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Schumacher, Spies and sunshine out on opening test day

Schumacher, Spies and sunshine out on opening test day

The sunshine experienced throughout last weekend for the Gran Premio bwin.com de la Comunitat Valenciana stayed on with the riders for the opening day of MotoGP testing, although today's outing featured none of the regular premier class field.

The sunshine experienced throughout last weekend for the Gran Premio bwin.com de la Comunitat Valenciana stayed on with the riders for the opening day of MotoGP testing, although today's outing featured none of the regular premier class field.

Put aside as an annual test for journalists, the day after the final race of the year has become a customary occasion for writers, ex-riders and sportspeople from outside the MotoGP world to try their hand at negotiating the Valencia circuit on the fastest bikes on the planet.

The centre of attention in the afternoon was the appearance of former Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher onboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP7. Using 2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner's title-winning machine, Schumacher had an extended session on track which lasted from 1pm until the close of the day.

The German had clocked a respectable 1'37 lap by 5pm, and he received a series of pointers from Ducati test rider Vittoriano Guareschi, a brief visit from 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, and the expert guidance of Randy Mamola, the former 500cc rider who memorably gave Schumacher an inside look at premier class riding onboard the Ducati two seater at Mugello last season.

Having seen his planned test at Malaysia last month cancelled due to rain, Ben Spies finally got a chance to ride the Suzuki GSV-R800 in Spain. The AMA Superbike Champion was another rider to put in a substantial amount of laps, joined for a selection of them by Suzuki legend and former 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz. The two Americans were given hints on the best way to ride the 800cc bike by its previous occupant, fellow countryman John Hopkins.

Other guest riders were ex-Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger onboard the Repsol Honda and Kawasaki machines, former 500cc World Champions Alex Criville and Wayne Gardner, and Trials bike masters Toni Bou and Laia Sanz. The latter two were shown the finer points of the Honda RC212V by Sunday's race winner Dani Pedrosa, and Bou even had the confidence to get his knee down on the asphalt at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.

Participants in yesterday's MotoGP race passed by the paddock to watch proceedings, with the likes of Loris Capirossi, Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen , Anthony West, Shinya Nakano and Alex Barros experiencing the action from the other side of the pit wall.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, GRAN PREMIO bwin.com DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA

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