The first day of the final pre-season test of 2006, at Jerez, has ended with a Ducati Marlboro one-two as Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau put their factory Desmosedicis on top of the timesheets for most of the day.
Capirossi eventually edged out his new team-mate by 0.262secs after setting a best lap of 1min 40.914secs, which is almost 1-second quicker than the fastest Ducati lap in last year's Spanish Grand Prix, but still 0.3secs from Valentino Rossi fastest race lap.
Both of the factory Ducati riders completed 72 laps of the Spanish circuit today, with testing held under clear skies and in warm temperatures.
"It's been a positive day," declared Capirossi. "We finally had good weather conditions and were able to work calmly all day. From the minute I went out I felt at ease on the GP6 and we were able to improve throughout the sessions, making only minor modifications to the set-up. The bike has improved a great deal and the tyres are very good. Tomorrow we hope the weather will allow us to do a race distance test."
"We return to Jerez after testing here by ourselves last November and perhaps this (information) helped us a bit today," admitted Gibernau. "The closer we get to the first race, the more important testing becomes. This session is extremely important because we know that we must gain ground on our competitors. Today we can be satisfied with our work as the bike is continuously improving and the tyres confirm the progress that we made in Barcelona. But, we must keep on working hard!"
Weather permitting, Ducati - who also have test rider Vittoriano Guareschi present at Jerez - will concentrate on frame, electronics and tyre set-up for the remainder of the test.
Meanwhile, fastest of the non-Ducati riders today was Kawasaki's Shinya Nakano, the Japanese raising team green spirits by lapping within 0.301secs of Gibernau despite two of his mechanics being absent due to injuries sustained in the team's recent road accident.
Just 0.022secs from Nakano was class rookie Dani Pedrosa, the fastest Honda rider, while Colin Edwards led the Yamaha effort in sixth. Edwards and world champion Valentino Rossi - who was ninth and almost one-second from Capirossi - suffered tyre related handling problems today.
Testing at Jerez continues on Saturday and concludes on Sunday.