Sep 22, 2001
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From a press release:<BR><BR> <BR>MARLBORO VALENCIA GRAND PRIX, VALENCIA<BR>Final Qualifying, Saturday September 22 2001<BR><BR>BIAGGI & MARLBORO YAMAHA ON POLE AGAIN<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team star Max Biaggi braved the first sprinklings of a rain shower to grab pole position from arch-rival Valentino Rossi (Honda) in spectacular fashion at Valencia this afternoon. The Italian will start from pole for the fifth consecutive time while teammate Carlos Checa will get tomorrow's race underway from the second row.<BR><BR>Once again the times were tantalisingly close at this slow and tortuous circuit, with just 1.138 seconds separating the fastest 12 riders.<BR><BR>"This is another good day for the team," smiled Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. "Max was very strong again and Carlos was also not so bad. Everyone is very close here and that's why rider confidence will be the most important thing tomorrow. We've been working in a slightly different direction with suspension set-up to achieve that, because this is such an unusual circuit. Our aim has been to give the riders even better rear-end feeling when they open the throttle. Also, the track is not so grippy, and I think that's one reason why all the lap times are so close. One thing is for sure, the race will be very exciting."<BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI: NICE TIME, NICE TIMING<BR><BR>Max Biaggi rode to his fifth successive pole position at Valencia this afternoon, bravely ignoring light rain that had begun to fall halfway through his best lap, which he'd started just three minutes before the session's end. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man kept his head down to record the fastest ever two-wheel lap at Valencia, outpacing Valentino Rossi by 0.207 seconds and bettering last year's pole time by half a second.<BR><BR>"That was tough, halfway through that lap I saw rain on the screen, which made me nervous," he said. "I can't tell you what I was thinking but I couldn't stop, I needed that lap and it put me on pole. I kept my head down, even though the rear was spinning up a bit, but for just one lap it was okay. We had been working on set-up for the rest of the session, so I knew that lap was my one chance for pole. We managed to improve the bike after this morning, but going race distance at a good pace will be a different thing from doing one good qualifying lap."<BR><BR><BR>CHECA ON SECOND ROW<BR><BR>Carlos Checa put himself right in the hunt for a good home-race result at Valencia, clocking the eighth-fastest time for a row-two start. With times so close, the Spaniard believes he can score well here, so long as he gets a good getaway from the grid.<BR><BR>"The bike is feeling pretty good," said the Marlboro Yamaha Team man. "And I would've been quicker at the end without the rain. When it started to fall my split times had me three tenths faster than before, but no worries. We spent much of the session working on our choice of race tyres. We managed to make the rear a little looser so it spins out of turns, which keeps the front on the ground and improves steering. The start and the first half of the race will be very busy because there are so many riders who can do the same times."<BR><BR><BR>ROSSI SECOND QUICKEST<BR><BR>Valentino Rossi ended today's session admitting that he might not have got pole even if he'd had a dry run to the chequered flag. "We worked hard, changing a few things early on, then fitting soft tyres to get provisional pole," said the series leader who last claimed pole at June's Catalan GP. "Then we worked some more on tyre choice but when we fitted my second soft rear, it started to rain. Even without that I'm not sure I'd have beaten Biaggi's time."<BR><BR><BR>NAKANO BACK ON FIRST ROW<BR><BR>Class 500 rookie Shinya Nakano (Yamaha), who broke a hand at August's Czech GP, was third quickest, his first front-row performance since July's German GP and his eighth of the year. "I was worried about my hand but it was okay," said the super-smooth rider. "I just concentrated on riding this very technical circuit which suits the Yamaha. Now I'm ready to fight tomorrow."<BR><BR><BR>FRONT ROW<BR>1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'34.496<BR>2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA 1'34.703<BR>3. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 1'34.959<BR>4. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 1'35.234<BR><BR><BR>8. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 1'35.390<BR><BR>