2005 champion Valentino Rossi dominated the first testing day at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia as the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) resumed pre-season activity today as they look forward to the official season start on March 26th in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
The Italian clocked 2m02.014 turning 74 laps on the new 2006-spec YZR-M1s of the Camel Yamaha Team, the new team name for the champion team that already presented their new colours for next season.
The journey for the riders started cloudy in the morning with some moments of rain, a classic of the weather in Kuala Lumpur. But the situation changed for the afternoon leaving space for the sun and a dry track.
"Today everything has felt good right from the start and I am already quite fast. The new M1 is a good bike, I like it and I can see that Yamaha has worked very hard over the winter", commented Rossi on his return to testing after a six weeks break.
The champion used the day to get the feeling with his new bike that the team had already tested in November. "The new bike is not so different from the 2005 bike, but still we have to understand completely its character and I have to get more confidence in it, then we can begin to make the modifications needed in order to improve it," commented Rossi.
Second position belong to another Italian as Marco Melandri put the Fortuna Honda right behind Rossi in the time sheet after 69 laps around the Malaysian track.
Melandri, the 2005 sub-champion, focused on the set-up of the RC211V and also to get back the rhythm after the winter break.
"I really looked forward to go back on my RC211V. This morning I lapped to recover the rhythm after the winter pause. Then I concentrated on the bike setting and finally I could make some tyre testing. I'm happy with the feeling of the bike and I like the bike. I'm quite confident", Melandri stated.
The Resol Honda Team completed third and fourth fastest with Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, one of the new incorporations of MotoGP for 2006.
To get back the competition feeling was the target of the team on this first day with the intention of starting tomorrow's test with new elements from Honda in Japan.
"It`s great to be back. Honda has done a fine work and the track is in good conditions. We had a good start and today we were able to test some new things that we liked. However, it`s still soon to make conclusions and there`s a long road until Jerez de la Frontera", mentioned Hayden, who completed 85 laps.
His teammate, Pedrosa, keep adding experience with the Honda of MotoGP looking forward to his debut in the category after his championship in 125cc plus two titles in 250cc.
"It`s important to get back to activity because it helps me to understand more the category. I still feel tired because I didn`t trained enough. I was a month and a half without riding the bike so the target was to be again where we left in November. The track is little better than last time which helped to have some good lap times", Pedrosa explained.
Ducati was also present with Loris Capirossi, Sete Gibernau and the new Desmosedici GP6. The Italian fell a couple of times and completed 38 laps setting fifth best time while Gibernau took seventh after 56 laps.
"Things are still not 100% right but I'm pretty pleased with the first day of testing after the winter break. Today we worked a lot on the bike set-up and on the new GP6 engine and I'm happy with the progress we made", Loris said.
Gibernau is in period of adding experience with his new team and bike, trying to be on top for the season start. "Today for the first time we searched for adjustments that allowed me to get a better feeling with my Ducati and the team is working well to understand exactly what I need to make me have the best possible feeling with the new bike", he commented.
The activity will continue tomorrow for the second day of tests in Sepang.