Australian GP: Yamaha Team final qualifying notes

STRANGE DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had another difficult day at windswept Phillip Island today, qualifying eighth and 20th for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. The pair have ...

STRANGE DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN

Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had another difficult day at windswept Phillip Island today, qualifying eighth and 20th for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. The pair have struggled to assume their usual front-of-pack positions here but have high hopes of improving in the race, which will start with four 500 two-strokes on the front row for the first time in MotoGP.

"Strange results today, with an all-500 front row," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "All the four-strokes seem to be suffering a little here, and I guess it's the same for us. Today we continued working on adjustments, trying different suspension settings and engine mappings, but the wind doesn't help and we're still not there. Max could have a good race though, he's on the second row and if the four-strokes are stronger over race distance, he'll have a chance. But it will be tough for Carlos because he's starting from the fifth row on the grid. He's still not confident with the bike, so we'll see what he can work out with his technicians this evening."

BIAGGI STAYS ON ISLAND SECOND ROW

Max Biaggi, winner of last Sunday's Malaysian GP, will start tomorrow's Phillip Island GP from the second row of the grid after qualifying eighth fastest, 0.970 seconds off pole position. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man, who has had ten front-row starts this year, including three poles, needs another good result here to boost his bid for runner-up spot in the 2002 MotoGP World Championship.

"For sure the situation is not so rosy for us here," said the Italian, a close second here last year and the Island winner in 2000. "I gave my maximum today, just like I do when I fight for pole, but this time I couldn' t do better than eighth. Being on the second row is a bit strange! My main problem is lack of confidence in keeping the front wheel on the tarmac, so the wind is troublesome. It's also quite cold here, but I trust Michelin for the race, their tyres are the best and the future. Also, it's strange to see four two-strokes on the front row but I think the race will be quite different."

CHECA FASTER BUT ON FIFTH ROW

Carlos Checa improved his speed during today's final Australian GP qualifying session, lapping the high-speed track 0.660 seconds faster than yesterday, but it wasn't enough to move him up the grid. He will start the race from the fifth row of the grid after posting 20th-quickest time. This hasn't been a normal weekend for the Marlboro Yamaha Team star who has scored six front row starts so far this year, including one pole position.

"It's a shame this isn't like go-kart racing, when they start the quickest guys from the back of the grid and the slowest guys from the front, because that way I might have a chance tomorrow!" said a philosophical Checa, extracting some humour from the situation. "My main problem is that I can't carry enough speed through the fast sections, especially the run towards Lukey Heights. I can flick into turn one, no problem, but the bike doesn't want to turn when I'm on the gas, it wants to stand up. We'll try some more things in warm-up and see what we can do in the race."

McWILLIAMS' SHOCK POLE POSITION

Jeremy McWilliams amazed the Australian GP paddock by scoring the first-ever pole position for King Kenny Roberts' Proton Team KR squad. Riding the slowest but lightest bike on the grid, MotoGP's oldest rider used the KR3's superior corner speed to devastating effect. "Corner speed is everything at Phillip Island," said the 38-year-old Briton. "I've been pole here before, so I knew it was possible but I never expected to go that quick."

FRONT ROW
1. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) 1'31.919
2. Garry McCoy (AUS) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) 1'32.325
3. Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) PROTON Team KR (KR3) 1'32.477
4. Jurgen vd Goorbergh (NED) KANEMOTO Racing (NSR500) 1'32.509


8. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'32.889
20. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'33.848

-myt-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Garry McCoy , Jeremy McWilliams , Kenny Roberts , Nobuatsu Aoki , Davide Brivio , Phillip Island
Teams Williams