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Gibernau carries Honda rule to Australia

Gibernau carries Honda rule to Australia

Gibernau carries Honda rule to Australia

Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden continued Honda's dominant start to the 2005 preseason with the fastest times on the first of three days of tests at Phillip Island on Thursday. Gibernau's time of 1'30.29 was just over two tenths of a second quicker than factory colleague Hayden, with Yamaha rival Valentino Rossi, who won the 2004 MotoGP World Championship at this circuit four months ago, just behind.

After the stifling heat and humidity of Sepang last week, Phillip Island provided a host of MotoGP teams with a breath of fresh air, with pleasant ambient temperatures of 20ºC and 35ºC on track.

It gave Gibernau the opportunity to confirm the early potential shown by the new RC211V in Malaysia and the Spanish rider was delighted with his team's progress. "Today our aim was to confirm the results of the good job we did at Sepang and I'm satisfied we did that," said Gibernau, who completed a marathon total of 101 laps.

"Everything went well, I lapped quickly with a rhythm in 1'30" straight from the first five-lap spell. We worked on the chassis and I've tried a variety of front and rear tyres. I concentrated on setting a good rhythm, with quality laps, and I did several long spells.

"We'll probably have something new to try tomorrow although I think the next big step forwards will be in the IRTA tests at Barcelona."

Gibernau's new Telefonica Movistar Honda team-mate Marco Melandri was one of several riders to crash today, with his replacement at Fortuna Yamaha Ruben Xaus also hitting the deck on his return to action after missing most of the Sepang sessions through injury.

Whilst Xaus and Melandri esacaped without injury, Makoto Tamada wasn't so lucky. The Japanese rider was taken to a local hospital after landing badly on his left hand and foot and, although early checks have not revealed any severe damage, he looks certain to be out of action for at least tomorrow.

Even if Tamada, who was set the fastest overall time at Sepang last week, is fit to return before the end of the test, Konica Minolta Honda Technical Director Giulio Bernardelle says his number one machine will not be repaired in time.

"The bike has some serious damage and it will not be possible for us to fix it for the rest of this test," said Bernardelle. "Therefore, if Tamada feels better, the programme will allow us to develop our work only on one bike."

Carlos Checa also crashed today but was unhurt as he continued his adaptation to the Ducati Desmosedici GP5 and Bridgestone tyres with a series of encouraging lap times. The Spaniard's Ducati Marlboro team-mate Loris Capirossi returned to the track in full fitness today after struggling with a bout of flu in Malaysia.

Unofficial lap times:

1. Sete Gibernau - Telefonica Movistar Honda – 1'30.29
2. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda – 1'30.530
3. Valentino Rossi - Gauloises Yamaha – 1'30.55
4. Alex Barros - Camel Honda – 1'30.61
5. Max Biaggi - Repsol Honda – 1'30.652
6. Carlos Checa - Ducati Marlboro – 1'30.69
7. Loris Capirossi - Ducati Marlboro – 1'30.81
8. Colin Edwards - Gauloises Yamaha – 1'31.15
9. Marco Melandri - Telefonica Movistar Honda – 1'31.32
10. John Hopkins - Team Suzuki MotoGP – 1'31.32
11. Makoto Tamada - Konica Minolta Honda – 1'31.42
12. Kenny Roberts - Team Suzuki MotoGP - 131.61
13. Troy Bayliss - Camel Honda – 1'31.80
14. Ruben Xaus - Fortuna Yamaha – 1'32.27
15. Toni Elias - Fortuna Yamaha – 1'33.54

MotoGP, 2005

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