First Qualifying, Thursday September 19 2002 MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN UP FRONT AT RIO Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa ended today's opening qualifying session for Saturday's Rio GP first and third fastest, showcasing...
First Qualifying, Thursday September 19 2002
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN UP FRONT AT RIO
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa ended today's opening qualifying session for Saturday's Rio GP first and third fastest, showcasing the M1's ever-improving speed and consistency around this complex track, one of the bumpiest and most slippery on the GP calendar. The pair have been the star performers at the past two MotoGP events - Checa taking pole position in Portugal two weeks ago, Biaggi taking pole and race victory at the previous Czech GP.
"Thanks to Max for trying so hard, he's a true professional," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "Carlos was also incredible today - he had two falls but kept getting faster. We have quite a normal set-up here, we're just searching for the best front-and-rear grip balance because the surface isn't so grippy. We don't have any new parts for this race, we're continuing to evolve the settings we used at Estoril, both for that race and during our tests after the race. Both riders still have one 'old' chassis and one new chassis each, because it seems that each chassis still has positive and negative points. So far here, Max prefers the old one, Carlos the new."
BIAGGI ON PROVISIONAL POLE
Max Biaggi dominated this afternoon's opening qualifying session, putting his Marlboro Yamaha Team M1 on provisional pole, just 0.012 seconds ahead of Valentino Rossi (Honda). And the Italian might have been even faster if he hadn't run straight on at the end of Rio's long back straight while he was on another hot lap with three minutes to go.
"It's a good feeling to be up front on day one," said Biaggi, currently chasing second overall in the 2002 MotoGP World Championship. "The track is very slippery, so it isn't easy to find good traction, it's just a case of controlling wheelspin and slides with your throttle hand. I pushed hard today and I've been very focused since the start of morning practice, thinking about how to use my favourite parts of the track to my advantage. I know I can go faster tomorrow but I also know that the other guys will be quicker. My thanks to my crew - the staff in this team are working so hard and the engineers and technicians are doing an excellent job."
CHECA FAST DESPITE FALLS
Carlos Checa slid off twice during today's two sessions but that didn't stop the ultra-determined Marlboro Yamaha Team man from going third fastest, just 0.121 seconds off provisional pole position. Checa tumbled at slow speed this morning, possibly on fluid dropped by another machine, then again after 20 minutes of this afternoon's session.
"We've been having some front-end push problems here," explained the Spaniard. "This morning I think there was some coolant on the track, but this afternoon I was just pushing a little too hard when things weren't exactly right. We did improve the front end but we need to work on this some more, at the moment I can do one fast lap but it's not comfortable to keep pushing for much longer than that. I'm concentrating on the new chassis because this is the direction I want to take for the future."
ROSSI SECOND, BARROS FOURTH
World Championship leader Valentino Rossi was outpaced for provisional pole today but only just. "Since this morning we've worked on the front suspension to make the bike turn better, but I still need more feeling from the front," said the Italian, winner of nine races so far this year. Local favourite Alex Barros (Honda) ended the day as top two-stroke rider in fourth place. Just 1.162 seconds covered the quickest 15 riders.
PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'51.854
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1'51.866
3. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'51.975
4. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1'51.998