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Max Biaggi looks forward to a rest after Phillip Island progress

Max Biaggi looks forward to a rest after Phillip Island progress

Max Biaggi looks forward to a rest after Phillip Island progress

Just hours after leaving the Phillip Island race circuit with the fastest time from three days of factory tests involving Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Aprilia, Max Biaggi relaxed in his Melbourne hotel feeling tired but satisfied with the work done. Despite suffering from a slight cold, the ‘Roman Emperor' was happy to talk openly to about the recent tests on board the Honda RC211V in Australia and Malaysia, the progress of his main rivals for the MotoGP title in 2004 – including Valentino Rossi – and his plans to relax before returning to testing duties next month What is your evaluation of the tests at Sepang and Phillip Island?

Max Biaggi: They were important tests, not just in terms the work we have done ourselves but also the way we have matched up to the other teams. The conclusion is that our bike has improved with respect to last season and we are at a good level, but we have to keep on working. We have two months left before the start of the season and all of the teams, and I mean all of them, will make the most of this time to develop their bikes.

Q: How much does the RC211V have to improve from what you have learnt over the last couple of weeks?

A: In my opinion the bike is going well, as we have seen at this test and the one before, but we still have to improve its performance because that is what our rivals will do with their bikes.

Q: What do you think to the progress made by Yamaha after riding alongside them at two different tracks?

A: I think that the Yamaha has improved a lot with the new engines and it seems as though the bike has a better power delivery now. They have taken a step forward. In reality, when I rode it in 2002 it was already at a high standard, especially in the final third of the season - I took a win and two podiums from the final six races. I don't know what happened in 2003, it seems as though they lost their way with the development of the bike. I think they'll have a good bike again this year.

Q: Do you think Rossi will be competitive from the first race?

A: Yes, I am convinced that Rossi will be there from the start. They have rediscovered their direction in terms of development and, as I said, I think they will have a good bike.

Q: The new Ducati was also impressive, particularly at Sepang. Do you think Capirossi and Bayliss will be fighting for victory at the first race in South Africa?

A: It's possible. Capirossi was one of the quickest guys in Malaysia and the Ducati will only get better. It is a new bike so they have obviously got plenty of room for evolution. But I am confident that Honda will continue working as they have done up to now to give us the material which will allow us to start the championship in the best possible shape.

Q: There has been a lot of talk about who will be Honda's number one rider this season. Do you think your performances in the tests have strengthened your position at Honda?

A: I honestly don't look at it that way. I just try to do my best at all of the tests, as I always have done, and anything we get from Honda which gives us a chance of doing well will be very welcome and appreciated.

Q. How will you be spending your time before the next tests in March?

A: I'm actually really looking forward to resting for a while at my home in Monaco – above all to get over this cold and sore throat. I'll be in Rome on the 28th February for a presentation at a major Honda dealer and then two days later I have a big date with my Fans Club in Rimini. It should be a big party, with over a thousand people – just one of those things that I really enjoy!

MotoGP, 2003, Max Biaggi

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