Steady start for Checa and Melandri at cool Jerez.
Fortuna Yamaha Team duo Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri made steady progress during the first day of the official MotoGP group tests today. With Checa riding the latest evolution of the Yamaha YZR-M1 and Melandri having his first experiment with Yamaha's new fuel-injection system, the pair recorded the second and fifth fastest time of the fifteen MotoGP riders present.
Checa rode a total of 61 laps and recorded a best time of 1'43.2 - three-tenths slower than his 2002 qualifying time. "We've been working mostly on the engine side today and did a little bit of tyre work later on," explained Checa. "Tomorrow we'll be able to concentrate more on the chassis settings which is where I believe we'll make the biggest improvement. We just need to find a better balance. It's quite cool here in the morning and later afternoon, but at least conditions are better than on our last visit."
Marco Melandri completed 75 laps with a best time of 1'43.8, equal to the best of his previous test at Jerez.
"I'm really happy," exclaimed the 20-year-old 2002 250cc World Champion. "I began this morning with the bike I have been using until now which has carburettors, but we had a few problems with the rear suspension. We tried a few things but I didn't get a good feeling. My crew chief Fiorenzo (Fanali) and I decided to try the fuel injection bike as our plan was always to race with this one. I immediately found a better feeling. The engine feels smoother and it feels even more powerful. The bike also has a different chassis that I found a lot better. For me this is the biggest improvement I' ve had. I'm really happy and looking forward to more time to set up the bike."
Team Director Davide Brivio added: "We're now in the final countdown phase to the start of the season. Carlos is working on the latest spec bike and getting used to it while Marco the fuel injection for the first time. On the whole I think it's been a positive first day but we've still got a lot of hard work to do."
1. Alex Barros, Gauloises Yamaha Team 1'42.588
2. Carlos Checa, Fortuna Yamaha Team 1'43.277
3. Colin Edwards, Alice Aprilia Racing 1'43.699
4. Shinya Nakano, D'Antin Yamaha 1'43.794
5. Marco Melandri, Fortuna Yamaha Team 1'43.810
6. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro Team 1'43.943
7. Troy Bayliss, Ducati Marlboro Team 1'44.125
8. Noriyuki Haga, Alice Aprilia Racing 1'44.242
9. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki Grand Prix 1'44.558
10. John Hopkins, Suzuki Grand Prix 1'44.652
11. Olivier Jacque, Gauloises Yamaha Team 1'44.783