Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Melandri sets the benchmark on an eventful first day in Turkey

Marco Melandri became the fastest man on a motorcycle around the Istanbul Park
circuit when the first free practice sessions for the inaugural Turkish Grand
Prix took place today. Melandri quickly got to grips with the circuit layout and
set the benchmark in the afternoon session, his lap of 1'53.506 some 0.439
seconds too fast for his nearest rival and team-mate Sete Gibernau. Nicky
Hayden, who is currently tied on points with Melandri in the chase for the
runner-up spot in the championship, was third fastest but he will be concerned
by the Italian's early pace having only managed to get within 1.268 seconds today.

"I liked the track straight away, we found the right way to work from the
morning session and I immediately had a good feeling with the bike," said
Melandri. "It felt really natural to ride here because the bike was responding
so well; the team have done a wonderful job. I am so happy - the tyres Michelin
have brought here are working really well and the lap times are coming without
having to push too hard. I want to keep my feet on the ground because no doubt
the other top riders will be closer tomorrow but I'm feeling calm. We've started
on the right foot."

MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who sealed the title three races ago in
Malaysia, lapped fifth fastest today after a problematic first encounter with
the circuit. The Italian ran off track several times throughout the day and
almost collided with Olivier Jacque in a frustrating end to the afternoon
session. Rossi's Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards had an even more eventful first
day, the American suffering a front-end crash in the opening session before
seeing his YZR-M1 machine catch fire in the afternoon due to problems caused by
the morning incident.

With Shinya Nakano lapping fourth fastest on the Kawasaki, Carlos Checa showed
signs that this could be a good weekend for Bridgestone tyres by clocking the
sixth quickest time of the day on the Ducati. The Spaniard's team-mate Shinichi
Ito, riding in place of the injured Loris Capirossi, ended his first day of
MotoGP action this season in sixteenth place whilst Chris Vermeulen, who
replaces Troy Bayliss at Honda for the second successive race, was two positions
ahead of the Japanese veteran in fourteenth.

Sebastian Porto was the quickest 250cc rider at the new circuit, the Argentinean
clocking a time of 1'57.408 to overhaul Casey Stoner at the top of the time
sheets after the Australian crashed with just minutes remaining of the session.
Alex de Angelis also took advantage of Stoner's misfortune by nudging him out to
third place with the second fastest time of the session whilst Andrea Dovizioso
completed the provisional front row in fourth place. Dani Pedrosa, who clinched
his second successive title in the class at Phillip Island five days ago,
qualified on the provisional second row with the seventh quickest time.

Mika Kallio set provisional pole position for the 125cc race after clocking a
best time of 2'04.740 with his final lap of the session. The Finnish rider, who
trails series leader Thomas Luthi by 12 points, is joined on the front row by
Hector Faubel, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Gabor Talmacsi, with Luthi just off the pace
in fifth place.

INFO 2005/164. 21-10-2005