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Rossi ups the pace despite slower engine

Published: 11 February 2004

Valentino Rossi looks set to disprove his doubters, closing the gap on the Hondas on the second day of MotoGP testing at Sepang, Malaysia.

This was despite using a prototype engine down on power from the version used on the first day of testing. The Italian finished the day lapping at 2:03.001, just 0.3 seconds slower than Honda riding Max Biaggi, the fastest rider of the day, and .089 seconds faster than his previous best at the test.

Rossi said: "There are some teething problems which we need to fix, but for sure this engine has more potential than the other one we've been using."

The engine may be slightly down on power at the moment but it's potential for development combined with the fact that it is far easier to control than the previous version should see Rossi improving his times even further. This could potentially put the Yamaha back on pace with the Honda RCV for the first time in over a year.

Shane Byrne made big steps on the Aprilia RS3, knocking almost a second off his best time from the previous day commenting that it was the most fun he has ever had on a bike.

Byrne admitted that the team still has a lot of work to do. The engine is certainly powerful enough but they need to work on the ignition mapping to improve mid corner grip.

Byrne's teammate Jeremy McWilliams didn't have quite as good a day. The Ulsterman crashed twice and was forced to finish the day early after the second incident when he landed on the bike and was hit hard in the kidney with the handlebars.

Neil Hodgson had a slightly better day, after the first day's crashes, and managed to knock almost a second and a half off his time to finish on 2:05.524.

Times: Max Biaggi 2:02.70; Colin Edwards 2:02.845; Nicky Hayden 2:02.855; Sete Gibernau 2:02.914; Valentino Rossi 2:03.001; Carlos Checa 2:03.317; Makoto Tamada 2:03.490; Troy Bayliss 2:03.748; Loris Capirossi 2:03.914; Shinichi Itoh 2:03.936; Kousuke Akiyoshi 2:03.943; Shinya Nakano 2:04.318; Alex Barros 2:04.427; Alex Hofmann 2:04.568; Norick Abe 2:04.577; Marco Melandri 2:05.137; Gregorio Lavilla 2:05.290; Neil Hodgson 2:05.524; Ruben Xaus 2:05.628; Jeremy McWilliams 2:05.934; Shane Byrne 2:06.255; Andrew Pitt 2:06.416

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