Valencian GP: Yamaha Team first qualifying notes

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SITTING PRETTY Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were on fine form in this afternoon's opening qualifier for the season-ending Marlboro Valencia GP, completing the session a close second and...

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SITTING PRETTY

Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were on fine form in this afternoon's opening qualifier for the season-ending Marlboro Valencia GP, completing the session a close second and sixth quickest.

A fortnight after a difficult weekend in Australia, the Italian and Spaniard are back on the pace here, Biaggi lapping more than a second faster than he managed during preseason tests at Valencia.

Max Biaggi.
Photo by Richard Sloop.

"Max is fast and consistent and Carlos is back on form," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "There was something missing at Phillip Island, which we're still analysing, but the bike seems quite good here. Today we've been working on the usual things, like front and rear balance. Max needs lighter handling, so we adjusted his front geometry, Carlos needs a good spring balance from the rear, so we chose different spring rates and we've been playing with the damping. For tomorrow we want to improve engine braking - both riders need more engine braking in some corners than others, so we will adjust our control system to suit their requests. I'm hoping for a good day - already we have three guys in the top six, with Max, Carlos and Shinya (Nakano), who is now used to the M1."

BIAGGI BATTLES BACK AND FORTH FOR POLE

Hard-riding Max Biaggi spent much of the session battling back and forth for provisional pole position with Alex Barros (Honda). The Marlboro Yamaha Team man went quickest on two occasions during the hour-long outing, eventually ending up just five hundredths of a second down on the Brazilian.

"I'm certainly not going to slow down just because this is my last race with Yamaha!" grinned Biaggi, who is currently fighting for second overall in the 2002 MotoGP World Championship and will switch teams for next season. "For race conditions we're already pretty good. We've certainly not got any of the problems we had in Australia, so we're just doing routine set-up work, and if we can improve again tomorrow, we'll be right up there. The new rear I used for my final run today upset the balance of the bike, maybe it gave me too much grip from the rear. But the race is 30 laps, so one quick lap doesn't mean much."

CHECA BACK IN THE HUNT

Carlos Checa was back on the pace at Valencia today after a couple of difficult races in Malaysia and Australia. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider spent much of the session dialing in detail suspension changes, before charging up to fifth, then slipping one position at the finish.

"We're in a better situation here, we're much closer to the front, though we still need to improve and that's never easy," said Checa, riding his third GP of the year on Spanish tarmac. "We didn't make any big changes today, just trying tyres and making small adjustments to the suspension. But I want to go at least half a second faster tomorrow, and I think the way forward is clear. I need to be able to keep rolling through the turns while at high angles of lean, and I need more stability on-gas through the last section of the track."

BARROS UP FRONT AGAIN

Winner of last month's Pacific GP and pole sitter in Malaysia, Alex Barros ended today's session just ahead of Max Biaggi, looking smooth and quick until he slid off in the final moments. "I just lost the front, nothing too big," he said. "So far the bike is working well, but we need to work carefully to choose the best tyres for this race." Fellow Honda riders Daijiro Kato and Valentino Rossi completed the front row.

PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (RC211v) 1'33.584
2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'33.638
3. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (RC211v) 1'33.641
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1'34.159

6. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'34.264

-myt-

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