Abe Fastest in Final Day of Suzuka Testing

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Japanese star Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha) set fastest lap time on thefinal day of GP testing at the Suzuka circuit, in Japan, today. Abe wasless than a tenth of a second faster than the Honda NSR500 of BrazilianAlex Barros (West Honda Pons) with Italy's Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha) afurther tenth of a second adrift.

Weather conditions deteriorated on the third day of the test leaving theriders to cope with high winds and a dusty track surface. Consequently laptimes were almost a full second down on the best times set over the firsttwo days...

Alex Barros, the fastest Honda rider today, said. "Today was not veryprofitable as the wind was very annoying. It has also blown sand from thenearby works on to some turns, making it useless. However, the work done onthe bike will be seen in the grand prix."

Barros' West Honda Pons team-mate Loris Capirossi, rode consistently wellover the three days of testing but he needed a good day today to completehis test program.

Capirossi said, "today we couldn't do the planned work and we leave thecircuit with the challenge of solving the stability problem I have beforethe grand prix. I think I can go faster if he bike is more stable. Maybethe day of the race might be warmer and the problem could solved withouthaving to make more tests."

Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) sat out the third and final day ofthe test having achieved all he set out to on the first two days.

Alex Criville (Repsol Honda), returning after a hand injury, was twoseconds off the pace set by his fellow NSR500 riders. Criville, 500cc WorldChampion in 1999, has just two weeks to get up to speed before the firstqualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix, at Suzuka on April 8.

"The tests didn't go the way I expected on any of the three days and Iended up way back. The same thing that slowed me down on the first two dayshappened again to me, I simply don't feel comfortable riding and I lackconfidence. Analysing the data recording we confirmed that I'm not brakingthe way I usually do. In a situation like that we mustn't get too alarmed,we have to stay calm instead. The grand prix takes place in two weeks, themost important thing is that I'm able to get on the bike at 100 percent,which I wasn't able to do these three days of testing," commented Criville.

Telefonica MoviStar Honda rider Daijiro Katoh was again the fastest 250 manat the test. The diminutive Katoh had little to test having accomplishedall the team wished to on the opening two days.

Katoh said, "we only did a few laps today as the circuit was dusty andthere was a lot of wind, so we finished testing early on. I'm verysatisfied with what we did here and I'm confident for the start of theseason."

Emilio Alzamora improved his time by over a second, had the weather beenbetter the Spaniard is confident he could have been faster.

500cc:1. Norick Abe, J Antena 3 Yamaha 2m 06.551s.2. Alex Barros, B West Honda Pons 2m 06.625s.3. Max Biaggi, I Marlboro Yamaha 2m 06.718s.4. Noriyuki Haga, J Red Bull Yamaha 2m 06.975s.5. Loris Capirossi, I West Honda Pons 2m 07.365s.6. Shinya Nakano, J Gauloises Yamaha 2m 07.292s.7. Kenny Roberts, USA Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki 2m 07.365s.8. Tohru Ukawa, J Repsol Honda 2m 07.367s.9. Garry McCoy, AUS Red Bull Yamaha 2m 07.671s.10. Carlos Checa, E Marlboro Yamaha 2m 07.858s.13. Alex Criville, E Repsol Honda 2m 08.762.250cc:1. Daijiro Katoh, J Telefonica MoviStar Honda 2m 08.221s.2. Naomi Matsudo, J Yamaha 2m 09.957s.3. Sharol Yuzy, MAL Yamaha 2m 11.388s.4. Emilio Alzamora, E Telefonica MoviStar Honda 2m 12.503s.
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Brent Avis
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