Oct 18, 2002
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From a press release issued by Red Bull Yamaha:<BR><BR>McCOY HOT AT HOME<BR><BR>Australian Garry McCoy took to the fast flowing, 4.448km Phillip Island track today eager to give it all in front of his home crowd. On a track that McCoy knows better than most, the 30-year-old was in dazzling form on his two-stroke YZR 500.<BR><BR>Setting a qualifying time today of 1.33.152, McCoy claimed second position, on the front row of the provisional grid for the 15th and penultimate round of the Moto GP World Championship.<BR><BR>In this afternoon's blustery conditions "The Slide King" moved his YZR500 onto provisional pole for the majority of the closing half of the hour-long session. In similar conditions in 2000 in wind-swept Portugal, McCoy won that GP, so perhaps this is an indicator that Garry thrives in these, less-than-ideal conditions. <BR><BR>In-form Honda 4-stroke rider Alex Barros, winner of the Pacific GP two weeks ago and third in last week's Malaysian GP, pipped McCoy at the post on his last flying lap to claim provisional pole. Just a year ago, McCoy secured provisional pole at the Australian GP with a time of 1.34.104. His time today is a massive 1.052 seconds faster than last year. <BR><BR>With 13 four strokes on the grid, McCoy and Hopkins find themselves now in the minority group of 9 riders on the, soon-to-be-extinct two-stroke machinery, which today claimed 3 of the top 4 positions.<BR><BR>Teammate to McCoy, American John Hopkins struggled in the increasingly gusty conditions at this picturesque seaside circuit. This is Hopper's first visit to Phillip Island and to Australia, and he is focusing on learning the track.<BR><BR>GARRY McCOY 2nd 1:33.152<BR><BR>"I am pretty happy with the result today and being at home and knowing the track has given me some advantage in these really windy conditions. The wind is inconsistent and incredibly strong, stronger than anything I have raced in all year and a bit like Portugal in 2000. You never know here what the weather will do, it could be raining tomorrow so I had that in my mind and I really wanted to give it a big effort today. I felt I could have even gone a bit quicker in that last session. The tyres are working pretty good in the cooler conditions and it's an ideal day today, to be running Dunlops."<BR><BR>JOHN HOPKINS 21st 1:35.411<BR><BR>"I'm feeling good on the bike and although the position today is not what I want, I know I can improve again tomorrow and have a competitive set-up for the race. I took about 2 seconds off my practice time from this morning and with some more time on the track tomorrow I know I can move further up the grid. I really like the track, but it's tough to learn the lines when the wind just blows you off line. The Dunlops are working well in these cooler conditions, so all I need now is some time on the track."<BR><BR>PETER CLIFFORD DIRECTOR OF RACING<BR><BR>"That's the real McCoy. A fantastic performance and something that we knew he was capable of all year. It's just such a shame that injury ruined such a large proportion of it.<BR><BR>"Another intelligent ride from John for his first time on what is a technical and difficult circuit."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release from Yamaha:<BR><BR>The opening qualifier for the Australian MotoGP, held at Phillip Island on October 18, was well on its way to being a two-stroke upset with Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha WCM) topping the time sheets on more than one occasion aboard the Yamaha YZR500. The Australian, who eventually clocked a 1:33.152 in gusty conditions, took provisional pole ahead of two-stroke mounted Jeremy McWilliams (KR, 1:33.215) and Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Honda, 1:33.314), looked set to hold station, until a last-lap dash by Alex Barros (Honda, 1:33.002). The four-stroke mounted Brazilian found another 0.150 seconds on his 29th lap to take over from where McCoy left off, but still lapped well shy of the circuit best ever lap – a 1:31.984 set by Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) last year.<BR><BR>The YZR-M1 mounted Roman completed the second row, in eighth, with a 1:33.586; qualifying behind fifth placed Valentino Rossi (Honda, 1:33.411), Daijiro Kato (Honda, 1:33.427) and Tohru Ukawa (Honda, 1:33.542) – the wind strangely wreaking havoc on the heavier machines more so than the lighter 500s. For Biaggi's teammate Carlos Checa it was a similar story; the unpredictable conditions preventing him from finding a base set-up he felt comfortable with. It left the Spaniard 17th on the grid with a 1:34.508.<BR><BR>Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Olivier Jacque (1:34.215) and Shinya Nakano (1:34.304) came in 12th and 13th respectively, while the latest Yamaha four-stroke debutant, Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin, 1:35.317), qualified 20th on the grid.<BR><BR>Red Bull Yamaha WCM<BR>Garry McCoy 2nd, 1:33.152: "The wind is really inconsistent out there. It feels like it's blowing from different directions each time you come around the same corner, making it difficult to do a fast time or develop the bike set-up. You've really just got to grit your teeth and go for it! Second place is better than I expected on the 500, although it looks to me as though the four-strokes a suffering more in the wind, which is strange considering they're heavier. They do seem to have an advantage, though, through the fast left and coming onto the front straight, but that's about it. I guess it's because the straights aren't that long here and you're always trying to change direction while on the power. We tested a new rear race Dunlop, which has a new profile, and it worked well. And with the support of the crowd I think it'll be a good weekend."<BR><BR>John Hopkins 21st, 1:35.411: "It's a good circuit, but it's a difficult one to learn, and the wind certainly isn't helping me in that regard. Even so we've made some big improvements from this morning, and I'm sure we'll keep improving throughout tomorrow. The tyres are working well, but right now it's more about learning the limits of the track than the bike."<BR> <BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team<BR>Max Biaggi 8th, 1:33.586: "The wind really knocks the rider and bike around, so it's difficult to tell whether the small changes we keep making to the set-up are actually working. The job of perfecting settings is a question of very precise feelings, and the wind doesn't allow you to feel so much, so it's hard to tell whether a change is positive or negative. Anyway, I gave my best today and we still have tomorrow in which to improve. We've already made the bike better since this morning's session, so I'm not really worried. I just hope it doesn't rain."<BR><BR>Carlos Checa 17th, 1:34.508: "That wasn't the best of days for us. We obviously need to make a few adjustments, but these windy conditions aren't helping us. It's difficult to feel exactly what's going on with the bike, and it's also difficult to ride consistently, because the wind really hits you in different places at different times. I will now sit down with Antonio (Jimenez, Checa's crew chief) and the rest of my guys and get some solutions worked out."<BR><BR>Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3<BR>Olivier Jacque 12th, 1:34.215: "I have to say that this morning was a real disaster for me, but thankfully things have improved in the qualifier. I was a little worried about the rest of the weekend up until then, but now I think we have a good base and we can develop it from there. The four-stroke is good around here but with the high speed corners and the short straights it's not as big an advantage as at a circuit like Sepang. There is no shortcut when learning to ride a new bike like this, it's about working your way through everything without falling down, and that takes time."<BR><BR>Shinya Nakano 13th, 1:34.304: "Things started off a little difficult, but now we've made some progress. Before the end of the session we changed the rear shock to help improve the turn-in character and tractability, which seems to have worked. We'll take this further tomorrow and hopefully it'll be a little better again. The difficulty is coming here without any data to go on; it's all-new for me and the team, but I'm confident."<BR><BR>Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin<BR>José Luis Cardoso 16th, 1:34.447: "Riding in those conditions is always difficult. Everybody is in the same boat, sure, but it makes setting up the bike difficult because you can't tell if it's the set-up that is running you wide or the wind, or a combination of the two. One lap you're one second faster and then the next your one second slower, and you're not really sure why. But even so, I think we're heading in the right direction and the time is not too bad, but it would be better if tomorrow the weather is a little easier on us."<BR><BR>Norick Abe 20th, 1:35.317: "It's a big difference between the 500 and the four-stroke, especially with the engine braking. Acceleration and top speed is good, but it is completely different character to ride. Surely it will get better, but it's smarter to go step by step than rush in like a fool. At the moment we're setting up the bike so that I feel comfortable, we're getting the engine braking dialed in to suit me and my style of riding, as well as the base chassis set-up."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Team Telefonica Movistar Suzuki:<BR><BR>SUZUKI MEN RIDE THE WINDS AT PHILLIP ISLAND <BR><BR>MotoGP, Round 15, First Qualifying, Phillip Island, Australia - Friday, October 18, 2002: <BR>TEAM Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr. and Sete Gibernau were 14th and 18th in today's first qualifying session for Sunday's Australian GP, battling blustery sea breezes that complicated conditions at one of the most technically difficult and spectacular circuits on the GP calendar. <BR><BR>Both riders were disappointed with the positions after a day of hard work had not born fruit. As a result, they failed to maintain their rightful places in spite of the fact that times were generally fairly slow, and still short of Kenny's own lap record of the 4.448km circuit, south of the Victoria state capital of Melbourne. <BR><BR>The new-this-year four-stroke 990cc V4 Suzuki GSV-R was suffering from cornering instability caused entirely by winds of more than 50km/h, getting under the leaning motorcycle and generating lift that made it hard for the riders to achieve the accurate lines that are so vital to a quick lap of this fast and highly technical circuit. <BR><BR>One more day of qualifying remains before Sunday's race, with the chance to redress the balance, particularly if the windy conditions improve. On the other hand, rain tomorrow could entrench today's times, in which case the Suzuki men would start from the fourth and fifth rows of the starting grid. <BR><BR>The Australian GP is the last in a trio of flyaway events, with a single race remaining in Valencia to close the first ever MotoGP season, open to 990cc four-strokes as well as 500cc two-strokes. <BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - 14th Position, 1:34.345 <BR>"I'm obviously disappointed about where we're at, because we're not at the limit of the tyres or even the limit of the bike. It's the wind that's setting our pace, and it's been a problem for us here since 1999. The wind affects everyone, but for some reason it seems to affect us more. In a straight line I can't keep the weight on the front, and when the bike is leaned over the wind gets underneath it. I wasn't complaining about anything else in that session, but the bike is shaking its head out of the turns. Firstly this track is notorious for the wind, and secondly we need to test the bike in a wind tunnel, when it's leaned over with the throttle open." <BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU - 18th Position, 1:34.530 <BR>"I have to thank my team for their hard work today, and they have found some things that helped me. But I'm still having the same difficulties with the back sliding going into the corners, and we're just working round the problem rather than solving it. I went out with a hard race tyre and going into Turn Two the rear started sliding and I went off the track. I didn't fall, but I couldn't restart the engine so I had to park my better bike and switch to my spare, which wasn't set to the best. There's no way Kenny and I should be down in the teens. I think we're both riding better than that. I just hope it doesn't rain tomorrow, so we have a chance to improve our positions."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Team Proton KR:<BR><BR>Protons Challenge for Pole at Phillip Island <BR><BR>Both riders put in a strong bid for the front row <BR> <BR>Jeremy McWilliams: Third, 1:33.215<BR>Nobuatsu Aoki: Ninth, 1:33.773<BR><BR>Both Proton Team KR riders put in a strong bid for the front row of the grid at today's first day of practice for Sunday's Australian GP. The fast and technical Phillip Island gave Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki the chance to exploit the high corner speed achieved by the nimble three-cylinder 500cc two-stroke Proton KR3 - and they made the most of it.<BR><BR>At one stage ten minutes before the end of the hour-long first qualifying session, the Protons were second and third in overall times, and though the end-of-session rush saw more riders match the pace, McWilliams was able to join in the general improvement and hang on to third, while Aoki was thwarted only by a slower rider on his own fast lap, dropping to the provisional third row of the grid.<BR><BR>The Proton KR3 is up against more powerful four-cylinder two-strokes and the new-generation 990cc four-strokes, which are more powerful again. In spite of a top speed deficit of 23km/h compared with the fastest four-stroke, the fast curves of the 4.448km circuit south of Melbourne saw both Protons regaining lost ground hand over fist.<BR><BR>Today's practice took place in stiff winds of more than 50km/h, which had been expected to exact a greater toll on the KR3, which is significantly the lightest bike on the grid. As it transpired the riders were not troubled as much as had been feared - although stiller conditions might favour them even more.<BR><BR>There are two more hour-long sessions tomorrow before Sunday's race, the 15th of 16 rounds in the MotoGP world championship. Next season, Proton Team KR will be fielding their own V5 990cc four-stroke for the same pair of riders.<BR><BR>Jeremy McWilliams<BR>"I thought I might have ended up on pole today. The bike set-up is good, but I was getting one good lap then one not so good, instead of a good consistent run . My only problem is deciding on the race tyre which will work on all the left-handers as well as the pair of right-handers. I'm pretty sure I can stay on the front row. The bike obviously suits the track, and I've been looking forward to this event and building myself up all season. I love this track, and it's twice as nice when the wind drops."<BR><BR>Nobuatsu Aoki<BR>"I was pretty happy all session, but on my fast lap at the end I got blocked so I wasn't able to improve my time. This practice is better than usual for me; usually I am not so high up. We haven't made many changes to the chassis just made the front softer than Sepang, and a couple of small changes in the morning. I was trying a different suspension link on one bike, and though I didn't like it at first, as I got used to it it seemed to help a lot on the fast corners, and I can make up a lot of time especially out of the last corner onto the straight, which helps our speed all the way. Now we need to get it a bit better on the slower corners."<BR><BR>Kenny Roberts- Team Owner<BR>"The Bridgestone tyres are working very well here, and this track has always liked our bike because of the fast corners. There are only a couple of slow turns, and they run into other corners, so acceleration is not at such a premium. The wind is affecting everybody, but you would think it would hurt the lighter bikes more, and Jeremy said it is costing him at least a second. That remains to be seen, but if the wind dies away tomorrow, that could help us even more."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by MS Aprilia:<BR><BR>Laconi 11th in blustery wind at Phillip Island<BR><BR>In the strong gusts of wind that have been sweeping across the Phillip Island circuit, Régis Laconi had made 3rd quickest time 25 minutes before the end of the qualifying round. From that moment on, Régis worked in crescendo, attempting to improve even further. The Phillip Island circuit is particularly favourable to the Italian-French Aprilia rider who started 3rd in 2000. Six minutes from the end, Régis and the Cube improved their fast lap time and the clock stopped at 1:33.979, 11th quickest time, 0.977 from Barros's provisional pole. <BR><BR># 55 Regis Laconi – (MS APRILIA RACING) – 11th - 1:33.979<BR><BR>"It must be said, I have a weakness for this track, I love it, even though today the wind's really strong on the part that looks out over the sea. Each lap it's different so you never know if it'll be like before or much stronger. If you're on race tyres, you can always try to improve the next time round, but on qualifying tyres you've got no choice - it's make or break. I'm pretty satisfied with the bike: work's going well and now we just need to test the tyres out well. We still haven't found the definitive solution as I haven't got all the grip I need at the rear. In terms of the final settings, I think we should be able to improve things a bit more. It's tough riding the bike in this wind and in a number of sections around the track it's a real strain on the arms trying to battle against it. We've still got time to improve tomorrow and work out the final details, so I'm feeling confident we can get a good result."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by West Honda Pons:<BR><BR>Alex Barros celebrates his birthday with the pole position<BR>10/18/2002 - Australian Grand Prix<BR><BR>After the excellent performances from the West Honda Pons team in the last two races, everyone is expecting the good run of form to continue this weekend at Phillip Island where the penultimate race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, takes place this weekend. The spectacular track, situated by the sea some 150 kilometres to the south of Melbourne, is the scene of the third consecutive race overseas before the MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe for the closing race of the season on November 3rd in Valencia. The West Honda Pons members arrived in Phillip Island full of optimism. Firstly, the excellent results of Alex Barros in Motegi and Sepang have made the Brazilian one of the hot favourites for the race victory and secondly, the characteristics of this track gives Loris Capirossi more of a chance on his Honda NSR500 than at the Sepang circuit. Loris Capirossi, who won the 125cc race in 1990 at this circuit, and in doing so became the youngest world champion in the history of the Championship, has scored a podium-finish here during the last two seasons. Alex Barros has finished fourth in three of his last four outings here and he is looking again to finish on the podium. Today he made a great start. On his thirty-second birthday the Brazilian West Honda Pons rider grabbed the provisional pole, demonstrating just how well he has adapted to the Honda RC211V and what good form he is in.<BR> <BR>Alex Barros (1st):<BR>"I could have gone even faster because the wind was troubling me a lot. It was difficult to open the throttle on the exit of the corner because the wind was making it unstable. In these conditions the two-strokes have gone better and the two-stroke riders have put in good performances. The team has worked very well on the bike settings and on the suspension and I have had fewer problems with settings than on the first day in Motegi or Sepang. I have worked a lot with tyres because at this circuit it is critical due to the temperatures. I am on pole and it is definitely the best birthday present anyone could have given me".<BR> <BR>Loris Capirossi (10th):<BR>"I am a little disappointed because the wind caused me a lot more problems than for other riders. I am not too worried because if the weather conditions change tomorrow I can go much faster. The differences with the four-strokes are not great here as they were in Sepang and I am optimistic for tomorrow".<BR> <BR>Sito Pons:<BR>"I am very optimistic because both Alex and Loris can be very competitive here. It is clear that the two-stroke bikes have more of a chance than in the previous race and I think Loris can be much closer to Alex. The strong wind has affected the day's qualifying, but in spite of the conditions the riders have lapped quickly and Alex has been able to grab pole position once again".<BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>