Yamaha on form during day one in Mugello Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa (1'52.290) charged through the final stages of today's opening qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello, featuring as high as third on the grid only...
Yamaha on form during day one in Mugello
Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa (1'52.290) charged through the final stages of today's opening qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello, featuring as high as third on the grid only to have the front row start snatched from his grasp seconds later. Ducati rider Loris Capirossi dramatically improved his time as the flag dropped, to place his V-four machine on provisional pole position, with a time of 1'51.954, with fellow Italian Max Biaggi (Honda, 1'52.021) following close behind - setting the third fastest time. Defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1'51.968) separated the pair.
Although disappointed to miss out on the front row by a mere 0.020 seconds - behind fourth fastest man Sete Gibernau (Honda, 1'52.270) - Checa completed the opening session confident that he can improve his qualifying position significantly tomorrow, following his performance during a recent Fortuna Yamaha Team test held in Mugello in mid-May. In similar conditions the Spaniard produced a time of 1'51.900 - good enough for pole position during today's first session. As it stands Checa is currently 0.336 seconds shy of Capirossi's time, and with the improved balance of the M1 since its last outing in Italy, Checa is looking forward to another shot at a pole position start to the Italian Grand Prix spectacle.
"Today was good and I finished in a strong provisional grid position but the best day will be Sunday, I hope", said the Catalan-born rider. "We have been changing settings on both of my bikes today and eventually went back to the setting and bike that I was more comfortable with, with some more front stability. With softer tyres I was able to do a fast lap and get that best time. Today was just for the lap time and I hope that tomorrow I can find the consistency I am looking for. Overall not a bad day."
One of the driving forces behind Fortuna Yamaha team-mate Marco Melandri's astonishing recovery, following his high-speed Suzuka crash, has been the desire to produce a good result here in Mugello at his home Grand Prix. The 20-year-old Italian, who won last year's Italian 250cc race, improved on his Fortuna Yamaha Team Mugello testing time by nearly half a second to be eighth fastest, with a 1'52.687, on an all-Yamaha second row. Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team, 1'52.439) and Shinya Nakano (d'Antin Yamaha Team, 1' 52.569) were sixth and seventh respectively. Still, the young Italian is confident he can improve further given the final adjustments made to the set-up of his M1 towards the end of the session.
"I found it a difficult session until the last 15 minutes because the setting wasn't quite right and it was really hot and slippery out there," said Melandri. "I didn't try to push too hard because I didn't feel totally comfortable but then we changed the setting of the suspension, chassis and tyres and it felt a bit better. I felt more trust with the bike and could push harder. At the end when we changed tyres it was maybe a little bit too late to go for a faster lap. I hope it will be dry tomorrow because we need to test some more race tyres, and obviously I would like to improve my grid position."
Fortuna Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio was happy with both riders' performance, "At the end of the session both riders were able to improve," said Brivio. "They both rode well today, both riders are on the provisional second row, and the gap from the other top riders is quite close. We have tomorrow to look for the best package for the race - I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do for the rest of the weekend. All the Yamaha riders are quite close to the top so it's been a good day for Yamaha generally."
PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Loris Capirossi (ITA) DUCATI Marlboro Team 1'51.954
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA 1'51.968
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Pramac Pons HONDA 1'52.021
4. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar HONDA 1'52.270
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'52.290
8. MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'52.687