MotoGP Sepang test: James Toseland makes 2008 Yamaha debut

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James Toseland got his first taste of Yamaha's new 2008 contender in Malaysia today, declaring himself satisfied with the winter improvements made on the much-maligned YZR-M1.

The British rider posted a best time of 2.03.264 to clock the 13th best time on a crash-strewn first day in Malaysia that saw Toseland the only Yamaha rider not to crash one of the new bikes.

Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards and factory duo Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo all crashed, as Toseland made a steady start to his third appearance in MotoGP.

Toseland's YZR-M1 was not the complete 2008 machine, with Rossi and Edwards carrying out basic set-up tests on a new electronics package before the 27-year-old gets to try it.

He was also using a new motor with conventional valve springs, while Italian Rossi, who crashed spectacularly at the second corner this morning, ran an updated version of Yamaha's pneumatic valve in-line four-cylinder motor.

Toseland did assess new Ohlins front forks, a new swingarm and three new rear Michelin rear tyre constructions and he told MCN: "The bike has got some subtle improvements. Its just little bits here and there. The new forks make it quite stable on the brakes and the swingarm helps with the chatter and it doesn't seem as bad as it did in November.

"It seems to make the bike a lot more compliant over the bumps. The engine has got a little bit more poke, but not massively. It seems to have more mid-range and top end. It's nice to go down the straight and see the improvement from November.

"It is definitely a move in the right direction but we still need a bit more. I was behind John Hopkins on the Kawasaki and my engine performance was similar. Suzuki is quite strong and especially off the corner. Our top speed is similar, but off the slower corners the Suzuki accelerates pretty well."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt