Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards both made considerable progress on the final day of the Catalunya IRTA test in Spain today. Whilst Rossi made a key breakthrough with the set-up of his 2005 version YZR-M1, finishing this afternoon's 40-minute televised session with the second fastest time, Edwards continued to refine the excellent base set-up he has found for his machine over the three days of testing.
The adjustments made by Rossi's team of mechanics gave the World Champion the opportunity to improve his best time from yesterday by over a second and challenge for the top spot in the dramatic afternoon session with a final best lap of 1'42.270. However, it was Honda rider Sete Gibernau who eventually drove away in the prize of a new car after setting a lap of 1'41.851 in front of 32,000 home supporters.
Rossi's effort was enough for the third fastest time over the three days, with his Honda rival Max Biaggi having lapped just one hundredth of a second quicker during yesterday's session. Despite not improving on his best time today, Edwards was seventh fastest in the televised session and ended the test ninth fastest overall, giving him plenty of reason to look forward to the next IRTA test, which begin at Jerez on Friday 25th March.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'42.270
"I'm happy because we did a great job here today during the test. Yesterday and Friday we had some problems and we didn't really understand why. We tried to follow a different way but it wasn't right. Today was much better. I made a small mistake in my hot lap in the qualifying session and I was second, but anyway I feel much happier. The bike was much better to ride and felt good on the race tyres. It's fun to ride again, which is an important thing for me. We've still got a lot of work to do so hopefully we can continue in the same way at Jerez and find a good base setting for the circuit."
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'43.131
"I'm not disappointed with today but I have to say I'm not totally happy either. The main focus of the day was to run through a whole bunch of stuff that we could then either eliminate or proceed with. That's what these tests are for and from that point of view it was positive. We've also done a lot of work on the tyres and at the moment I would say we've got a top five bike on our hands. Next week we've got to keep working, test a bunch more settings and make sure we've got the number one bike in time for the first race."
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Yamaha Team Director
"We didn't win the car but today concluded a good test for both our riders. After a lot of hard work Valentino finally came up with a good set-up, which allowed him to ride the bike as he wants to and start enjoying himself again. Colin had already found a good base set-up over the first couple of days and today we tried a few things to refine it even more, although we don't want to change too much from what he already has. It will be interesting when we get to Jerez next week because we will find out if it is a good, consistent setting that will serve him for the whole season. Next week's test will be crucial because we have to make absolutely sure we are ready for the start of the season. The important thing is that we are at our maximum level at 2pm on April 10th."
Toni Elias (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'44.589
"We were hoping for a better result but still I am quite satisfied. Still I am learning a great deal every time I go out and I just want to keep that momentum going without making too many mistakes. This afternoon, during the TV run, I felt the track had less grip than during the morning but I think everyone felt the same. We still have a lot of work to do in Jerez, but we are getting closer every time."
Ruben Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'44.712
"We have been focusing on finding the right set-up for me, and though it's not quite right yet I don't want to change too much. What I really need is to get to know this bike, and what it is trying to tell me when I'm on the limit. Basically I need to do as many kilometers as I can and find some constancy. It's coming, but it's not here yet."
Combined times over three days:
- Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda) - 1'41.851
- Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team) - 1'42.260
- Valentino Rossi (GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM) - 1'42.270
- Alex Barros (Camel Honda) - 1'42.506
- Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team) - 1'42.507
- Marco Melandri (Team Movistar Honda) - 1'42.797
- Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda) - 1'43.823
- John Hopkins (Team Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'43.117
- Colin Edwards (GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM) - 1'43.129
- Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 1'43.531