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Suzuki start fastest at Sepang

Suzuki start fastest at Sepang

Suzuki start fastest at Sepang

After the customary testing ban of just over one and a half months, MotoGP bikes returned to the track today for the resumption of 800cc development. It was at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia where fans had their first chance to see who leads the way on the new generation of MotoGP bike in a test that lasts from today until Wednesday.

Suzuki duo John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen seemed to have lost none of their edge over the winter break, as they led the way on Day One in Sepang. Hopkins was the fastest rider of the day, and the only one to break the 2'03 barrier at the humid Malaysian track. His time of 2'02.277 put him ahead of team-mate Vermeulen by just over seven tenths of a second, as the British-based team continue to look sharp on the 800cc machines.

The factory Yamaha team were close behind, with Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards side by side in the timesheets. Ever the entertainer, Rossi put fashion over comfort as he emerged for the start of the day in a fetching pair of furry boots amidst the intense heat. The Yamaha riders were just faster than World Champion Nicky Hayden, who made his first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery before the winter break.

Ducati are renowned for blitzing the competition in early tests, although today the gameplan seemed to be more calculated for the Italian factory. Loris Capirossi was sixth fastest, whilst newest team addition Casey Stoner rounded off the top ten. The Desmosedici GP7 is also being put through its paces this week in Jerez, as test rider Jose Luis Cardoso continues development work with the bike in place of Vittoriano Gureschi. Last week Ducati became the first team to present their new livery, with a gold finish shown to the media at their annual event in Madonna di Campiglio.

Kawasaki were undertaking their first test since taking business in-house at the end of 2006, and Randy de Puniet was hot on the heels of Capirossi on the Ninja ZX-RR. Preparing for his second season in the premier class, the Frenchman went round faster than former 250cc rival Dani Pedrosa, leader of the final test of 2006 at Jerez. Makoto Tamada, joined for the first time on track by new team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, was ninth quickest at a track where he went well at the tail end of last year.

The KR212V, Team KR's newest prototype, makes its debut at the Asian track this week, the last bike to have an 800cc test. All teams were quick to emphasise that this week's testing mainly serves the purpose of putting more miles on their prototypes and, in some cases, new tyres.

Only the Ilmor Team were absent from the day's proceedings, in which all teams had access to two bikes. Action and interviews, along with the latest news from Sepang, can be found at Sepang Test Footage Sepang Test Day One
Unofficial Times
1. John Hopkins - Rizla Suzuki 2'02.277
2. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki 2'03.049
3. Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Racing 2'03.184
4. Colin Edwards - Yamaha Racing 2'03.337
5. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda 2'03.413
6. Loris Capirossi - Ducati Marlboro 2'03.538
7. Randy De Puniet - Kawasaki Racing 2'03.542
8. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda 2'03.620
9. Makoto Tamada - Yamaha Tech 3 2'03.785
10. Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro 2'03.944
11. Alex Hofmann - Pramac d'Antin 2'04.003
12. Alex Barros - Pramac d'Antin 2'04.011
13. Kenny Roberts Jr. - Team Roberts 2'04.088
14. Carlos Checa - Honda LCR 2'04.101
15. Shinya Nakano - Konica Minolta Honda 2'04.138
16. Marco Melandri - Gresini Honda 2'04.270
17. Shinichi Ito - Bridgestone MotoGP 2'04.641
18. Toni Elías - Gresini Honda 2'04.710
19. Olivier Jacque - Kawasaki Racing 2'04.718
20. Sylvain Guintoli - Yamaha Tech 3 2'07.403

MotoGP, 2007

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