FYT Mugello test notes 2003-05-15

Sun shines on Fortuna Yamaha Team tests in Mugello. The Fortuna Yamaha Team today completed the second day of their two day test in Mugello, Italy. The Italian-based team was blessed with brilliant weather for both testing days, a welcome...

Sun shines on Fortuna Yamaha Team tests in Mugello.

The Fortuna Yamaha Team today completed the second day of their two day test in Mugello, Italy. The Italian-based team was blessed with brilliant weather for both testing days, a welcome change from the bad weather conditions they experienced during much of their winter testing programme. Testing alongside the Fortuna Yamaha Team were Gauloises Yamaha riders Alex Barros and Olivier Jacque, Team d'Antin Yamaha rider Shinya Nakano, and Yamaha test rider Norick Abe.

Fortuna Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri were glad for the extra test time, which falls in between last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez and next weekend's French Grand Prix in Le Mans. Both riders rode consistently during the two days at the Italian circuit, with Checa setting a best time over the two days of 1'51.9s, beating the circuit lap record of 1'52.6 (the circuit best lap is 1'51.2s, set by Rossi last year). Checa completed a total of 34 laps today. Team-mate Melandri completed 71 laps today with a best time during the two days of 1'53.0s.

Checa had a disappointing finish to last weekend's Grand Prix in Jerez when electrical problems meant he had to pull out of the race while fighting with the race leaders. The Spanish rider and his crew focused all their attention to fine-tuning his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine yesterday in order to better his lap times at the Mugello circuit, and testing some new tyres for Michelin. Despite a few small tumbles Checa proved that his form is improving all the time. Today he tested a new evolution of the M1 chassis for the second time, having already tested it for a limited time in Suzuka at the start of the season. The rider is not yet sure whether he will use the new chassis to race at the forthcoming French Grand Prix.

"I am a little disappointed because I had some falls here", said Checa. "I lost the front - it is difficult to find the limit here and I just pushed too hard. We tested the old chassis yesterday which works very well and I got my best lap time with it. Today I spent almost all the day with the new M1 chassis and the feedback was positive but then I crashed so we stopped early. In Le Mans I will confirm whether we will use the new chassis - we will take both the old and new ones there. So far for me the new one is a bit better here in Mugello but we will confirm when we see how it works in Le Mans."

Checa's team-mate Marco Melandri continued to amaze everyone with his incredible recovery since his unlucky fall at the Japanese Grand Prix just over one month ago when he fractured his ankle in two places and chipped his femur. The 20-year old Italian was out of action for the first two races of the season but made his comeback at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend. Despite back pain during the Jerez race Melandri was riding in the top nine during the Jerez race but back pain forced him to slow down and run wide of the track and he finished the race in sixteenth position.

Today Melandri was tired but happy at the end of the session, having spent some of the day testing front tyres but feeling generally better than he has since his accident, "I'm feeling very tired now and have a small ache in my ankle and my back", said Melandri. "But I am happy because I was able to do a lot of laps. This was the best training I could do for Le Mans. After Jerez I was really exhausted because I rode so many consecutive laps for the first time in the race. I am going to rest for a couple of days and then keep going swimming to train before Le Mans. I am definitely well on my way to full recovery now."

Team Manager Geoff Crust was pleased with the performance of both riders over the two days of the test, "After a hard weekend at the Grand Prix in Jerez although the team needed a rest we took the long trip north and pushed ourselves to carry on working here in Mugello," said the Briton. "Although Carlos slipped off today the test was still successful as he was pushing to the limits to try and find the benefits of the new chassis. We found positive points and might well use the new chassis in Le Mans, we will analyse its performance now and in Le Mans and decide. "After being checked by his doctor on Tuesday, Marco was advised to continue riding the bike to get fully fit. Towards the end of today he felt tired so we stopped early. Nevertheless, it was a successful test for him too and we hope he can improve even more in Le Mans. The M1 was strong in Le Mans last year and Carlos is going there with a positive attitude. Jerez was a little disappointing so we are looking forward to going to Le Mans and going for a good result, which we deserve."

The Fortuna Yamaha Team moves to Le Mans next week for the French Grand Prix which will take place on Sunday 25 May.


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Series MotoGP
Drivers Carlos Checa , Norifumi Abe , Shinya Nakano , Olivier Jacque , Marco Melandri