Excalibur Rossi tops Jerez time sheets

Rossi's new helmet design reflects his 2007 expectations

Rossi sports his new Excalibur logo at Jerez

VALENTINO Rossi topped the times sheets of the last MotoGP test session. Jerez played host to the last MotoGP test session, where the hotly anticipated session had a delayed start due to extremely cold morning temperatures hampering any chance of decent lap times. Once the session got underway, rain put a premature end to the proceedings. This was the first time Rossi and Edwards have tested their Yamaha MotoGP 800cc side-by-side for the first time.

Rossi, fresh from his WRC Rally experience in New Zealand nonetheless topped the unofficial time sheets at the end of the day, posting a top time of 1'41.745 after 17 laps.

After the session, Rossi shared his enthusiasm: "I'm very happy to see that we have no chatter here, because we had quite a lot of problems in the first race last season. This is one of my favourite tracks and it's a great pleasure for me to be able to ride comfortably again at it; it feels like another track compared to last March! Our new bike seems to work well and so far I am very happy with it. Unfortunately we only had time for a few laps before the bad weather stopped us just when we were about to begin to test some different things, but anyway we have made a good start."

"Even though the bike is going great for both Colin and I in this moment, we know that we have a lot of work to do during these next two days which are going to be very important to us. I have some new stickers on my bike and a new helmet; they're reference to legend of King Arthur and 'Excalibur'! I want to show everyone that we are ready to fight back and that we're ready to do our very best throughout these winter tests. Let's hope the weather is good tomorrow so we can begin our task properly!"

Edwards was third fastest in the dry with a lap of 1'42.293 and the Texan also took the chance to try out his new bike in the wet, completing 36 laps in total before calling it a day. Sandwiched between the Yamaha pair was Suzuki rider John Hopkins, who set the second fastest time of 1'42.161 out of a total of 12 riders testing.

"It was pretty cold this morning," said the Texan rider. "Not really what we were hoping for! We had to hang around until about 11.30 before it was warm enough to go out; it's not really such a great idea for us to ride when it's only 18 degrees on track! Once we finally got out there things actually felt pretty good straight away and I was happy with how the bike was adapting to a different track. We'd played around a bit with the geometry in Malaysia but I think that for here we probably need to go back a bit to what Valentino had originally, just to calm the bike down a little in some of the fast corners."

Edwards also commented on the 800 in the wet: "Once it started raining we decided to get out there and do some laps in the wet, just to get an idea of how the new bike goes in the rain. I think that was the most productive thing we did all day because, once we were running without much traction in the wet, we could see that we do have a few issues to sort out with relation to the engine braking. We did about 15 laps in the rain, played around with a few settings and started to understand what was going on. It definitely hasn't been a wasted day, despite the weather, and we'll carry on tomorrow and see what we can do."

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