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Rossi under lap record on final day in Sepang

Rossi under lap record on final day in Sepang

Rossi under lap record on final day in Sepang

On the final day of his first factory test with Yamaha at Sepang Valentino Rossi lapped inside his own lap record and edged to within three tenths of a second of his pole position record set at the 2003 Marlboro Malaysian Grand Prix. Rossi's best time of 2'02.75 was also unofficially the fastest lap of the circuit by any rider on the M1 machine, with Carlos Checa having set a 2'02.885 to qualify second behind the Italian in October. Checa was second quickest again today with a time of 2'03.72 and both riders are now looking forward to returning to the same circuit for their next test in two weeks' time.

"We did some good work," said Rossi. "The time we made was good for a first test, but tyres and chassis settings were the main aim here. I've really enjoyed my first three days with Yamaha, I'm very happy. There's still work to do on the engine and we'll carry on with that, but overall things have been good."

Checa has used the test to evaluate front tyres and revealed that he was now seriously considering the switch from a 17 inch to a 16.5. "The bike feels better with the 16.5-inch front tyre," explained the Spaniard. "The race endurance test was not so bad, and this was only the first test of the season. Of course we've got more to do but we have all we need to achieve results."

Rossi' Crew Chief Jerry Burgess was quietly satisfied with events. "I guess we're doing okay," he said. "We've achieved enough for a fast time and we were running according to the Michelin test programme. Things have been very harmonious in terms of integration with Yamaha and now we'll go away and work on whatever the Yamaha Development Group have got for us."

Across the garage, Checa's Crew Chief Antonio Jimenez was also content with the three days work. "The race simulation distance test provided valuable information for us," he said. "We were focussed on that and this is just the beginning of our programme."

Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio was frank about his surprise at the rapid progress made during the test. "I didn't honestly expect we'd be at his level so soon," he said. "All our competitors will work hard this winter too, but this is a good first test to motivate everyone in the team and everyone from Yamaha."

Marco Melandri continued to ride below full fitness as he struggled to overcome the pain of a recent shoulder operation. "Better than yesterday," said the former 250cc World Champion. "In the end the bike was okay but I took time to adjust to the 16.5-inch front tyre I tried today. At the moment my mind is strong but not my body."

Norick Abe, meanwhile, couldn't quite make the most of a selection of Michelin tyres that suited his style well. "That was a bit so-so," said the experienced Japanese rider. "We're still not quite there with the settings, but we have not worked together before as a team. Even so I couldn't get the time I felt the tyres were capable of."

Valentino Rossi – 2'02.75 (59 laps)
Calros Checa – 2'03.72 (88 laps)
Norick Abe - 2'05.05 (52 laps)
Marco Melandri – 2'05.55 (52 laps)

MotoGP, 2003, Valentino Rossi

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