Honda Completes Day1 of Valencia MotoGP Test

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander

HRC winter test Valencia, December 2, 2002.

Changeable Weather Conditions for HRC RC211V Test at Valencia

The first day of the two-day HRC winter test at Jerez got underway in less than ideal conditions at the 4.005km Ricardo Tormo Circuit, close to Valencia. The test, the first of two scheduled for Spain this month, was scheduled to evaluate recent development work on the Honda RC211V five-cylinder 990cc four-stroke machine, which ran away with the 2002 MotoGP World Championship.

Japanese MotoGP stars Tohru Ukawa and Daijiro Kato were joined at the tight and demanding track by American Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden, who was riding at a European circuit for the first time. Lap times became irrelevant as track conditions prevented direct comparisons with the lap times set by RC211V riders at the grand prix.

What hampered the riders today was a less than ideal track surface. Formula One teams held both wet and dry tests at Valencia last week, the cars coating the corners in rubber in less than ideal places. All three riders commented that the track was very slick in the morning, but became progressively more adhesive.

Hayden was impressive on his first outing considering the conditions, and that he hadn't ridden at the track or on this motorcycle. Hayden had tested the Honda RC211V twice previously, once at Motegi and last week in cold, wet, and windy conditions at Suzuka, Japan. Both times he rode test motorcycles. The technical specifications of the RC211V he tested today closely match the set up HRC riders raced with at the recent grand prix.

Hayden, who completed 80 laps today, said. "It's quite a bit different than Motegi and Suzuka. We tested a couple of tyres, a little bit of suspension stuff, a little bit of offsets, shock specs. HRC have a bit of a plan. They had a couple of different engine parts to test."

"It's pretty good for the first day on a new track with a new bike. I'm making up time just everywhere. There's not just one spot. I like the wicked left-hander in the back. The traction control is new for me. I used it pretty much all day. It just mellows it out." Concluded Hayden.

While Hayden was getting used to a new track and new bike, Ukawa was comparing modifications made since the last race of the 2002 season, Valencia in early November.

"Basically we tried some suspension settings, and gearbox settings," Ukawa said. "On some parts of the track it was better, on some parts it was worse. It was a little bit of an improvement, but my lap times were a little bit slow."

Daijiro Kato, testing suspension, chassis and engine parts on his Gresini Honda RC211V, had much the same experience. "The conditions are not

perfect," Kato, who also hadn't ridden since the end of the season, said. "Normally this track, is very slippery on the first day. Not so happy, not so angry."

The test continues on Tuesday with the teams moving south next Monday for a three-day test at the Jerez Circuit, where they will be joined by MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi.

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