June 18/19/20 2001
Biaggi And Checa Learn More Before Assen
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa stayed on at Catalunya this week to evaluate upgraded engine and chassis parts. After scoring second- and eighth-place finishes in Sunday's Marlboro Catalan Grand Prix, the pair believe their findings will help them perform even better at next week's Dutch GP.
Biaggi only rode on Tuesday, after returning from Italy, where he had played in a charity football match on Monday night. Checa started testing on Monday and stayed through to Wednesday, when he tested new Michelin tyres. Both men concentrated on their YZR500s, leaving development work on the Yamaha's new YZR-M1 four-stroke GP bike to the factory's team of test riders.
"We gained some useful data from these tests," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. "Both riders have been testing different cylinder specifications, as well as new chassis parts and new front forks. Some of the parts worked very well, others not so well, but that is what testing is all about.
"I'm confident we can have a good race at Assen next week. Max's confidence is on a high and although Carlos had some problems last weekend, we fixed them sooner than expected during these tests. My only worry for Assen is the weather, it rains too much there!"
Biaggi was satisfied with his day-long session. "At a Grand Prix you only have four hours of track time but today we had a full day to play with set-up," said the Italian. "We've been fine tuning things, and once again I think we've improved our settings. I'm looking forward to Assen, it's one of my favourites, the track should be good for us. But I think the next race at Donington will be the turning point of the season."
Checa was also happy, after curing the chatter problems that hindered him at his home GP. "Tuesday was a good day, we stopped the chatter," he said on Wednesday afternoon. "We've been working to improve overall machine balance but I'm still getting a bit of front-end push, so I want a little more weight on the front and less on the rear. We stayed on today because Michelin wanted us to test some new front and rear tyres. It's been good, now I hope we can have a good set-up for Assen."
Biaggi, delighted with Roma's Italian league success on Sunday, got to play a major game of football in Genoa on Monday evening when he teamed up with a group of F1 car stars to raise aid for Africa. "There were about 80,000 fans at the game, it was a fantastic atmosphere," said the former 250 World Champion whose team drew 1-1.
Practice and qualifying for next Saturday's Dutch GP gets under way on Thursday June 28. The event is round seven of this year's 16-race MotoGP series, the final 500 two-stroke World Championship before big-bore four-strokes are introduced in 2002.
Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 46.4s
Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 46.8s