First Qualifying, Friday October 13 2000
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN FLY HIGH AT MOTEGI
Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were both in flying form at cool, cloudy Motegi this afternoon, Biaggi claiming provisional pole position aboard his YZR500 and Checa ninth after leading before he suffered a big highside crash.
"Max and Carlos both seem happy and confident with their machines," said Yamaha Grand Prix manager Masahiko Nakajima. "Well done to Max, and I think Carlos was giving it just a little bit too much. This is quite an easy track to ride, with good grip and no bumps, so it’s not too technically demanding. I hope Max can continue on top tomorrow because pole is very important in Japan; it shows the ultimate performance of your machine."
BIAGGI SHOWS HIS CLASS AGAIN
Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi is on course for his fifth pole position after going fastest in the final seconds of this afternoon’s first qualifier. The Italian had been fastest earlier in the session, then bettered World Champion Kenny Roberts’ later time by more than six tenths of a second.
"We’ve done a lot of good work today – it was important to get in a good time in case it rains tomorrow," said the Italian. "This track is very stop and go, with a lot of heavy braking, so you have to use your brakes really well. I felt very comfortable on one of my bikes, so we stayed with that one, improving lap times and doing endurance tyre tests. We also tried some different settings with the other machine, just experimenting.
"By the way, I’ve decided I would like to stay with the team for 2001 and continue working towards our joint goal of winning the World Championship."
An announcement concerning the team’s 2001 line-up is expected soon.
UNLUCKY FRIDAY THE 13TH FOR CHECA
Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa was setting the pace this afternoon, before crashing ten minutes into the session. The Spaniard was thrown spectacularly from his YZR500 as he changed gear through a double lefthander. After resting back in the pits, he returned to the track, sliding off once again through a slow left.
"I felt really good at the start of the session, very comfortable on the bike," said Checa, who celebrates his 28th birthday on Sunday. "I was pushing pretty hard but not that hard. I completely lost the rear as I shifted from second to third at maximum lean, maybe I wasn’t using the right tyre for the time. It was a big crash but apart from some pain in my backside and neck, and a little bump on my head, I was okay. I went back out but maybe I shouldn’t have bothered. If someone had reminded me it was Friday the 13th, I think I would’ve gone slower!"
Like Biaggi, Loris Capirossi (Honda) also surpassed Roberts at the last gasp, ending the session just two tenths down on his compatriot.
"This is the first time I’ve ridden a 500 here but technically, it’s not a very demanding track," said Capirossi. "I feel very determined after my fall at Rio, because I really want to end this season in good shape. I’m eighth in the championship at the moment but good results at the last two races could put me third or fourth. There’s a lot to race for."
KING KENNY THIRD
Newly crowned World Champion Kenny Roberts briefly led today’s session, slipping to third in the final minutes as Biaggi and Capirossi went quicker.
"It’s fun to be racing without the pressure of protecting my championship points lead, I can enjoy myself," said the American, who secured his first world title at Rio last Saturday. "Of course, my aim is still to win and we have the package. If we do our job right we should be on top come Sunday."
<pre> FIRST QUALIFYING 1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'50.069 2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Emerson HONDA Pons 1'50.286 3. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'50.694 4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA 1'50.797
9. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'51.587