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MotoGP riders undertake hard day's work in Catalunya test

MotoGP riders undertake hard day's work in Catalunya test

Just outside the podium spots in yesterday's race, Suzuki rider John Hopkins was the fastest man round the Circuit de Catalunya on day one of a two day stint of post-Grand Prix testing.

Just outside the podium spots in yesterday's race, Suzuki rider John Hopkins was the fastest man round the Circuit de Catalunya on day one of a two day stint of post-Grand Prix testing. The Anglo American clocked a lap of 1'41.400 on Bridgestone qualifiers; unofficially the quickest ever lap of the track and cutting over four tenths off Valentino Rossi's pole setting time from Saturday.

Conditions were much the same as yesterday, with the track temperature hitting 52ºC at the height of the afternoon. Despite the blistering heat, the riders knew that they couldn't afford to sit back, with the next opportunity to test after this Spanish sojourn coming in late August after the race in the Czech Republic. Much of the day's activities were centred in tyre development, and a fair number of riders rode in excess of three times race distance over the course of the day.

Toni Elias rode the second quickest lap of the day, like Hopkins using a qualifier from the latest batch of Bridgestone rubber. The Spaniard was the only non-finisher in the Sunday showdown, suffering engine problems that curtailed his race. He was just faster than Race winner Casey Stoner, who clocked the best lap on race tyres ahead of Hopkins' non-qualifying effort.

As in the race itself, Stoner was once again less than a tenth of a second quicker than Valentino Rossi, the World Championship leading duo seem to be virtually inseparable at the moment, meaning a repeat of Sunday's epic battle is almost certainly on the cards before the end of the season.

Alex Barros was the only other rider to go round in under 1'43, on the packed track, in which nearly all of the MotoGP field put in laps. Only Kenny Roberts Jr and Olivier Jacque were absent from proceedings.

The big surprises of the day came courtesy of Australian duo Anthony West and Andrew Pitt, who returned to MotoGP class testing in the Spanish sun. West stepped in for the aforementioned Jacque- unable to participate in yesterday's race after a crash in the third free practice session for the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya- in the Kawasaki team, who are desperate for as much track time as possible with regular test rider Naoki Matsudo also out injured.

Pitt made his MotoGP comeback of sorts onboard a Michelin-shod Yamaha, putting in laps alongside the factory and satellite Tech 3 outfit in his first outing since his one-race stint with the Ilmor GP team at Jerez.

Shinichi Itoh also tested today onboard a Ducati, with regular factory test rider Vitoriano Guareschi spotted in the paddock but not on track and recently announced Bridgestone man Neil Hodgson still to make an appearance this season. Nobuatsu Aoki rode the Suzuki GSV-R800 once again.

There were light crashes for Dani Pedrosa –who picked up his bike after a small low side and continued riding- Makoto Tamada and Shinya Nakano on this opening day of action, with the latter's tumble coming right at the end of the session. Getting back on the spare bike, the Konica Minolta Honda rider was able to use a valuable fifteen more minutes of track time.

The MotoGP riders will, with a few likely exceptions, be on track tomorrow for the concluding day of their visit to Catalunya.

Catalunya Test Day One
Unofficial Times

1. John Hopkins – Rizla Suzuki 1'41.400
2. Toni Elias – Honda Gresini 1'42.630
3. Casey Stoner – Ducati Marlboro 1'42.680
4. Valentino Rossi – Fiat Yamaha 1' 42.720
5. Alex Barros – Pramac d'Antin Ducati 1'42.900
6. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki 1'43.000
7. Loris Capirossi – Ducati Marlboro 1'43.000
8. Marco Melandri - Honda Gresini 1'43.000
9. Randy de Puniet – Kawasaki Racing 1'43.050
10. Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda 1'43.120
11. Nicky Hayden – Repsol Honda – 1'43.175
12. Colin Edwards – Fiat Yamaha 1'43.410
13. Shinya Nakano – Konica Minolta Honda 1'43.475
14. Alex Hofmann – Pramac d'Antin Ducati 1'43.635
15. Carlos Checa – Honda LCR 1'43.650
16. Sylvain Guintoli – Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 – 1'43.800
17. Makoto Tamada – Dunlop Yamaha Tech3 1'43.900
18. Nobuatsu Aoki - Suzuki MotoGP 1'44.200
19. Andrew Pitt – Yamaha MotoGP 1'44.490
20. Anthony West – Kawasaki Racing 1'44.730
21. Shinichi Itoh – Bridgestone 1'47.000


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