Ducati Valencia test notes 2003-02-21

Hodgson and Xaus (Team Ducati Fila) set the pace at Valencia on day 1 of World Superbike testing. The World Superbike Championship returns to the track this weekend at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain for a three day testing ...

Hodgson and Xaus (Team Ducati Fila) set the pace at Valencia on day 1 of World Superbike testing.

The World Superbike Championship returns to the track this weekend at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain for a three day testing session starting from today, in preparation for round 1 of the championship, which kicks off next Sunday at the same circuit.

Team Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus set the pace on the first day of testing with the all-new Ducati 999, the heir to the 998 that clinched an eleventh Manufacturers' title for the Italian manufacturer in 2002.

Both the 29-year-old British rider, who has not tested since early December due to corrective surgery on his left wrist, and the 25-year-old Catalan, in his third season with the factory Ducati Corse Superbike squad, were in fine form today around the 4.005 km track, despite each recording a harmless crash.

The workload mainly revolved around optimising the set-up on the four new race bikes, two apiece for the riders, and numerous suspension settings were tried out. Together with Michelin technicians, the two riders also verified the race tyre choice tested during the winter.

"That wasn't a bad day" said Neil, "because I had to blow the cobwebs off after two months away from the track and it was the first real test for my wrist. After I high-sided at the first corner, I also felt stiff in the afternoon, so all things considered, I'm pretty happy with my quickest time. The bike is not quite the same as I remembered, but there again neither am I!. I know I'll go faster tomorrow, today I wasn't pushing too hard".

"I lost it at the final curve but it wasn't because I was going too fast or slow, I just got my braking all wrong and it was all my fault" commented Ruben. "The 999 feels really good and I'm getting more and more used to it but the conditions are a bit different here to when we tested one month ago, so now we have to get back into the rhythm once again."

OFFICIAL TIMES: 1. Hodgson (Ducati Fila) 1'35.47; 2. Xaus (Ducati Fila) 1'35.62; 3. Walker (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.84; 4. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati) 1'35.93; 5. Martin (Ducati DFX) 1'36.06; 6. Laconi (Ducati NCR) 1'36.54; 7. Lavilla (Suzuki) 1'36.59; 8. Borja (Ducati DFX) 1'36.72; 9. Corser (Foggy Petronas) 1'37.02; 10. Chili (Ducati) 1'37.03.

-dc-

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Neil Hodgson , Ruben Xaus