Record breaking Rossi heats up Qatar.
MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi broke new ground in Qatar today, when the Camel Yamaha rider shattered the 2005 pole time set by Loris Capirossi as the desert test concluded for all but the factory M1 team.
Having started a day later than the four other teams present, Tuesday marked only the second day of track action for Rossi and team-mate Colin Edwards - with both maintaining their positions at the top of the timesheets during a day largely spent testing tyres for Michelin.
Rossi and Edwards eventually completed 60 and 76 laps respectively on their 2006-spec YZR-M1s, with the #46 fastest of the pair - by 0.28secs - after setting a best time of 1min 56.53secs, which is 0.387secs inside Capirossi's Ducati pole time from last October's Qatar Grand Prix.
"We managed many laps today, everything went very well and I am quite pleased," summarised Rossi after his 60 laps. "In the morning we worked mostly on settings and we have now nearly fixed the chatter we were experiencing. We made some small modifications and the bike responded quickly and it is giving me a very good feeling now.
"After that we worked for the rest of the day with Michelin and tested most of the tyres that they brought with them; the new things they have brought here seem to be extremely good. Our main target with them is to keep the performance level of the tyre up after 15 or 20 laps, and it seems we're improving in this area and our times were consistent throughout the day.
"With these new tyres and the new M1 combined we have much better stability and grip. For sure we don't have most of the other teams testing here so it's hard to judge exactly where we are, but I think anyway we can tell that we are doing okay," he added.
"Everything is going well so far. The test has been successful and the weather has been good," said crew chief Jerry Burgess. "We've been able to test everything that we wanted up to now and we've confirmed everything that we found out in Malaysia. We're proceeding well towards the first race!"
But while the comments made by Rossi and Burgess were somewhat understated, Edwards made his delight much more clear.
"Today has been great, I'm really happy," smiled the Texan. "We got going on the new Michelin stuff after lunch and they've made some great improvements. We had some new things to try for Yamaha, but we mostly concentrated on tyres. I'm really starting to feel confident with the bike and to believe in myself again.
"This is my first time in MotoGP to be with the same team for two years running and it's great not to have to worry about adjusting to a new bike and team at the start of the season. It feels really good to be back with the best team and on the best bike!
"I can concentrate entirely on my race preparation without any distractions or worries and the new style I adapted to last season now feels totally natural. I feel like I have all the tools in place for a really good season. Tomorrow we're planning to do a long run and we have a few more tyres to test; I am sure we'll make some more progress," he concluded.
Meanwhile, arguably the biggest surprise of the day was the impressive pace of new Yamaha Tech 3 rider Carlos Checa - the Spaniard, who had to stop testing early yesterday after banging his head, set the third quickest lap time today - just 0.42secs from Rossi - as his first Dunlop test came to a close.
Also leaving Qatar this evening were Team Suzuki MotoGP riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen, Ducati test rider Shinichi Itoh and Kawasaki test rider Olivier Jacque - but Camel Yamaha will continue testing tomorrow.
Honda, Ducati and Kawasaki race teams have not been present in Qatar after instead electing to test at Phillip Island last week.