Camel Honda rider Alex Barros ended the third of the team's four day Qatar test within 0.75secs of pace setter Makoto Tamada, and just 0.07secs from second place Marco Melandri, despite suffering a fall.

"I'm quite satisfied, although to be honest I hoped to go even better. When I was testing a new front tyre I slid out, nothing really, but here in the run-offs it's not sand or gravel, it's like little rocks. I can tell you, they're pretty hard!" smiled the Brazilian.

"So the bumps aside, we worked on the set-up, testing various electronic things without picking out anything for certain. Perhaps regarding the tyres I could say that there has been another step up in quality. I finished work on the front, whilst on the rear tyre there are still some things to try. Of the six new ones, I've tried three," he added.

Team-mate Troy Bayliss also improved on his best lap time of yesterday while working to find optimum machine balance using race tyres. Bayliss set a best time of 1min 58.18secs - 0.37secs quicker than yesterday and within 0,8secs of Barros.

"I'm still not able to ride as I would like, but bit by bit I'm getting close," the Australian declared. "Here we worked on continuity, without changing too much on the bike but trying to find a good overall balance. I rode with race tyres throughout."

"It was yet another good day today, as we brought to an end the work we had scheduled, and finished up there amongst the quickest riders," said team principal Sito Pons. "Apart from Tamada, who used qualifying tyres for his lap time, the gap between the top riders is small and Alex is amongst them. Troy is also getting ever closer and has got a good rhythm going now."

Unlike their rivals, who left today, the Camel team will remain at Losail for an extra day of track action tomorrow - although they are expected to do only promotional work.

Qatar test times - Thursday:

1. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 56.63secs
2. Marco Melandri ITA Telefonica Movistar Honda 1min 57.31secs
3. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1min 57.32secs
3. Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Movistar Honda 1min 57.32secs
5. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda 1min 57.33secs
6. Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Marlboro 1min 57.35secs
7. Alex Barros BRA Camel Honda 1min 57.38secs
8. Max Biaggi ITA Repsol Honda 1min 57.94secs
9. Troy Bayliss AUS Camel Honda 1min 58.18secs
10. Roberto Rolfo ITA D'Antin Ducati 1min 59.74secs

Qatar test - Overall best times:

1. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 56.63secs
2. Marco Melandri ITA Telefonica Movistar Honda 1min 57.31secs
3. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1min 57.32secs
3. Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Movistar Honda 1min 57.32secs
5. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda 1min 57.33secs
6. Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Marlboro 1min 57.35secs
7. Alex Barros BRA Camel Honda 1min 57.38secs
8. Max Biaggi ITA Repsol Honda 1min 57.79secs
9. Troy Bayliss AUS Camel Honda 1min 58.18secs
10. Roberto Rolfo ITA D'Antin Ducati 1min 59.74secs

Comparative lap times:
Qatar Grand Prix - 2/10/2004:

Pole position: Carlos Checa SPA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1min 58.988secs

Fastest laps: Honda: Colin Edwards USA Telefonica Movistar Honda 1min 59.293secsDucati: Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro 1min 59.875secs

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