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Feb 22, 2003

The World Superbike Office's Take On Valencia Tests

From a press release:<BR><BR>22/02/03<BR><BR>Rain Stops Play<BR><BR>A light fall of rain during the second afternoon of official pre-season World Superbike and Supersport practice sessions brought an early end to the day's meaningful action. With a wet track surface persisting in the cold ambient weather conditions most teams elected to sit out the final few hours in the pit garage, rather than risk disaster on a slick, but not quite fully wet, 4.005km track.<BR><BR>The first two session of the day were enough to allow Ruben Xaus (Fila Ducati 999) to take the fastest time of the test so far, thanks to his 1:34.755 - making him the only rider inside the 1:35 mark so far. Warmer track conditions would have allowed Xaus and the other top runners to mount greater attempts to beat the circuit best of Ben Bostrom, a time of 1:34.649.<BR><BR>Neil Hodgson also pushed his time towards that of Bostrom, despite spending a large number of laps chasing a better base set-up in vain. His best of 1:35.044 came shortly before the rains invaded the east coast of Spain, engulfing the Valencia circuit.<BR><BR>Superbike race winner Regis Laconi, drafted into the NCR Nortel Ducati team this season, pulled out all the stops to go third fastest over the two-day test, with a 1:35.685 lap.<BR><BR>Chris Walker's 2002 specification factory Ducati was not able to deliver the Englishman a better time than his opening day best of 1:35.842, despite setting a high overall lap count.<BR><BR>His HM Plant team-mate James Toseland was held back somewhat by his still-healing right hand injury, and he could not improve on his Friday time, leaving him fifth fastest overall.<BR><BR>Steve Martin (DFX Ducati) was one of the few riders to venture out in the wet conditions, to evaluate his Pirelli tyres on a slick Valencia circuit, while PSG-1 Ducati rider Pierfrancesco Chili went almost one second faster today than yesterday, securing an overall seventh fastest time over two days.<BR><BR>Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas Racing) took 0.6 seconds off his best time at Valencia, moving to eighth fastest overall.<BR><BR>Gregorio Lavilla was once more the top four-cylinder 1000cc runner, despite suffering a huge highside crash. Another local rider, Juan Borja, took his DFX Ducati twin to the top ten, one place ahead of Almeria rider David Garcia (NCR Ducati) and two ahead of British rider James Haydon (Foggy Petronas Racing).<BR><BR>The two top Supersport times from the opening day proved to be the best after the second day's sessions as well, leaving Ten Kate Honda riders Chris Vermeulen and Karl Muggeridge clear at the top of the timesheets.<BR><BR>Another factory Honda rider, Christophe Cogan (BKM Racing Team) scored an excellent lap time of 1:38.564, a huge improvement over his first day performance. The majority of the Supersport riders scored faster times on the second day than on the first, with Katsuaki Fujiwara (Alstare Suzuki) fourth quickest, Gianluca Nannelli (Lorenzi by Leoni Yamaha) fifth and Alessio Corradi (Team Italia Spadaro) sixth.<BR><BR>The top Kawasaki rider once more proved to be Pere Riba, in 11th place. Despite a suspected broken rib World Supermoto Champion Thierry van den Bosch continued to ride his Yamaha Motor France machine on day two, securing a time of 1:1:39.185, good enough for a top ten ranking.<BR><BR>The tests reach their conclusion tomorrow, with the first race of the season scheduled for Sunday 2 March, also at Valencia. <BR><BR><BR>