Checa edged off front row in last minute reshuffle. It was a tale of drama for the Fortuna Yamaha Team during day two of the Czech Republic Grand Prix today. Team-mates Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri were hindered respectively by a snapped...
Checa edged off front row in last minute reshuffle.
It was a tale of drama for the Fortuna Yamaha Team during day two of the Czech Republic Grand Prix today. Team-mates Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri were hindered respectively by a snapped drive chain and yet another low speed crash, during today's final qualifying session in Brno. Despite the unexpected setback, and a long run pushing the bike back to pit lane during the closing stages of the session, Checa managed to find a 1.387 second improvement over his best time yesterday. Checa will now head the second row in tomorrow's 22-lap race.
Checa's greatly improved form gave him a best lap time today of 1'59.295, however this personal best was still 0.526 seconds shy of Valentino Rossi's (Honda, 1'58.768) fastest ever official lap of the Czech circuit. Following yesterday's first timed session the 30-year-old Spaniard was confident he would break into the '59s, and as today's session progressed he placed the YZR-M1 on the front row with the second fastest lap. But then, with only one minute remaining, Sete Gibernau (Honda, 1'58.899), Max Biaggi (Honda, 1'58.908) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati, 1'58.916) all broke into the '58s in an effort to keep defending MotoGP World Champion Rossi within reach, relegating Checa to the second row. Despite this the Spaniard is pleased with the team's performance and is looking forward to a competitive race.
"I'm very happy to have done this lap time, which is my best ever here," explained the Spaniard. "I have to admit that I didn't think I had gone that fast during the lap. It's a shame not to be on the front row, but we've worked very well here and the most important thing is to feel ready for the race. We've worked with a base set-up with fairly small modifications and a few little engine improvements. We've got the chassis well balanced. The race will not be easy, for sure. We still have our limitations, but we're working well and I hope we can be more and more competitive as we head into the last part of the season. "The hardest thing for me today was pushing the bike back along the whole length of the pit lane after I lost my chain! I guess that will help my fitness for a long race tomorrow! If I can keep the rear stable tomorrow and put in consistent lap times I hope we can get a good result."
A brilliant third place qualifying result in Donington and impressive race performances amongst the top three riders in both the British and German Grands Prix provided a glimpse of the talent that lies within Melandri. Unfortunately the young Italian slid off during both onslaughts. Since returning from his three week summer break the 20-year-old has had difficulty finding his former confidence with his YZR-M1 machine. The MotoGP rookie tumbled off for the second time this weekend, in the opening segment of today's final session. As a result the 250 World Champion was unable to improve on his Friday performance, a 2'00.800, and now languishes back in 17th place -- 2.123 seconds behind pole.
"I have fallen off twice over the past two days and I don't know exactly why," said the slightly despondent Italian. "I'm still not confident with the front, and today I lost the front on the exit of T9 and slid off. My feeling with the bike this weekend is like I am riding it for the first time. I couldn't follow the other riders and I ran too wide in all the corners. I'm disappointed because I've been in the front group at the past two races. Hopefully I will be able to get up front, like I did in Sachsenring, despite not having a great grid position."
Team Director Davide Brivio commented, "We're quite pleased with Carlos who has improved a lot today compared to yesterday, in fact by more than a second. He has made good progress this weekend, despite the small inconvenience this afternoon when his chain broke. That was very strange because it's never happened before. Carlos should be in good shape to make a good race and stay amongst the top riders.
"Unfortunately Marco had a small tumble again and never really felt comfortable. When we tested here last month he felt quite good but for some reason this time it's not going as he would have liked, and we're not exactly sure why. We will try again tonight to make some improvements but it could be quite a difficult race for him."
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA 1'58.769 - new circuit best lap
2. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar HONDA 1'58.899
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 1'58.908
4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) DUCATI Marlboro Team 1'58.916
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'59.295
17. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 2'00.892 (Fri) 2'01.523