Preparations for the 2009 MotoGP season began at Valencia this (Monday) morning, less than a day after the final round of 2008, with the start of a two-day test session at the Spanish circuit.

As well as testing technical updates and evaluating the kind of Bridgestone tyres all riders will be using next year, the test has particular significance since its marks a number of debut appearances.

By 2pm Nicky Hayden - who had previously stated that it wouldn't take long for him to discover is the Ducati Desmosedici suits him or not - was fastest of the riders that have changed teams, sitting ninth out of the 17 riders present with a time of 1min 34.128sec.

Hayden, who is also making his debut on Bridgestone tyres, has thus taken less than half a day to match Marco Melandri's best Valencia race lap on a Desmosedici.

However, the American is 1.1sec behind his best race lap on an RCV and 1.6sec behind new team-mate - and Sunday's race winner - Casey Stoner, who currently leads the testing field on the GP9 from Hayden's former team-mate Dani Pedrosa.

Melandri has arguably caused the greatest stir so far, the Italian all but matching his best race lap on the Desmosedici during his first morning on a Kawasaki to sit just 0.024sec slower than Hayden on the timesheets.

Melandri has already outpaced Anthony West's best race lap and is just a fraction behind the best race lap of John Hopkins. Hopper his improved his pace by a further 0.3sec this morning and holds seventh position.

Replacing Hayden at Repsol Honda is Andrea Dovizioso. Dovi's first morning as a factory rider also marked his debut on a pneumatic-valve RCV and Bridgestone tyres and he is currently ranked eleventh, less than two tenths behind Melandri.

Sete Gibernau's first laps for the newly-formed Onde 2000 Ducati team saw the Spaniard claim twelfth fastest, his lap of 1min 34.451sec already quicker than either satellite (Alice) Ducatis had managed in Sunday's race.

Toni Elias, who has left Alice for a return to Honda Gresini, was one place behind Gibernau after four hours of testing.

The three 2009 MotoGP rookies sit at the tail of the timesheets, with former Ducati test rider Niccolo Canepa unsurprisingly quickest of the trio on his Alice debut, but team-mate Mika Kallio is so far only 0.268sec behind.

Kallio's fellow 250cc graduate Yuki Takahashi made a cautious start with the ex-Dovizioso Team Scot machine and is currently over one-second from the Finn.

World champion Valentino Rossi is yet to appear on track, although his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo (sixth fastest) has already beaten his best Michelin race lap.

More to follow when testing concludes...



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