MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN CHASE SET-UP AT THE 'RING Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were fifth and tenth in this afternoon's first German GP qualifying session at the Sachsenring, chasing the right kind of set-up for...
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN CHASE SET-UP AT THE 'RING
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were fifth and tenth in this afternoon's first German GP qualifying session at the Sachsenring, chasing the right kind of set-up for this ultra-tight and complex racetrack.
As if to illustrate the very special demands of this unusual circuit, Jeremy McWilliams claimed provisional pole on his three-cylinder Proton KR3 two-stroke, the least powerful but lightest bike on the MotoGP grid.
"It's interesting to see the two-strokes fighting back here," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "This isn't the easiest of tracks for the four-strokes. It seems more complicated than usual to find the right set-up, though, of course, this is only day one. Both our guys seem to be struggling with manoeuvrability and stability, so we've got to work at finding the best compromise. Max and Carlos were fastest on the 'top speed' sheets this afternoon but it's lap times that count. We'll keep working hard and see how we can improve things for tomorrow and Sunday."
BIAGGI A FRACTION FROM THE FRONT
Max Biaggi gave his all in the closing moments of this afternoon's qualifier, forcing himself on to the provisional front row, only for Jeremy McWilliams to demote him to fifth quickest seconds later. The Marlboro Yamaha Team star, who won here on his YZR500 last year, ended the day fifth, a tantalizing 0.044 seconds outside the top four.
"For sure this track is very well suited to the two-strokes," said Biaggi, who finished second in last weekend's British GP and currently holds third overall in the 2003 MotoGP World Championship. "I'm finding the surface very bumpy in a few places, I want to brake deeper but at the moment it's very difficult. I'm also finding the bike a bit difficult to turn. Halfway through the session I worked out what we need to do to the set-up to improve things but there wasn't enough time to do what we needed, so we'll change the settings for tomorrow. Then we'll see if the four-strokes really have a disadvantage or advantage here. It will be difficult to get pole, but I'll try everything I can to do that."
CHECA HUNTS SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS
Carlos Checa ran inside the top four on several occasions this afternoon but slipped to tenth in the flurry of end-of-session lap times, albeit only 0.644 seconds off provisional pole. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider, who led most of last Sunday's British GP before sliding off, needs more front-end performance if he's to challenge again this weekend.
"This track is quite hard work for us," said Checa, runner-up here in 2001. "We've got more problems here than we expected, mostly front-end push, especially through some of the faster corners. We haven't made any big changes to the set-up since Donington, so I suppose it's the nature of the track that's giving us the difficulties. So far we've not been able to find a good way around the problem, but we'll sit down and examine the data, then decide which way to go for tomorrow's sessions."
LIGHTWEIGHT McWILLIAMS LEADS THE WAY
Hard-charging Briton Jeremy McWilliams was the surprise man on provisional pole, using his lightweight Proton KR3 to outpace Yamaha 500 V4 rider Olivier Jacque. "This track suits our bike, we've got a weight advantage," he said. "I'm making all my time through the first two tighter sections, and I'll need some help in the race through the last part of the track."
Top four-stroke rider was Valentino Rossi (Honda) in third, with Honda 500 V4 man Alex Barros completing the provisional front row.
PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) 1'26.067
2. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR500) 1'26.178
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1'26.201
4. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1'26.480
5. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'26.524
10. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'26.711