The 2003 MotoGP World Championship returned from its scorching three week summer break to a hot Brno circuit in the Czech Republic for the tenth race of the 16-round season. For Fortuna Yamaha team-mates Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri it was the...
The 2003 MotoGP World Championship returned from its scorching three week summer break to a hot Brno circuit in the Czech Republic for the tenth race of the 16-round season. For Fortuna Yamaha team-mates Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri it was the first time aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 since the Sachsenring Grand Prix last month, and the pair are hopeful of producing a reputable result at a circuit which has traditionally favoured Yamaha.
Checa kicked off proceedings with a respectable performance, featuring well on the time sheets during the hour-long session before eventually finishing the opening day seventh fastest. The Spaniard's time of 2'00.682 left him just over a second behind provisional polesitter and Brno expert Max Biaggi (Honda, 1'59.520). Second fastest was defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1'59.708), with Loris Capirossi (Ducati, 1'59.739) and Tohru Ukawa (Honda, 2'00.338) completing the front row.
"I am fairly satisfied with this for the first day," said Checa. "I've done the same lap time as I did when we tested here last month, after Donington. The problem I'm having is with the braking and then flipping the bike into the turn. I don't have enough front grip when the bike's on its side. Our main target is to have a more stable front and more side grip and then I'll be able to do 1'59s.
"This morning's damp conditions were a shame, but you can always take something positive from time on the bike in whatever conditions. We were able to try a few things. Tomorrow I'll continue to work and do my best. I have confidence in Yamaha and my team. Unfortunately we only have two hours to solve the problem, but we'll keep working together and the results will come."
For Melandri, his start to the second half of the 2003 season didn't proceed as planned, with the MotoGP rookie tumbling off during the first third of the opening qualifying session. Although the Fortuna Yamaha Team rider was unaware of exactly why he lost the front of his 220-horsepower machine, Melandri was able to return to the fray, unhurt, on his second bike.
It was not the 20-year-old's first time lapping the 5403m Czech layout on the high tech M1 four-stroke -- the Fortuna Yamaha Team tested in Brno for two days in July. Therefore the likeable Italian was hopeful of a more promising result than the tenth place he eventually closed proceedings with today. Although his time of 2'00.892 was respectable, Melandri is confident that there is a great deal of room to improve.
"I'm a bit sad because we worked so hard at the test here last time, but for some reason we're having problems this time and I don't feel as comfortable as I did then," said Melandri, who won last year's 250cc race here on his way to becoming the youngest ever 250cc World Champion. "I had a very slow tumble this afternoon -- I didn't feel very good with the bike and when I tried to take the left hand seventh turn, I did it too slowly and fell off. I'm going to spend as much time as I can for the rest of today talking with my team about the best way to improve my set-up by making any necessary changes. I'm sure that we can improve for tomorrow. "
Team Director Davide Brivio said, "This morning's weather was a shame and it was good to see the sun return this afternoon. Neither rider is completely happy but it's a matter of set-up and we'll just have to work to make the bike better for them. They've already done the same times as they did when we tested here so that's a start."
1. Max Biaggi ITA Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 1'59.520
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Repsol HONDA 1'59.708
3. Loris Capirossi ITA DUCATI Marlboro 1'59.739
4. Tohru Ukawa JPN Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 2'00.338
7. CARLOS CHECA SPA Fortuna YAMAHA Team 2'00.682
10. MARCO MELANDRI ITA Fortuna YAMAHA Team 2'00.892