Reigning double World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss
made a perfect start to the Valencia test on Sunday - the Australian enjoying a 0.4secs advantage over his rivals as he easily dipped under the official lap record.
The test is being attended by all of the leading teams and riders, with the notable exception of world championship leader James Toseland and his Ten Kate Honda team, and saw third-in-the-points Bayliss fastest throughout the opening day; the factory 999 rider recording his best lap, of 1min 34.482secs, in the cooler morning session.
"I did a lot of laps today in the two sessions," declared Troy, who has taken one race win from four 2007 starts, "and this morning we did really good on the race tyre and I was quite happy. This afternoon it was quite windy and the track wasn't in such a good condition but we did a long-run anyway. The performance was better than the race last year but we weren't completely happy with it. We'll test a couple more tyres tomorrow to get a better idea, play with the setting a bit but overall the bike is working well. I did a 1min 33.7secs here last year and maybe I can go better than that tomorrow morning. We'll have to wait and see but for the moment everything's going well and it's a nice little freshen-up for Donington."
Ducati Xerox team-mate Lorenzo Lanzi
was second-quickest in the morning session, but had a crash in the afternoon and dropped a place to Yamaha Motor Italia's Troy Corser. Former double world champion Corser was 0.413secs slower than Bayliss with Lanzi a further 0.233secs adrift of the #21.
"I set the third quickest time of the day, and the fourth in the afternoon," confirmed Lorenzo. "It's not bad but to be honest I expected a bit more seeing as I had been really quick here in November. I'm still some way off those times I set then but today we tried a lot of different solutions. I had a crash at the hairpin turn 2, but it had no serious consequences. In the afternoon there was a lot of wind and we only began to lap well again towards the end of the session. Valencia is always the same, early in the afternoon the track is always a disaster!"
Fourth overall on day one was Toseland's nearest title rival; Qatar race winner Max Biaggi
- the former MotoGP
star working as hard as ever to find further performance from his Alstare Corona Suzuki as he finished just a fraction behind fellow Italian Lanzi. Perennial SBK hard charger Noriyuki Haga
was fifth on the second Yamaha Italia R1, closely followed by the top Kawasaki of local hero Fonsi Nieto.
Just two days after his wedding, Ducati privateer Ruben Xaus
sealed seventh while a sterling performance from 22-year-old Alessandro Polita saw the 2006 Superstock 1000 champion end up a highly respectable eighth for Celani Suzuki. Despite great pain from a recently damaged shoulder, Biaggi's team-mate Yukio Kagayama
was equal ninth fastest with the second factory Kawasaki of Regis Laconi, on a day when some 1.303 seconds covered the top ten.
With reigning champion's Ten Kate Honda also missing the Supersport test, it was left to Fabien Foret, winner of the recent Phillip Island race, to continue his rich seam of pace by setting the fastest time of the first day, a 1min 37.556secs, for GIL Kawasaki.
In the morning session the clear leader was rejuvenated Althea Honda rider Katsuaki Fujiwara, but his overall second place was forced on him by the sheer speed of Foret. Misano race winner in 2006, Massimo Roccoli was an assured third fastest for Yamaha Italia, with Foret's team-mate Pere Riba fourth and just over half a second from the front. 2006 title runner-up Kevin Curtain was fifth across both sessions, with his Yamaha SSP Racing team-mate Broc Parkes just behind.
Monday will witness the second and final day of testing at Valencia - and the last chance for track time before round three of the 2007 championship, at Donington
Park in England, on April 1.