Official IRTA Test At Jerez, Day 1

The first day of the official IRTA test, the last test before the season finally gets underway, started inauspiciously. The weather gods, who were so unkind to MotoGP last season, continued to display their fickle nature, with the morning's session almost unusable, with the track neither wet nor dry. The Jerez track has been fairly well drenched throughout the 250 and 125 tests which took place earlier in the week, and the track surface stubbornly refused to dry throughout the morning, yet not wet enough to run rain tires, leaving little to be learnt from such a changeable surface. Only the hard-working test riders, Ducati's Vittoriano Guareschi and Shinichi Ito, and John Hopkins' replacement at Suzuki, Kousuke Akiyoshi were out putting in the laps before lunchtime, the rest of the riders preferring to stay inside a warm garage.

Ironically, it was the first proper rain shower which brought the riders out on to the track, keen to learn from the properly wet conditions. The riders' appearance seemed to appease the entity in charge of the waterworks, as the rained eased, then stopped after an hour or so, and the Southern Spanish track started to dry out properly. But though the action picked up a little, it remained a pretty low key affair, until about an hour from the end of the session, at which point a frenzy akin to the last ten minutes of qualifying broke out, with everyone out running hot laps.

So, thought times were set and a pecking order established, the conditions were far too variable to be able to draw reliable conclusions from the day's results. Even Marco Melandri's fastest time is 2 seconds slower than Valentino Rossi's race lap record, and over 2.6 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa's fastest time set the last time the MotoGP grid was here, back in November.

But Melandri, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were all fast, with Carlos Checa a little way behind, Alex Barros hot on the Spanish veteran's heels. The big surprises were further down the timesheet, with Valentino Rossi setting only the 13th fastest time, nearly 2 seconds behind Melandri, and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden down in 19th, over 3.3 seconds slower. But conditions being the way they were, the times were all fairly meaningless.

The test continues tomorrow, with everyone hoping for better conditions.

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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