In gruelling heat Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team) was inside his own previous lap record of 2m 03.82 seconds at the 5.548km Sepang track in testing today. He recorded a best time of 2m 02.75 seconds in the final session of this intensive three-day test putting in a total of 59 laps. But the reigning MotoGP World Champion is keen to put in more hard development work here in just over two weeks time .
"We did some good work," he said. "The time we made was good for a first test, but tyres and chassis settings were the main aim here. I've really enjoyed my first three days with Yamaha, I'm very happy. There's still work to do on the engine and we'll carry on with that, but overall things have been good."
The World Champion's Crew Chief Jerry Burgess was quietly satisfied with events. "I guess we're doing okay," he said. "We've achieved enough for a fast time and we were running according to the Michelin test programme. Things have been very harmonious in terms of integration with Yamaha and now we'll go away and work on whatever the Yamaha Development Group have got for us."
Rossi's team-mate Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team) who rode a best lap of 2m 03.72 seconds during an arduous 88-lap stint, was happy with the endurance work he did and feels there is more to come from chassis settings in the weeks ahead.
"The bike feels better with the 16.5-inch front tyre," said the hard-charging Spaniard who tried both 17-inch and 16.5-inch fronts. "The race endurance test was not so bad, and this was only the first test of the season. Of course we've got more to do but we have all we need to achieve results."
Checa's Crew Chief Antonio Jimenez was content with the three days work at this early stage of the testing programme. "The race simulation distance test provided valuable information for us," he said. "We were focussed on that and this is just the beginning of our programme."
Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio was frank about his surprise at the rapid progress made here at Sepang. "I didn't honestly expect we'd be at his level so soon," he said. But the Italian expressed caution too. "All our competitors will work hard this winter too, but this is a good first test to motivate everyone in the team and everyone from Yamaha."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) rode 52 laps and put in a best time of 2m 05.55 seconds. "Better than yesterday," said the tough Italian, still sore from recent shoulder surgery. "In the end the bike was okay but I took time to adjust to the 16.5-inch front tyre I tried today. At the moment my mind is strong but not my body."
Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) couldn't quite make the most of a selection of Michelin tyres that suited his style well. "That was a bit so-so," said the experienced Japanese rider. "We're still not quite there with the settings, but we have not worked together before as a team. Even so I couldn't get the time I felt the tyres were capable of." Abe rode 52 laps with a best lap of 2m 05.05 seconds.
Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team Director Herve Poncharal believes his newly formed team benefited greatly from this Yamaha-only test. "We needed this first test to establish communication with new riders. For Marco this is his first ride since Phillip Island last year and he's not 100% fit yet. The 16.5-inch front tyre is helping him and we weren't here for lap times anyway - that's not an excuse - it's a fact. Norick is more of a racer than a tester and he looks very motivated. As the team begins to understand his needs more, we can expect more from him too."
Track temperature: 44 degrees
Ambient temperature: 30 degrees