FYT Pacific GP Saturday report

The Fortuna Yamaha Team's positive start to the Pacific Grand Prix continued in today's final qualifying, as riders Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri continued to adapt the set-up of their YZR-M1s and as a result improved their lap times. An all...

The Fortuna Yamaha Team's positive start to the Pacific Grand Prix continued in today's final qualifying, as riders Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri continued to adapt the set-up of their YZR-M1s and as a result improved their lap times. An all out qualifying tyre war during the last ten minutes of the session determined the final grid positions at the Motegi circuit, with all but one of the 26 competitors improving on yesterday's times. Although Checa and Melandri found it difficult to put in a final fastest flying lap, they had already both displayed a good pace with race tyres and concluded the session with seventh and ninth positions on the grid respectively.

Fortuna Yamaha rider Carlos Checa had looked set to secure a front row start for tomorrow's 24-lap main event with the second fastest time until the final flurry of times in the latter stages of the session. The Spanish rider set a fastest lap of 1'48.767 which was just 0.060 seconds of pole at the time. Checa will start tomorrow's race from the second row of the grid, and the leading Yamaha rider is feeling confident with his overall race package.

"I am positive about this afternoon's session," said the Catalunya-born rider. "For some reason I couldn't go faster with softer qualifying tyres at the end of the session, so I wasn't able to improve my time. I'm pleased, though, because I had a good pace with the race tyres for most of the session, and some of my laps were quite fast. We've certainly improved since we were here last year. There's still a gap of about one second between me and the top rider but I think we can still make up a few tenths. Tomorrow I will try to be focused for the start and I think it will be possible for me to fight with the top riders."

Checa's Fortuna Yamaha team-mate Marco Melandri continued to improve throughout the second day of qualifying. He featured in the top five on a few occasions before completing the session with the ninth fastest time of 1 '48.882. Despite being pushed back to the third row, the young Italian feels secure with his race package for tomorrow's chase and realises the importance of a good start at this venue.

"Today we changed quite a few things; we tried a slightly different set-up of the geometry, tested different tyres, and slightly modified the engine. Overall we improved a bit since yesterday. At each practice session I have had more trust in the bike and I feel better entering and braking in the corners. My focus was to start from the second row, but I didn't feel totally comfortable with the qualifying tyres, and by the time I did there was nothing left in them. I had a good rhythm in general, however, and did almost the same time with the race tyres. I'm quite happy about the package for tomorrow's race."

"That was quite a good session," commented Davide Brivio, Team Director. "We are looking forward to tomorrow's race, and will finish our preparations tomorrow morning. Both riders went for many laps with a good pace, which is a good sign for tomorrow. Their starting positions are okay. I'm sure they both have the potential to follow the top group."

Max Biaggi (Honda) made the most of his final qualifying session and produced an astonishingly fast time of 1'47.696, a whole 1.356 seconds under Daijiro Kato's 2002 circuit best lap of 1'49.052. The Italian's time, however, only just outperformed the impressive rookie performance of local hero Makoto Tamada (Honda, 1'47.804). Third fastest time went to defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1'48.030) and provisional pole man Sete Gibernau (Honda, 1'48.457) completes the front row.

FRONT ROW
1. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 1'47.696
2. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Pramac HONDA 1'47.804
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA 1'48.030
4. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar HONDA 1'48.457

7. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'48.767
9. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'48.882

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