Difficult opener for Fortuna Yamaha in sweltering Catalan heat The Fortuna Yamaha Team's difficult season continues as the MotoGP World Championship moves to Barcelona, Spain for the sixth round of the 2003 season. Both Carlos Checa and Marco...
Difficult opener for Fortuna Yamaha in sweltering Catalan heat
The Fortuna Yamaha Team's difficult season continues as the MotoGP World Championship moves to Barcelona, Spain for the sixth round of the 2003 season. Both Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri found the going tough during the opening day of qualifying, held in scorching 30-degree temperatures, and were only able to feature 12th and 14th respectively on the provisional time sheets.
Local hero Checa, who won his first ever premier class race at the Catalan circuit in 1996, was unable to produce anything more challenging than a time of 1'45.582 around the 4727m circuit - a time that is shy of his pre-season IRTA test performances and the 30-year-old's full potential. Although much of the difficulty in reproducing these competitive times is because of the high track temperatures, most of the team's efforts today have been focused on finding a neutral chassis character that will benefit the Spaniard on race day.
Meanwhile defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda) continued to impress with yet another pace-setting performance, after producing a 1' 43.927, to take today's provisional pole position. Today's small victory did not come easily, however, with Loris Capirossi (Ducati, 1'44.333), Sete Gibernau (Honda, 1'44.366) and Shinya Nakano (d'Antin Yamaha Team) continually challenging the Italian during the final 15 minutes of the hour-long session.
Checa, who finished third here on the YZR-M1 in last year's race, commented on the day's events, "I haven't had such a clever day today. I could not really feel comfortable with the set-up. I need to keep the front tyre on the ground and there is not enough traction in the front at the moment. We have lots of references to go from after our winter testing here, and from last year. I did some lap times that I was pleased with during the winter so that's what I'll be aiming for again tomorrow. Once we have adjusted the set-up again I'll check the feeling and I'm sure that we can make it better for tomorrow."
After showing great promise during his home Grand Prix, held in Mugello, Italy only a week ago - before clutch problems robbed him of a possible top six finish - Melandri ended today a disappointing 14th. Fully aware that he and the YZR-M1 are capable of much more the 20-year-old 250cc World Champion is looking forward to another shot at Sunday's starting grid.
"It was a difficult day for me today as we tried some different chassis settings but we are still quite a way from finding the right overall set-up," said the Ravenna-born rider. "I have had a bit of a chatter problem today, which is strange, as I never had it before on this bike. It actually got worse this afternoon compared to this morning. At the moment I can't find a good grip with the front, and it's difficult to feel the tyres on the asphalt. I will now go and analyse the lap data with my engineers to find some solution. We did try the same setting this afternoon as we did at the last tests here in the winter but the temperature is so different now. I am sure that our engineers will be able to find a solution to improve my feeling for tomorrow."
"Both riders have had a hard time today as they couldn't get exactly the feeling that they wanted with their set-ups," said Davide Brivio, Team Director of the Fortuna Yamaha Team. "This circuit was better for us during the winter tests so at least we have that as a marker. The temperature is so different now and we have to adapt our settings accordingly. All the guys in the team are pushing hard and we will do everything we can with our engineers to help them to find the set-up they need here to feel more comfortable. It's only Friday and we'll have a full day tomorrow."
PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA 1'43.927
2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) DUCATI Marlboro Team 1'44.333
3. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar HONDA 1'44.366
4. Shinya Nakano (JPN) d'Antin YAMAHA Team 1'44.765
12. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'45.582
14. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'46.061