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Biaggi fastest again as Sepang test heats up on day two

Biaggi fastest again as Sepang test heats up on day two

Biaggi fastest again as Sepang test heats up on day two

Baking sunshine and high temperatures warmed the Sepang Circuit ahead of the second day of testing Malaysia today, making for an early start as the MotoGP teams looked to make the most of ideal track conditions. The riders worked tirelessly throughout the day and even went past the scheduled 5pm stop time, despite the temperature reaching 36ºC in the shade at times, and 56ºC on the track surface itself.

Unofficial fastest rider of the day was once more Italian rider Max Biaggi on the Camel Honda. Biaggi has spent today testing with just the 17-inch front tyre supplied by Michelin, unlike the other Honda Michelin riders who have been trying out the 16.5-inch front which biaggi will use tomorrow. "I chose to test the 16.5 on the final day, so that I had a good set-up and good feeling for the bike first and then I can feel the difference. When I test it tomorrow, all the information I get back will be from the tyres," explained the Italian.

Like Biaggi, Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden are also testing an engine similar to the one used by Rossi at the tail end of the 2003 season, and all three seem happy with its performance and the direction the factory is going. Gibernau remarked, "It's got more rpm definitely, maybe even 500 more, and the clutch we used with it is much better, it's definitely an improvement. There's a smoother transfer when you shift down going onto the brakes, and already we're seeing the difference in the lap times, which are quick compared to the race here."

For his part, Colin Edwards was disappointed with his performance today, "We did too much chopping and changing with the front tyre really, and when you're tired after a 36-hour plane journey and the heat here, it makes testing difficult," said the American. Meanwhile Camel Honda's Bridgestone rider Makoto Tamada made some drastic changes to his bike, such as wheelbase length, just to see its effects, "We don't get the chance to do that kind of thing in a race weekend, so we might as well do it now to see what it might give us," he explained.

Kawasaki made big strides with their new machine, with Nakano posting a lap time over two seconds quicker than yesterday and giving the factory some hope after a difficult 2003. Hofmann recorded a quicker time too as the green machines steadily move towards their goal. Suzuki meanwhile continue to work on several different versions of their GSV-R racer with riders Kenny Roberts and John Hopkins, but did not release any times to compare their performance. Andrew Pitt did endurance work with Moriwaki and their Dunlop tyres, but found the going a little tough. Team boss Mamoru Moriwaki admitted, "Not as good today as it was yesterday, despite using the new version of our bike."

In the background of the tests currently taking place, the first Yamaha personnel arrived in Malaysia this morning, to begin the set-up of the garages which will house their newly acquired World Champion as of Saturday. Rossi himself is not yet in Sepang, but his team staff landed this morning to begin the arduous task of unloading the truckfuls of kit which will be used in the most eagerly anticipated test session since the introduction of the four-strokes into MotoGP.

Unofficial lap times

Max Biaggi 2'02.96 (54 laps)
Sete Gibernau 2'03.30 (64)
Makoto Tamada 2'03.40 (54)
Colin Edwards 2'03.60 (54)
Tohru Ukawa 2'03.63 (87)
Nicky Hayden 2'03.69 (84)
Shinya Nakano 2'04.30 (66)
Alex Hofmann 2'05.10 (53)
Andrew Pitt 2'09.60 (30)

MotoGP, 2003, Max Biaggi

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