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Two-strokes come out on top in first head to head test

Two-strokes come out on top in first head to head test

Two-strokes come out on top in first head to head test

At the end of the MotoGP IRTA test in Valencia, which pitted the legendary 500cc two-strokes against the revolutionary 990cc four-strokes for the first time, the half-litres emerged with the upper hand. Early on the final day it looked as if the rain that had affected Saturday's session would return, however the sun finally broke out and riders could put in a full day's work, albeit in cool conditions. The result of this first confrontation was that three of the top five times came from two-stroke machines, with the Yamaha YZR500 of Garry McCoy finishing as the fastest machine around the track.

The Australian slide specialist appears to have regained some of the form that took him to three Grand Prix victories in 2000, but which practically deserted him after injuries last year. The Red Bull Yamaha rider remarked, 'The bike's pretty much the same as last year, so there's no point being fastest here at this session unless we get to test everything we wanted to test. To come out with a good time even in the top five would have been nice. The race here is a long way off, so there's no point reading too much into this.'

To emphasise the advantage that the two-strokes currently hold, another Yamaha 500 bike, Shinya Nakano's Gauloises Tech3, was second quickest, just in front of Carlos Checa and the Marlboro Yamaha team's four-stroke M1. These three Yamahas were then followed by the Honda NSR500 of reigning 250cc World Champion, Daijiro Katoh.

Max Biaggi, who suffered yet another crash during the day, took hold of John Kocinski's M1 late in the session to see if the set-up of the American's Yamaha was preferable. The advantages of having the additional development of the third 'test' rider then became evident as Biaggi improved his time on his first flying lap with the machine. He was unable to push the bike any further though, and ended up with the fifth fastest time overall.

In 250s, Fonsi Nieto was in devastating form, setting a time inside the 500cc lap record, and 1.3 seconds quicker than any other rider in the class. Riding a factory Aprilia this season, the young Spaniard will hope to succeed where the Italian factory was unable last year. Randy de Puniet was the only other rider below 1'37, on board his kitted Campetella Aprilia. Despite crashing twice the Frenchman held off youngster Casey Stoner and team-mate Alex Debon for second, behind the flying Fonsi.

Also at Valencia today, Proton Team KR announced that European 250cc Champion, David Garcia, would join the set-up as official test rider. The Spaniard declared, 'This is a great opportunity for me to get used to the systems used in MotoGP, and I will be available if either of the two main riders suffers injury and is unable to race.'

The MotoGP and 250 bikes now move on to Estoril in Portugal, where the second leg of IRTA testing begins on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in their place in Valencia, the 125cc class reunite to take to the track for their first IRTA session this off-season.

Official best times


Garry McCOY, AUS (Yamaha YZR500) - 1'34.070

Shinya NAKANO, JPN (Yamaha YZR500) - 1'34.360

Carlos CHECA, SPA (Yamaha YZR-M1) - 1'34.654

Daijiro KATOH, JPN (Honda NSR500) - 1'34.722

Max BIAGGI, ITA (Yamaha YZR-M1) - 1'34.820


Alfonso NIETO, SPA (Aprilia) - 1'35.680

Randy DE PUNIET, FRA (Aprilia) - 1'36.998

Casey STONER, AUS (Aprilia) - 1'37.046

Alex DEBON, SPA (Aprilia) - 1'37.325

Franco BATTAINI, ITA (Aprilia) - 1'37.344

500cc, 2001

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