MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SEARCH FOR CLUES ON ISLAND Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa this afternoon completed a difficult first day of Australian GP qualifying in eighth and 17th positions, with plenty more work to do as...
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SEARCH FOR CLUES ON ISLAND
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa this afternoon completed a difficult first day of Australian GP qualifying in eighth and 17th positions, with plenty more work to do as they approach Sunday's race, penultimate round of the 2002 MotoGP World Championship.
Battling strong winds around the high-speed coastal venue, Biaggi and Checa will focus on further improving chassis performance in a bid to move closer to the front of the pack over the next two days.
"After this morning's session Max said he needed some more front-end confidence," explained YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "So we made some suspension adjustments and he now feels a little better. He also asked for more engine-braking in some parts of the track, because he likes to use engine-braking to help him turn into some corners. Carlos wasn't so bad this morning and at the start of this afternoon's session he was happy with the extra front-end feel we'd been able to give him. But maybe this wasn't enough, so I think we need to keep moving in that direction for tomorrow's sessions."
Both Biaggi and Checa have qualified the M1 on pole position this year, Biaggi three times, Checa once. Biaggi has also won two MotoGP races with the M1.
BIAGGI: "THE WIND DOESN'T HELP"
Max Biaggi reckons today's strong winds complicated the task of fine-tuning his YZR-M1 for the Island's challenging high-speed corners. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider, who clocked a stunning 321.4kmh/199.708mph during this morning's 'free' practice session, ended today eighth quickest, just 0.584 seconds off provisional pole, and he's confident of better to come.
"The wind really knocks rider and bike around, so it's difficult to tell whether the small changes we keep making to the set-up are actually working," explained the Italian. "The job of perfecting settings is a question of very precise feelings, and the wind doesn't allow you to feel so much, so it's hard to tell whether a change is positive or negative. Anyway, I gave my best today and we still have tomorrow in which to improve. We've already made the bike better since this morning's session, so I'm not really worried, we hope to do better. And I hope it doesn't rain."
PERPLEXED CHECA IN 17th
Fifth quickest this morning, Carlos Checa struggled against the gusting winds this afternoon, ending the session a perplexed 17th quickest. The Marlboro Yamaha Team star, who started last month's Portuguese GP from pole position, is now examining his data from the day's two sessions, so he can determine what changes are required to get him back on the pace.
"That wasn't the best of days for us," said Checa. "We obviously need to make a few adjustments, but these windy conditions aren't helping us. It' s difficult to feel exactly what's going on with the bike, and it's also difficult to ride consistently, because the wind really hits you in different places at different times. I will now sit down with Antonio (Jimenez, Checa's crew chief) and the rest of my guys and get some solutions worked out."
BARROS ON TOP AGAIN
Alex Barros ended today's proceedings up front, as he readies himself for his third Grand Prix on a Honda four-stroke. "This bike is easier to ride and set up than a 500, which is why we can come to a new track, with no data, and immediately run up front," said the on-form Brazilian. Fellow Honda rider and MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was fifth quickest today.
PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (RC211v) 1'33.002
2. Garry McCoy (AUS) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) 1'33.152
3. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) 1'33.215
4. Jurgen vd Goorbergh (NED) KANEMOTO Racing (NSR500) 1'33.314
8. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'33.586
17. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'34.508