Rossi Fastest at Suzuka Test

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Valentino Rossi set the bench mark for his rivals to aim at when the MotoGPWorld Championship opens at Suzuka, Japan, next Sunday. On the final day,of the two-day IRTA pre-season test at Suzuka Rossi, riding the 990cc V-5Honda four-stroke, set a lap time of 2:04.343. The fastest lap yetrecorded by a motorcycle on the new 5.821km track layout.

World Champion Rossi, and his Repsol Honda team-mate, Tohru Ukawa, set thefinal touches to the RCV Hondas they will race in the 16 round series. Bothmen concentrated their attention on machine set-up, chasing the bestchassis and tire combinations to use when official GP qualifying startsnext Friday...

Rossi and Ukawa will not spend their pre-race free time sightseeing. Thetwo men will be engaged in wind tunnel testing work on Tuesday, checkingthe aerodynamics of their RC211V Hondas.

Fortuna Honda Gresini rider Daijiro Katoh, the reigning 250cc WorldChampion, has now finished his preparations for his debut season aboard afactory 500cc machine. Katoh and his team of technicians, worked on thechassis and suspension settings of the 190 horsepower plus two-stroke Honda.Despite the hard work Katoh did not equal the times he set at the privateHRC test of last week.

The West Honda Pons team of Loris Capirossi and Alex Barros, completedtheir pre-season preparation work on the NSR500 two-strokes they will raceagainst the larger capacity four-strokes in the MotoGP series.

After a shake-down test on Saturday the two riders got down to fine tuningmachine settings today. Capirossi, who set pole position time for the 500ccrace at Suzuka last year, was the faster of the two men. He set fourthfastest time of the day, behind the three HRC riders. Barros was a fullsecond down on his team-mate but was more concerned with finding a goodbike set-up than chasing fast lap times.

Jurgen van den Goorbergh continued his tire testing program with teamKanemoto Honda. The Dutchman set faster lap times than he had on theopening day but was hoping for more improvement.

Valentino Rossi - RC211V: 2:04.343s.
"Today we set some good lap times and we tested many things to find goodset-up solutions for the race. We have worked very hard these last two daysand we are finally satisfied with the development of the bike. We havethree days rest now and we are anxious to see what is going to happen inthe race with the two-strokes and four-strokes together."

Tohru Ukawa - RC211V: 2:04.943s.
We are happy with our two days of testing. We found the correct tires forthe race, and we did some good lap times. We tested any solutions forsuspension and we know which direction to go in for the race. W are allvery curious to see this first race."

Daijiro Katoh - NSR500: 2:05.540s.
"Today we tested new solutions for the suspension and frame, we are notreally satisfied yet but we know which direction to work in for the race.The bike has good potential on how to set it up for the race. We workedhard and we are happy enough with the outcome."

Loris Capirossi - NSR500: 2:05.782s.
"On Saturday we did not take too many risks with the new bike. Today I feltconfident and lapped harder. The lap times came down, I improved and I amnow much closer to the leaders. Bad weather stopped us completing all thework we had planned, particularly on tires, and we must work harder rightfrom the beginning of next Friday's practice. I am looking forward to thestart of the World Championship as the races are much more fun thantesting."

Alex Barros - NSR500: 2:06.858s.
"I am not to concerned about the times I have done as the main aim of thispractice has been to prepare the bike for the race. I have beenconcentrating on many different aspects of the bike without pushing hard atall as I have been gathering information. I wanted to try out a number oftyre compounds but it was impossible. In spite of this I'm still optimisticabout the season which is about to get underway."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh - NSR500:
Lap time unavailable."We're making small steps in progress but we are not where we want to be.We are now using tyres we have tested before and they seem to be a bitbetter. The progress we have made is not in place but the lap time isbetter - we are pushing hard."

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