Gauloises Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards completed the last of 21 days of pre-season testing as the final day of the Jerez IRTA Tests drew to a close. Rossi completed the day with the fourth fastest time and his team-mate was eighth; both bettering the times they set on Friday and well inside the existing lap record of 1'42.788. They spent the day making last minute alterations and checks in order to refine the set-up of their YZR-M1s in preparation for the season-opening Grand Prix here in two weeks time.
After yesterday's rain the Spanish circuit stayed dry today and there were fast times from all the MotoGP riders throughout. Many elected to try out a qualifying tyre at the end of the day and the best time of the whole test was set by Honda rider Nicky Hayden. The American set a lap of 1'39.983 in the dying stages of the eight-hour session, nearly a second faster than Rossi's pole position time from last year's Grand Prix. Second fastest was Marco Melandri (Honda, 1'40.291) and John Hopkins was in the top four for the third day running after setting a lap of 1'40.418 on his Suzuki. Rossi completed 96 laps today, his most over the three days of the test, setting a best time of 1'40.539, despite a few complications with rear grip in the afternoon. Edwards also made the most of the last hours of testing before the first race, completing 73 laps with a best time of 1'41.284.
For the Fortuna Yamaha Team the final day of testing proved to be a little more challenging after both riders ended the day with a crash. Despite this Toni Elias was happy with the progress the team had made over the past three days and finished with a best time of 1'42.387 for 16th position. His Spanish team-mate Ruben Xaus called an early end to the day after his mid afternoon tumble and was left with a 1'43.961 for 17th place.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'40.539
"We went quite well until lunchtime. However, during the afternoon we tried some new things and they didn't go quite as well as we had hoped. We had some troubles in the braking sections because the bike was quite nervous when the tyre was coming to an end. We know we can do better and what we have to improve, so we are not too worried, it's just that there is not quite enough rear grip after I've done a lot of laps. The front is okay because we already fixed this in Barcelona. Anyway, I'm now really happy to finish the testing and I am feeling okay about the first race, the bike has good potential and I am looking forward to a good battle this year!"
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) - 1'41.284
"I'm pleased because, other than Valentino, all the seven riders above me in the timings put on a qualifying tyre. I had a really good pace on the race tyres, consistently in the low 1'41s, and this bodes well for the race in two weeks time. However it took a lot of work to get to this point. We tried so many things today but finally we hit the nail on the head and now the bike works really well. I've got pretty much the same setting as Valentino, we're very similar in the way we ride the bike. I am now ready for a quick break at home and then, finally, the first race! It's been a long winter of testing!"
Daniele Romagnoli, Colin Edwards' crew chief
"Today we had some difficulties with the chassis set-up but we found several different solutions. We found a good base in the morning and we've found a good Michelin tyre, which has helped to improve the traction. We've managed to keep the bike turning well too, which is really important. We did some good runs on a race tyre and Colin set his best time on this, which is encouraging. I think we've got a good base to fine-tune when we return here for the GP weekend."
Toni Elias (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'42.387
"We had a few little problems to sort through today but we made good progress. I have found the last three days very positive and was even presented with the opportunity to test the bike in the wet on the second day. I'm really happy with the way we have been working as a tream and I'm confident for the first race."
Ruben Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team) - 1'43.961
"I made a small mistake today but I am reasonably happy with the overall progress we have made despite this. We have been more and more consistent on the bike and its now only the little things, the fine turning that needs to be dealt with now. I'm really looking forward to the start of the season."
Official times - day 3:
- 1. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1'39.983
- 2. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1'40.291
- 3. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1'40.418
- 4. VALENTINO ROSSI (GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM) 1'40.539
- 5. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1'40.559
- 6. Alex Barros (Honda) 1'40.569
- 7. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1'40.662
- 8. COLIN EDWARDS (GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM) 1'41.284
- 9. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 1'41.380
- 10. Max Biaggi (Honda) 1'41.431
- 16. TONI ELIAS (FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM) 1'42.387
- 17. RUBEN XAUS (FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM) 1'43.961