GP testing starts for 2004
The MotoGP squads have started preparation early for next season with many of the teams staying on after this year's final race in Valencia for two days of hard testing.
After a brief rest on Monday the bikes were back out on track the following day to test new developments for 2004. Both Fortuna Yamaha and Pramac Honda were sporting new frames but it was the Ducati squad that dominated the session.
Riders Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss were both riding their 2003 bikes on exactly the same type of tyres as they used in the race on Sunday. But the machines had a number of modifications designed to improve their handling on the tighter tracks like Valencia.
The new set-up helped Caprossi knock almost five tenths of a second off his best race lap time, while Bayliss improved even further bringing his best time down from 1:34.65 to 1:33.50.
New frames were available for the Pramac Honda and Fortuna Yamaha teams before the race in Valencia. But Honda opted not to use them until the post race test, preferring to concentrate on getting the best out of its Bridgestone tyres during the race.
Yamaha debuted the uprated Deltabox frame in the second qualifying session on Saturday and went on to use it in the race. Team riders Carlos Checa and Norick Abe then developed settings for the new arrangement during the week and both finished the test lapping around two tenths of a second faster than their best race laps.
Yamaha's test rider Wataru Yoshikawa was also on hand but the Japanese rider crashed on Wednesday fracturing his ankle.
Makato Tamada experimented with the different settings on the new frame for his Pramac Honda RCV, cutting his best race time by over a second. Official test rider Shinichi Itoh spent the time concentrating on tyre set-up.
250cc rider Randy De Puniet was also testing a new chassis and engine developments for his 2004 Safilo Oxydo-LCR Aprilia RS250.
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