Spanish GP: Yamaha Team first qualifying report

Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez First Qualifying, Friday May 3 2002 DIFFICULT BUT ENLIGHTENING DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had a difficult but enlightening first qualifying session at ...

Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez
First Qualifying, Friday May 3 2002

DIFFICULT BUT ENLIGHTENING DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA

Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had a difficult but enlightening first qualifying session at sun-blessed Jerez this afternoon, ending the day 11th and 12th quickest.

Their performance suggests that the Marlboro Yamaha Team has much to do to get their bikes fully on to the pace but YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda believes that both riders gained invaluable knowledge during today's track time. Yamaha are already working on a different chassis for the M1, which is planned for June.

"We learned a lot today, so now we know the situation and we can react as necessary," said Yoda. "It seems that this chassis has too much weight transfer, this is what we are focusing on at the moment. Both riders say that the front end goes light when they want to open the throttle, especially in fast corners, and, of course, high-speed corners are very important for a good lap time. Also, they are both losing time braking at the end of the back straight because there's too much weight transfer to the front. This wasn't a problem with the chassis we used before Suzuka, so its clear what we need to do. We've also brought some new fuel tanks here to try. Max was having a problem as the M1 tank is quite wide so we've brought two narrower units for him to try. Carlos had asked for a shorter tank so that he could transfer more weight to the front. He tried it today but it still hasn't given him the feeling he wants."

BIAGGI WORKS AT IMPROVEMENTS

Max Biaggi ended this afternoon's opening qualifier 0.122 seconds ahead of team-mate Carlos Checa but 1.953 seconds off provisional pole position. Riding as hard as ever, the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider hopes he can climb further up the order tomorrow after fine tuning his M1's settings but knows he must wait a little longer to get back up front.

"We've got problems, it's easy to see that from the lap times," said the Italian. "At the moment it's not easy for us to fight with the other four-strokes, and even some of the 500 two-strokes, but we're looking to get the best set-up possible, to put what we've got together as best we can. At the moment we can't expect much more because the bike is essentially the same as it was at the first two races. We're all working very hard and hopefully we can take a big step forward when we get the new chassis."

CHECA NEEDS MORE WEIGHT UP FRONT

Local hero Carlos Checa made it into the top ten at one stage during this afternoon's session but ended the outing 12th fastest. Like team-mate Max Biaggi, the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider is doing the best he can with the M1 and working hard to give his engineers the best-possible feedback to help them make the required improvements.

"The main problem for me is that there's not enough front grip available when I'm at a high lean angle and trying to get on the throttle," said the Spaniard who is currently second in the World Championship after scoring third- and fifth-place finishes at the opening two GPs of the 2002 MotoGP season. "It seems that the problem is worse at this track. Getting out of a corner as quickly as possible is obviously a crucial part of getting a good lap time and I can't do that at the moment."

ROSSI OFF TRACK BUT STILL AHEAD

Valentino Rossi (Honda) recovered from an off-track excursion to take provisional pole at Jerez today. The World Championship leader spent much of the session battling back and forth with RCV team-mate Tohru Ukawa, who beat him in South Africa two weeks ago, before upping his pace in the closing stages. "We came here testing in November so we do have some data but the new surface means that we're almost starting all over," he said. "The four-stroke is easier to ride than the 500 but it's harder to make the difference once you get to a certain level."

MotoGP newcomer Daijiro Kato dislodged Ukawa from second at the end of the session, his NSR500 two-stroke just 0.339 seconds off Rossi's four-stroke best. Fellow NSR rider Alex Barros was fourth. <pre> 1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1'42.736 2. Dairiro Katoh (JPN) Fortuna Honda Gresini 1'43.075 3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol Honda Team 1'43.519 4. Alex Barros (BRA) West Honda Pons 1'43.843 5. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West Honda Pons 1'44.216 6. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'44.295 7. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 1'44.391 8. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'44.503 9. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 1'44.503 10. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin 1'44.507 11. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro Yamaha Team 1'44.689 12. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro Yamaha Team 1'44.811

-myt-

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Norifumi Abe , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Sete Gibernau , Shinya Nakano , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Olivier Jacque
Teams Repsol Honda Team