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Suzuki and Yamaha complete Sepang test

Suzuki and Yamaha complete Sepang test

Suzuki and Yamaha complete Sepang test

Suzuki and Yamaha's factory MotoGP teams completed a three day test at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday, both satisfied with their results. For Suzuki it was a key first test with Bridgestone tyres, whilst for Yamaha the session presented a valuable opportunity to continue development of the latest-spec Deltabox frame, first introduced during the Valencia Grand Prix.

John Hopkins, lapping with Japanese test rider Kosuko Akioshi in the absence of his regular team-mate Kenny Roberts, praised the tyres for their performance and consistency as he lapped quicker than Roberts' best race lap time at the Grand Prix in October, when the youngster was suspended.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Hopkins, who used the 2003 spec GSV-R whilst a new prototype is built in Japan. "So I was pretty pleased to find out the tyres work really good. It gives us all a positive feeling to go into the winter break, after doubts about what to expect. I was impressed from the first laps. Tyres are so important, so I have to admit I was a little concerned about what I might find. Right away the grip was good, and when we started racking up more laps the tyres were consistent. I was able to get to lap times definitely competitive with what we had earlier in the year. It's going to be real interesting to work with these guys."

Meanwhile, Carlos Checa switched between 2003-spec and new-spec chassis on the M1, as well as testing new Michelin front tyres. The Spaniard was joined on the track by Yamaha test riders Norick Abe and Norihiko Fujiwara, both of whom rode with the new tyres whilst focusing on Magneti Marelli's fuel injection system.

"I'm quite tired!" commented Checa, having put in around 60 laps on Sunday. "Yesterday was better than Friday, and then today was even more useful again. I tested new front tyres with the 2003-spec chassis and the new chassis. I'm quite satisfied because I confirmed valuable information to Yamaha's engineers and Michelin on the advantages and weak points of the tyre combinations with both chassis. My best lap times were okay but I was focusing more on giving feedback than going for the fastest time.

"I think we still need to make some improvements to both the chassis and the engine but we have a reasonable point to start from at our next test here in January, and we'll concentrate on using the new chassis from then on. Next year is not going to be easy and you never know how much the competitors will improve. Anyway we definitely have a good starting point. I'm going to Italy next week to do some technical work on my leathers with Alpinestars, then to ride a Supermotard at the Bologna Motorshow. I'll head home to the UK after that, then for Christmas I will probably go to visit family in Spain, then go skiing until the New Year either in France or Italy. I need to relax a bit before next year!"

Team Director Davide Brivio was also pleased with the test results, "Carlos has worked really hard and we're happy with the progress made", said Brivio, who will have Valentino Rossi available for the team's next test at Sepang on the 24/25/26 January. "He put in some longer runs with the new Michelin tyres and was able to keep close enough to his recent race pace. Abe and Fujiwara helped us a lot with the new tyres and looking at our Magneti Marelli system. All in all it's a good starting point for 2004."

MotoGP, 2003

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