Africa's Grand Prix, Welkom First Qualifying, Friday April 19 2002 MARLBORO YAMAHA WORKING HARD AT WELKOM Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa made steady progress during today's first practice and qualifying sessions at...
Africa's Grand Prix, Welkom
First Qualifying, Friday April 19 2002
MARLBORO YAMAHA WORKING HARD AT WELKOM
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa made steady progress during today's first practice and qualifying sessions at Welkom, ending the day fifth and seventh fastest and confident of further improvements tomorrow.
This is the YZR-M1's first visit to this challenging and now very bumpy circuit, which means the team crew commence their work from a base line of minimum knowledge, then work from there. This is a process they will become accustomed to whenever they race at tracks that are new to Yamaha's new four-stroke MotoGP racer.
"This track was totally new to the bike this morning, but we learned a lot from that session and then started making adjustments," explained M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "The main factors we're working on are chassis set-up and adjustment to the engine-braking system. This track is very bumpy, which means we need less engine braking than we had at Suzuka, for example. On the chassis side we're adjusting geometry and suspension to create more traction front and rear, and we're also working to improve turn-in."
BIAGGI JUST OFF FRONT ROW
Max Biaggi ended day one at Welkom just off the provisional front row, making good progress in his first visit to the track with his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1s. The Italian, who qualified a fraction of a second off the front row at Suzuka two weeks ago, was fifth fastest this afternoon, 0.4 seconds off the provisional front row.
"Me and the team are working very hard, there's good energy within our pit box," said the four-time 250 World Champion, who won the 1999 500 GP at Welkom. "We're working towards a generally better set-up and we have a good idea of what we need to do to achieve that and of where to start from tomorrow. In the few places where we're losing time we need better rear suspension settings and also improved adjustment of the engine-braking system. There's one very, very bumpy section here which makes the bike very unstable, the bike's moving around too much, but I guess it's the same for everyone."
CHECA UP TO SPEED AFTER STEADY START
Carlos Checa made a steady start to practice at Welkom this morning, gathering information to help his engineers carry out adjustments to his bikes' chassis and engine-braking systems. Once those improvements had been made it took the Marlboro Yamaha Team man just a few laps of afternoon qualifying to dramatically raise his pace and briefly lead the session. He ended the outing seventh.
"Today is only the first day but already the whole picture seems quite good and we can improve from here," said the Spaniard. "This morning I didn't feel so confident in the front end and we didn't have the right amount of engine braking, so we fixed that and the chassis settings for the afternoon. We improved the front-end contact feeling to improve corner entry, which in turn helps corner exit. The track's grip level is okay but some parts are incredibly bumpy, worse even that any go-kart track I've driven around."
CAPIROSSI & KATOH BEAT FOUR-STROKES
The Honda 500cc two-strokes of Loris Capirossi and Daijiro Katoh were first and second fastest at Welkom today, just ahead of the Honda four-strokes of Tohru Ukawa and Valentino Rossi. This is no surprise since the two-stroke teams started today with three years of Welkom data behind them while the four-stroke teams started with no circuit data specific to their machines.
"The track is so much more bumpy than last time we came here, so it' s really difficult to ride but I still like the layout," said Capirossi, who battled long and hard for provisional pole with Rossi, the pair swapping the lead no less than six times. "On my fastest laps I made the difference through the fast rights at the end of the lap."
1. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 1'35.393
2. Daijiro Katoh (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini 1'35.818
3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team 1'35.985
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team 1'36.027
5. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'36.456
6. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'36.589
7. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'36.640
8. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR 1'36.866
9. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 1'36.907
10. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons 1'36.930