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May 31, 2002

Checa First, Rossi 3rd, Roberts 6th, Hopkins 7th In Friday MotoGP Qualifying At Mugello

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Friday MotoGP Qualifying Results:<BR><BR>1. Carlos Checa, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:52.086<BR>2. Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:52.197<BR>3. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 1:52.201<BR>4. Loris Capirossi, Honda NSR500, 1:52.592<BR>5. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, 1:52.768<BR>6. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:52.974<BR>7. John Hopkins, Yamaha YZR500, 1:53.380<BR>8. Alex Barros, Honda NSR500, 1:53.464<BR>9. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:53.493<BR>10. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton KR3, 1:53.510<BR>11. Jurgen vd Goorbergh, Honda NSR500, 1:53.514<BR>12. Regis Laconi, Aprilia RS3, 1:53.535<BR>13. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton KR3, 1:53.539<BR>14. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha YZR500, 1:53.622<BR>15. Norick Abe, Yamaha YZR500, 1:53.765<BR>16. Daijiro Kato, Honda NSR500, 1:53.868<BR>17. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha YZR500, 1:53.921<BR>18. Tetsuya Harada, Honda NSR500, 1:53.989<BR>19. Jean Michel Bayle, Yamaha YZR500, 1:54.139<BR>20. Pere Riba, Yamaha YZR500, 1:56.521<BR><BR><BR>More, from an Aprilia press release:<BR>Sixth in the morning's free practice, Laconi comes twelfth in the qualifying session, making third provisional row. Top speed in the afternoon for the RS Cube: 317.5 kph.<BR><BR>A good free practice session in the morning for Régis and the Cube. Laconi ended the tests with 6th best time and spent the afternoon session completing his work for Sunday's race and trying out a new qualifying tyre. The RS Cube made top speed in the qualifying session, with 317.5 kph on the straight. Provisional pole goes to Checa, who broke the fast-lap record (out of race), which was set in 1999 by Harada on his Aprilia Bicilindrica 500. <BR><BR># 55 Regis Laconi – (MS APRILIA RACING) – 12th - 1'53.535<BR><BR>"I'm pleased with this first day at Mugello - we got straight to work on adjusting the rear shock absorber, and then we concentrated on testing the tyres. I've got some new Dunlop material - a race tyre and a qualifying tyre - with greater thickness towards the centre, even more than the version I used in South Africa. The grip's very good and I'd say this is the first time I had such effective grip. The tyre's bigger and this makes the bike a bit less easy to handle, so I had to put a lot of physical effort into my ride this afternoon. It's not a problem as I'm in pretty good physical shape. Now that I know what sort of grip I can have, I just need to go faster - tomorrow I'll be aiming for a better lap time."<BR><BR><BR>More, from Red Bull Yamaha:<BR><BR>ITALIAN GRAND PRIX<BR><BR>FRIDAY 31ST MAY QUALIFYING NO. 1<BR><BR>HOPKINS FLIES ON FASTEST TWO STROKE YAMAHA<BR><BR><BR>Rookie John "Hopper" Hopkins the 19-year-old American put in a hot lap in this afternoon's qualifying session in Mugello to finish in seventh position after holding second during the session. Hopkins was the fastest 2 stroke Yamaha rider on the track this afternoon and finished an impressive 7 positions ahead of the nearest Yamaha 2 stroke rival, Shinya Nakano. Hopkins continues on to improve in his debut season and after clocking the fastest top speed of all the Yamaha 2 strokes this morning, he was feeling good about the afternoon's session.<BR><BR><BR>JOHN HOPKINS - 7th at 1:53.350<BR><BR>"I feel really good, I'm really happy. I got warmed up, found my rhythm and came in for a quick tyre change. We put on a qualifier early in the session because we were concerned about the rain. I went out there and I knew I was going fast. I made time on Ukawa and got a good draft from his 4 stroke. I pushed it hard in the first section and held it until the end of the lap. <BR><BR>"This is the first track that I have qualified on that I have actually been to before, so I know which way I am going around here and that helps a lot. My biggest help though is my Mom, she's here this weekend and it's the first time she's seen me on the Red Bull Yamaha. It's great having her here."<BR><BR><BR>Colin Davies - Race Engineer for John Hopkins<BR><BR>"We put on a qualifying tyre early because we were a bit concerned about the rain. John got out onto the track at a good time and followed Ukawa on the 4 stroke. We have a pretty good race set-up and our recent testing session here has proved to be valuable. The bike is pretty good as it is now, we just have some minor fine-tuning to do. The Dunlop that John set his best time with today may even be considered for the race. We aim to finish in the Top 10 on Sunday and we've had a good first day to get us started."<BR><BR><BR>JEAN-MICHEL BAYLE - 19th at 1:54.139<BR><BR>"We have done a lot of work since this morning's session on the gearbox and with the tyres and overnight we have more work to do in that area. We have tried a lot of tyres already today and have made some choices for the race. Tomorrow we have some more work to do with the race settings and we will see how it goes but today is not so bad." <BR><BR><BR>Christophe Bourguignon - Race Engineer for Jean-Michel Bayle <BR><BR>"We will work on our race set-up overnight to find the right combination for Sunday. We have a good base line to work from and we are pleased with JMB session this afternoon."<BR><BR><BR>Peter Clifford - Team Manager <BR><BR>"Brilliant, we never believe in getting over-excited from one practice session but this has been no bolt from the blue. It's the next step forward after some solid progress."<BR><BR><BR>More, from Marlboro Yamaha:<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA LEAD THE WAY AT MUGELLO<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi today made a superb start to the 2002 Italian Grand Prix, placing first and second in this afternoon's opening qualifying session. The pair's performance suggests that the latest upgrades to the YZR-M1 are working exactly as Yamaha engineers expected.<BR><BR>Both riders have one new chassis each, with revised geometry, to improve handling and steering, which they tried for the first time this morning but used exclusively in qualifying. As a result of the new chassis the bikes also feature revised fuel tanks, airbox and seat units.<BR><BR>"Today was very good for us, we expected something good and I really appreciate the work done by everyone at the factory and everyone within the team," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "The race department in Japan has been so busy, our engine and chassis designers have cancelled their holidays and they've been working to 11 or 12 every night! This is what we've been working on since Suzuka and I'm very happy that all our work has had a good effect. The new chassis has a different engine position and slightly revised geometry. The new fuel tank allows the riders to sit further forward and lowers the centre of gravity."<BR><BR><BR><BR>CHECA AND MIGHTY M1 SET THE PACE<BR><BR>Carlos Checa enjoyed a rousing battle for provisional pole position with team-mate Max Biaggi and World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Honda). The Marlboro Yamaha Team man led much of the session before dropping down the order and then fighting back in his final run, which put him 0.111 seconds ahead of Biaggi and 0.115 seconds ahead of Rossi.<BR><BR>"It's amazing to be at this level after just two hours with the new chassis," said a delighted Checa. "Most of the merit for our performance must go to Yamaha, I just did the last bit of work on the track! The bike is working quite well now. I feel much more confident in the front because I'm getting a more positive feeling, so I can keep rolling into the corners faster, even with brake on, and there's less front-end push. Now we need to be very precise in how we analyze data and improve from here, so I'm looking forward to testing at Valencia next week, where we will have the time to fully explore the potential of this chassis. I've always asked Yamaha to improve in this area, so I'm happy that my thinking has helped us to get better. We've fixed that problem, now we need to keep improving, and I'm quite optimistic that we can do that."<BR><BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI JUST 0.111 SECONDS OFF POLE<BR><BR>Max Biaggi made it to pole on two occasions before Marlboro Yamaha Team-mate Carlos Checa sneaked ahead in the dying moments of the session, by just one tenth of a second. Like Checa, the Italian is delighted with the improved performance of his YZR-M1<BR><BR>"Friday doesn't count for much but this is a good start," he said. "The new chassis gives me a good riding sensation, and the new tank is<BR>smaller and narrower, which makes the bike easier to ride. We've definitely taken a step forward here, Yamaha have done a great job to get this new chassis to us in the few weeks since Suzuka. We had a minor carburation problem this afternoon, the motor was a bit sharp on acceleration, but I tried my second bike with the other chassis this morning and that motor felt better, so we know what to do for tomorrow. Now we have to see how things go in the race on Sunday - I don't think we'll be doing times as fast as this."<BR><BR>ROSSI CHASING HARD IN THIRD<BR>MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi seems to be under more pressure than usual here. Quickest this morning, the Italian couldn't quite match the Marlboro Yamahas this afternoon, despite set-up improvements to his RCV. "The bike felt much better than this morning," he said. "We adjusted the suspension but I'm still getting a lot of wheelspin." Daijiro Kato (Honda) and Sete Gibernau (Suzuki) fell at speed this afternoon in separate incidents but were unhurt and continued on their other bikes, placing 16th and ninth.<BR><BR>PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW<BR>1. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1:52.086*<BR><BR>2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 1:52.197<BR><BR>3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 1:52.201<BR><BR>4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) 1:52.592<BR><BR>* New official circuit best ever lap<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from Team Suzuki:<BR><BR> <BR>Team Suzuki News Service<BR><BR>"MORE TO COME" AFTER KENNY'S STRONG CHALLENGE<BR><BR>MotoGP, Round 5, First Qualifying, Mugello - Friday, May 31, 2002: <BR><BR>TEAM Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr and Sete Gibernau were sixth and ninth fastest in today's record-breaking first practice session for Sunday's Italian GP, securing provisional second and third-row starting positions for the new GSV-R four-stroke, out on the tracks a full year earlier than originally planned.<BR><BR>Roberts had been strong throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, putting the Suzuki's name at the top of the time schedule, and continuing to improve his own time as his MotoGP rivals found their own pace round the fast sweeping 5.245km circuit in the Tuscan hills.<BR><BR>Gibernau fought back after a spill in the afternoon. He was not hurt, but with one bike damaged and the inevitable shake-up, it was only at the end of the session that he leapt from a position barely in the top 20 to take his place in the top 10.<BR><BR>There is one more timed hour-long practice session tomorrow afternoon before the race on Sunday, the fifth of 16 rounds in the 2002 MotoGP calendar.<BR><BR>Kenny Roberts Jr: Sixth Position, 1:52.974<BR>"I think we are better than today's position. For sure I can improve by at least half-a-second, by refining the settings again. At the end of the session, I ran into some problems that spoiled my last run for a fast time. We were trying settings that will be better over race distance, but they meant I needed to push the bike very hard into the turns and mid-turn, which had a negative result. At least we got some information out of that, and we'll be able to try a new direction tomorrow. The bike is still at an early stage, and I'm not bothered where I am on the front three rows. I'll take what comes, to work on the best possible race set-up, to keep improving our race results."<BR><BR><BR>Sete Gibernau: Ninth Position, 1:53.493<BR>"We're getting the bike the best it's been so far and we still have areas to work on and improve. I fell in the last corner. As I tipped the bike in the rear started to bounce. I ran onto the dirt and had to throw it down to avoid hitting the wall. I wasn't hurt, but we had to work hard to get back up to speed, and do a good lap at the end."<BR><BR>Garry Taylor: Team Manager<BR>"This is a fast circuit and we're probably doing better than we might have hoped. But we'll be really pleased to see the engine performance improvements that we know are coming, as soon as possible. The bike's still very new, and it's developing all the time."<BR><BR>Warren Willing<BR>"We have some revised swing-arms here: one for each rider. Sete likes it, Kenny is not so sure. The improvements here are more down to better settings than hardware. It's a matter of taking the settings that we found at Le Mans to the next stage. As we've seen in the past, you get a bike dialled in fairly quickly to a basic setting, then it's just little things that make small improvements. We'll make more adjustments based on what we've done today."