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Winter testing ends at Jerez, with young guns fastest of MotoGP bunch

Winter testing ends at Jerez, with young guns fastest of MotoGP bunch

Winter testing ends at Jerez, with young guns fastest of MotoGP bunch

The end of a long and arduous winter test programme came to a close for MotoGP teams and riders with the final day of three at official tests in Jerez de la Frontera today. With rain having spoiled yesterday's session, the riders made the most of the time at their disposal, clocking up endless laps as they prepare their machines for the first Grand Prix of the upcoming 2005 season in under two weeks time, at this very same circuit.

Finishing off the pre-season on the highest note were a young trio of MotoGP starlets, all aiming to prove that they have the necessary mettle to stick out a season at the top of motorcycling's premier series. Nicky Hayden topped the lot, with an impressive lap time of 1'39.983, albeit set on qualifying tyres, but who has demonstrated over the last two tests in Barcelona and here in Jerez, that he is certainly a candidate for his first Grand Prix victory in two weeks.

The 23 year-old from Owensboro in Kentucky was more than pleased with his performances, "This has been a great test for us. The team has worked really hard and I've tried my best to do everything they've asked of me. I got my best lap today on a qualifier but it's important to do that at this stage, in less than two weeks I'll have to do that for real!"

Beaming smiles have become synonymous with the American, and with one of his trademark grins he added confidently, "I definitely feel the best I've felt on the machine and I'm ready to race now. At this level, if you can find that extra little bit from somewhere, it can make all the difference and I really think we've gone a long way to finding that this weekend."

Meanwhile, another two of MotoGP's youngest, Marco Melandri and John Hopkins, were just behind Hayden on the timesheets. The Honda and Suzuki riders have both shown they can find that "little bit extra" this weekend, and have raised eyebrows with their performances in Jerez. They will aim to take that form into the season proper, despite a late crash for the Californian which ended his day early.

Behind the young riders came reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi, who seems to have solved any question marks over the 2005 spec Yamaha M1 at this test, and who now must look forward to the season with confidence as he aims to collect his fifth consecutive World Championship in the elite class. He was trailed by championship rivals Loris Capirossi, Alex Barros, Sete Gibernau and team-mate Colin Edwards.

The MotoGP paddock will re-form once more at the Jerez circuit in just over one week's time, with practice for the Gran Premio Marlboro de España beginning on Friday April 8th.

Official lap times :

1. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1'39.983
2. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1'40.291
3. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1'40.418
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1'40.539
5. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1'40.559
6. Alex Barros (Honda) 1'40.569
7. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1'40.662
8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1'41.284
9. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) 1'41.328
10. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1'41.380

MotoGP, 2005

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