First Qualifying, Thursday October 5 2000

Today's first qualifying session proved a day of mixed fortunes for Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, who qualified second and 12th respectively. In sultry conditions where rain showers constantly threatened, the weather once again proved to be one of the determining factors in how this provisional grid unfolded. As more and more rubber was laid down, the times were pared down into the 1m 52s for all except provisional pole-sitter Alex Barros, who got down to an impressive 1m 51.873s, a circuit record, at his home track. "Carlos came in at the end and there wasn't enough time to get him out for a final lap with a fresh rear tyre," said Marlboro Yamaha team manager Geoff Crust. "But Max put in a few consistent laps at the end and looked good. There's some rubber down now and the track's getting cleaner and cleaner. The weather will determine what we work on tomorrow. There's rain forecast and we'll just have to see what pans out." BIAGGI RUNNING STRONG
Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi stormed to a provisional second place on the grid with a blistering last charge. There were two minutes remaining when he blasted his factory YZR500 up to second, before producing an even faster final lap of 1m 52.028s. The weather played havoc with set-up. After a relatively dry start to the morning warm-up, a heavy shower changed the track conditions. "It was quite stressful," said the Italian flyer. "We've been trying different set-ups because the grip was not as good as this morning. We finally got something good towards the end. With the qualifying tyre I was able to put in a good time, so I'm quite happy. We still need some time to get to the next step. The track is very bumpy and I need to be more comfortable over them, but I think we can have a good weekend."

Today's first qualifying session ended sooner than Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa would have liked. He came in for a new rear tyre towards the end of the session, but decided not to rejoin as he risked being unable to complete a full lap. Checa, who was second fastest in this morning's free practice was running as high as fourth at the half-way point in the session. He had to settle for 12th, but knows there is much more to come in tomorrow's final stint. "I pulled in, but there was no time for another lap," said the Spaniard. "Overall we're improving the bike, but the weather is not helping. This afternoon was worse than this morning. Grip is okay depending on the tyre choice, but the main thing is suspension performance. The bumps are the same for everyone and if it's wet, then it's wet, but there is more to come from me."

Alex Barros (Honda) rampaged to pole position at his home Grand Prix. Heading the session from the very first lap and steadily building on a confident performance, his rivals tried to claw back the advantage to no avail. "I knew I had to put in the times today," said the Brazilian star. "Nobody knows what the conditions will be like tomorrow - rain is forecast. Either way I really want to do well here and try to create some excitement for motorcycling in Brazil."

Championship leader Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) is hoping for a wet race on Saturday as his Suzuki performs well in those conditions. Working on suspension set-up to try and gain stability on this bumpy surface, he wants a trouble-free run at a Championship that is almost within his grasp. "I'm trying to keep things as normal as possible," he said. "I sure hope it rains because the wet suits our bike and that'll make things easier. I don't recall anything negative about this track when it's wet."

<pre> FRONT ROW 1. Max Biaggi ITA Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'51.058 2. Alex Barros BRA Emerson HONDA Pons 1'51.290 3. Carlos Checa SPA Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'51.353 4. Valentino Rossi ITA Nastro Azzurro HONDA 1'51.496