Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi took part in a torrid day of pre-season testing at Estoril today, continuing their build-up to the much-awaited 2002 MotoGP World Championship. The first day of the two-day IRTA session at...
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi took part in a torrid day of pre-season testing at Estoril today, continuing their build-up to the much-awaited 2002 MotoGP World Championship.
The first day of the two-day IRTA session at the Portuguese track was marred by a number of crashes, the worst of which left MotoGP rivals Garry McCoy (Yamaha) and Tetsuya Harada (Honda) nursing suspected broken bones.
Somewhat wary of the circuit, which is often badly affected by strong winds blowing off the Atlantic, Checa and Biaggi went about furthering development of their Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1s.
"We've been concentrating on making the bike turn better, because if we can improve turning, then I can get on the throttle earlier which will give me more acceleration out of corners," said Checa. "This is a very tight circuit with many interlinking corners, which makes turning so important. We do have a new chassis on the way but I'm still keen to improve this one as much as possible."
Biaggi was just a couple of tenths slower than his team-mate, continuing work with the chassis he tried at the very end of last week's Valencia IRTA tests. "We've done a lot of work on this chassis," said the Italian. "We spent some of the day trying to dial out some chatter, which we did improve for my last run. I also tried the engine-braking control system again and it seems better than at Valencia."
Tomorrow Biaggi will try different M1 engine characters at Estoril, which is the slowest, most tortuous circuit on the World Championship calendar, with a lap record of just 149kmh.
"Once again we're at another new track for the M1, so we've been trying different set-ups for this kind of circuit," explained M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "We need to find a good engine character and a good chassis set-up, and we know that if we improve the chassis, then that will allow the riders to use the advantages of the four-stroke engine. We have made some good progress with the engine-braking control system, and we'll continue work on that tomorrow."
Although the quickest 500s were faster than the M1 today, as they were at Valencia, Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust wasn't overly surprised. "We always knew the 500s would be at their best at tight tracks because the regulations allow them to be lighter than the four-strokes," he said. "We'd already seen that at Valencia last week and at Jerez, where Katoh's 500 was faster than Rossi's four-stroke. But one-off lap times are one thing, I believe the four-strokes can be stronger over race distance, and that's what counts."
Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 41.39s
Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 41.62s