.
Pedrosa's first task was to adapt the set-up of his familiar spring-valve RCV - with which he finished a distant fourth in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix - to suit its new tyres, whilst learning the new grip characteristics.
Despite warnings that it could take months to adjust to the new rubber, Pedrosa set a best lap time of 1min 35.555secs on the valve-spring bike - very close to the 1min 35.479secs he'd recorded during the race, when using Michelin rubber.
"Luckily it was sunny today and we were able to ride as we liked, with a slow start and then building up, and that is important," explained Dani. "We tried to find a set up we liked, as the tyres are very different and the handling on the bike changed drastically, it feels like another bike.
"Right now it is difficult to say what it is that I most liked about the new tyres, as I still do not have much experience with them and we have not tried a lot of compounds. I just tried to get used to them, find their limits and to get to know them and their response.
"I tried to find out if they are good when you start off, or whether you have to warm them up more or less time. At the beginning the first thing you aim for is security, to feel comfortable and to find out how the stability is on the bike.
"From then on the most important thing for me is to begin to discover where their limits are and to find out how they react at certain moments," he explained.
Despite his limited knowledge of the new rubber, Pedrosa already believes he can claim a debut Bridgestone victory during the five remaining rounds of the 2008 season.
"Of course, there is a lot of work to do but I am determined to win again this year," he said.
Any such victory might even come with Honda's pneumatic-valve engine, since Pedrosa's fastest laps of the day came after 17.00, when he combined his new tyres with the 'pneumatic' for the first time.
The delayed pneumatic-valve design has been race-developed by team-mate Nicky Hayden since Donington Park, but Pedrosa - a double 2008 race winner and former championship contender - has been waiting for performance and reliability to be improved before making the leap.
That moment could be fast approaching after the Spaniard clocked a 1min 34.652secs best with the pneumatic - 0.827secs quicker than his best race lap on Michelin tyres and 0.252secs under the fastest race lap of all, set by (Bridgestone-shod) Misano winner Valentino Rossi. Repsol confirmed that Pedrosa's best lap was set with race tyres.
That lap is especially impressive since Monday marked the first (known) time that a pneumatic-valve Honda has used Bridgestone tyres (who knows what may have happened behind closed doors in Japan).
Nevertheless, Pedrosa gave little away in terms of his future plans for racing with the engine and still appears in no hurry to make the change.
"The bike that has the engine with pneumatic valves is very different, something I am not used to because it is a bit more aggressive and I do not have so much feeling," said Pedrosa. "It is not so gentle. It has other strong points, although there is still work to do on the set up, because the other [valve-spring] bike is more tuned. I did not do a lot of laps, but the sensations have not been bad at all."
"Today's test session was important and Dani's feeling with the Bridgestone tyres was positive," confirmed team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "He started the session with the valve-spring engine and then switched to the pneumatic-valve engine. The character of these two bikes is different but Dani was faster with the pneumatic-valve engine, his lap times improved a lot. Of course, there are positive and negative points with the engine which we will now analyse."
Pedrosa will make his Bridgestone race debut during the inaugural Indianapolis Grand prix on September 12-14.
Hayden, who missed the race and test due to a heel injury, will remain on Michelin tyres for the final five rounds of 2008.
Gresini's Shinya Nakano, who has piloted a Bridgestone-shod valve-spring factory Honda for the past two rounds, set the second fastest lap time during Monday's test, 0.794secs slower than Pedrosa's pneumatic pace.
As well as Pedrosa and Nakano, Kawasaki riders John Hopkins and Anthony West plus Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Alex de Angelis (Gresini Honda) were also present on Monday.