Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa battled through withering heat this afternoon to put their YZR500s second and sixth on the grid for tomorrow's Valencia GP, round 13 of the 2000 season. Both men and their crews were delighted...
Marlboro Yamaha Team duo Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa battled through withering heat this afternoon to put their YZR500s second and sixth on the grid for tomorrow's Valencia GP, round 13 of the 2000 season.
Both men and their crews were delighted with the performance in oppressive 35 degree heat and the team is confident of a rewarding Sunday.
"Conditions are much hotter than they were when we tested here pre-season, so it's been a struggle to find similar traction," said Yamaha Grand Prix manager Masahiko Nakajima. "But we're happy because the team has done a good job and both riders seem comfortable and confident with their race set-ups. They had been having some problems going into turns but we've been concentrating on geometry and front suspension balance, and things are much better now."
Qualifying was as tight as ever at Valencia today, with 0.982 seconds covering the fastest 16 men. Last year 0.859 seconds covered the top 15, the closest grid in 500 history.
BIAGGI ON TOP FOR TEN SECONDS
The final minutes of this afternoon's final qualifier were particularly hectic as riders fitted Michelin's new qualifying tyres and went for their fastest laps. Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi's qualifier run went superbly, the Italian moving into pole with two minutes to go. But he only stayed there for ten seconds before Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) dislodged him. Nevertheless Biaggi is delighted to be second, just 0.058 seconds down on the American.
"I'm very happy with second and we improved a lot," said Biaggi fifth yesterday. "We found a good direction with the bike and we're not in a bad position for the race. My main worry is Roberts and I think we need to pick up our race pace. I was struggling with grip today, I lost the rear a couple of times. Tyre choice will be important tomorrow, though of course, you need a bike set-up that will be easy on the tyres. The other big thing will be the start -- this track is so tight, especially turn two, that you've got to get away well."
CHECA JUST MISSES FRONT ROw
Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa was back up front where he belongs today, running second in this morning's practice session and as high as fourth in this afternoon's final qualifier. He slipped to sixth in the final minutes and a last-gasp bid to get back on the front row was spoiled by a slower rider. Checa's best lap was just 0.319 seconds off pole.
"It was important for me to make the front row and my last lap was going to be my fastest, until I got caught up with another rider," said Checa, who was 13th yesterday. "Still, we're very close and the team did a great job today. It was difficult at the start of the session because I didn't feel confident like this morning, it seems our bike changes quite a bit with the heat. But we worked on tyres and suspension and came up with a good balance and compromise. I did my fastest lap on a soft rear but not a qualifier. I can't use the qualifiers like some guys can, when we ran one yesterday I was half a second slower."
ROBERTS TAKES FOURTH POLE
World Championship leader Kenny Roberts scored his fourth pole of the year this afternoon, and is confident of increasing his 46 point series lead in tomorrow's race. "Everything's great," he said. "I've got a revised motor here which helps me get on the throttle earlier. The whole balance of the bike is better -- last year we struggled here, this year we got pole."
Loris Capirossi (Honda) topped the pit-lane monitors twice during today's session but had to settle for third at the end of the hour-long outing. "I think I can run a good race tomorrow," said the former 125 and 250 World Champion. "We've got the bike working well now because we tested at Catalunya before coming here, to match the bike to the 16.5in rear." <pre> FINAL QUALIFYING 1. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 1'35.133 2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'35.191 3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Emerson HONDA Pons 1'35.296 4. Garry McCoy (AUS) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM 1'36.362
6. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'35.452