Sepang, Malaysia Saturday, January 24, 2004 Ambient temperature: 31 degrees Track temperature: 41 degrees Humidity: 44% Yamaha teams make early progress in Sepang tests. Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna ...
Saturday, January 24, 2004
Ambient temperature: 31 degrees
Track temperature: 41 degrees
Yamaha teams make early progress in Sepang tests.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team) today completed 58 laps of the 5.548km Sepang circuit in Malaysia acclimatising himself to an unfamiliar machine. The Italian superstar will challenge for a fourth premier class title on the Yamaha M1 for the first time this season.
In conditions remarkably similar to those at the Grand Prix held here in mid-October last year the 24-year-old put in a best lap time of 2m 03.80 seconds. The Italian Yamaha recruit was happy with his day's work, after spending more than two months without riding a potent MotoGP machine.
"That was quite good," he said. "We have a lot of work to do, but the bike is not bad at this early stage and after so much time off I need to get more distance covered to improve things. But for a first day on a new bike things were okay. We'll work our way through gradual changes to the chassis and engine tomorrow."
Rossi's Crew Chief Jerry Burgess said, "We didn't really do much more than get him familiar with the bike. It takes a while to get eye co-ordination back after a long lay-off and we just made minor refinements to deliver what Valentino wants from the bike. What we're looking for is information to work out the direction we need to go in - and we're all working together in that."
Carlos Checa, Rossi's team-mate in the new Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team, put in 53 laps and the Spanish charger requested an extra half-hour's track time at the end of the day to get his 220bhp M1 machine further dialled-in to the sinuous Sepang track.
"I felt more comfortable as the day went on," said Checa. "We had some vibration at the front end in the final session though, but before that I was quite consistent with my times." His best lap of the day was a 2m 04.10 second lap. "We can't really expect too much on day one, but there will be more to come tomorrow."
Checa's Crew Chief Antonio Jimenez was content with the first day's work. "That was a normal first day," he said. "But we spent a bit of time trying to sort out the vibration at the front end. It's not a big problem but Carlos was consistent and we will improve tomorrow."
"Today was special for us," said Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio. "It was very emotional seeing the number 46 on our Yamaha and we just tried to adjust the bike to his needs. Carlos continued his job and overall we had a positive day. But this is just the first day."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) couldn't tuck himself in properly behind his M1's fairing on the two Sepang straights owing to stiffness in his right shoulder after off-season surgery. The Italian rode 48 laps and had to be content with a best first day's time of 2m 05.40 seconds. "I've spent almost 100 days without riding," said the Italian. "But my shoulder should loosen up tomorrow and I will improve. Even so I was a tenth of a second faster than my best race lap here last year."
His team-mate Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) was happy enough with a 2m 05.84s lap after completing 50 laps on his number one machine. "That's okay for the time being," said the Japanese. "We used last year's settings on a new chassis so it needed work to refine."
Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team Director Herve Poncharal is heading up a new team with two new riders and he looked at day one of this three-day test session as time well spent. "We did exactly what we thought we'd do, " he said. "We improved the lap times each time out and we didn't want to push Marco too hard too early. It's early days, but Yamaha is going in the right direction."