Spanish GP: Yamaha Team final qualifying report

Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez Final Qualifying, Saturday May 4 2002 Marlboro Yamaha men grab second-row starts. Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi proved what hard work and dedication can accomplish at Jerez today, ...

Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez
Final Qualifying, Saturday May 4 2002

Marlboro Yamaha men grab second-row starts.

Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi proved what hard work and dedication can accomplish at Jerez today, putting their YZR-M1s fifth and seventh on the grid for tomorrow's Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix.

The pair had a difficult Friday here, both on the provisional third row, but both were able to dramatically raise their pace this afternoon following some brilliantly productive work by their crews, who adjusted the on-track attitude of their machines to improve front-end grip.

"From this morning both our guys were able to carry more speed through the high-speed corners here, and that's a vital part of a good lap time," explained M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "We adjusted suspension balance, raising the rear and lowering the front, to shift more weight to the front end of the machine. But they still feel that the front is a little too light going into and out of corners, so maybe we will make another small step in this direction for tomorrow morning's warm-up session."


Marlboro Yamaha Team man Carlos Checa rode this afternoon's session with unflinching dedication, lapping at front-row pace in the closing stages and eventually ending up fifth quickest to lead row two. It was an impressive display by 'El Toro', who used his second bike to better his Friday times by an incredible 1.922 seconds.

"We found a better compromise today," smiled Checa, top-placed Spaniard here. "But we are still trying to shift the bike away from its character which is for the rear tyre to grip so much that it pushes the front. We will work to continue improving in this area, which means finding a better compromise between chassis, suspension and tyres. I was riding very hard this afternoon, working to control the front, and it's not possible to ride a whole race like that. But we've done a good tyre endurance test and I think we can have a good race, though the result will depend on how the other bikes use their tyres."

Checa surprised many by pitting at the end of what would've been his fastest lap near the end of his session. He'd been quickest in the first two sections of the circuit when he stopped for new tyres. "I felt fast but I thought I could go quicker," he added. "We fitted a softer rear tyre for my last run but it moved around a little too much."


Overnight set-up changes also helped Max Biaggi to drastically raise his pace this afternoon, the Italian moving up from yesterday's provisional 11th place to seventh. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider cut 1.734 seconds from his previous best to ensure a second row start for tomorrow's race, round three of the 2002 MotoGP World Championship. Like team-mate Checa he showed superb commitment to climb towards the front of the grid.

"We're still having the same problems with the machine," said Biaggi, who qualified on the front row in South Africa two weeks ago. "I'm having to brake earlier than I used to on the 500, so I'm getting passed by some of the 500s into the corners and that will make the race pretty difficult for me. I'm not happy about where we are, I always want to be near the front, but I'll try as hard as I can to get the best-possible result in tomorrow's race."


World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Honda) today scored his third successive pole position, but his closest rivals here are three 500 two-stroke riders, not his RCV four-stroke team-mate Tohru Ukawa who beat him in South Africa two weeks ago. Rossi ended qualifying three tenths ahead of Alex Barros, with fellow Honda NSR men Loris Capirossi and Daijiro Katoh completing the front row. Ukawa was sixth, behind Checa.

"I did a great lap this morning and think I could've gone faster this afternoon but for the wind," said Rossi, whose morning time was the fastest-ever official Jerez lap. "The bike has come a long way since we tested here last November. We've got a great set-up now so I'm looking forward to the race."

Before the session got under way 1999 500 World Champion Alex Criville tearfully announced his retirement from racing, citing medical reasons.

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211V) 1'42.193
2. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1'42.504
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 1'42.558
4. Daijiro Katoh (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (NSR500) 1'42.691
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'42.889
6. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (NSR500) 1'42.921
7. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1'42.995
8. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR500) 1'43.047


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Daijiro Kato , Olivier Jacque