MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM TESTS Sepang, Malaysia. Wednesday January 31 2001 POOR WEATHER DOGS BIAGGI & CHECA Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa today completed a four-day test session at Sepang where rain prevented them from ...
MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM TESTS
Sepang, Malaysia. Wednesday January 31 2001
POOR WEATHER DOGS BIAGGI & CHECA
Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa today completed a four-day test session at Sepang where rain prevented them from achieving hoped-for progress.
Every one of the four days was affected by rain, forcing the team to postpone some aspects of the tests until their next outing in Europe during February. Poor weather has been a constant feature during this winter's Sepang testing season. Teams choose the Malaysian venue for its mostly hot and consistent weather conditions but Suzuki and Honda have also been plagued by rain during recent visits to the track outside Kuala Lumpur.
Yesterday was badly affected and Biaggi and Checa didn't start riding today until after lunch, following another overnight downpour and further rain this morning. Even this afternoon wasn't all dry, the riders dodging showers throughout, and Biaggi showing his keenness to get on with the job by completing no less than 53 laps before the track closed.
With no chance to get fully in the groove, Biaggi was once again some way off the astonishingly fast 2m 05.4s lap he recorded before Christmas, though none of his rivals have so far got to within a second of that time. The Italian clocked his best lap of this session on Tuesday when he was on lap-record pace at 2m 06.8s.
"The weather isn't usually like this here, it's a shame," said Biaggi. "We've been working on engine, chassis and tyres but the rain has prevented us from doing accurate testing. We'll need to work really hard when we continue our programme in Europe next month, but I really trust Yamaha, the team and Michelin to get things right."
Checa also recorded his best laps on Tuesday and is already looking forward to making up for lost time at next month's tests in Spain and Portugal. Like Biaggi, he did at least take advantage of the soaking track to test Michelin's latest range of wet tyres and came away impressed.
"The wet tyres felt good but it's a real pity we've not been able to make so much progress in the dry," said the Spaniard. "Now I'm just looking forward to riding again at Jerez, which will be more important for us than ever. Max and I have both had some minor chatter problems here and we'll be working to tune that out during our next few tests. Despite the conditions here, I'm feeling positive about the new bike and my team."
The Marlboro Yamaha Team's new team director Hiroya Atsumi shared his riders' disappointment with the weather, agreeing that the next phase of tests will be particularly crucial.
"It's difficult to make real progress without consistent weather conditions," he said. "We've had a lot of settings and Michelin tyres to test here but we've not been able to do everything, so we'll just have to try again at Jerez. That is where we will know the real potential of our riders and machines."
Following this private Yamaha session, the team continues pre-season preparations at the IRTA-organised tests at Jerez, Spain (February 16-18) and Estoril, Portugal (February 21-23). Following those outings Biaggi and Checa have further private tests in Europe and then Suzuka in Japan where the 16-round 2001 World Championship will commence on April 8.
<pre> Lap times Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) Sunday 2m 07.2s (40 laps) Monday 2m 07.6s (16 laps) Tuesday 2m 06.8s (28 laps) Wednesday 2m 07.4s (53 laps)
Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) Sunday 2m 08.1s (52 laps) Monday 2m 08.2s (20 laps) Tuesday 2m 07.8s (39 laps) Wednesday 2m 07.8s (30 laps)