MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN ON FIRST AND SECOND ROWS Regular downpours throughout today's Assen schedule ensured there was no change from yesterday's provisional grid, which means Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa will start...
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN ON FIRST AND SECOND ROWS
Regular downpours throughout today's Assen schedule ensured there was no change from yesterday's provisional grid, which means Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa will start tomorrow's Dutch TT from the first and second rows.
Both riders used the ever-changing conditions to test new Michelin rain tyres in this morning's soaking 'free' session, when Checa was second quickest and Biaggi fifth. This afternoon's final qualifier also started wet, the track almost drying out before receiving another drenching after half an hour. Checa ended up quickest in that session, though three seconds off his best lap in Thursday's dry opening qualifier.
"That was a typical Assen day!" smiled Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "At least we were able to do some rain-tyre testing, which may be useful for tomorrow, and also run our engine-braking system in the wet once again. We re-map the system for the wet, to make the bike 'softer' into the corners.
"It could be a tricky race if the conditions are like today's, because the new section of the track seems to dry more slowly than the rest of the circuit, so the surface could be wet in some parts and dry in others, but of course, it's the same for everyone. If the race is dry, I think we're in not-too-bad shape, we should be able to run up front, though both Max and Carlos weren't able to really do any work on set-up today."
BIAGGI'S FOURTH SUCCESSIVE FRONT-ROW START
Winner of last year's thrilling Dutch TT, Max Biaggi will start tomorrow's race from second on the grid, the placing he achieved in yesterday's dry qualifying session. The Marlboro Yamaha Team star was in fine form once again today, running well in the wet this morning and using the latter stages of this afternoon's wet-and-dry session to evaluate a new Michelin intermediate rear tyre.
"It's always the same here - incredible weather," grinned Biaggi after securing his fourth successive top-three start. "We couldn't really try anything with our dry-track set-up, so today's sessions weren't very useful from that point of view. I've heard it could be dry tomorrow, but you never know. During this afternoon's qualifying session the conditions changed again and again, and if it's like that tomorrow, everything will depend on making the correct tyre choice. It'll be very delicate and the race will be really difficult for everyone. And if I can win in conditions like that, I'll be very happy."
CHECA FASTEST TODAY, SIXTH ON THE GRID
Carlos Checa was fastest in this afternoon's final qualifying session, running just three laps in the middle of the hour-long outing when the track was at its driest. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider was 1.4 seconds quicker than everyone else, though that performance won't affect his grid position which is determined by his faster pace in yesterday's dry session, when he was sixth quickest.
"We had planned to test a few things on chassis set-up but we weren't really able to do anything too useful," said Checa. "I only got three flying laps this afternoon, when it was almost dry, which will give us some data though I'll want to test those changes again in morning warm-up, if it's dry. I felt okay on the bike yesterday, so we should be okay if the race is dry. Obviously I'd prefer some sun tomorrow, even though this track is quite nice in the wet, it's still more grippy than anywhere else when it rains. A wet race would be quite risky because this place is very fast and narrow, and also because the new section seems to stay wet for longer than the rest of the track."
PROBLEMS FOR POLE-MAN ROSSI
Valentino Rossi (Honda) made a huge effort to snatch provisional pole from Max Biaggi yesterday and that lap paid off this afternoon, when it gave the World Championship leader his sixth pole of 2002. "Pole ended up being my last lap from yesterday, so I'm happy I managed that," he smiled. "But I'm not so happy with our dry-track set-up, we need more time to work on that, and we also have some set-up problems in the wet." The other front-row qualifiers are Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) and Loris Capirossi (Honda).
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 2'01.691
2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 2'01.716
3. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) 2'01.836
4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 2'01.983
6. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 2'02.236