UP AND DOWN DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa ended today's final qualifying with contrasting fortunes -- Biaggi just a fraction off the front row and Checa undergoing precautionary x-rays in the ...
UP AND DOWN DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa ended today's final qualifying with contrasting fortunes -- Biaggi just a fraction off the front row and Checa undergoing precautionary x-rays in the Clinica Mobile medical centre.
Checa suffered a huge highside crash during the late stages of the session but though battered and bruised he escaped serious injury. Biaggi improved his factory YZR500s from yesterday's session and ran a pace that should see him feature well in tomorrow's Marlboro Spanish GP, round three of the 2001 World Championship.
"Max's bike improved today and I think he's ready," said Hiroya Atsumi, Marlboro Yamaha Team director. "He didn't quite make the front row but his pace should be good for the race. We will work our normal schedule from here, renewing the usual engine parts for the race, running a full fuel tank test in morning warm-up and making a few final adjustments. Max ended up with a set-up that's slightly different from what we ran during the IRTA tests in February, even though track conditions aren't that much different. It was the same for Carlos, he has also made some changes to the settings he used during the tests. I feel sorry for him, it was a big crash, and we're just hoping he's okay. I think he was going for his fast lap a little too early, but he's a rider, he was just very keen to improve his times."
BIAGGI JUST OFF ROW ONE
Max Biaggi ended final qualifying less than three hundredths of a second off the front row after a useful final qualifier. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider took almost seven tenths off his Friday best with a good lap at the very end of the final session, run in warm, sunny but windy conditions.
"My bikes are better today than they were yesterday," said Biaggi, who was also fifth on Friday. "We've been looking to improve stability, though I set my best time on the bike that was quicker but not quite so comfortable. We'll be making a few changes overnight, so warm-up will be important for us. We will also leave tyre choice until tomorrow morning, though I've already decided to go with a 16.5 rear, not a 17. Back in February I was quickest with the 17 but I did my best time today with the 16.5. I expect a fast race and I'll be doing my best, though I won't make any predictions until after warm-up."
BIG TUMBLE FOR CHECA
Carlos Checa crashed heavily in the final ten minutes of the session as he accelerated through turn three, a medium-speed left hander. The Spaniard was flung through the air, landing heavily in the gravel trap. He is hurting all over and though x-rays have confirmed that nothing is broken, he has yet to decide whether he will race tomorrow.
"It was a big highside but I can't remember exactly what happened," said Checa, who had been running tenth quickest. "I fell heavily and I've hurt a shoulder and a foot, in fact I hurt everywhere, but the main thing is that I've not broken anything. It's too soon to say whether I'll race or not. We'll analyse exactly what happened and see how I feel in the morning before we make any decisions."
ROSSI ALL THE WAY
Valentino Rossi (Honda) dominated the session, never relinquishing the provisional pole position he held from yesterday and cutting under his Friday best with two ultra-quick mid-session laps. The Italian, who won the opening two GPs of 2001, survived a heart-stopping moment earlier in the session when he ran wide on to the grass, his NSR almost ejecting its rider over the highside.
"It was a good session for us, though I couldn't go as fast I went in this morning's 'free' session when I did a very good lap," said Rossi. "We had a few problems this afternoon and I lost what would've been my fastest lap at the end because I was forced wide by another rider. We still have to decide what tyres we'll run for the race and I expect to have to fight hard for the win."
CAPIROSSI GETS CLOSER
Second-quickest Loris Capirossi (Honda) did at least manage to cut into the 0.718 second advantage that Rossi held yesterday, shrinking the gap to 0.393 seconds at the end of the session. And Capirossi reckons he would've been faster if he too hadn't been balked by another rider on his best lap. "I find it hard to get a good set-up for this track but I tried my very best when I was on the bike," said Capirossi, like Rossi another former 125 and 250 king. "I'm happy, everything went really well, apart from me finding that other rider in the middle of the track when I was going for a good lap at the end. We'll continue working on our set-up in the morning warm-up and see what we can do in the race."
<pre> FINAL QUALIFYING 1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA 1'42.739 2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 1'43.132 3. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA d'Antin 1'43.234 4. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 1.43.247 5. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'43.275
13. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'44.156