Final IRTA MotoGP Testing Times

Sean Alexander
by Sean Alexander
The final IRTA MotoGP preseason test concluded today, in Catalunya Spain. This is the first time that all of the contenders for the 2003 MotoGP Championship have tested together. Thus this is the first time we've had a glimpse at the relative speed (assuming nobody is sandbagging) of the competitors. As an incentive not to hold anything back, the fastest time in a special "BMW Award" session, won a new BMW 330Cd automobile.

After two days of testing, not only did Ducati's Loris Capirossi go home with the new car, he shattered the track record by 1.96sec, with a lap of 1:43.634, and also shattered the all time GP motorcycle Top Speed record, at 203.9mph. His Ducati teammate Troy Bayliss was the only other rider at the test to crack 200mph. At the end of the day Capirossi set another record, as the classiest rider in the paddock, when he gave the BMW to his mechanics, in recognition of all their hard work. The mechanics decided to sell the car and split the proceeds.

Read on for more, including final times...

As impressive as Ducati's performance was, five of the top-10 times still went to Honda, including 3 of the top-5. A surprising development from the test, was that 2002 MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi was 5th fastest overall, and only 3rd fastest of the Honda riders, behind Tohru Ukawa and Sete Gibernau. I'm guessing that Rossi was either sandbagging or was having an "off" weekend. Also surprising, was the fact that 2002 World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards finished the weekend over 1/2 second behind teammate Noriyuki Haga, who he has regularly trounced in testing prior to this weekend. Furthermore, Edwards failed to post a time for the special "BMW Award" session, after a light crash.

Sean's Final Analysis: It appears that Ducati and Yamaha are up with Honda, in the thick of things. Aprilia had a bad weekend, but has shown promise in earlier testing. Suzuki and Kawasaki are behind the curve and have a hard road ahead of them. Proton still doesn't have their 4-stroke V-5 ready and the Harris Yamaha is just plain slow.

P.S. I still say keep your eye on Barros.

Final Combined Times after 2 days of testing:

1. Loris Capirossi, Ducati, 1:43.634 *203.9mph*
2. Tohru Ukawa, Honda, 1:43.832
3. Alex Barros, Yamaha, 1:43.878
4. Sete Gibernau, Honda, 1:44.071
5. Valentino Rossi, Honda, 1:44.111
6. Daijiro Kato, Honda, 1:44.111
7. Maxine Biaggi, Honda, 1:44.326
8. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha, 1:44.803
9. Troy Bayliss, Ducati, 1:44.893
10. Marco Melandri, Yamaha, 1:44.922
11. Carlos Checa, Yamaha, 1:44.992
12. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha, 1:45.263
13. Nicky Hayden, Honda, 1:45.533
14. John Hopkins, Suzuki, 1:45.624
15. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton (2-stroke) 1:45.709
16. Noriyuki Haga, Aprilia, 1:45.755
17. Makoto Tamada, Honda, 1:45.817
18. Norick Abe, Yamaha, 1:45.858
19. Kenny Roberts Jr., Suzuki, 1:45.956
20. Gary McCoy, Kawasaki, 1:45.961
21. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton (2-stroke) 1:46.034
22. Alex Hofmann, Kawasaki, 1:46.125
23. Colin Kick Ass Edwards, Aprilia, 1:46.296
24. Shinichi Itoh, Honda, 1:46.401
25. Andrew Pitt, Kawasaki, 1:46.586
26. Akira Yanagawa, Kawasaki, 1:46.893
27. Chris Burns, Harris Yamaha, 1:47.928
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