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HRC upbeat at end of Malaysia test

HRC upbeat at end of Malaysia test

HRC upbeat at end of Malaysia test

HRC ended a their MotoGP test session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia today in up-beat mood, after two days of non-stop testing with the latest version of the RC211V 990cc five-cylinder four-stroke machine. Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi has been in scintillating form over the two days, setting consistently fast times eclipsed only by his factory colleague Daijiro Kato. Other good news for the Japanese factory was that AMA Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden is getting to grips with his new machine and lowered his times by a further half a second on the final day, as test rider Shinichi Itoh was the only man to lap outside 2´05.

Kato seems much more at home on the new bike than his 2002 model and he put in the best lap of the day at 2m 02.8s to top the unofficial time sheet. The Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini rider has been in superb form on the new RCV since he arrived at Sepang. Fastest man on both days of the test, Kato goes into the HRC test at Phillip Island next week on a high. `Today I am again very satisfied with my results,´ commented the former 250cc World Champion. `The team´s work here in Sepang has been great, they have supported me a lot and enabled me to improve my personal best on this circuit. I believe we are working well and in the right direction, my results prove it.´

Hayden was pleased to report positive news from the Malaysian venue after struggling there in previous tests over the winter period, although he admitted his relief at an impending change of scenery. `We were on the new bike, which feels good - better than last year´s model we tested last time we were here,´ said Hayden. `Everything feels real tight on it and I´m feeling more comfortable on it as well. I guess things are getting there. I´m just trying real hard to be where I need to be.´

`The two days here have been not so bad. I guess it´s a little frustrating at times because I want to make progress faster but it´s coming. I just gotta keep plugging away - I know it´s there. The team seem happy with some of the times - my fastest one was on a long run and all the laps were consistent in being pretty fast. The new bike feels good and I´m learning just how the little tweaks make a big difference. We´re off to Phillip Island next which I´m really looking forward to. I´m really keen to learn more circuits before the season starts.´

Unofficial lap times:

Daijiro Kato, JPN Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini 2m 02.8s. 60 + laps
Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 2m 02.9s 60 laps.
Max Biaggi, ITA Camel Pramac Honda 2m 02.9s 61 laps
Tohru Ukawa, JPN Camel Pramac Honda 2m 03.1s.
Sete Gibernau, SPA Telefonica MoviStar Honda Gresini 2m 03.7s
Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 2m 04.8s. 69 laps.
Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 2m 04.9s. 44 laps.
Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 2m 05.3s. 50 laps.

MotoGP, 2003

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