It was a day of two halves for the Ducati Marlboro team with Loris Capirossi exceeding expectations as he threw the new Desmosedici GP4 third on the provisional grid - but team-mate Troy Bayliss was left 2.8secs behind.

Capirossi would actually take the top spot away from Valentino Rossi momentarily in the closing stages of the hour, before slipping to third behind his countryman and the top Honda of Sete Gibernau.

Nevertheless, it was a confidence inspiring ride that proved what the new machine is capable of, despite mixed testing results.

"I'm very happy with today," smiled Loris. "It was a great session, but, of course, this is only Friday! The bike isn't yet perfect but I'm quite happy with the way it is at the moment. We are still working to get it spot on, but I believe in this bike's potential.

"I always trust Ducati and Ducati always trust me, it's a good partnership that produces good results. I want to say a special thanks to Michelin - I am the only rider using their 17in front tyre, but they are now developing the tyre especially for me," he added.

"Loris had a good day, he proved that the potential of our new project is very good," added Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali "We have some new parts here - some different rear-shock linkages, plus some different rear shock and front fork settings. We are just fine tuning, but considering that we've only had two hours of track time with this new spec, I think we are doing okay.

"I'm sure that we can improve from this once we have really worked on the balance of our 2004 bike. That will take a little more time, but I'm very confident of the bike, the people who designed it and the people who are developing it."

However, on the other side of the pit garage, Bayliss would finish the session just nineteenth (out of the 22 riders) - beaten by both the 2003 spec satellite Desmosedicis of class rookies Ruben Xaus and Neil Hodgson.

"There's a lot of stuff I'm working on here, we've just got to decide which direction to take on set-up," said the Australian. "I've got one bike set up one way, while the other is different, plus I'm trying the 16.5 front for the first time in a while. We're working hard and we'll get there in the end."

 

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