Rossi and the V5 Fast in Sepang

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Reigning 500cc World Champion Valentino Rossi returned to winter testing at the Sepang circuit in preparation for the 2002 season. The test was held in good weather and track conditions and Rossi was quickly up to pace on the RC211V Honda four-stroke he will race in the 2002 MotoGP championship. Champion Rossi ended day one, of the two day HRC test, in a confident mood.

Rossi, and HRC team-mate Tohru Ukawa, put in a total of 134 laps of the 5.548km Malaysian track. Both men were pleased with the work they achieved on the opening day of the two-day test.

Ukawa was quickly up to speed, equalling his best time from the last test. Rossi was even faster...

and ended the day with a best time yet for the 990cc, 5-cylinder RC211V at Sepang, at 2m 04.36s.

Daijiro Katoh tested the Honda Gresini NSR500 at Sepang today. The 250cc World Champion did not equal his best lap time set at the track last month but the Japanese rider was consistently fast all day.

Katoh's arch rival, and closest challenger for the 250 title in 2002, Tetsuya Harada, was at Sepang with his new team, and a NSR500. Harada rode the machine for only the second time, his first outing restricted to just a few laps. At Sepang Harada put in 67 laps acclimatising himself with the 185PS plus 500cc World Championship winning machine.

Valentino Rossi: Since I tested the RCV in Australia I find the bike has changed, and it's better. Especially at this circuit, it's very fast. We spent most of the day working on the engine settings, trying different injectors and things like that. We also worked on the tire and suspension combination.

We tried many types of tyres and I think Michelin are going in the right direction. Tires are going to be very important this season but so far they are good. Ukawa San did a good endurance test with tyres last time HRC were here and I'm happy with the results.

Tohru Ukawa: This is the first day of our two day test and I have spent the time confirming the changes we made from the last test are good. I'm happy with the results. I'm running about the same times as I did at the last test here, January 23, but I made the time comfortably today.

Now I have the machine set up the way I want it I'm sure I can further improve the bike, and my lap times, tomorrow.

Valentino Rossi RC211V 54 laps. Time 2m 04.36sTohru Ukawa RC211V 70 laps. Time 2m 04.78s.Daijiro Katoh NSR500 46 laps. Time 2m 05.83s.Tetsuya Harada NSR500 67 laps. Time 2m 09.57s.
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