Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Barros blows away the clouds on first day at Estoril

Alex Barros dodged his way through intermittent spells of rain and high winds at
the Estoril circuit on Friday to set the fastest lap times in both of the
opening free practice sessions for the Grande Premio de Portugal.
Cheered on by a travelling band of Brazilian supporters, Barros signalled his
intent to recover from a demoralising opening round in Jerez last weekend, where
he finished in a distant fourth place as only Marco Melandri finished within 20
seconds of Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau, producing a dominant performance
and topping the time sheets by over half a second. "I'm really happy with today -
not just because of the lap time but also with the rhythm," commented Barros,
whose team-mate Troy Bayliss escaped unhurt from a spectacular crash. "We've
done a great job finding a base setting for the bike, even though the track
conditions were cold today and there wasn't much grip. The weather forecast is
good for tomorrow so we'll keep working, but we've definitely made a better
start here than we did in Jerez."

Whilst Gibernau was second fastest today, with Nicky Hayden completing an
all-Honda top three, Colin Edwards confirmed recent progress in a day of tests
at Jerez last Monday to lap fourth fastest ahead of Ducati's Carlos Checa and
his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi. Max Biaggi also seems to have made
progress since Jerez, moving into the top seven today ahead of Shinya Nakano,
the only Kawasaki representative after Alex Hofmann was ruled out of the
weekend's action with a wrist problem.

Hofmann has been confirmed with a fractured scaphoid, sustained in a freak crash
during a pre-event promotion in Estoril on Wednesday afternoon. The Japanese
factory team has confirmed that they will not be replacing the German youngster.
"Too many top racers have ended their careers through coming back too early
after fracturing their scaphoid, which is why we decided that the best course of
action would be to withdraw from this weekend's race, rather than risk further
injury," explained Hofmann. "Although I'm devastated to be missing the
Portuguese Grand Prix, I need to put this weekend behind me and focus completely
on getting myself back to full fitness for the race in Shanghai in two weeks'
time." Sebastian Porto emerged unscathed after a nasty crash at the end of the
first qualifying session for the 250cc race, although it ended his hopes of
dislodging Dani Pedrosa from provisional pole position after another impressive
display from the World Champion. Honda rider Pedrosa also held off the challenge
of Randy de Puniet by just 0.029 seconds, whilst the Frenchman's Aprilia
team-mate Porto was third fastest and factory colleague Alex de Angelis
completed the provisional front row.

Mika Kallio clinched provisional pole position in the 125cc class with an
impressive lap time just half a second off the lap record, held by Hector
Barbera. Kallio was 0.412 seconds clear of nearest challenger Mattia Pasini,
with Gabor Talmacsi and Lukas Pesek completing the front row. Early championship
leader Marco Simoncelli was fifth fastest.

INFO 2005/35. 15-04-2005