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Reaction from Malaysia after the third day of tests

Nicky Hayden: "It was great to get back on the bike after the winter break. Over the three days we got faster and faster and the bike felt better and better. Some of the new Michelins we tested were very good and we tried both 17 inch and 16½ fronts. The new engine parts work well and I'm really looking forward to riding the new 2004 bike back here in a month. Sepang isn't one of my favourite tracks on the GP circuit but I'm feeling more comfortable and confident here than I have ever felt."

Sete Gibernau: "It was a very strange and difficult day. I went out with a new engine this morning and it broke almost immediately. I had the choice to put in yesterday's engine or stop, so we decided to carry on but take things easy and maybe even limit its performance slightly to not go through the same problem. I wanted to do this to try and get some new information for Michelin by doing an endurance session. The front tyres we used were a completely new generation and initially we were in the 2'02, 2'03 level, but it dropped off. We had bad luck, but physically and mentally this is good preparation for later on in the season when things might not go so well.


Tohru Ukawa: “Today we ended by doing a full 21-lap race simulation, and I would say that I was about 15 or 20 seconds faster than when I rode here in October. To say that we haven't even got the bike set-up perfectly yet, that's good news. We made a lot of changes to the bike to get grip levels up to where we need them, changing suspension, chassis and many other settings, and it's getting close but there is still work to do. The lap time could be better I think, but I don't know if I will get another chance to test this bike before the other riders get into it."

Colin Edwards: “I was worried before coming here because I knew I had to do lots of laps on the 17-inch front for Michelin, which I haven't done for four years since I began working on the 16.5 with the Superbike. I think I maybe felt a bit of the fear of change from that today. I ran a 17" all day, and the work the MotoGP guys have done on this means that it makes a big difference. I'd say I'm now at 50-50 between the two.

The 17 on the Honda makes it feel balanced and more comfortable - it's not that elsewhere it necessarily will, but I have to make my own decisions and not think about other people's preferences."

Makoto Tamada: "It had been a good couple of days testing until today, but these sort of things happen. We have worked well with the new engine we have been given, working in many different areas to improve the all-round set-up of the bike. The engine is smoother for the tyres now, but it can still get better, so despite finishing early today, I look forward to our next test session to test things further."

Max Biaggi: “It's been a quite good three days here in Sepang. The temperature helps a lot, it means we can play around with set-up and test many different tyres. I always felt comfortable here, and have been consistently fast, that's the main thing. I'm happy with what equipment I've got at the moment, it's definitely an improvement on what we had before, but we have to look to the future and we will hope for even more developments, because that is what it is all about. I and the team will all be trying 100 percent to do our best, so we are looking forward to continuing our work here in a couple of weeks time."

Trevor Morris, Hayden Crew Chief:

"Very pleased with the first outing of 2004 really. Nicky is going well and it's great to see he went faster today on normal tyres than he did on qualifying tyres at the GP last October. We did a simulated long run and he got into a good fast rhythm so we're all very encouraged. We got a lot of valuable data on various 2004 parts which will be very useful in building the 2004 bikes back at the workshop which we'll be riding next month."

Shoji Tachikawa, Repsol Honda Team Manager:

"The times are very similar to those of 2003 and to get to this pace straight after the winter break is very good. The team got back on pace fast and we gathered a lot of data that will be very important; especially when we come back with the 2004 bike."

Carlo Fiorani, Repsol Honda Team Sporting Manager: "It's good to be back in action with half the team going so well. We now look forward very much to the tests here on February 11-13 when we will be a full team again, welcoming Alex Barros and his crew to the Repsol Honda Team on the 2004 bike."

Shinya Nakano: "We didn't manage to match yesterday's lap time, although we came close, but overall I'm happy with the progress we've made today. We tested a different crank in the bike this morning and it had a positive effect on stability under braking, although it did make the bike a little harder to control on the throttle and a little less stable when changing direction. We also tested a lot of front tyres and I found one that felt good on this circuit. Tomorrow we move on to testing rear tyres, as well as continuing work on set up."

Alex Hofmann: "Today was tyre testing day, and we managed to work our way through a lot of tyres, especially fronts. We found one combination that seemed to work really well around here, and that helped us to progress even further with suspension settings and set up. Lap times were slightly slower today as a result of the wind, which was really strong for most of the day, before easing off a little in the late afternoon. I'm happy with the progress we made today. Tomorrow we will evaluate a slightly different chassis and then continue with refining the set up of the bike."

Harald Eckl, Kawasaki Team Manager: "Today we didn't see the big reduction in lap times of the previous two days, but this is always the way with racing; improvements come quickly at first, but then the next few seconds you have to fight very hard for. Hard work it may be, but I'm confident that, with the support of their respective crews, Shinya and Alex will continue to make progress during tomorrow's final day of testing here at Sepang. Overall, I have to say I'm happy with the way this test has progressed, and I think we've surprised a few people with just how quickly we've made advances with the latest version of the Ninja ZX-RR."
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