Rossi and Checa Break Records in Assen Qualifying The Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team dominated the final qualifying session at Assen, with Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa filling the top two places on the grid, both their quickest lap times well...
Rossi and Checa Break Records in Assen Qualifying
The Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team dominated the final qualifying session at Assen, with Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa filling the top two places on the grid, both their quickest lap times well under the previous best at the classic Dutch circuit. The rains which had blighted all previous sessions held off for the final qualifying, and as the damp track dried conditions improved enough for Rossi to destroy the existing best qualifying time with a new record lap of 1'58.758.
Checa was the first rider to beat the previous track best, and he extended his performance still further to qualify second with a lap of1'59.440. Championship leader Sete Gibernau qualified third on the grid, thanks to his 1'59.903, over 1.2 seconds from Rossi.
With the track drying visibly with each passing lap the MotoGP competition was a fraught affair in the early laps, as each rider tried to put in a quick lap in case the rains returned. Both Checa and Rossi stormed away, setting top three times in the first ten minutes.
Rossi, Checa and Gibernau were each at the head of the qualifying lists for a time, but a last lap charge by Rossi took him into a whole new territory, under the 1'59s barrier for the first time ever.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st, 1'58.758)
"The last lap was incredible. We put in the qualifying tyre but at the start of the lap I didn't go at 100%, then on the last two sections I pushed very hard. It was possible to take a good advantage and get pole position. To ride in Assen with these bikes is incredible, difficult to explain. We had a good practice today, used all the final hour to make the bike better. I am quite worried because in the wet we have some problems and in three sessions we have not been able to get the bike 100% the way I want. For tomorrow I hope we can have good weather and make a dry race."
CARLOS CHECA (2nd, 1'59.440)
"We must be satisfied because we improved the lap time every time we went out. It was not easy because conditions were still not perfect but we had the feeling step by step and finally we got a really good lap time. It was just Valentino was so fast I could not catch him. Our target was to start in the first row, so we made it. Tomorrow we have to start to set the bike up for the race because we didn't have much time today. We are ready to race anyway and today we all did a great job."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- TEAM DIRECTOR
"For a team to be first and second is a perfect job, especially as we only had this single session in the dry. We were very good at finding the best possible settings and to have them 1-2 was just great. Marco Melandri was fourth on his Yamaha so for the YZR-M1 it's great, a big improvement from yesterday. Assen has a lot of corners and our chassis has good agility, good handling, and that helped us a lot. Valentino did a fantastic lap, one second better than last year in just one hour of dry track time. The forecast says that it will be dry tomorrow so I hope that it's not wrong. We have to use the 20 minutes of warm-up as well as possible to look at tyre choices for the race, gearbox settings, all other parameters and every minute will be important. It will be the same conditions for everybody. I have to say thanks to all the people involved; they worked hard and quickly and could not make a mistake. I think we were very good today, we have the riders in the front and I'm sure we can stay at the top."
1. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1'58.758
2. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 1'59.440
3. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar Honda 1'59.903
1. Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 2'00.724
2. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team 2'00.755
3. Alex Barros (BRA) Repsol Honda Team 2'00.977