Sepang, Malaysia Sunday, January 25, 2004 Ambient temperature: 29 degrees Track temperature: 41 degrees Humidity: 60% Yamaha team riders step up the pace in steamy Sepang. As track temperatures matched the scorching 41 degrees of...
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Ambient temperature: 29 degrees
Track temperature: 41 degrees
Yamaha team riders step up the pace in steamy Sepang.
As track temperatures matched the scorching 41 degrees of the Malaysian Grand Prix in October 2003 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team) cut his lap time down to a best of 2m 03.17 seconds. This was more than six tenths of a second faster than his best time from day one of this three-day session. The Italian completed 66 laps, among them a brief ride on a Yamaha M1 with a different engine specification.
"I'm very happy with today's work," said the reigning MotoGP World Champion. "I had a good rhythm with the bike today and all the changes we made helped us towards consistent lap times. The suspension settings with the 16.5-inch Michelin front tyre are quite good now and although we need to do more work with the engine, I'm happy with what we've achieved at this stage. The other engine was good, but it's very new and needs a few more development kilometres before we can really tell how good it is."
Rossi's Crew Chief Jerry Burgess was typically realistic about today's improvements but was quietly satisfied with the progress made. "We're going forwards," he said. "We've been playing around with the little things, now we're up and running fairly consistently and we made a minor mapping change to the engine which was slightly better.
Spanish star Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team) put in 58 laps of the 5.548km track with a best time of 2m 03.57 seconds. He tried a selection of different front tyres and believes he has found an effective set-up with a 16.5-inch front tyre.
"We tried a lot of different front tyres today," he said. "The bike has been working well in some areas, but we didn't quite get the consistent results I wanted. I managed four laps in the 2m 3 second bracket but we have more work to do tomorrow, as well as tyre endurance tests."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) completed 36 laps and fell without injury at turn six in the morning session. But the gritty Italian bounced back to record a best lap of 2m 04.90 seconds in the afternoon after finding a front tyre that allowed him to fully exploit the power and nimble chassis of his Yamaha M1.
"This afternoon was much better," he said. "Once I found a front tyre I liked things started to work for me. The crash was as strange as the one I had here at the Grand Prix last year. But my shoulder is getting better and today I could do five laps at a time. But each lap I got slightly weaker and it felt like someone was adding 10kg to the bike on each lap! It will be stronger tomorrow and we'll work on improving engine response."
Norick Abe (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team) worked his way steadily through a total of 61 laps and the Japanese ace is methodically carving down his lap times. Today he recorded a best of 2m 04.90 seconds - a full second faster than his best of yesterday.
"Things are getting better," he said. "We've got some work to do still on the front suspension, but to achieve this improvement on several sets of one type of tyre shows we are going in the right direction. We'll go step-by-step tomorrow and see what improvement we can make."
Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Team Director Herve Poncharal was happy that both riders broke through the 2.5 second barrier and he expects bigger improvements on tomorrow's final day. "We have good bikes now for the individual needs of both riders and now we'll see how much we can improve again on new tyres."