Alex Criville's debut aboard the Team D'Ant?n Yamaha YZR500 yesterday was limited to just five laps of the Almer?a circuit and a photograph session. A bout of 'flu kept the 1999 500cc World Champion in bed for most of the morning as his new team-mate, Japanese rider Norick Abe, got his preseason schedule officially underway.

"It's still too early to draw any conclusions because I have only lapped slowly to get a feel for the riding position and the circuit," said Criville. "In this first ride I have noticed some differences to the Honda. The Yamaha has smaller dimensions, it is less rigid when braking and more gentle through the corner. I will need a period of adaptation but I am convinced that we can do well."

Team D'Ant?n will continue testing tomorrow in Almer?a and will complete further sessions in Valencia and Jerez ahead of the MotoGP IRTA Tests in February (Valencia and Estoril), March (Catalunya) and April (Suzuka). "The important thing is to work without feeling any burdens or too much pressure. After two difficult seasons the number one objective is to have fun again on a motorcycle. If I can do that then anything is possible because this machine finished runner-up in the last World Championship," added Criville.

Norick Abe, meanwhile, declared: "The title can be won by a 2 stroke machine. I think this season will be very exciting because we will have different types of motorcycles and new tyre manufacturers are also joining in. I think that we will have lots of fun and I'm sure the fans will really enjoy it too."

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