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Thrilling day in Jerez as MotoGP racers launch into first IRTA test

Thrilling day in Jerez as MotoGP racers launch into first IRTA test

Thrilling day in Jerez as MotoGP racers launch into first IRTA test

With press and photographers flooding the pit lane eager to cast their expert eyes over the 2003 versions of the MotoGP four-strokes, the first day of the Jerez IRTA test for the premier class was certainly an exhilarating one. The main straight at the southern Spanish circuit was echoing with the deafening sounds of the new Ducati Desmosedici and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR, which both will be entered for their first MotoGP season in April, as well as the revised 2003 editions of the Yamaha M1, Suzuki GSV-R and the Aprilia RS Cube.

There was more action out on the track however, with the riders keen to make an early showing in front of their rivals in what is the first official test for the MotoGP machines this year. Fifteen four-strokes were on track today including test-riders, with Alex Barros topping the pile after a day's work. The Brazilian is rapidly settling down on board his new Yamaha machine, and his time of 1 minute 42.588 seconds is over three-tenths inside Valentino Rossi's circuit record set here during the MotoGP race last May, demonstrating the progress already made by the Yamaha factory during the off-season.

Unlike the weather experienced by the 125 machines over the previous two days, it remained rain-free in Jerez, although the dark clouds looming overhead throughout the day were not a great omen for tomorrow's continuation of the session. Behind the Brazilian rider came his Yamaha colleague Carlos Checa, with Colin Edwards third-fastest on the Aprilia. Shinya Nakano and Marco Melandri rounded off a good day at the office for Yamaha, just ahead of the Ducati pairing of Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss.

Another item of note today at Jerez in MotoGP was the appearance of a new Yamaha prototype machine, which boasts twin rear-suspension and an inverted swingarm amongst other things, and which was being ridden by Norick Abe as part of the Japanese factory's test project.

$$$ Official times from MotoGP IRTA Test, Jerez - 21 February 2003

1. Alex Barros (BRA) Yamaha - 1 minute 42.588 seconds
2. Carlos Checa (ESP) Yamaha - 1'43.277
3. Colin Edwards (USA) Aprilia - 1'43.699
4. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Yamaha - 1'43.794
5. Marco Melandri (ITA) Yamaha - 1'43.810
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati - 1'43.943
7. Troy Bayliss (AUS) Ducati - 1'44.125
8. Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Aprilia - 1'44.242
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) Suzuki - 1'44.558
10. John Hopkins (USA) Suzuki - 1'44.652

MotoGP, 2003

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