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Melandri shines on good day for Honda at Jerez
MotoGP : Jerez MotoGP Official test
Gresini Honda rider Marco Melandri set the pace on the opening day of the three-day MotoGP test at Jerez, Spain the final test session before the season opens at Qatar on March 10. Five Honda RC212V riders ended the day among the fastest
top ten.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, set third fastest time of the day with the LCR Honda of Carlos Checa fourth. Melandri's tam-mate, Spaniard Toni Elias and Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda taking ninth and tenth places respectively.

The day got off to a slow start with dull overcast weather that turned to rain as the morning session began. The riders waited until the sun began to filter through the clouds before going out to begin their final shake-down test of the year.

Melandri was immediately fast out of the box, in both damp and dry track conditions. The former 250cc world champion took to the track with the same base set up that Team Gresini had used at the November test at the 4.423 km Andalusia circuit and Melandri fine-tuned the suspension of the RCV then worked on the power delivery before trying two new tyres for Bridgestone. But track conditions were far from optimal and the Italian called a halt to his day 20-minutes before the track closed.

Repsol Honda factory team rider Dani Pedrosa was held back slightly by the weather conditions and was not able to test as many developments as planned. The young Spaniard kept an eye on track conditions before deciding on tyres but as the day wore down the track cooled and Pedrosa called a halt hoping or better track conditions on day two of the test.


MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden experienced an unrewarding day to say the least. Having missed the test at Jerez last November Hayden was debuting his 800cc RC212V at the circuit but the track top still had several damp patches when the Champion went out and he said. I was just uncomfortable and it felt a bit sketchy. Consequently the American was unable to call upon prior experience to improve his understanding of his RCV in the prevailing track conditions.

Melandri's Gresini Honda team mate, Toni Elias took a big step forward today his confidence in the Bridgestone tyre engineers rewarded with new tyres specifically produced to suit his riding style. Having waited so long for improvements Elias was held back by the tricky track conditions but is confident Bridgestone and Team Gresini have found the best direction for him to work in.
LCR Honda rider Carlos Checa worked on engine braking and chassis set up but put in only 48 laps on the ever-changing track surface but despite his cautious approach Checa took fourth fastest time of the day.

Konica Minolta rider Shinya Nakano continues his steady progress towards finding his feet with the RC212V, his new team and Michelin tyres. The Japanese star made the best of the two hours of track time he had concentrating on general machine balance and suspension in order to have suitable settings for the tyre testing session planned for tomorrow, weather permitting.

Kenny Roberts Jnr was thwarted in his efforts to set up his two machines in identical spec. Roberts ran with his number one bike early in the session, always in the top six while chasing a base set up for Jerez. However, his fortunes changed somewhat when he took his second machine out on track. The American returned to the pits immediately complaining of severe handling problems. Team Roberts technicians discovered the triple clamps were bent the undetected legacy of a freighting accident!

Official test Jerez MotoGP Day 1 Official times :

1. Marco Melandri (Honda Gresini) - 1'42.563
2. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 1'42.634
3. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) - 1'42.796
4. Carlos Checa (Honda LCR) - 1'43.206
5. Alex Barros (Pramac d'Antin) - 1'43.214
6. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 1'43.315
7. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) - 1'43.475
8. Alex Hofmann (Pramac d'Antin) - 1'43.673
9. Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) - 1'43.687
10. Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda) - 1'43.817
11. Colin Edwards (Yamaha Factory Racing) - 1'43.845
12. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'44.052
13. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing Team) - 1'44.494
14. Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 1'44.659
15. Makoto Tamada (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3) - 1'45.081
16. Sylvain Guintoli (Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3) - 1'45.208
17. Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati Marlboro) - 1'45.603
18. Shinichi Ito (Ducati Marlboro) - 1'45.826
19. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) - 1'45.901
20. Kousuke Akiyoshi (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'47.191
21. Kenny Roberts Jr. (Team Roberts) - 1'45.937
22. Jeremy McWilliams (Ilmor GP) - 1'47.191
23. Andrew Pitt (Ilmor GP) - 1'49.365
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