Fortuna Yamaha Team riders Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa both had small falls during yesterday's final day at Catalunya, but got back out on track quickly to try and get on terms with the pace setters.

Although neither was ultimately able to frighten the frontrunners, they were at least evenly matched, both achieving exactly the same best lap time - to three decimal places.

The factory Yamaha team had toiled all weekend on Checa's M1 to try to give him an improved feeling. The Spaniard completed 52 laps at his home circuit yesterday and although he improved on his previous best, he still didn't manage the lap time he was hoping for and finished eleventh fastest - over 1sec slower than the top Yamaha of Alex Barros.

"I'm really quite disappointed with the way things have gone this weekend", admitted Checa. "Firstly, the tumble I had on Thursday during our private test didn't help. We have made quite a lot of changes during that test and during this IRTA test which haven't necessarily benefited us overall.

"The team are working really well, and so is the bike, as Barros proved," added Carlos. "Last month when we tested at this circuit we got some good lap times, so we need to go back to that set-up again. I am looking forward to the Suzuka GP and am trying to think positively. It will be good to have some testing time there before we race."

Team Director Davide Brivio was none too pleased at being beaten by Barros and the fellow Yamaha of Shinya Nakano [eighth fastest].

"I am disappointed for Carlos' performance because as a rider and with the bike he can do more. I hope that he will do better in Suzuka," said Brivio.

Checa's 20-year-old team-mate Marco Melandri rode consistently during the weekend despite a couple of minor falls. This was the first time that the Fortuna Yamaha Team rider had both bikes set up the same with Yamaha's fuel-injection system and Melandri completed 67 laps with a best time 0.7 seconds faster than his time from Saturday's session.

"I'm feeling better physically, for sure better than Saturday," commented Melandri. "This morning I crashed on the straight, I braked a bit too far beyond the turn. The bike highsided, the steering locked when I had almost stopped.

"It was my mistake, maybe because I was a little bit nervous. I felt that this was the first official test, and therefore the first competition of sorts. So I didn't ride really well - strangely I rode better when I wasn't trying to go as fast, or checking the lap times."

"We are happy about Marco's performance here," said Team Director Brivio, his words in stark contrast to those attributed to Checa. "If this had been a real final qualifying session, he would have started from the second row, which would be a great achievement. Now we are going to Suzuka for the first race and we hope that Marco can continue to improve from there on."

The highlight of Sunday took place when the normal testing schedule was broken for a simulated 55-minute qualifying session for the 27 MotoGP riders present. There was some extra motivation for the riders, as the fastest lap time setter had the chance to win a brand new BMW 330CD - which eventually went to Loris Capirossi.

Of the qualifying simulation, Melandri commented, "Going as fast as you can for two laps only is not so important for me. Capirossi has always been the best at this kind of thing - he deserves the BMW!"

This was the last day of testing on European soil for the MotoGP riders before they head east for the final group IRTA test in Japan on 30th and 31st March at the Suzuka circuit. Then battle will commence at the first Grand Prix there on 6th April.