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Gibernau packs up early after maintaining Phillip Island pace

Gibernau packs up early after maintaining Phillip Island pace

Gibernau packs up early after maintaining Phillip Island pace

Sete Gibernau was on his way back to Europe on Friday evening after completing his testing programme a day early at Phillip Island, where he was again the fastest rider out of a group of MotoGP's leading contenders for the 2005 title.

Gibernau was one of three riders to dip under the 1'30 mark at the Australian circuit on Friday, with Ducati's Carlos Checa and Honda rider Max Biaggi also in impressive form.

"We've worked hard today and the result was very satisfying," reflected Gibernau. "We've managed to find the right combination for all the material we have available and that is very important to make continual progress.

"This morning we concentrated on finding the right set-up for a race simulation in the afternoon. I'm really happy because I was very focused from the minute I went out onto the track and I was able to lap consistently in low 1'30s.

"The race simulation went really well and the data we gathered from it will be of use to us as we look to make further improvements. The thing that pleases me most is that we've got very clear ideas and we're working really well with HRC and Michelin. The team is doing a great job."

Whilst Honda colleague Makoto Tamada may also be absent tomorrow having missed today's session through injury, Gibernau's team-mate Marco Melandri faces a crucial final day after again crashing this afternoon. Melandri's testing programme suffered a setback when he damaged his machine in a similar incident yesterday and, despite again avoiding injury today, he missed the final two hours of the session.

World Champion Valentino Rossi was fourth fastest today, equaling his qualifying time from the Grand Prix here last October despite an unfortunate incident when he hit a bird as he exited pit lane. Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards showed signs of improvement, meanwhile, lapping seventh fastest and improving his qualifying time from last season on the Honda.

Troy Bayliss was boosted by fan power today as he at last made a breakthrough with the base set-up for the Camel Honda RC211V. Bayliss has struggled to adapt to the Japanese machine after several years with Ducati but was cheered on by local supporters this afternoon as he closed the gap on his factory rivals and lapped just a tenth outside his qualifying time from last season.

Team Suzuki have given a first outing to their new colour scheme in this test, with Kenny Roberts and John Hopkins both hailing it as a symbol of the fresh commitment being shown by the factory to their MotoGP project. More importantly, both riders have been impressed by changes underneath the fairing, running back to back tests with the 2004 and 2005 versions of the GSV-R and reporting major improvements.

Unofficial lap times:

1. Sete Gibernau - Telefonica Movistar Honda : 1'29.85
2. Carlos Checa - Ducati Marlboro : 1'29.94
3. Max Biaggi - Repsol Honda : 1'29.97
4. Valentino Rossi - Gauloises Yamaha : 1'30.22
5. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda : 1'30.43
6. Loris Capirossi - Ducati Marlboro : 1'30.53
7. Colin Edwards - Gauloises Yamaha : 1'30.60
8. Alex Barros - Camel Honda : 1'30.65
9. Marco Melandri - Telefonica Movistar Honda : 1'30.95
10. Troy Bayliss - Camel Honda : 1'30.96
11. Kenny Roberts - Suzuki : 1'30.98
12. Ruben Xaus - Fortuna Yamaha : 1'31.59
13. John Hopkins - Suzuki : 1'31.65
14. Toni Elias - Fortuna Yamaha : 1'32.72

MotoGP, 2005

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