Rossi and Checa Set Leading Pace at Donington Despite the drenching that the 4.023km Donington Park circuit took overnight, today's first day of qualifying for the British Grand Prix provided near perfect track conditions, with Yamaha riders ...
Rossi and Checa Set Leading Pace at Donington
Despite the drenching that the 4.023km Donington Park circuit took overnight, today's first day of qualifying for the British Grand Prix provided near perfect track conditions, with Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa fully up to pace on their YZR-M1 machines. Rossi took second place on the provisional grid thanks to his best lap of 1'29.584s, with Checa an eventual fourth on 1'29.833s.
After only eight minutes of qualifying Rossi had beaten the previous best lap of the Donington circuit with a time of 1'30.509s. The young Italian exploited the smoother and slightly more grippy resurfaced tarmac on the schizophrenic track layout, which features one slow section riddled with hairpins and the rest a series of sweeping undulations. Rossi's final fastest time, which left him second out of the 24 entrants, was only 0.289s off the pace of provisional pole man Nicky Hayden (Honda), and just 0.097 seconds faster than third placed rider Loris Capirossi (Ducati).
Rossi also became the first ever rider into the 1'29 mark at Donington, taking his YZR-M1 to a time of 1'29.896s mid way through the session, and he was joined shortly afterwards by team-mate Checa, who was himself on the provisional pole position for a short time after dipping under the 1'29 mark.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd, 1'29.584)
"I went quite well today, I have a good rhythm and the bike feels good here, but we've had a few set-up problems. We have had much better grip because the bumpy bits of the track feel better than last year but I need to try some other tyres tomorrow. We have done a lot of work here, our first time at this circuit with the M1, and we are up front. Hayden looks good on qualifying tyres and well done to Loris, I'm happy to see him up front again. This track is good for me, technical and difficult, and with more work on the set-up and the tyres tomorrow we will be on even better form. We don't want to change much though, just a few small points. I would like at the least to be on the podium this weekend, this is our objective."
CARLOS CHECA (4th, 1'29.833)
"Not so bad on the first day but we still have to work with the tyres for the race because with our rear end stability it is difficult to keep the pace. In the fast areas we do not have such good rear stability to be able to be fast. In the rest of the track it is OK. The track surface is flatter, less bumps but I think the grip level is similar, nothing noticeably better. We need some more wider rumble strips in some areas however. I think someone forgot that."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- TEAM DIRECTOR
"Normally we can go quite well on Friday so now we have to continue at a high standard. It was not so bad because both riders have a good pace. Valentino has been very good and Carlos is similar to all the other top guys. If we can continue in this pace and continue to find the right settings hopefully we can stay in the top group. For sure the track surface has influenced the lap times compared to last year, but the bike and tyres have improved. So this maybe is the reason for a bigger step than normal. I think they did a good job on the track, I hope they can upgrade the facilities here soon as well."