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Valentino Rossi absent from HRC test session in Sepang

Valentino Rossi absent from HRC test session in Sepang

Italian Valentino Rossi is not taking part in the official HRC tests which began today at the Sepang circuit, with his contract with the Japanese manufacturer for the 2002 season still unsigned. The two parties are still in negotiations while the rest of the Honda riders covered their first miles of the New Year at the Malaysian track. The first day was severely hampered by a heavy downpour which fell at midday, preventing the riders from working all day.

Those who are in attendance at the test are Tohru Ukawa and Shinichi Itoh riding the RC211V four-stroke, and the NSR500 riders Daijiro Katoh, Jurgen Van den Goorbergh, Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros. It was the first pre-season test for these last two West Honda Pons riders.

Ukawa and Itoh tested various modifications made to the RC211V back in Japan since the final tests of last year, Ukawa setting the best time of the day with a lap of 2´06.0 , four-tenths quicker than his previous best at the track. The Japanese rider, now in his second year on official Honda machinery in the elite GP class, remarked, ´We were looking for a good set up for the track. Once we were close we started testing some new tyres for Michelin. I´m satisfied with what we achieved before the rain came. I must be happy, I´m already faster on the RCV than I was at the GP with the NSR500.´

Katoh made his first laps of the Sepang circuit with his new NSR500, and was just two-tenths of a second behind his compatriot, Ukawa, while bettering Capirossi and Barros by 0.1 and 1 seconds respectively. The reigning 250cc World Champion commented, ´Sepang is a real 500 track and it´s very demanding on the rider and the machine. This is my first time on a 500 round Sepang so Iwas not completely happy with the set up before the rain started but I´m satisfied with the performance today. I´m sure I can improve when the bike is set up for me.´

Jurgen Vd Goorbergh suffered a spectacular crash after having completed just 23 laps of the track. The Dutchman wasn´t injured, but his bike was so badly battered that he had to sit out for the rest of the day.

500cc, 2001, Valentino Rossi

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