MARLBORO YAMAHA M1 TAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE POLE Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa thrilled onlookers in this afternoon's frantic contest for pole position, ending the day first and fifth fastest. The bumpy, slippery...
MARLBORO YAMAHA M1 TAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE POLE
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa thrilled onlookers in this afternoon's frantic contest for pole position, ending the day first and fifth fastest. The bumpy, slippery Jacarepagua circuit is one of the most punishing in GP racing but both men took full advantage of the M1's easy-handling chassis and user-friendly power delivery to mark themselves down as serious contenders for tomorrow's race, round 12 of the 2002 season.
"Max rode a fantastic session," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "He's been fast since we started work yesterday and he's just kept getting faster, focusing on minor adjustments to suspension and engine mapping. Carlos was also very much in the fight for pole but one of his engines broke towards the end of the session, so then he had to use his second bike, with which he hadn't don't so much set-up work. I think both our guys can have very strong races tomorrow, my only concern is the weather, there's a chance of rain and that could spoil everything."
BIAGGI TAKES THIRD POLE OF 2002
Fastest yesterday, Max Biaggi was once again in formidable form this afternoon, improving his lap times no less than five times during the final qualifier, run in sultry, overcast conditions at this high-speed track on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Concentrating on his older M1 chassis, because he's more familiar with this unit, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man fought off challenges for pole position from a number of rivals, including Daijiro Kato (Honda), Jeremy McWilliams (Proton), Valentino Rossi (Honda) and team-mate Carlos Checa, the only man to actually get ahead of him.
"I'm really, really, really happy with that!" beamed Biaggi. "I've been pushing hard since yesterday morning and my target for tomorrow is to win. This isn't one of my favourite circuits, it's so bumpy, but the crew and I have worked hard to get the bike and Michelin tyres working on the bumps. I really got my head down for the last ten minutes, trying to improve my times some more. The bike is working very well and we did a successful tyre endurance run this morning, so my thanks, as always, to my team and the Japanese technicians."
This was the 51st pole position of Biaggi's career and his third of 2002. He gave the M1 its first pole at June's Catalan GP and repeated that performance at last month's Czech GP, following that with race victory.
CHECA DENIED SHOT AT POLE
Carlos Checa was also in stunning form at Jacarepagua this afternoon, storming ahead of Max Biaggi with 15 minutes to go, but the Spaniard was denied a chance of reacting to his team-mate's successful counter attack when his number-one bike broke an engine. Undeterred, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man returned to the pits to continue with his second bike, fitted with the older M1 chassis, but wasn't comfortable enough with this machine to improve his times. At the end of the session he had slipped to fifth.
"The engine problem was a shame, but better it happens today than tomorrow," said a philosophical Checa. "Without that, maybe I could've gone a few tenths faster and maybe I could've got pole but the main thing is that we'd already found a good chassis set-up and I'd already been riding some consistently fast laps. We also ran an endurance test with Michelin this morning, so I know we're okay on tyre life. Overall we're in pretty good shape."
ROSSI COMES CLOSEST TO BIAGGI
Valentino Rossi left it until the very end of the session to lift himself to the front row, slotting in just behind Max Biaggi and ahead of Jeremy McWilliams and Garry McCoy (Yamaha). "We've had some problems here and the bike still isn't 100 per cent," said Rossi who can secure the title tomorrow if he wins the race with team-mate Tohru Ukawa lower than third.
1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'50.568
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1'50.827
3. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) 1'50.862
4. Garry McCoy (AUS) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) 1'50.927
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'50.978