CZECH GRAND PRIX, BRNO First Qualifying, Friday August 24 2001 MARLBORO YAMAHA STORM BRNO Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa returned from their midseason holidays in storming form today, Biaggi recording the ...
CZECH GRAND PRIX, BRNO First Qualifying, Friday August 24 2001 MARLBORO YAMAHA STORM BRNO
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa returned from their midseason holidays in storming form today, Biaggi recording the fastest-ever official lap of Brno to take provisional pole position, while Checa clocked a personal best for a spot on the provisional second row.
Biaggi's near-perfect lap stunned the paddock, for he was almost a second inside his pole time at last year's Czech GP. "That's the kind of form he's on, Max is a very special rider," grinned Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust. "We had a good test here with both guys at the end of last month and you can see that Max is really enjoying himself out there, he's riding on a high and that was an incredible lap time. We're running the same set-up he used at the tests and concentrating on finding the best race tyres for the conditions. Carlos is going okay too, this isn't his best track but he's in the second group at the moment and we'll be working to move him up from there."
BIAGGI SURPRISES HIMSELF
Winner of two of the past three GPs and way ahead of the pack today, Max Biaggi is on a roll as the season reaches its most crucial stage. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man's best lap in today's first qualifying session was 0.740 seconds ahead of his closest challenger and that's the kind of gap that usually covers the entire first two rows. Following his recent tests here, Biaggi is aiming to inflict another defeat on World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Honda), who now leads his arch-rival by just ten points.
"I've got to be happy with that, it was an unbelievable lap," said Biaggi, whose 2m 00.347s best was well inside his 2000 pole time of 2m 01.291s. "I felt really confident because the bike's working so well but I couldn't believe the time when I went over the line. I think it was a nearly perfect lap, I say nearly because someone else could always go faster tomorrow. Psychologically they now know that such a time is possible, so I want to improve further and do that kind of time consistently. I'm all the more satisfied because the lap was nine tenths faster than last year when everyone was using qualifying tyres. So far we're only using the 16.5in rear but we may try the 17 tomorrow. I'm very motivated at the moment because the gap between me and Rossi is getting smaller and I want to get even closer here."
CHECA FASTER THAN EVER BEFORE
Carlos Checa ran in the leading group throughout much of the session, eventually ending up eighth, just 0.060 seconds behind Valentino Rossi. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider, who scored second behind team-mate Max Biaggi at last month's German GP, is confident of another good ride here. "I'm fairly happy because I did my best-ever lap, half a second faster than during our tests," he said. "But there's room for improvement. I'm struggling in the transition area from brake-on to brake-off and I can't keep my line off throttle. We've been trying a few little suspension adjustments and I think we should be able to find the answer for tomorrow."
ROBERTS SWAPS MOTORS & TYRES FOR MORE SPEED
Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) has made a dramatic switch in bike spec as he searches to regain the form that took him to last year's world title. The American has yet to finish in the top five this year and has switched to a 'screamer' engine spec and 17in Michelin rear in a bid to get back on the pace.
"The engine sacrifices some top speed and acceleration but it gives me a better connection between myself and the rear tyre," said Roberts, third fastest so far. "We tested the combination at Mugello last week and for the first time in ages I feel comfortable using the same lines and opening the throttle at the same time as the other guys."
ROSSI EXPECTS TOUGH WEEKEND
Well beaten for the first time this season at the last race, Valentino Rossi badly needs a top result this weekend to fend off a growing threat from Max Biaggi. But the World Championship leader expects a difficult time. "We're at a big disadvantage here because we've not tested," said Rossi, seventh today. "We'll try our best but it's going to be hard. I qualified on the third row at the last two races and I need to make sure I make the front row here, so I can get a good start." <pre> FIRST QUALIFYING 1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2'00.347 2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 2'01.087 3. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 2'01.142 4. Alex Criville (SPA) Repsol YPF HONDA Team 2'01.518
8. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2'01.896