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First IRTA tests of the season under way in Valencia

First IRTA tests of the season under way in Valencia

First IRTA tests of the season under way in Valencia

The first session of IRTA tests for both the MotoGP and 250cc classes kicked off today at a cold and blustery Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. Despite the sun, the difficult conditions meant that many riders did not take to the track until lunchtime, and worked straight through until the end of the day. These three days represent an opportunity to assess the four-stroke and two-stroke prototypes head to head for the first time, but due in no small measure to the weather, initial evaluations proved largely inconclusive.

Aprilia and Yamaha four-strokes shared the track for the first time with the rest of the MotoGP field, and it appeared there was no obvious advantage for the 990cc bikes. The quickest MotoGP rider out on the track during the day was Brazilian Alex Barros, who came fresh from the presentation of his 2002 West Honda Pons NSR500 last night, and went on to set a respectable time of 1'35.213. Behind his two-stroke Honda in the timesheets came Carlos Checa and John Kocinski on the Yamaha M1 four-stroke.

There were a few casualties of the wind during the day, Max Biaggi lost control of his M1 at the end of the main straight and ended up in the gravel. Luckily the Italian walked away unhurt, unlike his compatriot Loris Capirossi, who suffered severe bruising to his abdomen and back, and Malaysia's Shahrol Yuzy who broke a bone in his hand when he fell from his 250cc Petronas Yamaha. Capirossi should be fit to ride again tomorrow, while Yuzy will have to wait until at least the IRTA Catalunya test.

Absent from the circuit today were Yamaha D'Antin duo Norick Abe and Alex Criville, and in a short statement made at the end of the day, Team Manager Luis D'Antin said that a Press Conference would be held at midday tomorrow to explain the team's current situation.

One of the favourites for the 250 title this season, Roberto Locatelli, was also absent, however his rivals were out in full, with Aprilia rider Fonsi Nieto setting the best time for the quarter-litre bikes. The Spaniard recorded a best time of 1'37.304, ahead of compatriots Alex Debon and Emilio Alzamora.

Earlier in the day, while most riders were waiting to go out on the track, the Gauloises Yamaha Tech3 set-up made the official presentation of its 2002 team. The inclusion of Sylvain Guintoli to be the formal test-rider alongside Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano is part of a unique and innovative scheme, which as well as additional development, aims to prevent the team missing out on points when their principal riders are absent due to injury, as has occurred in the past.

Official best lap times


Alex BARROS, BRA (Honda) - 1'35.213

Carlos CHECA, SPA (Yamaha) - 1'35.488

John KOCINSKI, USA (Yamaha) - 1'35.649

Max BIAGGI, ITA (Yamaha) - 1'35.910

Garry McCOY, AUS (Yamaha) - 1'36.159

Loris CAPIROSSI, ITA (Honda) - 1'36.378

Daijiro KATOH, JPN (Honda) - 1'36.558

Shinya NAKANO, JPN (Yamaha) - 1'36.671

Olivier JACQUE, FRA (Yamaha) - 1'36.806

Nobuatsu AOKI, JPN (Proton KR) - 1'36.951


Alfonso NIETO, SPA (Aprilia) - 1'37.304

Alex DEBON, SPA (Aprilia) - 1'37.388

Emilio ALZAMORA, SPA (Honda) - 1'37.683

Randy DE PUNIET, FRA (Aprilia) - 1'37.749

Marco MELANDRI, ITA (Aprilia) - 1'38.161

500cc, 2001

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