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May 4, 2002

Rossi On Pole, Kenny Roberts Ninth, Hopkins 16th In Final MotoGP Qualifying At Jerez

<BR><BR>Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>Final Qualifying Times:<BR><BR>1. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 1:42.193<BR>2. Alex Barros, Honda NSR500, 1:42.504<BR>3. Loris Capirossi, Honda NSR500, 1:42.558<BR>4. Daijiro Katoh, Honda NSR500, 1:42.691<BR>5. Carlos Checa, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:42.889<BR>6. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, 1:42.921<BR>7. Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:42.955<BR>8. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha YZR500, 1:43.047<BR>9. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:43.077<BR>10. Norick Abe, Yamaha YZR500, 1:43.385<BR>11. Tetsuya Harada, Honda NSR500, 1:43.521<BR>12. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton KR3, 1:43.627<BR>13. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:43.633<BR>14. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha YZR500, 1:43.784<BR>15. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton KR3, 1:43.878<BR>16. John Hopkins, Yamaha YZR500, 1:43.916<BR>17. Jurgen vd Goorbergh, Honda NSR500, 1:44.142<BR>18. Garry McCoy, Yamaha YZR500, 1:44.212<BR>19. Regis Laconi, Aprilia RS3, 1:44.597<BR>20. Pere Riba, Yamaha YZR500, 1:45.575<BR><BR>More from a press release from Red Bull Yamaha:<BR><BR>John Hopkins - 16th 1:43.916<BR><BR>"I am really pleased, this is my best grid position of the season and I am getting a better understanding of the bike now. I made an improvement of 2.3 seconds from yesterday and I also improved on my morning time by half a second. <BR><BR>"Last night I really concentrated on the track and thought about where I could make up some time. I knew there was an opportunity for me to do this on Turn 1 and 2 and into the fast right handers and today I have these results. I feel much more stable and comfortable on the bike after a few changes to the braking setup. I will spend tonight focusing on the race, especially the start from my grid position on outside of the 4th row."<BR><BR>Colin Davies (Race Engineer - John Hopkins)<BR><BR>"Hopper (John) is more comfortable with the front end of the bike now after we made a few chassis modifications overnight and I am pleased with the results this brought today. We will decide on the rear tyre tomorrow but generally we are quite comfortable with the choice Dunlop has provided us with. John is giving the team good feedback and he really knows what is happening underneath him."<BR><BR>Garry McCoy - 18th 1:44.212<BR><BR>"I am not happy with the dirt on the track and if you go a fraction off line your sliding a lot and there's no grip in these dusty conditions. Even though I am 1.1 seconds faster than yesterday, it feels like it is going to be one of those weekends."<BR><BR>Christophe Bourguignon(Race Engineer - Garry McCoy)<BR><BR>"We are not in a good position to start the race but I am confident that if Garry gets a good start that he can stay with the leading group. We now know our race tyres for tomorrow and we have a few more modifications to make in the race-set up. Still, it is hard for Garry as he is not able to move the bike as much around as he likes." <BR><BR><BR>More from an Aprilia press release:<BR><BR>Régis Laconi moves up the ratings, but starts in row 5.<BR><BR>Another hard day's work for the team of technicians working on the RS Cube. Inching still further up, Régis improved yesterday's time by two seconds and carved a further half-second off his fastest lap this morning. The Cube and Laconi are 2.4 seconds from the rider who gave his name to the pole today, Valentino Rossi. Fifth row on the grid is cold comfort after all the team's hard work. The Cube was once again beset by traction problems today, with difficulties in delivering all the power from the engine down to the ground. The bike is catching up, but still has a long way to go.<BR><BR># 55 Régis Laconi – (MS APRILIA RACING) – 19th - 1:44.597<BR><BR>"There sure have been improvements, but not enough to secure a better position for the start tomorrow. We have two tricky snags to overcome: lack of grip means I can't transfer all the power to the ground, and I'm having trouble getting the bike round the corners. To get things right, we need to work on the settings. I'm having difficulties on the long curves where the bike stays down for a long time, as well as on the high-speed curves. We are doing a lot of work on the set-up, so I haven't had much time to try out the tyres over the long distance. Tomorrow morning, we'll be trying out another solution in the hope that we can get the slight extra boost I need to become competitive in the race."<BR><BR> <BR><BR>More, from a Marlboro Yamaha press release:<BR><BR>MARLBORO SPANISH GRAND PRIX, JEREZ<BR>Final Qualifying, Saturday May 4 2002<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN GRAB SECOND-ROW STARTS<BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi proved what hard work and dedication can accomplish at Jerez today, putting their YZR-M1s<BR>fifth and seventh on the grid for tomorrow's Marlboro Spanish Grand Prix.<BR><BR>The pair had a difficult Friday here, both on the provisional third row, but both were able to dramatically raise their pace this afternoon<BR>following some brilliantly productive work by their crews, who adjusted the on-track attitude of their machines to improve front-end grip.<BR><BR>"From this morning both our guys were able to carry more speed through the high-speed corners here, and that's a vital part of a good lap time,"<BR>explained M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "We adjusted suspension balance, raising the rear and lowering the front, to shift more weight to the front end of the machine. But they still feel that the front is a little too light going into and out of corners, so maybe we will make another small step in this direction for tomorrow morning's warm-up session."<BR><BR><BR><BR>BULLISH CHECA JUMPS TO FIFTH<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team man Carlos Checa rode this afternoon's session with unflinching dedication, lapping at front-row pace in the closing stages and eventually ending up fifth quickest to lead row two. It was an impressive display by 'El Toro, who used his second bike to better his Friday times by an incredible 1.922 seconds.<BR><BR>"We found a better compromise today," smiled Checa, top-placed Spaniard here. "But we are still trying to shift the bike away from its character which is for the rear tyre to grip so much that it pushes the front. We will work to continue improving in this area, which means finding a better compromise between chassis, suspension and tyres. I was riding very hard this afternoon, working to control the front, and it's not possible to ride a whole race like that. But we've done a good tyre endurance test and I<BR>think we can have a good race, though the result will depend on how the other bikes use their tyres."<BR><BR>Checa surprised many by pitting at the end of what would've been his fastest lap near the end of his session. He'd been quickest in the first two sections of the circuit when he stopped for new tyres. "I felt fast but I thought I could go quicker," he added. "We fitted a softer rear tyre for my last run but it moved around a little too much."<BR><BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI IMPROVES TO SEVENTH<BR><BR>Overnight set-up changes also helped Max Biaggi to drastically raise his pace this afternoon, the Italian moving up from yesterday's provisional 11th place to seventh. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider cut 1.734 seconds from his previous best to ensure a second row start for tomorrow's race, round three of the 2002 MotoGP World Championship. Like teammate Checa he showed superb commitment to climb towards the front of the grid.<BR><BR>"We're still having the same problems with the machine," said Biaggi, who qualified on the front row in South Africa two weeks ago. "I'm having to brake earlier than I used to on the 500, so I'm getting passed by some of the 500s into the corners and that will make the race pretty difficult for me. I'm not happy about where we are, I always want to be near the front, but I'll try as hard as I can to get the best-possible result in tomorrow's race."<BR><BR><BR><BR>ROSSI SCORES THIRD POLE<BR><BR>World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Honda) today scored his third successive pole position, but his closest rivals here are three 500cc<BR>two-stroke riders, not his RCV four-stroke teammate Tohru Ukawa who beat him in South Africa two weeks ago. Rossi ended qualifying three tenths ahead of Alex Barros, with fellow Honda NSR500 men Loris Capirossi and Daijiro Katoh completing the front row. Ukawa was sixth, behind Checa.<BR><BR>"I did a great lap this morning and think I could've gone faster this afternoon but for the wind," said Rossi, whose morning time was the fastest-ever official Jerez lap. "The bike has come a long way since we tested here last November. We've got a great set-up now so I'm looking forward to the race."<BR><BR>Before the session got under way 1999 500 World Champion Alex Criville tearfully announced his retirement from racing, citing medical reasons.<BR>