Fortuna Yamaha Team have solid start in Spain Today saw the beginning of the European leg of the 2003 MotoGP World Championship where Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa kicked off proceedings with a solid morning free practice performance in...
Fortuna Yamaha Team have solid start in Spain
Today saw the beginning of the European leg of the 2003 MotoGP World Championship where Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa kicked off proceedings with a solid morning free practice performance in front of his home crowd. The Spaniard set the second fastest time during the session on his YZR-M1, before producing a 1'43.064 in the afternoon qualifier to finish the day seventh overall. Although not completely happy with his final placing on the time sheet this afternoon, Checa was satisfied with the improvement in lap times made since the morning free practice. He is more than confident that he has the base chassis package to reduce the 0.741 second deficit over provisional pole and will focus his efforts tomorrow on fine tuning the suspension package to improve drive.
Riding on the crest of his South African success fellow Spaniard Sete Gibernau (Honda) set the quickest time of the day, dislodging Tohru Ukawa (Honda, 1'42.432) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati, 1'42.571) from the number one slot with a 1'42.285, while defending MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1'42.624) was left to complete the front row.
Checa commented on his day's performance with some optimism, "This afternoon we improved our time a little bit over this morning. The temperature has changed since then however; it's much hotter, so we have lost some grip. I have been testing both of my bikes which vary slightly in suspension set-up. At the end of the session I could not improve my lap time very much. Even so I am quite optimistic about tomorrow - our position was second this morning and seventh this afternoon. We are in a better position now than we have been at the last two rounds, we will have to make some more changes and see what we can do."
Returning to the fray for the first time since his Suzuka practice crash, where he suffered a double fracture of his ankle and a small chipped fracture of the femur in the high-speed crash, Marco Melandri (Fortuna Yamaha Team) approached the opening qualifier progressively in an effort to build up his momentum without the risk of aggravating his recent injury. The young Italian suffered slight discomfort while riding the factory YZR-M1 and felt that he lacked the physical strength to attack the circuit in the same aggressive manner he did during pre-season tests, held earlier this year.
However Melandri was still in an upbeat mood at the end of the session,"I don't feel too bad but I got quite a bit of back pain in the last 15 minutes of the session," said the 250cc World Champion. "I have felt some back pain before now since my accident but it feels sore today after all the riding I have done, although it was fine this morning. I am having difficult riding because normally I use the rear brake a lot but I cannot do that now when I enter the corners so I had to modify my style a little bit. I am going to go to the Clinica Mobile for some treatment now and hopefully I will feel better tomorrow. The track feels more slippery as well which doesn't help - the asphalt is so hot compared to when we tested here in the winter."
Fortuna Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio feels that the team had a reasonable first qualifying session, "Carlos is on an upwards climb," said the Italian. "I am satisfied to see him improve like that. We can still make another step up with the bike, but it seems like the weekend is starting in a good way. If we can do a good job tomorrow we might be in a position to fight for a result.
"Marco was feeling some pain during the practice and is now going back to the Clinica Mobile. Hopefully he will be feeling better by tomorrow. We asked Marco not to push too hard today and the same for tomorrow. We need to make sure that he doesn't push himself too hard now as there are many races left in the season. "
CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'43.064
MARCO MELANDRI (ITA) Fortuna YAMAHA Team 1'44.102