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Relentless Elías runs up the laps at latest Honda test

Relentless Elías runs up the laps at latest Honda test

Relentless Elías runs up the laps at latest Honda test

Honda's assault on Aprilia's recent domination of the 250cc World Championship continued apace in Spain on Wednesday, with a third preseason test for Toni Elías, Roberto Rolfo and Hiroshi Aoyama. Low track temperatures delayed progress on a chilly morning but Elías warmed things up in the afternoon with a relentless 100 laps - four times race distance – which were almost all within lap record time.

"I am getting more and more comfortable with the Honda, especially now that we have seen what we are capable of at a circuit which doesn't really suit the characteristics of our bike," commented Elias, who set a best lap of 1'47.9 – 0.8 seconds off the 2003 pole time set by Randy De Puniet. "Today the circuit was a bit dirty because of the renovation works that are going on here but the times are pretty good and are a consolidation of the good work we began at Jerez. Now we just need to find a good base setting on the 2003 bike which we can then apply to the new machine when we get it."

Elias' Fortuna Honda stable-mate Rolfo ran up 77 laps with a fastest time of 1'48.6, equalling his best effort from last year's race. "The Grand Prix last year was not a positive experience for me but today we have found a decent setting for a track which tends to be very difficult for us," said the Italian. "This is a sign that we are working well but we know that we still have to improve."

Aoyama continued his education of European circuits with a full and productive day under the watchful eye of Telefónica Movistar Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig and team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who has begun his physical training programme but is not yet fit to ride. Aoyama set a best time of 1'49.9 but felt he could have gone lower with more track time. "There have been F1 tests here recently so the track was a bit slippery. I needed a bit more time to get a decent rhythm together and I think with a couple of hours longer I could have taken between one and two seconds off my time."

Both factory Honda teams travel to Valencia this weekend for further testing before the Fortuna Honda mechanics, headed by Mássimo Capanna, head out to Japan to be briefed on the new version of the RS250RW. The new bike will then be freighted to Europe in time for the official 250cc tests at Valencia in mid-March.

250cc, 2003

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