<pre> MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM TESTS Brno, Czech Republic July 29/30/31 2001 </pre> BIAGGI AND CHECA MAKE HASTE BEFORE MIDSEASON BREAK Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa spent three days at Brno this week, venue...
<pre> MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM TESTS Brno, Czech Republic July 29/30/31 2001
</pre> BIAGGI AND CHECA MAKE HASTE BEFORE MIDSEASON BREAK
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa spent three days at Brno this week, venue for the next round of this year's enthralling contest for the last-ever 500 World Championship. The pair clocked consistently quick lap times aboard their YZR500s and also rode Yamaha's fast-developing YZR-M1 four-stroke.
Biaggi, whose stunning German GP victory ten days ago brought him within striking distance of series leader Valentino Rossi (Honda), obviously wanted to focus attention on his YZR. Winner at Brno last year, the Italian is aiming to take another chunk out of Rossi's points advantage at the Czech GP on August 26, so he has worked hard at adapting his set-up to run Michelin's 16.5 rear at the track.
"We ran a 17in rear here last year and we knew there'd be some work to do with the 16.5," he said. "It wasn't easy to start with, but we improved things and now the bike is reacting the way I like it to react. We have set-ups for both tyres because I think both have their advantages here, a bit like Mugello, where we raced a 17."
Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust was delighted with Biaggi's progress. "We wanted to get a set-up that would allow him to be consistently fast with the 16.5 and we've done that," he said. "Max's best time may not have been as fast as his pole time from last year but he was consistently faster than he's ever been at Brno.
"The difference between here and Mugello is that you don't accelerate though the chicanes at Mugello, whereas you do here. That means you're loading up the tyre on some lean angle, and that's why Brno is probably the worst track of all for chatter. We've now got both the 16.5 and 17 options wide open, which means we're going away confident and hopeful that we can have a great weekend when we come back here for the race."
Biaggi rode most of Monday on the four-stroke and was happy with latest improvements to the machine, which will contest next year's new-look MotoGP World Championship. "The bike is coming on," he added. "There's more work to do, of course, but Yamaha are making good progress. But my priority number one is the 500. I don't want to put too much meat on the grill and confuse myself! I want to be totally clear with the 500."
Checa, who followed Biaggi home at the Sachsenring to score the team's second one-two of 2001, spent a full day on the M1 and loves the machine. "It feels really good and I like it because it suits my style," said the Spaniard. "I rode a lot of laps on the bike and both the chassis and engine have really improved since I last rode it, especially the chassis. Yamaha are already at a good level with this bike for 2002, but I'm not allowed to say what my lap times were!
"With the 500, we worked at adjusting the balance to this track because it's quite different from Germany. I can now brake, flick and open the throttle fast, which is the feeling I need from a bike. The great thing is that the 500 now works wherever we go, so I feel I can be fighting for podium finishes at every race from now on. The end of my season isn't going to be like the start!"
Checa's pace on both bikes convinces Crust that he'll have two men up front at the next few GPs. "Brno has been dodgy for Carlos in the past," he said. "But the bike's working for him now, he has been doing consistent low 'twos'. I think we can have both men up there when we race here, that's what we need."
The team's Brno tests ended at 6pm this evening but there's no respite for the crew just yet. Both Biaggi and Checa take part in this weekend's big Marlboro Masters event at Zandvoort in the Netherlands. Then they take a break - Biaggi in Florida, Checa in the Pyrenees.
The Czech GP is round ten of this year's 16-event 500 World Championship. The Portuguese and Valencia rounds follow, before the series heads out of Europe for the final four races, climaxing with the Rio GP on November 3.
Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 2m 01.5s
Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 2m 02.2s