And 2003 Testing Begins...

John P Burns
by John P Burns
HONDA RACING INFORMATION

New Men at Honda Begin 2003 Preparations at Valencia Today

The inaugural MotoGP season drew to a close on Sunday at the Ricardo TormoCircuit, at Valencia, the fourth race over an arduous five-week period forthe teams and riders. For two of the world's top premier class riders,however, the 2003 season began today, at the same venue.

Italian Max Biaggi, runner-up in the MotoGP series and Spaniard SeteGibernau tested RC211V Honda's at the 4.005km circuit. Both riders returnto Honda equipped teams for next season's 16 round series and will race thelatest versions of the five-cylinder, 990cc four-stroke that they testedtoday.

The two men spent the day acquainting themselves with the characteristicsof the machine that won 14 of the 16 races in the 2002 MotoGP WorldChampionship.

At the end of what was just a shake down test for the riders, before theserious winter testing action begins, both men were pleased with what theday had revealed for them.

Max Biaggi: "Today was just my first taste of a new machine. It is a littlebit different, but I am pleased with the decision I have taken. We testedthe measurements of the bike, such as the handlebars, footpegs and levers,to see how I fit onto it. I was simply trying to understand the characterof the machine on this track, and because we have just raced here it wascomfortable for me. It will take time to get experience on this bike,everything is very new to me, and I will have to get used to its differentsensations."

Sete Gibernau: "It's been really exciting, just jumping on this bike youcan tell that it has been winning, and it is definitely a bike that workswell in many different areas. It is a very well balanced machine, and as arider I am satisfied, and I feel confident for next year. With TelefonicaMoviStar I believe we have chosen the best team and the best bike, andwhilst we still have to get the motorcycle to suit me and my riding style,I feel that with a lot of hard work over the winter, we can be verycompetitive."

This season Italian Valentino Rossi won 11 races aboard his RC211V on theway to a stunning MotoGP title win. Rossi's Repsol Honda team-mate,Japanese rider Tohru Ukawa, won one race on his RCV, eventually finishingthird in the series. Brazilian Alex Barros scored two memorable victoriesaboard his West liveried RC211V, including last Sunday's 30-lap Grand Prixof Valencia.

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