Mar 3, 2002
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From a Marlboro Yamaha press release:<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM TESTS<BR>Mugello, Italy, Saturday March 2, 2002<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA MAKE 'BIG STEP' AT MUGELLO<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi today completed a crucial three-day test session at Mugello with their upgraded YZR-M1s. The successful outing - with a new chassis the major improvement - rejuvenated the squad's confidence after last month's tests at Valencia and Estoril.<BR><BR>Checa ended up lapping the challenging Italian track 1.1 seconds faster than he'd ever managed on a 500, while Biaggi was also quicker than ever before, bettering his 500 best by 0.7 seconds. The Italian did tumble at the end of today, after running off the track at turn one. As a precaution the circuit's medical staff advised him to visit nearby Borgo San Lorenzo hospital for a check up, but he was released without requiring treatment.<BR><BR>Both riders were so satisfied with progress that the team had already opted to leave the track a day earlier than expected when Biaggi fell. They will now prepare for next weekend's IRTA tests at Catalunya in Spain.<BR><BR>"We've made a big step here, though we can still improve," said Checa. "The work we've done with the new frame will probably be more useful to us than all our previous pre-season testing. It fixes the problems I'd been having in the corners; now I can get on the gas earlier and control the bike better. I feel a lot more comfortable, and my goal is always to feel comfortable on a bike, so I can ride as I like to ride.<BR><BR>"We've now got a good base set-up on which we can build at Barcelona and Suzuka, and if we keep moving in this direction things should get even better. We could've stayed for Sunday and gone even faster but we've already done lots of laps and got lots of data, so there was no point in that."<BR><BR>Biaggi was also in good mood after the session. "On the whole the tests went okay, the new frame is definitely better, it makes the bike more rideable," he commented after his brief visit to hospital. "I hope that the frame, plus the engine improvements we're now working on, will make the bike even better. It was a shame I crashed - I ran off the track at turn one and couldn't keep the bike upright in the gravel."<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio shared his riders' sense of a job well done at Mugello. "It's been a positive test, we've gained a lot of useful information and both riders are happy with what we've achieved," he said. "The new frame is certainly a step in the right direction. Today we confirmed a lot of our expectations and also worked on settings and tyres. For sure, we can improve things some more, that's always our focus, and we're now looking forward to the final tests at Barcelona and Suzuka before next month's first race. Max's crash was a shame but it was nothing serious, he's fine."<BR><BR>The Marlboro Yamaha Team completes its pre-season testing programme at Catalunya (March 9/10) and at Suzuka (March 30/31), where the Japanese GP<BR>opens the new MotoGP season on April 7.<BR><BR>LAP TIMES<BR><BR>Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1:52.1, (30 laps today, 130 in total)<BR><BR>Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) 1:52.2, (23 laps today, 127 in total)