Slow start for Fortuna Yamaha riders on chilly first day. Fortuna Yamaha Team duo Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa recorded the eighth and ninth fastest times respectively today at the official MotoGP group IRTA test at the Montmelo circuit in ...
Slow start for Fortuna Yamaha riders on chilly first day.
Fortuna Yamaha Team duo Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa recorded the eighth and ninth fastest times respectively today at the official MotoGP group IRTA test at the Montmelo circuit in Catalunya, Spain. The test is the first on-track meeting of all of the 2003 MotoGP competitors before the World Championship commences in earnest at Suzuka, Japan on 6th April.
Dark clouds, cold conditions and patches of rain hampered testing this afternoon with the fastest times being recorded at the end of the morning. Italian Melandri was happy to be back in the action again, after a recent testing injury to his shoulder, and he already tested here with the team in a private test on Wednesday and Thursday. He recovered sufficiently to complete a total of 46 laps, and gradually improved on his time, but like the other riders was stopped by the weather.
"Unfortunately my shoulder is hurting now," commented the 250cc World Champion. "It was not so bad when I was riding but whenever I rest it starts to hurt again. Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow. We started today with the best set-up that we found in the test here two days ago, and I'm really happy with the way the bike feels now. I'm pleased that Barros set such a good time - it shows what the bike is capable of. I'm able to slide the M1 more and more now, which I like.
"It's not so easy to improve on your time when you are out there alone, it gives you much more motivation when other riders are in front of you. Tomorrow I will be out more with the other riders and try to go one step faster."
Team-mate Carlos Checa did not have such a positive day, as he struggled to find the times he was hoping for at his home circuit. He completed 44 laps with a fastest lap time of 1'45.733 and despite every effort with his crew, could not improve.
"I'm not really happy with my performance today," said the Spaniard. "We've made quite a few changes but I still can't get a good feeling. Anyway, I certainly don't feel that I can go any faster at the moment. I'm having problems with edge-grip on the right-hand corners. It's my problem and I must fix it myself, that's it."
Team Director Davide Brivio remained optimistic: "It's only the first day so we have to stay positive. Marco has obviously made a very good recovery from his injury and is making good progress. It's very good experience for him to be testing with so many other riders. Carlos is having a few problems today but I am sure he and his team will sort them out tomorrow to be able to fulfil the bike's potential. It's amazing that it was so cold today as conditions yesterday were so warm and sunny."
An interesting experiment ended today's session when all 27 riders present had to form up behind the pace car before coming into the pits. They then re-formed behind the car to practice a rolling start. The test is a result of new rules introduced for the 2003 season that aims to speed up the re-start process in case of a rain-interrupted race in the MotoGP class.
1. Alex Barros, Gauloises Yamaha Team 1'44.112
2. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro Team 1'44.370
3. Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda 1'44.793
4. Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda 1'45.167
5. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha Team d'Antin 1'45.328
6. Daijiro Kato, Telefonica Movistar Honda 1'45.476
7. Tohru Ukawa, Camel Pramac Pons 1'45.581
8. MARCO MELANDRI, FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM 1'45.684
9. CARLOS CHECA, FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM 1'45.733
10. John Hopkins, Suzuki Grand Prix Team 1'45.826