Troy Bayliss made it clear to his rivals that he won’t be giving up his world title without a struggle, after posting the fastest time of the first official test of the WSB year.
As everyone suspected the new Ducati 998R in the hands of Bayliss is the bike to beat in the WSB series after the test at Phillip Island in Australia ended on Friday.
The time of 1:32.944s he set was eight tenths of a second slower than the outright WSB lap record set by Troy Corser on a Ducati during superpole in 1999… and he was on qualifying tyres. Bayliss was using normal Michelin race rubber.
" People keep coming up to me and saying that the championship is mine already but that is complete rubbish – the championship hasn’t even started yet. There are three other guys out there at least who have a chance of winning the title and probably a couple more who will be winning races at some point in the year, " he said.
Second fastest throughout the three days was Spaniard Ruben Xaus on an identical Ducati with a time of 1:33.136s closely followed by American Colin Edwards on a prototype Honda VTR SP-2.
For Edwards the time of 1:33.143s was clocked using a Suzuka Eight Hour endurance engine which is lower performance than the one he will have for the season.
Edwards said: " I am pretty happy. It would have been nice to have a proper engine to test but I am sure everything will be cool for the Valencia test in a few weeks time. "
Ben Bostrom was fourth quickest on a Ducati 998R.
The HM Plant duo of Neil Hodgson and James Toseland were really happy with fifth and ninth quickest. Chris Walker was the slowest of the superbike riders.
Hodgson said: " Last year we walked away from testing with the fastest time and I think we concentrated on that far too much. This year we steadily worked our way through all of the things we had to achieve and are far better prepared for the season. I am happy as I know there is a lot more time we could take off with qualifying tyres but didn’t need to worry about it. "
Toseland was equally happy. He said: I’ve enjoyed getting the bike sorted out and loved the test and I am pleased with what we have been able to achieve over the three days. "
Walker said: " Being slowest is never nice and there is no way I could say I am happy. but I feel more comfortable on the bike than I did when I arrived. "
Haga was sixth fastest on the Aprilia. MUCH MORE ON THIS IN MCN, OUT ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2002.
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