Rossi on Motegi Front Row as Checa Digs in Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa will line up on the first and fourth rows respectively in tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix, after an arduous second and final qualifying...
Rossi on Motegi Front Row as Checa Digs in
Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa will line up on the first and fourth rows respectively in tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix, after an arduous second and final qualifying session at Motegi today. Despite a valiant effort Rossi was unable to improve on his Friday best time, and team-mate Checa also fought hard in an attempt to get into the front running start positions but finally finished eleventh fastest overall.
Rossi experienced some problems with his Yamaha M1 in the latter stages of the session, and was thus robbed of a final chance to challenge eventual pole position winner Makoto Tamada (Honda) and second place rider John Hopkins (Suzuki). Front end troubles held back the smooth progress of Rossi in the last 20 minutes, a disappointment after an otherwise fruitful period of pre-race preparations.
Spaniard Checa worked hard to improve his Friday best lap time by over 0.6 seconds, regaining confidence as he qualified top Spanish rider, ahead of Rossi's number one championship rival Sete Gibernau (Honda), who finished 13th.
The 4.801km circuit in central Japan was the scene of some nervous moments in the first few minutes of as the rain flags came out almost as soon as the session began. The light smattering of raindrops quickly abated and qualifying continued apace.
VALENTINO ROSSI (3rd, 1'47.275s)
"For sure we were lucky because we did a great lap time yesterday, so we knew we could be on the front row, even if we did not improve on our time today. Sete is further back which takes the pressure off slightly. This morning the setting was OK and the rhythm was good but this afternoon we had problems with the front of the bike -- a bit like the brake was sticking. I couldn't try with the qualifying tyre and we were not able to improve. It just felt wrong so I had to come back in."
CARLOS CHECA (11th, 1'47.982s)
"Yesterday was not my best day, as we tried to improve but went backwards. But today we had the feeling back although in some areas I was not able to be fast, and get the right timing. We made some improvements but it won't be easy for tomorrow. We will use the warm up tomorrow to play with the bike and we can make an acceptable race. I want to stick with the group and see how well we can do."
DAVIDE BRIVIO, TEAM DIRECTOR
"For Valentino something went wrong on the front of the bike, some small problem with the brake. We have to check what happened but it is good that we were able to keep him on the front row. It would have been good to have improved our start position even more but it was more important to be in the first three. First or third makes little difference. I'm sure we will find and fix the problem. Until that point all was going OK. Carlos was able to get his feeling back on the bike and it was important for his confidence to go faster than yesterday. From this point of view his improvement was good. I think especially Biaggi will be a strong contender tomorrow and as for Tamada it will depend on the tyre. But we will be in the fight for the podium."