MARLBORO YAMAHA ON TOP AGAIN Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi took pole position for the second consecutive race this afternoon, with team-mate Carlos Checa making the second row despite a minor tumble. In bright but cool conditions, ...
MARLBORO YAMAHA ON TOP AGAIN
Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi took pole position for the second consecutive race this afternoon, with team-mate Carlos Checa making the second row despite a minor tumble. In bright but cool conditions, Biaggi dominated the session, leading newly crowned World Champion Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) by almost two tenths.
"Max did an awesome job today," said Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust. "He did a lot of laps on race tyres and he's got a good package for the race. He's been putting up to 20 laps on tyres and he's been fastest in the last three sessions, even with the changes in track temperature. He's there and ready. Carlos was going for it when he fell, he would've made the top of the second row, and crashing like that is part of racing. He needs a good warm-up and he'll be fine for the race."
BIAGGI CONFIDENT FOR PENULTIMATE GP
Max Biaggi today confirmed himself as man of the moment with his fifth pole position of the season and his second in two weekends. The Italian started last Saturday's Rio GP from pole and will also head up the grid for tomorrow 's race, the penultimate of the season. Quickest yesterday, this morning and this afternoon, the Marlboro Yamaha Team star is confident of going for his second win of the year tomorrow.
"I went faster than yesterday, even though I had a lot of traffic on my fastest lap, I was surprised it was good enough for pole," said Biaggi, who was almost a second inside Roberts' '99 pole time. "I'm confident for the race; it took a while to find a good race tyre but we got there in the end. I've found a good way around this track but I've also been experimenting with other lines -- there was so much traffic today. We also tried some different settings this morning but they didn't work so we returned to yesterday's set-up. It's going to be a tough race, times are tight and the others are quite strong too but I want to see a Yamaha win here. I've also been practicing my starts after I got away badly in Rio.
CHECA ON ROW TWO
Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa improved both his lap times and his grid position in this afternoon's final qualifier, and would've been even higher on the grid if he hadn't slid off in the final moments of the session. Remarkably unfazed by his big Friday get-off, the Spaniard had moved up to seventh and was on his fastest lap when he lost the front of his YZR. Nevertheless he is confident of a good run tomorrow.
"That was going to be a good lap, I was pushing hard and just lost the front with the brakes on into a turn," said Checa. "Anyway, I felt more confident today. We changed a few things and we even ran new forks this morning. They were good but we decided to go back to what we knew for this afternoon. I was running a race tyre when I fell, I'd tried a softer tyre earlier, but the race tyre is nicer for me. Now we just need to make a few adjustments to improve the feel into turns with brakes on."
ROBERTS -- TOO EXCITED
Son of a legend and 2000 World Champion Kenny Roberts improved on his Friday best by half a second to move to second fastest but was unable to better Biaggi. The American is confident he can battle for victory after setting his best times on race tyres.
"I fitted a qualifying rear at the end of the session but got too excited and kept screwing up," said Roberts, who won last year's soaking Motegi. "The bike is real good here and I believe we'll be up there, wet or dry."
CAPIROSSI SLIPS TO THIRD
Loris Capirossi (Honda) was unable to improve on his Friday time today but stayed on row one, with team-mate Alex Barros improving to fourth fastest to join him up front.
"Yesterday's times were very fast, enough to keep me up front, though Alex came very close to overtaking me!" said the Italian. "It's great to have both of us on the front row, it shows we're a top team and we'll be challenging for next year's title."
<pre> FINAL QUALIFYING 1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'49.954 2. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'50.140 3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Emerson HONDA Pons 1'50.286 (Fri) 4. Alex Barros (BRA) Emerson HONDA Pons 1'50.515
7. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'51.020