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Final MotoGP action of 2003 concludes at Valencia

Final MotoGP action of 2003 concludes at Valencia

Final MotoGP action of 2003 concludes at Valencia

Three days of intense testing at the Valencia circuit for a number of top MotoGP teams concluded on Friday with continued good weather and favourable track conditions. With an ambient temperature touching 20ºC and the track reaching as high as 25ºC the Ducati, Honda, Aprilia and Proton teams present at the Spanish circuit were able to lap constantly throughout the day and all reported positive results. Many of the riders again opted to test the new 16.5 inch front tyre designed by Michelin to offer a wider range of bike set-ups, although it was Troy Bayliss, opting to stick with the more traditional 17, who ended the day with the quickest time.

The Australian set a best lap of 1'33.15, marginally quicker than his team-mate Loris Capirossi, who clocked a 1'33.48 to the delight of Ducati Marlboro Team Director Livio Suppo. "The results of these tests are the best way to end this wonderful season," commented Suppo. "I want to thank the team and in particular Loris, Troy and Vittoriano (Guareschi – test rider), who have done a great job, their determination, ability and professionalism have been decisive on every occasion. From tomorrow everyone gets a well-earned break, even though we can't wait for the new season to start, bringing with it a fresh challenge, and a battle that promises to be even and hard-fought. We can only look ahead with optimism, it is sure to be another great season for Ducati".

Meanwhile the D´Antin Ducati satellite team of Neil Hodgson and Rubén Xaus were satisfied with their progress after racking up over 350 laps worth of data between them over the three days. Whilst Hodgson had to pack up two hours early to take a flight to Dubai, where he will receive the award for his World Superbike title on Sunday, Xaus stayed on track until it closed as he got to grips with the 16.5 inch front Michelin.

"I think the whole team can feel very positive about this test because we have worked very hard from the first moment," commented Xaus, who will be back on track with the rest of the team at Sepang on the 10, 11 and 12 January. "I have gradually got used to the bike and today I tried the 16.5 inch front tyre and loved it. But there is still a lot of work ahead and I am already thinking about the next test."

The fastest Honda rider was once again Sete Gibernau with a time of 1'33.20, although the biggest smile in the Telefonica Movistar Honda team was on the other side of the garage, where Colin Edwards managed to drop his times by half a second after struggling to find the way forward yesterday.

"I struggled for the two days just trying to find where the limit was - I had no clue," explained the Texan. "The front wasn't telling me anything. When I rode this thing at Barcelona, the Showa guys said we have your fork valving from Superbike ready, so you can test that in Valencia. As it turned out we didn't put it on until midday today. We changed forks and it was different all round – I did 33's the whole time. I thought 'I missed you. Thanks honey for coming back.'"

Despite an oil leak and resultant crash for Pramac Honda's Makoto Tamada and major chatter problems for Camel Pramac Pons rider Max Biaggi, Honda Racing Corporation team manager Shoji Tachikawa was satisfied with the test. "Everybody made many laps and we tested many items for Michelin and Bridgestone, and they're happy," said Tachikawa, who added his satisfaction that HRC was able to supply advanced spec motors at the end of the race year, rather than early in the 2004 test season. "We planned the new spec engine a little early. Normally it's January or February. We prepared for the riders now because it's necessary. It's an evolution engine and we'll have a new one for the first test of the New Year."

MotoGP testing will now cease until after Christmas, when Valentino Rossi will make his eagerly anticipated debut with Yamaha at the Sepang circuit.

Unofficial lap times:

1.- Troy Bayliss, Ducati – 1'33.15 (75 laps)
2.- Sete Gibernau, Honda – 1'33.20 (78 laps)
3.- Colin Edwards, Honda - 1'33.40 (63 laps)
4.- Loris Capirossi, Ducati - 1'33.48 (62 laps)
5.- Makoto Tamada, Honda - 1'33.50 (20 laps)
6.- Max Biaggi, Honda – 1'33.85 (50 laps)
7.- Shinichi Itoh, Honda – 1'34.50 (75 laps)
8.- Rubén Xaus, Ducati – 1'34.66 (78 laps)
9.- Kurtis Roberts, Proton – 1'34.70 (35 laps)
10.- Neil Hodgson, Ducati – 1'35.15 (61 laps)
11.- Shane Byrne, Aprilia - 1'35.30 (86 laps)
12.- Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton – 1'36.26 (42 laps)
13.- Marcelino Lucchi, Aprilia – 1'36.40 (45 laps)

MotoGP, 2003

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