After the Fortuna Yamaha Team's positive start to the German Grand Prix weekend, which yesterday placed Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri provisionally fourth and seventh respectively, day two was not as fruitful by comparison for the factory Yamaha...
After the Fortuna Yamaha Team's positive start to the German Grand Prix weekend, which yesterday placed Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri provisionally fourth and seventh respectively, day two was not as fruitful by comparison for the factory Yamaha pair. Checa stole the fastest lap time on several occasions during yesterday's first qualifying session and finally finished the day on the provisional front row. The 30-year-old approached day two confident that he could increase his advantage for the start of Sunday's 30-lap race. Yet despite ideal conditions and the fact that the Spaniard improved on his Friday time, Checa completed today's final qualifying session seventh fastest but just 0.689 seconds shy of polesitter Max Biaggi (Honda, 1'23.734).
In a rather surprising result, two-stroke mounted Jeremy McWilliams (Proton KR) rode like a man possessed and looked set to make it a two-stroke pole position at the Sachsenring for the second consecutive year of the MotoGP World Championship. Last year Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Team) claimed pole on the Yamaha YZR500 and became the first man ever to break into the '23s at the tight German circuit. With only minutes remaining on the board in today's session, McWilliams posted a time of 1'23.734, half a second faster than the might of the four-stroke competition. Just moments later Biaggi found a further 0.002 seconds to snatch the number one slot from him. Loris Capirossi (Ducati, 1'24.058) and defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1'24.253) completed the front row.
Checa remained positive for tomorrow's race, commenting, "I've been working with both bikes and I feel comfortable with both. Finally, however, I couldn't get a good lap time today, which wasn't what we expected. We'll see tomorrow if we can keep up a good pace and get consistent lap times. I need to try and get a good start no matter what at this track. Who knows what will happen, let's let the rider sleep well tonight, and the bike!"
Although improvements were made overnight to increase the grip and feel from the front-end of Melandri's Yamaha YZR-M1 machine which gave him difficulties yesterday, the gain still fell short of what was needed by the 20-year-old in order to maintain his provisional second row start. Melandri lapped the 3671m circuit in a time of 1'24.781 today, to finish the session one second off pole in 12th place. Melandri and the Fortuna Yamaha Team will now look into finding a solution for tomorrow's main event.
"For the race I'm fairly confident as I think I can find a good rhythm," said Melandri, who won here last year in the 250cc class. "However I couldn 't find the traction I needed again today and therefore I couldn't take full advantage of the power. I can't feel any difference here between the old and new tyres. We've tried many different settings yesterday and today, and we have improved the time slightly today. I think for the race the bike will be fine but I'm angry that I couldn't get a quicker lap time to start further ahead on the grid. This track is so difficult to overtake on, so I' ll need to get to the front quickly."
Team Director Davide Brivio said, "It's a pity we lost the front row, because it's such a difficult circuit in terms of overtaking. However we have to focus on making the most of our starting positions for tomorrow. I think both riders can keep up a good pace, but it's the start that's the most important. We'll see tomorrow if they can keep that pace and get in some quick lap times. Carlos still needs to improve some things with his bike. Marco has a good pace, which could help him to produce a good result, but it depends on his start. It's not going to be easy but I still think we have a chance to get a good result."
1. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 1'23.734
2. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR 1'23.736
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) DUCATI Marlboro Team 1'24.058
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA 1'24.253
7. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'24.423
12. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'24.781