Bayliss and Xaus Test at Valencia

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Ducati Corse's preparations for the 2002 World Superbike Championshipseason switched into top gear on the first day of a three-day testsession at the Valencia circuit in Spain.

Testing duties were carried out on the Ducati 998 Factory bike, fittedwith the '02 engine for next season, by 2001 WSBK champion Troy Bayliss(Ducati Infostrada), back in action for the first time since his crashat Imola, and his Spanish team-mate Ruben Xaus. Ducati L&M rider BenBostrom is still convalescing after a recent operation to put hisshoulder right and will test the bike in Kyalami, South Africa at thestart of December...

Troy Bayliss (Ducati Infostrada), who completed 77 laps of the 4.005 kmcircuit with a best time of 1:35.61, was one-tenth of a second offCorser's qualifying time in March and said he was very happy to be backin action after such a long break.

"It feels like a comeback after sixweeks off the bike!", he enthused, "so I've got to be really happy withmy time, because on a proper race tire I went much faster thanqualifying here for the race. This time of the year we usually gofaster but seeing as I'm a bit rusty, all things considered I'm prettypleased. The new engine is working really well and has improved a lotsince Mugello. The bike already feels smooth and easy to ride and thesuspension is working well. We also tried a different front fork, whichalso worked good. This test is really good for me, because it'll helpme get back into top shape for next season."

Ruben Xaus (Ducati Infostrada), who totalled 64 laps with a best timeof 1:36.05, was impressed with the improvement the bike had made sincehe tested at Sugo immediately after Imola. "The engine has improved alot," he declared. "The engineers have done a good job and have alreadyfound the right direction in which to work. The bike feels good, ismore progressive and "clean" and my quickest lap was much better than Idid here in the Valencia race. I feel very relaxed, but I alreadydesperately want to race. I think I've changed a lot since the start ofthis year and Ducati have helped me to make that change."

Chief Engineer Corrado Cecchinelli declared: "We are really pleasedwith the test so far because both riders went quicker in race set-upthan they did in the race last March. The times are positive especiallyconsidering the fact that the track was in far from perfect conditionand the riders didn't have the stimulus that comes during a raceweekend."

Team Manager Davide Tardozzi is absent from the Valencia test afterbeing involved in a car crash on Sunday, in which he suffered a brokenleg.

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