2008 Challenge Gets Underway For Yamaha In Sepang

Valentino Rossi completed a mainly positive first day of testing in Malaysia today as the first of four pre-season tests began for the Fiat Yamaha Team. Rossi's second test on Bridgestone tyres was interrupted when he crashed entering turn two on his twentieth lap of the day, but the Italian was unhurt and completed 44 laps and some important development work.

It was a typically hot and humid Sepang day and the track surface caused some problems with several riders, including Rossi's new team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, also hitting the gravel at some point. Rossi and his team concentrated on a variety of things throughout the day as they continued to work on the development of the 2008 YZR-M1, recording positive results with a new 2008 specification pneumatic-valve engine, new electronics and of course some tyre work with Bridgestone. Rossi's time of 2'02.490, recorded on his final lap of the day, put him in sixth place.
Valentino Rossi - Position: 6th Time: 2'02.490 Laps: 44, "It feels good to be back on the bike after the winter break, and me and all my team are feeling very motivated about the task ahead. I still have some pain in my hand but I had it checked out again last week and the fracture is okay, so I know it's not a problem to ride. Today we continued where we left off with Bridgestone and it seems we're making good progress, we did many laps with the same tyre and I'm pleased with things so far. Unfortunately I had a crash today; I was on an out lap and maybe I pushed a little bit too hard, too soon, with not enough temperature in the tyre and I lost the front. Luckily I was not hurt, my hand is okay and I was able to continue with the day's work! As well as tyres we tried a new-spec engine and I was quite pleased with this, as well as with some new electronics. The surface wasn't good today and it wasn't possible to go so fast but I hope tomorrow it will improve and we will be able to keep improving in all areas."

Davide Brivio - Team Manager, "It was unfortunate that Valentino crashed, as well as quite a few other riders, but he is fine, the bike was okay after some work and it didn't interrupt things too much. The surface was quite poor and this caused problems for everyone but anyway we were able to get quite a lot of work done and overall it's been a good first day, despite Valentino's problem! Of course we're working a lot with Bridgestone, continuing from the work we did in Jerez, and so far we seem to be going well. Tomorrow we might try a long-run and check the situation with the tyres over many laps, so this will be interesting."

After being officially welcomed into the Yamaha fold at the Team's presentation in Turin last week, Jorge Lorenzo was out on track in Fiat Yamaha Team colours for the first time today in Sepang. The three-day Malaysian test is the first of four pre-season tests before the Spanish rookie makes his MotoGP debut in March.

It was an interesting day for the Michelin-shod 20-year-old, who completed some promising work despite an incident at turn 13, when he lost the front and slid into the gravel. Like his team-mate Valentino Rossi, who suffered a similar fate, Lorenzo was entirely unhurt and was back out on his second bike almost immediately. He completed 43 laps on a scorching Sepang day, trying out a new 2008-specification engine and also some new electronics, registering improvements with both. The Michelin rider stayed on base tyres today and will begin tyre-testing tomorrow as he continues in his task of getting to grips with his new YZR-M1. His time of 2'02.563 was good enough for ninth place. Randy de Puniet was fastest today after recording a lap of 2'01.377.

Jorge Lorenzo - Position: 9th Time: 2'02.563 Laps: 43, "Unfortunately I lost the front and crashed at turn 13 but it wasn't a big fall and I wasn't hurt at all. I went back to the pits and went out on my other bike, forgot about the problem and started improving straight away! In this way it was a positive day for me. We had the chance to test a new engine, with which I found to be an improvement compared to the previous one, and we also worked on some new electronics. I still need to improve some things about my riding style, and we need to work on the bike in the hard braking areas because I am lacking some stability there. Today we didn't change anything with the tyres but tomorrow we will start some tyre testing with Michelin."
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