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01 February 2004 | News

With little more than two months to go before the start of the season, the athletes and their steeds are warming up.
In search of the ideal climatic conditions for the development of their new bikes, the Motorcycle GP pilots travel as far as Malaysia and Australia.
In the saddle of his Yamaha M1, Valentino Rossi has already surprised everyone by turning in the same times as his rivals on their Hondas and promising a spectacular battle for the World Championship.
Max Biaggi, the leading contender for the title, continues working on his own Honda, while Australian Troy Bayliss began his own tests on the Ducati Desmosedici 2004 this week determined to improve last year's sixth-place ranking.
The only manufacturer who chose to stay in Europe for this test round in Aprilia.
In Valencia on his third outing with the Aprilia Cube, Shane Byrne ran 90 laps before admitting that he still hasn't made the adjustment to the powerful 4-stroke engine - even if he beat his own stable-mate McWilliams by a good two seconds.

The 250 Class pilots put themselves to the test on the Spanish tracks in Valencia and Jerez.
Fonsi Nieto, faced with the challenge of a new frame, keeps working with the objective of coming back after an unsatisfying 2003 season and stepping up higher on the winners' stand at the expense of rival Manuel Poggiali, who looked in fine combative form himself on the Jerez circuit.
In Barcelona, Dany Pedrosa continues physical therapy for the foot injuries he suffered at the end of the previous season and hopes to make his debut on a Honda 250 in early March.

As we all await the start of the World Motorcycle Championship season, have a look at the Dainese pilots gallery.