Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Grand Prix of Qatar
Doha, Qatar
Thursday 29th September


Newly-crowned World Champion Valentino Rossi returned to the MotoGP paddock in
dominant fashion today as he clocked a record lap of the Losail International
Circuit to top the time sheets on the opening day of action at the Grand Prix of
Qatar. Rossi arrived in the country last night but shook off any trace of jetlag
with 19 laps of the 5.380km circuit in the first free practice, with
temperatures already touching 34ēC during the morning session.

The heat rose several degrees in the afternoon but so did Rossi's pace, the
Italian eventually dipping under Carlos Checa's (Ducati) pole record time, set
on the Yamaha YZR-M1 at last year's inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.  After spending
much of last weekend at Sepang trying to solve front-end grip problems with the
current version of the machine, Rossi today reported major progress and admitted
to enjoying riding without the pressure of a potential World Championship
success hanging over him.

Rossi's Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards also showed signs of returning
to his best form today, topping the time sheets for much of the afternoon
session before eventually dropping to sixth place. The American had also
struggled with front grip problems in Malaysia but reaped the benefits of a new
range of Michelin tyres today at a circuit that saw him equal his best ever
MotoGP finish of second place last season.

VALENTINO ROSSI (1st - 1'58.714; 42 laps)

"For sure myself and the whole team are more relaxed now that we have won the
World Championship. We have had a lot of problems for the past two races - it
has been difficult and we have never found a good setting for the bike, but here
in the afternoon we found the right way. Now we have returned to the level we
were at two or three races ago, I have a better feeling for the front and rear
of the bike. The track conditions are better than they were last season -
they're still not 100% but compared to the first practice last year there is
much more grip. As long as there is no wind or rain overnight it should improve
a lot more by Saturday."

COLIN EDWARDS (6th - 1'59.493; 43 laps)

"I don't know what it is about this place. At flat tracks I usually tend to
struggle to get any kind of feel for the front but here it's as flat as a
pancake and for some reason it works for me. We spent most of the day testing
front tyres and we had a lot of help from Michelin. At the end we tried out a
new front tyre but it didn't have the effect we hoped for so the lap time could
have been much better than it was. I'm still having a little trouble between the
braking point and the apex but this track doesn't accentuate that as much as
circuits like Motegi and Sepang, so it's not so much of a worry. The main thing
is that we've got grip, and when you've got grip it makes everything else much


"Michelin have given us a lot of different tyres to choose from here and they've
really helped us out. We already had a good base set-up for the bike from last
season and it seems to have worked for Colin. We have obviously had some
problems at the last few races - at Sepang the conditions were very different
from the tests and we were unable to use a lot of the data and at Motegi we had
some front-end difficulties that we were unable to solve. We're using a
different range of front tyres here and things are looking much better. When a
rider doesn't have feeling with the front it makes it very difficult to set the
bike up, particularly with Colin because he is so sensitive in this aspect.
Hopefully this can be the start of a good weekend for us."


 1. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Gauloises Yamaha Team  1'58.714
 2. Toni Elias (SPA) Fortuna Yamaha Team         1'58.860
 3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team         1'59.044
 4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team   1'59.152
 5. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team      1'59.466
 6. COLIN EDWARDS (USA) Gauloises Yamaha Team    1'59.493
 7. Marco Melandri (ITA) Movistar Honda MotoGP   1'59.568
 8. John Hopkins (USA) Team Suzuki MotoGP        1'59.814
 9. Max Biaggi (ITA) Repsol Honda Team           1'59.978
10. Alex Barros (BRA) Camel Honda                2'00.084