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Rossi ends winter on a high note after final IRTA test in Suzuka

Rossi ends winter on a high note after final IRTA test in Suzuka

Rossi ends winter on a high note after final IRTA test in Suzuka

Time was called on the MotoGP pre-season today, as the final IRTA testing session came to an end at the Suzuka circuit in Japan. Since the curtain fell on last season at Valencia in November, it has been one of the busiest winter periods ever for the teams and riders of the MotoGP World Championship, as they work to equip themselves with the best materials possible in order to mount an assault on the 2003 title. Now the last of the tests is out of the way, just three more days of preparation at Suzuka remain before the first green flag of the new season on Friday.

The stakes were set high as early as the first hour, when Spanish MotoGP veteran Sete Gibernau recorded the fastest time of the test so far after just four laps in the morning, setting the mark which the others had to better. They didn´t delay in doing so, as Valentino Rossi amongst others set about his mission for this week in aggressive fashion. The reigning World Champion set about destroying both yesterday´s times and Gibernau´s early pace, setting his fastest laps before the lunch break, and lapping under his own pole position record from last year´s meet; although due to the changes to the circuit that have taken place since then, the times are not directly comparable. Rossi did however better his time from the first day of testing by just under a second.

The afternoon session saw the weather deteriorate and track temperatures drop, meaning registering times faster than those recorded during the morning became increasingly difficult. The latter stages of the day were nevertheless frenetic, with riders finally putting their two days´ work into practice as they attempted to see how fast they could lap the near-six kilometre circuit. With soft compound tyres fitted for the last few minutes there were constant changes in the order, Tohru Ukawa eventually securing the second fastest time behind his ex-teammate Rossi.

The day ended on a bitter note for the Japanese rider however, as he crashed in the final minute trying to improve his time even further. Ukawa was followed by his new Honda teammate Max Biaggi, Yamaha´s Alex Barros and the two further Hondas of Sete Gibernau and Daijiro Kato. Great news for Aprilia was that Colin Edwards put his RS Cube into the seventh fastest spot, ahead of the Ducati of Loris Capirossi, the Yamaha of Carlos Checa, and the American´s Japanese teammate Noriyuki Haga.

Before the action begins back on track on Thursday, the riders will take a well earned break from the motorbikes, with four of the MotoGP stars having the chance to visit the Misonoza theatre in Nagoya, to see a traditional Japanese performance of Kabuki. Valentino Rossi, Alex Barros, Garry McCoy and Noriyuki Haga, himself a native of Nagoya, are the quartet who have been exclusively invited to see this prestigious and exclusive event tomorrow.

$$$ MotoGP IRTA Test official results, Day Two

1. Valentino Rossi ITA (Honda) 2´04.170
2. Tohru Ukawa JPN (Honda) 2´04.359
3. Max Biaggi ITA (Honda) 2´04.567
4. Alex Barros BRA (Yamaha) 2´04.605
5. Sete Gibernau ESP (Honda) 2´04.616
6. Daijiro Kato JPN (Honda) 2´04.629
7. Colin Edwards USA (Aprilia) 2´04.846
8. Loris Capirossi ITA (Ducati) 2´04.889
9. Carlos Checa ESP (Yamaha) 2´04.908
10. Noriyuki Haga JPN (Aprilia) 2´05.193

MotoGP, 2003

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