Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka First Qualifying, Friday April 5 2002 Marlboro Yamaha 'Coming Better' Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi placed sixth and eighth fastest in this afternoon's opening Suzuka qualifier, the ...
Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
First Qualifying, Friday April 5 2002
Marlboro Yamaha 'Coming Better'
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi placed sixth and eighth fastest in this afternoon's opening Suzuka qualifier, the first qualifying session in MotoGP's new four-stroke era. Battling windy conditions both men focused on chassis set-up, aiming to get their YZR-M1s working as well as possible through Suzuka's curves.
"Things are coming better, step by step," said Ichiro Yoda, YZR-M1 project leader. "Our philosophy is to continue working in the direction we started during last month's tests at Barcelona. This morning we experimented with a new geometry setting for the third-generation chassis we first used last weekend, but this made the bike too nervous, so this afternoon we went more stable, especially on the front for braking into corners. I think we've now found a not-so-bad geometry balance, so now we can work at fine tuning this via damping and springs. The wind didn't help today, I think that made riding quite difficult. We are also working on the engine, of course. I'd say we need another ten horsepower but our main priority at the moment is to create a good throttle connection from low to middle rpm.
"At the end of this first day I'd like to thank the whole team and the riders for all their hard work. We know that Carlos and Max would like to be higher on the grid and we're all pushing towards that."
CHECA TWO TENTHS OFF FRONT ROW
Carlos Checa rode a determined first qualifying session at Suzuka, moving up the order as he improved the set-up of his YZR-M1. The Marlboro Yamaha man ended the day sixth, just two tenths off the front row. "We are testing various solutions to improve from where we were at during the Barcelona tests," he said. "Some have been positive, others negative. The bike was better this afternoon but it's still not good enough so we've got to keep working. At the moment the chassis is the main thing for me, we need to work at making the chassis better still, because I know the bike can go faster than this."
BIAGGI WORKS FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
Max Biaggi got up to speed in fine style at Suzuka this afternoon, running as high as sixth in the final five minutes. And the Italian hopes for better tomorrow. "This was the kind of position I'd expected today," he said. "The bike was a little better this afternoon but it's very hard work out there. I'm doing the best with what I've got. We know what the problems are, my main concerns are corner entry and holding my line mid-corner. So now we need to focus on putting together the bike's best elements while waiting for further improvements. We've made some chassis adjustments here and I think we can go a little better tomorrow, so long as it doesn't rain, but at this stage I'm not expecting a huge step forward."
CAPIROSSI KEEPS TWO-STROKES ON TOP
Today may have been the first day of MotoGP's new four-stroke era but the 500cc two-strokes are far from obsolete, as Loris Capirossi proved by grabbing provisional pole position on his Honda NSR500. The little Italian took pole with 23 minutes to go, outpacing fellow NSR rider Daijiro Katoh who had moved ahead of Valentino Rossi, who led at half distance on Honda's new RCV V5 four-stroke. "The new NSR is 50 per cent better than last year's bike," said Capirossi. "It's better balanced, so it's easier to ride around here."
The Italian ended the day just 0.044 seconds ahead of Rossi, who was four tenths in front of fellow RCV rider Tohru Ukawa. Suzuki's Kenny Roberts was fourth. Both Rossi and Katoh fell in this morning's session but were unhurt. Pere Riba (Yamaha) was less fortunate when he tumbled at 180kmh this afternoon. The MotoGP newcomer broke a bone in his right shoulder and will take no further part in the Japanese GP.
1. L. Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 2'05.052
2. V. Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team 2'05.096
3. T. Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team 2'05.561
4. K. Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 2'05.630
5. S. Itoh (JPN) Team HRC 2'05.650
6. C. CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2'05.846
7. D. Katoh (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini 2'05.858
8. M. BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2'05.910
9. O. Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 2'06.253
10. S. Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 2'06.339