TOSELAND AND LACONI (DUCATI XEROX TEAM) IN DESERT ACTION IN QATAR WORLD SUPERBIKE TEST Losail (Qatar), Saturday 19 February: James Toseland and Regis Laconi (Ducati Xerox Team) warmed up for the 2005 World Superbike Championship by setting...
TOSELAND AND LACONI (DUCATI XEROX TEAM) IN DESERT ACTION IN QATAR WORLD SUPERBIKE TEST
Losail (Qatar), Saturday 19 February: James Toseland and Regis Laconi (Ducati Xerox Team) warmed up for the 2005 World Superbike Championship by setting fourth and ninth quickest times respectively on the first day of the final pre-season test session in Qatar. The two-day test, organized by WSBK promoters FGSport at the Losail circuit in the Arabian peninsula state, is the last opportunity for this year's contenders to prepare for next Saturday's opening round at the brand-new track built in the desert on the outskirts of the capital Doha.
Almost five hours of testing in warm conditions (air 24C/track 44C) on a slippery and sandy track surface left the two Ducati Xerox Team riders in a positive mood for the Losail race as they faced up against all of their main opponents for the first time this year. Toseland was one of three riders, together with Corser (Suzuki) and Cardoso (Yamaha), who constantly lapped quicker than the rest today. Despite losing almost one hour with a technical problem on one 999F05 and a low-speed crash when he lost the front of his other machine, the world champion was feeling good about today's performance.
"I'm a bit disappointed to be in fourth but I'm sure I would have done Cardoso's lap time if I hadn't lost a lot of time in the second session", declared Toseland. "The balance of the bike feels good and the rear tyre is fine, but we still need to work on the front because it's chewing the tyre up after 10 laps. Since last year the changes have made a massive improvement, especially the front forks and the weight transfer so I'm feeling a lot more confident now. Tomorrow I'm sure will be better than today once the track gets a bit more grip and I believe we'll be down to 2 minutes flat", he concluded.
Laconi preferred to have a cautious approach while he learnt the track and tried to perfect his set-up for the race. "We haven't done so many laps in the dry this year and this track is very slippery and very difficult to learn immediately so I just took it steadily", said Regis. "I'm not entirely happy with the feeling but we are working step by step to make the right settings. In the morning we sorted out the rear tyre but then in the afternoon we had a bit of difficulty with the durability of the front and we still have to get the right feeling. The track is nice, but you don't have much line and if you go off, you can lose it. I am not surprised to see a lot of riders go fast today but the hardest thing is to go fast lap after lap and I hope to be in a position to do that in the race next week".
OFFICIAL TIMES: 1. Cardoso (Yamaha) 2m02.618s; 2. Corser (Suzuki) 2m03.044s; 3. Kagayama (Suzuki) 2m03.309s; 4. Toseland (Ducati Xerox) 2m03.347s; 5. Nieto (Ducati SC) 2m03.759s; 6. Muggeridge (Honda) 2m03.870s; 7. Walker (Kawasaki) 2m03.927s; 8. Gimbert (Yamaha) 2m03.999s; 9. Laconi (Ducati Xerox) 2m04.011s; 10. Silva (Yamaha) 2m04.077s; etc.