Feb 25, 2003
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From a press release issued by Honda Racing:<BR><BR>HRC Winter test Phillip Island, February 25, 2003<BR><BR>Rossi Fastest at HRC Phillip Island Test <BR><BR>The Repsol Honda team continue their preparations for the 2003 MotoGP season with a three-day test at the Phillip Island circuit, Victoria. Reigning MotoGP World Champion and teammate, American Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden, put in a good days work on the opening day, once the early morning mist had cleared. <BR><BR>Rossi was in particularly good form on the spectacular seaside track, the circuit on which he clinched his 500cc Word Championship title in 2001, and recorded his 50th GP victory in 2002. <BR><BR>The Italian Superstar gave ample indication that HRC have not been resting on their laurels over the winter. The RC211V five-cylinder four-stroke MotoGP contender scorched around the 4.448km circuit. Rossi took 0.7 seconds off his qualifying time for the 2002 GP held at the track! <BR><BR>Valentino Rossi: "It's one of my best circuits and it is always a great pleasure to ride here. My motorcycle is going well. Already today we went faster than my best lap in qualifying for the GP in 2002. (1m32.849s) Today we try different solutions to find the best settings for the tyres, suspension and the transmission. The team is working very well and they seem relaxed - Australia is home for many of them! I'm hoping over the next two days to find even better solutions to make the bike better for the championship. The weather here is great - it will be difficult to come back to the cold of Europe!" <BR><BR>For Hayden the Phillip Island circuit is an all-new experience, as all test tracks have been for the 21-year-old American from Owensboro, Kentucky. Hayden needs as much track time aboard the RCV as possible before the 2003 season opens on April 6, at Suzuka, Japan. <BR><BR>Nicky Hayden: "This circuit I enjoy very much - I'm havin' a good time ridin' here, learnin' the layout. I guess it was gettin' kinda' boring going round and round Sepang. It's always nice going to new tracks and this one here for sure is good fun. We were a little late gettin' on the track this morning, as there was a real fine mist. Things progressed pretty quickly to a certain point then around lunch I just kinda got in a rut and I didn't really go much better this afternoon. I didn't keep movin' forward as much as I'd have liked to but you know - I've got two more days here and am looking forward to gettin' some more laps here and keep on learnin'." <BR><BR>The Pramac Honda Team is also testing at Phillip Island with team rider Makoto Tamada testing the new RC211V, and a large selection of Bridgestone tyres. Tamada, like Nicky Hayden - a new man to MotoGP, has a lot too learn before the opening grand prix of the season, and like Hayden he has a huge capacity for hard work. Tamada put in 88 laps of the track on day one. <BR><BR>HRC test rider Shinichi Itoh again assisted Tamada, in evaluating the range of new tyres. Itoh's input was particularly useful as raced at Phillip Island on Bridgestone tyres in the 2002 GP, racing a Kanemoto NSR500 two-stroke. Near veteran Itoh has a wealth of experience testing all types of Honda machinery and his ability to supply precise feedback is invaluable to the HRC and Bridgestone technicians. <BR><BR>Shinichi Itoh: "This is my first time at Phillip Island on the RCV four-stroke, I raced Erv's NSR500 here at the GP last October. Of course the two bikes are completely different but I found it easy to ride the RCV fast round here. Today I worked on the front and rear suspension to find the best setting for the circuit, and the tyres. Even if it was not perfect at the end of the day I could run my time easily. I must say that considering they have not raced here with a four-stroke the performance of the Bridgestone's has been very impressive." <BR><BR>Makoto Tamada: "This is my first time at Phillip Island and I'm very impressed! The circuit has both uphill and downhill sections and it was a little difficult to find the best line at first. I know I can go much faster at this track but it's not so easy for me to set fast lap times until I have found the best machine settings. Tomorrow will be better with the settings we will run." <BR><BR>Fastest lap times<BR>Valentino Rossi, ITA Repsol Honda 1:32.1 (92 laps)<BR><BR>Nicky Hayden, USA Repsol Honda 1:34.5 (85 laps)<BR><BR>Shinichi Itoh, JPN Pramac Honda 1:33.0 (78 laps)<BR><BR>Makoto Tamada, JPN Pramac Honda 1:34.3 (88 laps)) <BR><BR><BR><BR>