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Katoh springs Suzuka surprise as HRC complete two days of testing in Japan

Katoh springs Suzuka surprise as HRC complete two days of testing in Japan

Katoh springs Suzuka surprise as HRC complete two days of testing in Japan

Fortuna Honda Gresini rider Daijiro Katoh outshone the Repsol Honda duo of Valentino Rossi and Tohru Ukawa at the end of a two-day HRC test at Suzuka on Wednesday. The current 250 World Champion, now riding a Honda NSR500, set the quickest lap of the session with a best time of 2´04.44, well inside the pole record of 2´04.777 set by Loris Capirossi at last season´s Japanese Grand Prix. Rossi and Ukawa used the test to improve the traction and handling of the RC211V 4 stroke machines they will race in the 2002 MotoGP World Championship.

Katoh is something of a Suzuka specialist, having won four times there in 250cc Grand Prix, twice as a wildcard. ´´My NSR500 was really good today,´´ said the 25 year old, who lowered his time from the first day by almost 3 seconds. ´´Like everybody else at the test we concentrated on tyres and suspension to get the bike set-up before trying for fast times. My team did a good job for me and I´m very satisfied. I could not have gone faster with the settings we used. I´m still learning about the 500 but its not easy - we will test here again before the Grand Prix, I´m ready for that´´.

Rossi was second fastest with a best lap of 2´04.53. ´´Today was a good day for us, testing was much better than yesterday,´´ said the 500cc World Champion. ´´Here at Suzuka there seems to be little difference between the four-stroke RCV and the NSR two-stroke. But I´m happy with my machine as we found better settings than we tried on the first day, particularly on the suspension. Now I´m looking forward to the final test here, just before the Grand Prix. I´m sure what we learned here will help improve the RCV still further´´.

Tohru Ukawa lapped over half a second slower than Rossi, clocking 2´05.10, but was happy with the results of the test. ´´We worked quite hard on testing many tyres, then tyre and suspension combinations. We did so many laps today and the results were positive. The RCV development is definitely going in the right direction but there is little between the RCV and NSR, the two machines are well balanced here at Suzuka.´

MotoGP, 2002

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