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Good Friday for Hopkins in first day of Jerez test

Good Friday for Hopkins in first day of Jerez test

Good Friday for Hopkins in first day of Jerez test

With menacing dark clouds circling the Jerez circuit throughout the whole day, Team Suzuki's John Hopkins sent a warning shot down the pit lane as he set the fastest time in the first day of three at the Official MotoGP Test today. The Californian rider was constantly amongst the fastest riders during the whole day, and with the track somehow staying dry and avoiding the nearby showers, he took advantage of a late burst to steal top spot on the timesheets.

"Suzuki has made some huge improvements to the machine; controllability and horsepower especially, and it's showing up nicely at this track, " commented Hopkins. "It's a track I particularly like anyway, and the important thing is we're doing our times strictly on race tyres, no qualifiers. I personally think the race tyres are better at the moment, Bridgestone has made big improvements too. Everything's looking good, and I'm definitely the hungriest guy in this paddock for a podium finish right now, so we're doing everything possible to prepare for the race here in two weeks time."

Weather forecasts predict rain-showers for the entire day tomorrow, and if that is the case, it will be impossible to better Hopkins lap, which stopped the clock in a time of 1'40.893. Just 0.075 slower than the outright circuit record set by Valentino Rossi in qualifying last year, it is an impressive start to the weekend for the Ramona-born rider, who admitted, "If it rains tomorrow we will go out on track anyway, we need to work on the new wet tyres Bridgestone have. It rained here for the race last year, and we don't want that to repeat itself in two weeks."

Hopkins' compatriot Nicky Hayden also enjoyed a good start to the weekend, with the second fastest time, ahead of former team-mate Valentino Rossi, who appears to be shaking off the front-end issues which dogged his Yamaha in last week's Official Test in Barcelona. Closely following the Italian on the timesheet was his great rival Sete Gibernau, who won the race here last year, with a further four riders within a second of Hopkins lap time – including both Kawasaki machines.

Further down the order Loris Capirossi continued to make headway with the Ducati Desmosedici's modified engine braking system, which continued to baffle onlookers. The Italian tested the new machine in the morning, before concentrating on his more traditional sounding engine in the afternoon. His fellow countryman Max Biaggi was surprisingly only fifteenth fastest today as he battled to rectify issues with the Honda's engine management system, but he will be confident the engineers can resolve his problems before the test finishes here on Sunday, and the countdown begins to the first race here in two weeks' time.

MotoGP, 2005

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