WEATHER INTERRUPTS RACE PREPARATIONS AT SEPANG
High temperatures, intense humidity and an inopportune spell of afternoon rain gave an ominous sign of things to come at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix as Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards prepared themselves for a weekend of unpredictable weather at Sepang. The day started brightly for the pair as they reacquainted themselves with their principal test venue and built on the settings they had found here during extensive winter development of the YZR-M1 machines.
However, the ceiling of grey clouds hanging over the ultra-modern circuit grew darker over lunch and eventually broke just moments before the afternoon session, interrupting the team's programme and covering the track surface with a greasy film that made life even more difficult for the riders.
Rossi ended the day in fourth place after lapping just over two tenths of a second outside the circuit record time of 2'03.253, which he set on the way to victory in last season's race. Edwards was fifth fastest in the afternoon but conceded four places on the combined time sheets, with both riders hoping that a day of dry weather tomorrow will provide a more realistic reflection of their chances in Sunday's race. Sete Gibernau (Honda) ended the day on top of the time sheets after clocking a best time of 2'03.299.
VALENTINO ROSSI (4th -- 2'03.485; 38 laps)
"The conditions today were quite bad. Already in the morning the track was quite dirty, with some sand in places, and the grip was not good. Then in the afternoon it rained so it definitely was not a good day for the weather. Anyway we were able to test the bike in all conditions and understand a few problems. The dry setting is not bad but it could be a lot better and I am definitely not riding as I would like to. In Japan we had problems with the rear of the bike under braking and here it is similar but not exactly the same. I'm finding it hard to control the bike through the corner but we have gathered enough data to make some changes for tomorrow. Hopefully the conditions will be a lot better."
COLIN EDWARDS (9th -- 2'04.054; 38 laps)
"The morning session was an absolute disaster for the first ten or fifteen minutes and the rear tyre really wasn't working well. Michelin helped us out with a better tyre, we made a few changes to the bike and by the end of the session it actually felt good. The afternoon was about keeping a level head and checking how the bike worked in the damp conditions. If it rains like that before the race starts then we're all in trouble because you'd have to change tyres every five laps. As it dried out more towards the end I was able to put a softer cut slick in, which really helped, but in those conditions it's always a question of who is prepared to take the most risks. It would be fabulous to have some dry time tomorrow so we can work on the bike and recover the time we lost because of the weather and the tyre issue today."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"The conditions were very strange in the afternoon -- not completely wet for the first half and not completely dry for the second! It was interesting to check how the bike worked when the track was actually wet for a few laps and gather a little information but other than that there is not much we can say, we can only hope that the weather doesn't stay like this until Sunday. Whatever happens it looks like it is going to be an interesting weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings."