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IRTA Test Circuit Catalunya - 9.3.2002.
Weather, fine and sunny; temperature, 17'; track conditions, good.

Rossi Tops First Day Times at IRTA Catalunya Test

The first day of the two-day pre-season MotoGP test session at the 4.727km
Circuit de Catalunya, got under way in bright sunshine providing the riders
with almost ideal track conditions.

The entire MotoGP entry, Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha) apart, were present
at the test, the final European pre-season test before the teams move to
Suzuka for the pre-race test session.

HRC team riders Valentino Rossi and Tohru Ukawa were in sparkling form at
Catalunya today aboard their RC211V 5-cylinder Honda's, and it was Rossi
who set the pace for his rivals to aim at.

The reigning 500cc World Champion set a time of 1m 44.716s, almost two
seconds inside his own lap record of 1m 46.619s.

Rossi's time was 0.643s faster than West Honda Pons NSR500 rider Loris
Capirossi, in second place. The best two-stroke 500cc performance of the
day. Spaniard Carlos Checa (M1 Marlboro Yamaha) was third fastest.

Capirossi's West Honda Pons teammate, Alex Barros, was fourth fastest.
Ukawa, who has done the Lions share of RC211V testing to date, was next
having spent a large part of the day testing tyres and suspension.

Fortuna Honda Gresini rider Daijiro Katoh, the reigning 250cc World
Champion, ended the day in ninth place on the time sheet. The NSR500 rider
has adapted well to the 190PS plus 500cc two-stroke machine he will
campaign this season and spent the day testing tyre combinations and fine
tuning chassis settings.

Team Kanemoto continued their Bridgestone tyre testing programme at
Catalunya with team rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh, and former GP rider
Shinichi Itoh, who was brought to Catalunya to help with the hectic
Bridgestone testing schedule.

Tetsuya Harada brought his Pramac NSR500 Honda to Catalunya, despite still
suffering the after effects of a crash two weeks ago. The Japanese rider
took things easy all day, preferring to learn what he could about the
NSR500 he will race this year, his first season on a four-cylinder factory

Valentino Rossi: 1m 44.716s.
I'm quite happy about today, the bike is quite fast but we need more work
on traction. This is the first time I have been here with the RCV so we
just tested suspension, tyres and general settings. We will be able to
judge the results tomorrow. But I'm feeling quite confident.

Tohru Ukawa: 1m 45.586s.
I'm satisfied with what we did today. I have already tested the bike here,
just before Christmas, so I have a good comparison. The bike is better than
the last time, even though we spent the day testing many tyres and
suspension settings. Like Valentino, I think tomorrow we will really see
how much we have improved.

Daijiro Katoh: 1m 46.435s.
It was a day dedicated to search for settings to improve the times. We
still aren't ready , but tomorrow we start to make progress, I'm sure.
Ëverybody was expecting the 4-sstroke day, in fact : "They go very fast,
but still not everybody, but they had improved the record.I knew that , but
we have trust, we will see tomorrow

Loris Capirossi: 1m 45.359s.
This is a general test for the team and we are learning a lot about the new
NSR500. The bike is certainly better than last year. The chassis is much
improved and performs better all-round. The engine performance has also
improved but not as much as the chassis.

We are, of course, setting the machine for the circuit looking towards the
GP here in June. We have a front end chatter problem but we improved the
feel front the front during the day. The main thing is the bike is better
than at the last test and that's most important.

Alex Barros: 1m 45.547s.
Everything looks good today, difficult so I'm not exactly at 100%. We have
some setting problems which we are working on geometry and suspension to
fix that. The bike is completely new and we have lots of work to do to
before we get the best out of it. Michelin brought us many tyres to test
and at the end of the day I was 2/10ths of a second faster today than at
the GP last year.

So, with more to come from the bike I'm sure we are in good shape for the
season. We have more tests before the Suzuka GP. I feel comfortable on the
bike and that gives me confidence.

Jurgen van den Goorbergh: 1m 47.749s.
We did a lot of tyre testing today, carrying on from where we left off at
the last test, at Estoril. Unfortunately we did not go in the direction I
want. Rear wheel traction and a little movement from the tyre. The front
tyre we used today is great, it works well here and at Estoril and

If we can get the rear to work as well here as the front does, we could run
low 1m 46s times. We also worked on the suspension settings along with the
tyres. We found a few solutions to suit the track so it was a good day in
that respect.

Shinichi Itoh: 1m 47.766s.
I'm here to help with testing Bridgestone tyres for Team Kanemoto. We have
so many tyres to test here but we can see progress. Bridgestone have made
huge steps since I first tested the tyre - now it's step by step. But we
are going in the right direction.

<font color=red>Live it</font color=red> <font color=blue>></font color=blue> <font color=red>Ride it</font color=red> <font color=blue>></font color=blue> <font color=red>Race it</font color=red>
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