MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN STAY ON FRONT ROW AT MOTEGI Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa will both start tomorrow's Pacific Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after consistently strong performances in this...
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN STAY ON FRONT ROW AT MOTEGI
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa will both start tomorrow's Pacific Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after consistently strong performances in this afternoon's final qualifying session.
Biaggi retained his second place on the grid from yesterday, unable to attack pole sitter Daijiro Kato (Honda) after his number-one bike suffered a minor glitch in the final stages of the session. Meanwhile Checa had to fight hard to hold onto fourth place, with just 0.172 seconds covering the entire front row.
"The pace is very close up front, so I think we have a big chance tomorrow," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "It's good to have both bikes on the front row. We think that Max's machine had something like an electrical problem, so he couldn't attack pole. We're now checking to see what happened. But other than that it seems like we are ready for the race. Both Max and Carlos are happy with their chassis set-ups and we did good tyre endurance tests with Michelin this morning. We expect Carlos to use the new engine spec but Max still prefers the previous spec because it's less aggressive, though he will race the new chassis for the first time."
BIAGGI SECOND AND CONFIDENT
A close second fastest yesterday, Max Biaggi had been planning to go for pole position in the final stages of today's second qualifying session. But while the Marlboro Yamaha Team man was denied that chance, he is still very confident of battling up front in tomorrow's race.
"I'm a bit sad that I couldn't improve on my Friday best, but we've done a good job so far and I know tomorrow can be a good day for us," said Biaggi, winner of August's Czech GP. "I thought I could go faster than yesterday, then with 15 minutes to go my number-one bike started to misfire. I rode back to the pits and jumped on my second bike but that machine uses a different chassis, so it didn't feel the same, so I couldn't push. On the positive side, at least it happened today and not tomorrow. Anyway, we're on the front row and if we have a good warm-up session we have a good chance in the race."
CHECA CLOSES IN ON POLE
Carlos Checa stayed fourth quickest today despite improving on his Friday best by 0.661 seconds. That lap brought the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider to within 0.172 seconds of pole, putting him in confident mood for tomorrow's race.
"I'm pretty satisfied because we've worked well here and the bike has improved, so I ended up quite close to pole," said Checa who was the star performer at Rio two weeks ago, getting away last after failing to engage first gear at the start, then coming through to lead the race before falling. "This time I plan to get a good start by using first gear! I don't think I could go from last to first again! Today we focused on chassis and suspension set-up, trying to further improve front-end feeling. We're on the front row, we've done a good tyre-endurance run with Michelin and if the pace is low 50s and high 49s, I know I can run up front."
KATO SCORES FIRST MotoGP POLE
Daijiro Kato scored his first MotoGP pole position today, despite tumbling during this afternoon's final qualifier. "The crash was unfortunate," said the Japanese star, whose Friday best was good enough to keep him on top. "I went out on my second bike but couldn't improve. Anyway, I'm happy to be on pole at home and I'm looking forward to the race." Impressive 500 rider Loris Capirossi (Honda) was third quickest while World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda) could only manage sixth quickest.
1. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (RC211v) 1'49.052
2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'49.162
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1'49.169
4. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'49.224