Ukawa Sets the Pace at Suzuka GP Test

Calvin Kim
by Calvin Kim
Rookie 500 rider Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda) set fastest time on the second of the three day GP test at Suzuka, Japan. The Japanese rider's lap time was over two seconds faster than his best time of Monday. Marlboro Yamaha team-mates Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi finished the day in second and third places, both men faster today than on day one of the test.

Ukawa, still suffering the after effects of a bout of the flu, said, "I'm very surprised to be so fast with the 500. I know the circuit very, very well but I didn't expect this time. In the morning session I was very focused on trying to find a good balance for the bike. Once we found the right direction I felt good on the bike when I went out n the afternoon session. I'm very happy."

Valentino Rossi, fastest on Monday, ended the day in fourth place and very happy with the progress the team have made at Suzuka. So happy he has decided to sit out the third and final day of the test.

Rossi said, "My motorcycle works well on this track, we focused on finding good suspension settings and tested a lot of tires. Now we know how to set up my NSR for the race, it makes no sense to test one day more just to take off a few tenths of a second. I'm happy with the bike at this circuit and, if the weather conditions are the same for the GP, I hope to start the championship with a good race."

Daijiro Katoh (Telefonica MoviStar Honda), topped the 250c time sheet for the second successive day, half a second faster than on day one. The NSR250 test programme is on course and three-times Suzuka GP winner Katoh was delighted with his days work.

Katoh said. "We had a very good day today. It was warmer, good weather and no wind. I'm really pleased with the machine's performance. We have tested everything we came here to test and decided to stop early today. We are very happy."

500cc:1. Tohru Ukawa, J Repsol Honda 2:05.7292. Carlos Checa, E Marlboro Yamaha 2:05.8933. Max Biaggi, I Marlboro Yamaha 2:06.4554. Valentino Rossi, I Nastro Azzurro Honda 2:06.4885. Alex Barros, Bra West Honda Pons 2:06.5406. Loris Capirossi, I West Honda Pons 2:06.5677. Noriyuki Haga, J Red Bull Yamaha 2:06.7838. Norick Abe, J Antena 3 Yamaha 2:06.8089. Shinya Nakano, J Gauloises Yamaha 2:06.91510. Kenny Roberts, USA Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki 2:07.37712. Alex Criville, E Repsol Honda 2:07.698250cc:1. Daijiro Katoh, J Telefonica MoviStar Honda 2:07.4372. Naomi Matsudo, J Yamaha 2:09.4523. Sharol Yuzy, MAL Yamaha 2:11.2384. Emilio Alzamora, E Telefonica MoviStar Honda 2:13.043
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Calvin Kim
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