After driving a Ferrari Formula One car last week in Valencia, Valentino Rossi returned to his real job at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar to put the Yamaha M1 at the top in the first journey of tests at the venue for the FIM Road Racing...
After driving a Ferrari Formula One car last week in Valencia, Valentino Rossi returned to his real job at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar to put the Yamaha M1 at the top in the first journey of tests at the venue for the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) teams pre-season testing.
The Camel Yamaha Team riders were back at the wheel of their new 2006-specification YZR-M1s, the newest version from the marque. "It's always nice to be fastest, although of course here we don't have Honda or Ducati here," commented Rossi who is looking forward to season start in Jerez on March 26th.
None of his main rivals for the 2006 championship were present at the circuit, only the MotoGP teams of Suzuki and Tech 3 Yamaha, as well as test riders from Ducati and Kawasaki with Olivier Jaque were present alongside Rossi and company.
The seven times World Champion was under the official track record of 1m57.903 by setting a time of 1m57.36. The Italian was closely followed by his teammate Colin Edwards who clocked a time of 1m57.52.
One of the main targets for the team in Qatar is to make an intense tyres tests. "With the new bike we have much more grip than with the old M1, but as in Sepang we have a tiny bit of chatter, so we are doing a lot of work with Michelin to fix that. Michelin have come here with many new tyres and so we are working a lot with them to test as much as possible", Rossi explained.
As Rossi completed 48 laps, Edwards had pretty much more work on the track with 77 laps as the American was testing tyres and some new elements for the Yamaha team too.
"The new bike really is better in every way and now I've just got to build my confidence with it. At the moment I am feeling stronger with every lap. It was a good first day and I was pleased to be able to get going so well so quickly", the American mentioned.
Suzuki MotoGP had a productive day with John Hopkins showing fast times with the new Suzuki GSV-R, setting 1m57.64 on his best shot, a second faster than his qualifying time from 2005 and the best lap for a Bridgestone user at the circuit.
Spaniard Carlos Checa had a mixed feelings day as he was the protagonist on the accident of the journey in his first test as a rider for the Tech 3 Yamaha.
A fall from his bike drew a premature end to his session and he suffered a concussion. Checa stayed returned to the team's hotel and will try to return tomorrow for the second day of testing in Qatar.
After all, the former Honda rider was quick for his new outfit with the Yamaha and set best fourth in 1m57.9.
"Despite this incident, I'm satisfied with our work and with the results in this my first test with the Tech 3 team, the bike itself and Dunlop tyres. Although we hadn't set time-based goals for these first sessions, I have put in respectable laps", Checa said.
Tomorrow will be the last day for Suzuki and Tech 3 in Qatar and the second of three days for the Camel Yamaha team that will continue the hard work to get the new bike ready for the season opener.