Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Melandri shows early form at talisman track

Marco Melandri continued his impressive start to the season with the fastest lap
on the first day of action at the Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya today.
Melandri posted a string of hot times at the end of this afternoon's second free
practice session to leave a benchmark of 1'43.651, just out of the reach of his
resurgent Honda colleague Makoto Tamada, who looks to have put his early season
injury woes firmly behind him. After a disappointing showing in the last round
at Mugello, Colin Edwards bounced back to form with the third fastest time
overall today, having set the pace in the morning free practice ahead of his
Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.

"We started off with the base setting we found here in the winter tests and I
felt comfortable straight away," said Melandri, who lies second to Rossi in the
championship standings and took third place in this race last season. "We made
some adjustments in the afternoon and tried some new tyres from Michelin, which
gave me a lot of grip at maximum lean. Tomorrow I want to try and improve my
performance in the last section because I think I can make more time up there.
In any case, I'm not getting too excited - there is a long way to go this

Rossi was one of several riders unable to improve their times from the opening
session in rising temperatures this afternoon and the reigning World Champion
dropped to fifth fastest overall behind Nicky Hayden. Alex Barros, John Hopkins
and Sete Gibernau were also unable to improve, giving Loris Capirossi the
opportunity to boost his overnight position to sixth ahead of the trio.

Max Biaggi did improve in the afternoon but was only able to make it as high as
tenth fastest, just five days after taking a close second place to Rossi in his
home race at Mugello. Shinya Nakano and Troy Bayliss complete the theoretical
fourth row in eleventh and twelfth place respectively, although grid positions
will not be decided until tomorrow afternoon's single qualifying session.

Toni Elias will not be competing, however, after a brief but unsuccessful return
to action just 25 days after breaking his wrist and fracturing his leg in a
testing crash at Le Mans. The Spaniard was only able to complete 14 laps today,
with just four of those coming in the afternoon session before he returned to
his Yamaha pit box in severe pain, and he will be replaced for the rest of the
weekend by David Checa, who already deputised for Elias at Mugello.

Jorge Lorenzo confirmed his rapid adaptation to the quarter-litre Honda class
with provisional pole for the 250cc race just six days after becoming the
youngest ever pole-setter in the class. The combative 18 year old topped the
time sheets after an entertaining session this afternoon, with last year's
winner Randy de Puniet, Alex de Angelis and Sebastian Porto also making the
front row. Local favourite and reigning World Champion Dani Pedrosa set the
eighth fastest time and provisionally qualified on the second row of the grid
behind Andrea Dovizioso, Hiroshi Aoyama and Casey Stoner.

Mattia Pasini set provisional pole on a relatively tame first day of action in
the 125cc class. The Italian's best time of 1'52.009 was over 1.5 seconds slower
than Jorge Lorenzo's pole record but it was enough to hold off the challenge of
Mika Kallio by 0.310 seconds. Marco Simoncelli and Tomoyoshi Koyama complete the
provisional front row, whilst the surprise of the session was French rookie
Alexis Masbou, who qualified sixth fastest. Thomas Luthi, who leads the
championship by eight points from Kallio, was ninth.

INFO 2005/73. 10-06-2005