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Barros sets pace on cloudy first day at Catalunya

Barros sets pace on cloudy first day at Catalunya

Barros sets pace on cloudy first day at Catalunya

The first day of the long-awaited MotoGP Test at the Circuit de Catalunya featured some sparkling on-track action despite cloudy and cool conditions today. Brazilian Alex Barros set the fastest time of the day on his Yamaha, with his best lap of 1´44.112 well within the pole record time here, set by Max Biaggi with a 1´44.523 at the 2002 Grand Prix. The only other man under pole record pace was Loris Capirossi, who clocked an astounding 1´44.370 on just his second visit to this circuit with the Ducati and reached a top speed of 325.9km/h. The top speed record stands at 317km/h, set by Tohru Ukawa also at the 2002 Grand Prix.

It is the first real body shot the two factories have been able to deliver during the preseason to Honda, who had Sete Gibernau as their highest ranked rider in third place. The Spaniard made use of his local knowledge to guide his RC211V to a time of 1´44.793, just under three tenths quicker than factory colleague and World Champion Valentino Rossi. Three more Yamahas entered the top ten at the hands of Shinya Nakano, Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa, with Daijiro Kato and Tohru Ukawa upholding Honda honour under pressure from Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Kenny Roberts.

MotoGP new boy Colin Edwards had never lapped at this circuit before and was one of the first riders out this morning on his Aprilia. By the end of the session he was lapping quicker than Grand Prix veteran Max Biaggi and was just two seconds down on Barros. Fellow rookie and former WSB rival Troy Bayliss set the second highest top speed behind Ducati team-mate Capirossi, but was 22nd fastest overall.

The session was cut short for those riders who did not wish to test wet weather settings when a light rain shower hit at approximately 4pm, but they did return to the track an hour later for a first practice run of the new neutralisation procedure which will be incorporated to the MotoGP class this season. There will be another rehearsal tomorrow at 1pm, one hour before the start of the eagerly-awaited timed 60 minute session when the riders will compete for a BMW car. A minute silence will be held at the start of this period in memory of former double 500cc World Champion Barry Sheene, who died of cancer on Monday.

MotoGP, 2003

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