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Ukawa and Katoh close Sepang tests with surprisingly quick results

Ukawa and Katoh close Sepang tests with surprisingly quick results

Tohru Ukawa and Daijiro Katoh finished off their work at the HRC tests at the Sepang circuit with some remarkable lap times with both riders going under 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Ukawa and his RC211V 4 stroke bike clocked a surprising 2´04.78, while Katoh pushed his 500cc NSR less than a tenth of a second slower. Ukawa was enthusiastic about the findings of the test, ´I´m happy with the machine, I have a comfortable feeling riding the RCV. This circuit has been very good for testing many things. High speed stability of the machine, stability under heavy breaking, and we tested tyres, all have improved. Altogether a good test but we still have work to do. Now I can get some rest while waiting for the next test, in mid-February.´

Daijiro Katoh was over a half-second quicker than fellow NSR500 rider Loris Capirossi, and over one and a half quicker than the Italian´s team-mate, the Brazilian Alex Barros. Despite such startlingly quick results, the young World 250cc Champion did not want to get too overenthusiastic, ´The test has been good for me. I´m getting used to the bike and beginning to feel comfortable and trying many things on set-up. The times are good but I still need much more experience on the 500. Luckily we have many more test days before the season starts.´

West Honda Pons rider, Capirossi, who will be looking to get a win this year to add to the respect he gained for his third placed finish last season, commented, ´Last year with the old bike I did a fantastic time on this track, but that was an exceptional result, whereas the surprising thing about the NSR 2002 is its constant performance. I am feeling more and more confident with the bike and I believe we are heading in the right direction. The fact that I am constantly producing fast times right from the start confirms that we have the potential with this bike to compete in the championship at the very highest level´

The HRC team manager, Noriaki Nakata was satisfied with the progress made this week, ´We can be quite satisfied with the results of this three-day test. We tested everything we came here to test and ended with an endurance test, the results of which were very good. We will go back to Japan and work on the information we gained here. I must say development of the RC211V is going in the right direction, very encouraging.´

Jurgen Vd. Goorbergh was once again unable to ride due to his bike still remaining damaged from the heavy fall he suffered on Monday.

500cc, 2001

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