Day one of the Phillip Island MotoGP test, attended by only Suzuki and Kawasaki, ended with Olivier Jacque setting the Team Green pace - but no official lap times from Suzuki.

Suzuki stated that "Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi completed 104 and 94 laps respectively, as they tested many items for the 2009 Suzuki GSV-R, including new engine control settings, new chassis' and the latest Ohlins suspension."

A request for best lap times was turned down and a Suzuki spokesman explained that lap times will only be released after Friday's third and final day of testing.

Fortunately, Kawasaki was more open - revealing that Jacque set a 1min 32.4sec, new signing Marco Melandri a 1min 32.5sec and John Hopkins a 1min 33.3sec. The best race lap by a Kawasaki rider in October's GP was a 1min 31.915sec by Anthony West.

Phillip Island is a circuit where both Suzuki and Kawasaki has struggled in the past, hence the decision to spend their final test of 2008 at the Australian Grand Prix circuit, rather than join the majority of teams at Jerez.

"We came to Phillip Island to test because we've had some problems at this circuit in the past," confirmed Kawasaki competition manager Michael Bartholemy. "So far it looks like it was a good decision, as the conditions have been perfect for testing most of the day, with only the wind causing some issues this afternoon."

Test rider Jacque spent most of Wednesday evaluating a new chassis and electronics package. The 35-year-old former 250cc world champion tested the new chassis, which features revised geometry, for the first time during the morning session, but was quickly able to match the lap times achieved on the machine that his two team-mates were testing.

Jacque is confident that the new chassis offers many advantages over the old; a point he is keen to prove by reducing his lap times around the 4.445km seaside circuit tomorrow, once he's had more time to refine the set-up to suit the characteristics of the new chassis.

"Today we've focussed on evaluating a new chassis on the Ninja ZX-RR, with positive results," confirmed the Frenchman. "This morning I was able to match my lap times on the older bike very quickly, but I think that at this point we are only using around 80% of the potential of the new chassis. With more set-up time tomorrow I hope we can get closer to using 100% of this potential and reduce our lap times as a result. We're also working with a revised electronics package on the bike, which gives us more options for fine-tuning the power delivery characteristics, and again the initial results have been positive. We will continue to work on refining the system over the next two days, and collecting the data necessary for further development back in Japan."

"Olivier was the fastest of our three riders today, which is very positive given that he's testing the chassis that may well form the basis of our 2009 Ninja ZX-RR," stated Bartholemy. "Hopefully he can continue to improve tomorrow with more time on the bike, as the data from this test is critical to our ongoing development programme in Japan. Overall it's been a positive first day of testing."

For Melandri, Wednesday marked his second dry day on a ZX-RR, after rain on day two of the previous Valencia test.

The 26-year-old Italian completed 93 laps, during which he matched his best race lap on a factory Ducati at last month's grand prix. Melandri continues to tailor the machine to his riding style, but was hampered on day one by a lack of feeling from the front end of the bike.

Melandri will work with his crew and suspension engineers overnight to improve front end feel, and is confident that if they can make steps forward in this area then lap times in the low 1min 31sec bracket are achievable tomorrow. The fastest race lap of all in October's GP was a 1min 30.069sec by Repsol Honda's Nicky Hayden.

"Marco has continued his familiarisation with the Ninja ZX-RR, and already he's working with his crew and making improvements. He had some issues with the front end of the bike today, but we think we have a solution for this that will improve things for tomorrow," said Bartholemy.

Meanwhile for Hopkins the first day of testing at Phillip Island was a painful one. The 25-year-old Anglo-American suffered with a painful left knee and ankle injury, sustained during a high-speed practice crash at Assen back in June.

The fractured ankle was fixed with a plate after the crash, but the tendons rubbing on the metal plate every time he changed gear left Hopkins' left leg swollen and sore after 76 laps of the Phillip Island circuit today.

Ignoring the pain, Hopkins worked closely with new crew chief, Naoya Kaneko, to make improvements to his Ninja ZX-RR throughout the day, and the Anglo-American is confident of lowering his lap times tomorrow.

"We ride a lot more during testing than we do on a race weekend, and that has caused me some problems today," explained Hopper. "The left knee and ankle I damaged in the crash at Assen has been really painful. Every time I change gear the tendons in my ankle rub across the metal plate that was inserted to fix the bones, and this causes the ankle to swell up a lot. My knee also kept locking out, especially on the left-hand corners, so I'm not in great physical shape.

"Having said that, it's been good working with my new crew chief, Naoya. We communicate together very well and we've definitely made some improvements to the bike," Hopkins continued. "Naoya is very methodical in his approach, but he also has a fresh way of looking at the problems and, as a result, we've made some big steps forward already. Now I just need more time on track, injuries permitting. Phillip Island has always been a difficult circuit for me, and I've never had a good result here, so the more time I can get on track over the final two days of testing the better."

The Jerez test - attended by Yamaha, Ducati and Honda teams - takes place today and tomorrow.



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