Seven days after packing up from their most recent test session at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, Yamaha continued with their intense pre-season development programme today, the first day of the MotoGP Official Tests at the Catalunya circuit in Spain. Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards took advantage of bright sunshine and ideal ambient temperatures of 23ºC to evaluate the performance of their 2005 version YZR-M1 machines, adorned in the team's stunning new livery for the first time.
Having previously tested at Sepang and Phillip Island this year, the Catalunya circuit represents a fresh new perspective for the riders and the machine. The Spanish track's wide variety of corners, recently re-laid track surface and 1047m straight, one of the longest on the MotoGP World Championship calendar, gives the team the opportunity to improve its overall package.
Rossi and Edwards today worked largely on finding a good base set-up for their new machines but were both consistently amongst the fastest riders on track, and ended the day with fifth (1'43.518) and sixth (1'43.882) respectively. The fastest lap of the eight-hour session was set by Max Biaggi (Honda) with a time of 1'43.158.
The Fortuna Yamaha team riders Rubén Xaus and Toni Elías continued to work on their Yamaha YZR M1 machines. Luck was not on the side of Xaus, however, as the Spaniard crashed at the start of the day and a technical problem with his YZR M1 in the afternoon meant he was unable to complete his entire testing programme as planned. His team-mate Elías, preparing for his rookie season, clocked a time of 1'44.55 - the 15th fastest of the day. Xaus, meanwhile, was 16th fastest with a time of 1'44.787.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'43.518
"We're having quite a few problems finding the right set-up and I haven't had great feeling so far, especially with the front. I hope tomorrow we feel better but we need to find a solution to this problem. We have to work on engine performance as well over the next two days and find out what's going wrong. Anyway, I am confident that the team will find out the way we need to go and we have two more days to get there."
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'43.882
"Catalunya is a very different style of circuit to Phillip Island and we were able to evaluate some different things with the new bike, although the actual material we had available was the same as the past tests. The long straight here has shown that we're probably a little bit down on top speed at the moment but we're making up for that everywhere else, so I'm pretty happy with how things are going. The grip isn't the best at the moment with the new surface but it just needs a while to bake in and I imagine it will be much better by the time the race comes around here in June."
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Yamaha Team Director
"This is a new track for us with the 2005 bike so it's the perfect opportunity for us to test out a few different things. Colin tested a lot of tyres again for Michelin and he rode smoothly throughout the day without too many problems. However, Valentino is still not completely happy with the bike and he is having some problems with the front-end. Hopefully tomorrow we can work to find some solutions for him. In general it was a typical first day of tests."
Toni Elías (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'44.550
"At the start of the day I had quite a big crash but I wasn't hurt. In any case I'm happy with the job we're doing. It's a really tough category and I've still got a lot to learn. We have to take things calmly - we've still got another two days to go."
Rubén Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'44.787
"I've still got the riding 'chip' in from last year's bike and I have to change quickly because I'm still riding the M1 with old settings and that's not allowing me to ride in the way I would really like. The bike is running really well and I like it a lot, but I have to learn to brake a little later with the Yamaha. We've still got a lot of work to do."
Times - day 1:
- Max Biaggi (Honda) 1'43.158
- Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1'43.254
- Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1'43.347
- Marco Melandri (Honda) 1'43.433
- Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 1'43.518
- Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 1'43.882
- Alex Barros (Honda) 1'43.902
- Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1'43.974
- Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'44.102
- Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) 1'44.282