Qatar pre-season test: Day One

The Honda and Ducati boys went back to work today as the MotoGP paddock gets ready for the opening round of the season at Jerez in early April. Last year, during their first visit to the Losail facility, many of the GP riders struggled with grip.

The Honda and Ducati boys went back to work today as the MotoGP paddock gets ready for the opening round of the season at Jerez in early April. Last year, during their first visit to the Losail facility, many of the GP riders struggled with grip. However, grip was not an issue this visit as they benefited from the opening round of the WSBK series that took place last week, which meant enough rubber was laid down for the test.

American Nicky Hayden led the charge with a time of 1:58.36. Hayden said he was "pretty happy after the first day. More grip than we had here last time but still real slippery; especially off-line. The wind was the real problem today. In the morning it was hard to find a setting I felt totally comfortable with; things came much better in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to the next few days here. We raced here for the first time last year and a few days here will certainly make it easier when we come to the GP here in the fall."

Marco Melandri flew the Telefonica Movistar flag, finishing second fastest. "I'm very satisfied with the work done today. I have lapped more relaxed and focused on myself without the pressure of making a good time and things have been easier. Today the track conditions were quite good even if I expected more grip. This afternoon the wind has disturbed a bit but at the end of the session conditions have improved. Today we made some tire testing and small changes on the bike to understand better the bike and see how small changes can affect it. I'm impressed by my RC211V because the bike doesn't need many changes from one track to the other and my feeling with the bike is improving every time," explained the former 250cc World Champion.

Though Qatar is in the middle of one of the most petroleum-rich parts of the world, the Camel-Honda team was forced to limit their testing because of a lack of fuel. Despite their odd difficulty, Barros finished the day third fastest. Barros confirmed the reason he did not do many laps was because, "we didn't have that much fuel, but we still began well. The conditions are definitely better than when we came here for the race, also because the SuperBikes raced here on Saturday which laid some good rubber down on the track. I felt comfortable pretty much straight away, the bike is set-up well and we went quickly straight away, even though 28 laps doesn't give you much opportunity to test too much."

The final two top-five spots were filled by Ducati Corse riders', Loris Capirossi and Carlos Checa respectively. "I have to admit that it wasn't bad for the first day of testing. Today we concentrated on different suspension set-ups, in particular at the front of the bike. The track is in virtually the same condition as it was during last year's GP and I hope that it will improve in the next couple of days," explained Capirossi. While Checa said, "I lapped pretty close to the time I set last year and as it was only the first day, I was quite pleased with that. Today we did a lot of work on the front suspension and on my riding position. In the afternoon the track had already improved from the morning, and hopefully this trend will continue for the next two days."

Max Biaggi struggled with setup problems and finished the day sixth fastest. Sete Gibernau was absent due to a high fever and is expected to test tomorrow.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Sete Gibernau , Marco Melandri