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The riders of MotoGP prepare for the first big off-season test

The riders of MotoGP prepare for the first big off-season test

The riders of MotoGP prepare for the first big off-season test

A healthy quantity of riders ready to contest this year's MotoGP World Championships are starting to think towards the circuit of Jerez in southern Spain this Friday for the first IRTA tests of 2003. The sessions will offer the teams and riders, as well as all fans of the sport, the first real glimpse of how the racing may take shape come the first GP in Suzuka, Japan. There is also plenty of new faces and machinery to look out for.

The re-vamped Aprilia line-up with WSB Champion Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga will be making their first appearance with the majority of their competition for 2003. The American has already completed two previous tests in Jerez and now knows how his new motorcycle will behave around the Spanish curves. Back in January he recorded an impressive laptime of 1´42.7, but the next three days will be his first real taste of MotoGP action.

Loris Capirossi and his team-mate, Australian Troy Bayliss, have created a great wave of expectation thanks to results of private tests in recent weeks riding the new Ducati Desmocedici entry. The Italian former World Champion amazed with a lap of 1´42. 1, noched in December at the first shakedown Ducati held at the Andalucian venue, a time lower than that used by Rossi to grab pole position for the GP in 2002. Shortly after this in January Ducati also shined at the Sepang circuit where they shared the track with Honda and clashed for the first time with Rossi, Biaggi and co.

The Honda contingent has elected to miss the Jerez test and today have started their seperate programme in Sepang, but the action over this weekend will allow all the Yamaha riders to get together. 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri is another pilot making his MotoGP debut and he partners Carlos Checa. Shinya Nakano now is part of the D'Antin squad, and Gauloises Yamaha present Olivier Jacque and Alex Barros. The Brazilian has probably been the best rider in the pre-season tests so far from this group onboard his M1 2003.

Kenny Roberts, World Champion in 2000, and his new team-mate John Hopkins embark on their first showing on European soil with the new Suzuki GSV-R. It so far has been tested in Malaysia and Australia. Likewise the same applies to the Kawasaki duo of Garry McCoy and Andrew Pitt.

There are a few more absentees from the test aside from just all of team Honda and the Jerez sessions have come just a fraction to quickly for some concerning mechanical reasons such as Ralf Waldmann and Chris Burns of the Harris WCM squad and Jeremy McWilliams of Proton Team KR.

MotoGP, 2003

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