Marlboro Yamaha Team test session at Estoril

Estoril, Portugal - Friday February 23 2001 BIAGGI & CHECA SHATTER ANOTHER LAP RECORD Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa continued their record-breaking pre-season form at Estoril this week, further boosting their confidence in...

Estoril, Portugal - Friday February 23 2001

BIAGGI & CHECA SHATTER ANOTHER LAP RECORD
Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa continued their record-breaking pre-season form at Estoril this week, further boosting their confidence in the run up to the first GP of 2001, now just six weeks away.

The pair were so happy with progress and lap times that they both stopped early, Biaggi running his final laps on Thursday evening and Checa stopping at Friday lunchtime, with half a day of the three-day session remaining. From past experience both men know that too much testing can be counter-productive, especially when they've completed all the work they set out to do.

Once again the Marlboro Yamaha men ran up front throughout, Checa fastest on Wednesday, Biaggi quickest on Thursday, Loris Capirossi (Honda) easing ahead by just 0.040 seconds today, leaving Biaggi and Checa a super-close second and third overall. Both were an amazing two seconds inside the lap record, having also set the pace at Jerez last week, topping the times on two of the three days and ending up second and third to Valentino Rossi (Honda).

Biaggi clocked his best lap at Estoril on Thursday afternoon, 2.051 seconds below Rossi's record, and forsook today's session to keep himself fresh and strong for Catalunya.

"I had an experience last year that showed me you can do too much during winter tests," said the hard-riding Italian, who started the 2000 season injured after crashing during pre-season tests. "The team and I have done some really good work here, so it made sense to stop and save ourselves for what's to come."

Earlier in the tests Biaggi suffered chatter problems -- a high frequency vibration during cornering that prevents riders from pushing any harder -- but had found a solution by Thursday evening.

"We spent most of Wednesday working at that, using 16.5in rears and then 17s at the end of the day," he revealed. "Then we concentrated on finding a good set-up with the 16.5, because I think this is the right direction. It was difficult work but we reduced the chatter and found a couple of good tyres, and I did my fastest laps with the 16.5."

Checa was also delighted with what he'd achieved at Estoril, venue for the Portuguese GP on September 9. The Spaniard had a torrid time during last September's inaugural GP at the tight and bumpy circuit, but he's put all that behind him. Looking more confident and comfortable than ever, his fastest lap was 2.034 seconds inside the lap record.

"I had a bad time here last year but things are very different now," he said. "I feel we are ready for the season and I didn't feel like that last spring. We had chatter trouble on Wednesday and Thursday but we cured that today, we're feeling quite clever!"

Checa was running fast despite the chatter and once he'd got through the problem improved his times some more. He did slide off at very slow speed during one of his final runs, when he kissed a white line while pushing hard to cut his times still further.

"We cured the chatter by working on front geometry and rear settings and from then on I was really fast," he added. "Once we'd done that we focused on the 16.5in rear again and I felt really confident at the end of the tests. Now I'm looking forward to Catalunya next week, then our Suzuka tests and then the start of the season."

Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi shared his riders' upbeat mood following the Estoril outing. "We are okay!" he grinned. "We are working to give them a perfect machine, and I would say that we are now closer than ever before. We've made good progress with our settings with the 16.5 rear, so Max and Carlos feel confident and have ridden some very good lap times. Carlos did have a little crash, I guess he sometimes tries a bit too hard!"

The Marlboro Yamaha Team continues testing at Catalunya on March 7, 8 and 9, and completes its winter programme next month at Suzuka, venue for the season opening Japanese GP on April 8.

<pre> Lap times Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 40.149s Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1m 40.166s

-Rupert Williamson

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi
Teams Williams