Checa and Melandri ready to race at Suzuka. Fortuna Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri today completed their final day of pre-season testing, ending the two day session ninth and 13th fastest. The pair spent the weekend...
Checa and Melandri ready to race at Suzuka.
Fortuna Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri today completed their final day of pre-season testing, ending the two day session ninth and 13th fastest. The pair spent the weekend continuing to fine tune the set up of their Yamaha YZR-M1s before the fast approaching season's start. The surprising fine weather lasted throughout the test, although rain is forecast for this weekend's inaugural Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Despite a slow start yesterday when the testing of some new electronic components lost Checa track time, the Spaniard was back to his old form in this afternoon's exciting closing stages as just under a second separated the fastest ten riders. Today he tested a new, more aerodynamic fairing for his M1 for the first time and felt immediate benefits, saving his best for later in the day.
"I felt much more comfortable today," said Checa. "We've been working as usual on set up these two days. We lost the way a little bit at the Barcelona test two weeks ago but now we have recovered a good feeling, though we still have room to improve the bike."
Commenting on the wet weather prediction for this weekend the Spaniard said, "I will take my conclusions from today and wait and see. For sure it's going to be a very close race as the lap times at this test have been so quick and so many riders are capable of doing a good race."
Melandri was also in good spirits at the conclusion of today's test, "Today is my best day of MotoGP so far! This circuit is definitely more difficult than Barcelona on the M1. I have improved a lot today and I hope I can improve even more in the two qualifying sessions this weekend. I have a feeling I can do better anyway in the race than during qualifying. I like the new part of the track, well anyway I like the first part of the new chicane but not the exit. But I think it's more safe than before."
Team Director Davide Brivio added: "We introduced some new parts at this test, including some electrical components. We had to spend a while to set them up properly which caused us to lose some time. By the end we found a good direction for both Carlos and Marco, which showed as their times improved this afternoon. We still have Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions, and then it's the race that counts. We will see how things really are on Sunday. Let's hope that rain does not make all the work fruitless."
The Fortuna Yamaha Team riders and the other MotoGP riders will commence practice and qualifying this Friday. Sunday's Grand Prix will be the first of the 16 round championship.
1. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Camel Pramac Pons 2'04.359
2. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Pramac Pons 2'04.567
3. Alex Barros (BRA) Gauloises Yamaha Team 2'04.605
4. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar Honda 2'04.616
5. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Telefonica Movistar Honda 2'04.629
6. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol Honda 2'04.632
7. Colin Edwards (USA) Alice Aprilia Racing 2'04.846
8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team 2'04.889
9. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM 2'04.908
10. Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Alice Aprilia Racing 2'05.193
13. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM 2'05.431