Malaysian GP: Yamaha Team first qualifying summary

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN CHASE HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa completed this afternoon's opening Malaysian GP qualifying session sixth and 11th fastest, looking for more high-speed cornering ...

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN CHASE HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE

Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa completed this afternoon's opening Malaysian GP qualifying session sixth and 11th fastest, looking for more high-speed cornering performance from their YZR-M1s.

With dark storm clouds threatening at Sepang, the pair worked tirelessly in oppressive heat and humidity, and are now consulting their technicians to find a new direction for the rest of the weekend.

"Today has been difficult," admitted YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "Both Max and Carlos are losing a lot of time through the T3 section, which is mostly high-speed corners. Neither of them feel very comfortable through these corners at maximum lean angle, and it seems we have a lot of rear-suspension movement through these turns. We will now analyse our data and compare it to the data from our tests here last December. Even though the bikes are very different now, maybe we can learn something from that, especially regarding rear-suspension movement."

BIAGGI ON PROVISIONAL SECOND ROW

Pole sitter three times so far this year, Max Biaggi was sixth at Sepang this afternoon, 0.805 seconds off provisional pole position. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider, who lapped faster during winter team tests, spent much of the session around tenth, moving up to a provisional second-row slot during his traditional end-of-session charge.

"I don't really understand why we're not running as fast as we did when we tested here last December, because the bike is much changed and much better now," said the Italian. "We tried various different settings this afternoon, so far without any dramatic improvement. It's too early to predict how the race will go for us, but I hope to cut the gap to pole by at least half tomorrow. Then we'll see if we can be competitive on Sunday."

CHECA 11th BUT STILL CONFIDENT

Carlos Checa had a rather more difficult day, ending up provisional 11th fastest. But the Marlboro Yamaha Team man is confident that his crew will be able to take a new direction with settings to get him back on the pace for Saturday and Sunday. So far this year Checa has qualified on the front two rows at 12 of 13 GPs.

"It was impossible to go really fast today," said Checa. "I tried hard all through the session, with both bikes, but they both pushed the front. We made many changes but only found small improvements to front-end stability and grip. It's difficult to keep the bike on angle, especially at speed. But I know we can improve from here. We just need to keep working and find a different direction."

UKAWA HEADS BIGGEST-EVER FOUR-STROKE PACK

Tohru Ukawa was quickest today, just ahead of Honda team-mate Valentino Rossi. "Our bikes were down on power this morning, which knocked out our gearbox and suspension settings that worked so well here during winter tests," said Ukawa. "But the team worked very hard for this afternoon and things are much better now."

Olivier Jacque and team-mate Shinya Nakano are the latest four-stroke converts at Sepang where four-strokes account for more than half the MotoGP grid for the first time. "Riding the 500 had been very frustrating," said Jacque, who's still adjusting to the M1 and was 16th quickest. "The four-stroke is very fast, though it doesn't feel as quick as the 500 because the power delivery is smoother. It's also easier to control wheelspin with the four-stroke."

PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW
1. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 2'05.106
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 2'05.195
3. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (RC211v) 2'05.356
4. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (RC211v) 2'05.702


6. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 2'05.911
11. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 2'06.323

-myt-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Valentino Rossi , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Shinya Nakano , Olivier Jacque