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Sep 20, 2002

Updated Post: Biaggi Takes Pole Position For Cinzano Rio Grand Prix

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>MotoGP Final Qualifying Results:<BR><BR>1. Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:50.568<BR>2. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 1:50.827<BR>3. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton KR3, 1:50.862<BR>4. Garry McCoy, Yamaha YZR500, 1:50.927<BR>5. Carlos Checa, Yamaha YZR-M1, 1:50.978<BR>6. Daijiro Kato, Honda RC211V, 1:51.066<BR>7. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha YZR500, 1:51.160<BR>8. Jurgen vd Goorbergh, Honda NSR500, 1:51.197<BR>9. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, 1:51.211<BR>10. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton KR3, 1:51.287<BR>11. Norick Abe, Yamaha YZR500, 1:51.476<BR>12. Loris Capirossi, Honda NSR500, 1:51.481<BR>13. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha YZR500, 1:51.517<BR>14. John Hopkins, Yamaha YZR500, 1:51.624<BR>15. Alex Barros, Honda NSR500, 1:51.670<BR>16. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:51.753<BR>17. Regis Laconi, Aprilia RS3, 1:51.820<BR>18. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki GSV-R, 1:51.994<BR>19. Tetsuya Harada, Honda NSR500, 1:52.339<BR>20. Jose Luis Cardoso, Yamaha YZR500, 1:52.747<BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Marlboro Yamaha:<BR><BR>RIO GP, JACAREPAGUA<BR>Final Qualifying, Friday September 20 2002<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA M1 TAKES THIRD CONSECUTIVE POLE<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa thrilled onlookers in this afternoon's frantic contest for pole position, ending the day first and fifth fastest. The bumpy, slippery Jacarepagua circuit is one of the most punishing in GP racing but both men took full advantage of the M1's easy-handling chassis and user-friendly power delivery to mark themselves down as serious contenders for tomorrow's race, round 12 of the 2002 season.<BR><BR>"Max rode a fantastic session," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "He's been fast since we started work yesterday and he's just kept getting faster, focusing on minor adjustments to suspension and engine mapping. Carlos was also very much in the fight for pole but one of his engines broke towards the end of the session, so then he had to use his second bike, with which he hadn't don't so much set-up work. I think both our guys can have very strong races tomorrow, my only concern is the weather, there's a chance of rain and that could spoil everything."<BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI TAKES THIRD POLE OF 2002<BR>Fastest yesterday, Max Biaggi was once again in formidable form this afternoon, improving his lap times no less than five times during the final qualifier, run in sultry, overcast conditions at this high-speed track on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Concentrating on his older M1 chassis, because he's more familiar with this unit, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man fought off challenges for pole position from a number of rivals, including Daijiro Kato (Honda), Jeremy McWilliams (Proton), Valentino Rossi (Honda) and team-mate Carlos Checa, the only man to actually get ahead of him.<BR><BR>"I'm really, really, really happy with that!" beamed Biaggi. "I've been pushing hard since yesterday morning and my target for tomorrow is to win. This isn't one of my favourite circuits, it's so bumpy, but the crew and I have worked hard to get the bike and Michelin tyres working on the bumps. I really got my head down for the last ten minutes, trying to improve my times some more. The bike is working very well and we did a successful tyre endurance run this morning, so my thanks, as always, to my team and the Japanese technicians."<BR><BR>This was the 51st pole position of Biaggi's career and his third of 2002. He gave the M1 its first pole at June's Catalan GP and repeated that performance at last month's Czech GP, following that with race victory.<BR><BR><BR>CHECA DENIED SHOT AT POLE<BR>Carlos Checa was also in stunning form at Jacarepagua this afternoon, storming ahead of Max Biaggi with 15 minutes to go, but the Spaniard was denied a chance of reacting to his teammate's successful counter attack when his number-one bike broke an engine. Undeterred, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man returned to the pits to continue with his second bike, fitted with the older M1 chassis, but wasn't comfortable enough with this machine to improve his times. At the end of the session he had slipped to fifth.<BR><BR>"The engine problem was a shame, but better it happens today than tomorrow," said a philosophical Checa. "Without that, maybe I could've gone a few tenths faster and maybe I could've got pole but the main thing is that we'd already found a good chassis set-up and I'd already been riding some consistently fast laps. We also ran an endurance test with Michelin this morning, so I know we're okay on tyre life. Overall we're in pretty good shape."<BR><BR><BR>ROSSI COMES CLOSEST TO BIAGGI<BR>Valentino Rossi left it until the very end of the session to lift himself to the front row, slotting in just behind Max Biaggi and ahead of Jeremy McWilliams and Garry McCoy (Yamaha). "We've had some problems here and the bike still isn't 100 percent," said Rossi who can secure the title tomorrow if he wins the race with team-mate Tohru Ukawa lower than third.<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Red Bull Yamaha:<BR><BR>RIO GRAND PRIX - McCOY RED HOT IN RIO<BR><BR>FRIDAY 2Oth SEPTEMBER 2002 ­ Final Qualifying<BR><BR>GARRY McCOY produced a rousing display to slot his Red Bull Yamaha on to the front row of the grid for the second time this season in a thrilling final qualifying session at the Jacarepagua circuit in Brazil today.<BR><BR>McCoy ended the session in fourth place, his best time of 1.50.927 set on his penultimate lap. That time is exactly a second inside the circuit record held by Tadayuki Okada from 1997 and left him just 0.3s off Max Biaggi's pole position.<BR><BR>The Australian slashed a massive 1.6s off his fastest time from yesterday's opening session, testament to the high level of performance offered by Dunlop¹s qualifying tyres. The 30-year-old might have bumped himself further up the standings had a slowing rider not thwarted his last flying lap.<BR><BR>McCoy's return to form ­ today's excellent performance being his second front-row start in the last three races ­ is a reminder that when free from injuries, he is one of the world's fastest riders.<BR><BR>Team-mate John Hopkins, making his first appearance at the tricky Rio circuit, will start from 14th as he knocked almost two seconds off his time from yesterday. No other rider in the 20-strong field managed such a drastic improvement.<BR><BR>GARRY McCOY ­ 4th 1:50.927<BR>"I thought I had a chance of pole position on that final run but it didn't happen. After yesterday I had a good feeling for what the Dunlop qualifying tyres were capable of. I knew I could get two fast laps out of them so I just went for it. Jeremy McWilliams held me up on the final lap. I guess he didn't realise that I was on qualifiers and going for my quick lap. It's really tight out there, all the times are very close and obviously I'm happy to be on the front row. Things are getting better all the time for me. I did quite a few laps on my race set-up with race tyres and everything feels pretty comfortable."<BR><BR>JOHN HOPKINS ­ 14th 1:51.75 <BR>"I'm pretty happy really because we never really made any changes to the bike until this afternoon's session. I was still trying to learn more about the circuit this morning. I did some good times using race tyres and I've got to thank Dunlop, they have given us some good tyres for this race. I'd liked to have been a bit further up but my aim will be to get a good start and get away with a few of the leading guys like I've managed in the last couple of races."<BR><BR>PETER CLIFFORD ­ DIRECTOR OF RACING<BR>"That was an awesome performance from both guys. That was Garry back to the way we all know he can ride. Today he showed that when fully fit he is a match for anybody out there. John is only a second off pole position and as always he has got some very notable opposition behind him. We have to say a big thanks to Dunlop as well. We cut down on the amount of experimental tyres Garry and John normally use to work with what we know and that paid dividends."<BR><BR><BR>Team Suzuki News Service<BR><BR>SUZUKI RIDERS CUT TIMES BUT LOSE POSITION<BR>=========================================<BR><BR>MotoGP – Round 12, Jacarepagua, Brazil, September 20, 2002<BR><BR>Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr. and Sete Gibernau will start tomorrow's Rio GP from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid, after a hectic final qualifying session in which both improved their lap times compared with yesterday, but lost places on a tight-packed grid where the first 19 out of 20 qualifiers are all within 1.77 seconds of pole time.<BR><BR>This is a small difference at a 4.933km track with a lap time of almost two minutes, but enough to give both riders an urgent need to get off the line fast, to avoid being boxed in during the crucial early laps.<BR><BR>Roberts slashed more than six tenths of a second off his best time of yesterday, after refining chassis settings to make the most of the new Suzuki slipper clutch, which is only in its second race. Gibernau made an even bigger improvement of 1.3 seconds, reflecting his improving physical condition as well as machine refinements. The Spanish rider is battling a painful collar-bone injury, sustained last weekend when he crashed out of a clear lead of the rain-hit Portuguese GP.<BR><BR>Today's practice took place in dry but cooler conditions, with forecast rain staying away. More rain is forecast for tomorrow, which could work in favour of both riders.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS – 16th Position, 1:51.753<BR>"We improved the lap times as I said yesterday, by getting the settings better to match the clutch. We need to go further in the same direction, and my engineers will be trying to figure out how to achieve more with the clutch tonight. I still don't have enough slip, and I can account for being a second off the pace because at pretty much every corner the bike is getting sideways on the way in, and I lose two or three bike lengths trying to keep it in line. But the reality is we're a second off. We'll have to wait and see what the weather does, and hope our settings are good for a consistent race."<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU – 18th Position, 1:51.994<BR>"Yesterday I was struggling quite a lot with my physical condition. Today was better, and I can't say my position is due to my injury. The bike is giving us a hard time. We're trying everything we know, and the team is working very hard. I'm 1.5 seconds off pole, which isn't really a big difference. It looks like the whole team is struggling a bit, but that doesn't bring my confidence down. I still believe in the project, and I want to give my best tomorrow. I honestly don't want it to rain. I was leading the Portuguese GP in the rain, but we were getting good results in the races before that, in the dry, and that's more important overall."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Suzuki:<BR><BR>Team Suzuki News Service<BR><BR>SUZUKI RIDERS CUT TIMES BUT LOSE POSITION<BR><BR>MotoGP – Round 12, Jacarepagua, Brazil, September 20, 2002<BR><BR>Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts Jr. and Sete Gibernau will start tomorrow's Rio GP from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid, after a hectic final qualifying session in which both improved their lap times compared with yesterday, but lost places on a tight-packed grid where the first 19 out of 20 qualifiers are all within 1.77 seconds of pole time.<BR><BR>This is a small difference at a 4.933km track with a lap time of almost two minutes, but enough to give both riders an urgent need to get off the line fast, to avoid being boxed in during the crucial early laps.<BR><BR>Roberts slashed more than six tenths of a second off his best time of yesterday, after refining chassis settings to make the most of the new Suzuki slipper clutch, which is only in its second race. Gibernau made an even bigger improvement of 1.3 seconds, reflecting his improving physical condition as well as machine refinements. The Spanish rider is battling a painful collar-bone injury, sustained last weekend when he crashed out of a clear lead of the rain-hit Portuguese GP.<BR><BR>Today's practice took place in dry but cooler conditions, with forecast rain staying away. More rain is forecast for tomorrow, which could work in favour of both riders.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS – 16th Position, 1:51.753<BR>"We improved the lap times as I said yesterday, by getting the settings better to match the clutch. We need to go further in the same direction, and my engineers will be trying to figure out how to achieve more with the clutch tonight. I still don't have enough slip, and I can account for being a second off the pace because at pretty much every corner the bike is getting sideways on the way in, and I lose two or three bike lengths trying to keep it in line. But the reality is we're a second off. We'll have to wait and see what the weather does, and hope our settings are good for a consistent race."<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU – 18th Position, 1:51.994<BR>"Yesterday I was struggling quite a lot with my physical condition. Today was better, and I can't say my position is due to my injury. The bike is giving us a hard time. We're trying everything we know, and the team is working very hard. I'm 1.5 seconds off pole, which isn't really a big difference. It looks like the whole team is struggling a bit, but that doesn't bring my confidence down. I still believe in the project, and I want to give my best tomorrow. I honestly don't want it to rain. I was leading the Portuguese GP in the rain, but we were getting good results in the races before that, in the dry, and that's more important overall."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Proton Team KR:<BR><BR>McWILLIAMS ON FRONT ROW IN RIO, AOKI CLOSE BEHIND<BR><BR>Round 12: Rio GP, Jacarepagua Final Qualifying: Friday, September 20, 2002<BR><BR>Jeremy McWilliams: Third, 1:50.862<BR>Nobuatsu Aoki: Tenth, 1:51.287<BR><BR>Proton Team KR rider Jeremy McWilliams claimed his first front-row start of the season and the first for the three-cylinder lightweight Proton KR3, setting the fastest ever two-stroke lap of the 4.933km Nelson Piquet circuit to slot in barely a quarter of a second behind pole qualifier Max Biaggi, and just three hundredths of a second slower than second-placed Valentino Rossi.<BR><BR>McWilliams's time - a full six tenths faster than last year's pole, set by a V4 Honda - came after a storming session, and with a breathtaking lap following Biaggi. This clearly illustrated how the agile two-stroke loses 20mph in top speed on the long straight, but makes it all up again with interest through the bumpy and technically challenging corners. It made good his angry threat yesterday, when his fast lap was spoiled when he was baulked by a slower rider, and was a searing 1.7 seconds faster than his previous best time.<BR><BR>Team-mate Nobuatsu Aoki made a similar leap forward, slashing his time by just under a full second and also challenging for the front row - with nine minutes remaining he was lying fourth overall, but dropped back to the third row of the grid in the final scramble.<BR><BR>Today's qualifying was held in dry but cooler conditions. Rain had been forecast and the looming skies were threatening, but it did not materialise. More rain is forecast for tomorrow, and a wet track would suit the machine and both riders.<BR><BR>This is the second time the Proton will start from the front row. In its previous incarnation as the Modenas, the bike qualified on the front row a couple of times, but as well as the name, the machine has also changed substantially since that time.<BR><BR><BR>JEREMY McWILLIAMS<BR>That was good fun. I just had the feeling it was possible. It was a matter of getting the opportunity and having the right tyre. Bridgestone have brought some new tyres here, and that was one of them. It wasn't a race tyre, and I still have to do a bit more testing tomorrow morning to find one. That's about all. We already found the right suspension settings, and the braking stability is fantastic. Having said that, there's nowhere on the track where you can really be stable. It's one of those circuits where you have to go over the bumps, and it feels pretty ragged. It's spinning up a bit on some of the exits, because the surface doesn't have a lot of grip. I've given myself a fantastic opportunity. All I need is to make sure I get off the line quickly.<BR><BR>NOBUATSU AOKI<BR>I think we did some good work today. We just made small changes to the front fork and suspension settings. As I said yesterday, I thought I could improve my race time, and we have done that. The biggest change from yesterday was to the track surface. Yesterday it was very hot, and I used a pretty hard-compound front tyre. Today it was cooler, and that tyre didn't work. I went to a softer compound, and that was pretty good, and we have good information on the tyres for the different conditions. I don't like thunderstorms, but if it does rain tomorrow that will give me some more opportunities.<BR><BR>TOM O'KANE - Chief Race Engineer<BR>Both riders did a great job today. We didn't really do anything special to the bikes ... just small changes to the engines and chassis to get it dialled in. Jeremy was lucky to get a clear lap. Nobu was not so fortunate. His ideal time would have put him a couple of places higher, but he never really got a good run at it. Rain could be good for us, but either way both riders need to get away with the leaders and stick with them. If the group is big that makes it harder for us.<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by MS Aprilia:<BR><BR>Régis Laconi makes fifth row in Rio heat<BR><BR>Régis Laconi let fly in the closing stages of the qualifying session today and made three consecutive attempts at the fast lap. The Italian-French RS Cube rider improved the time he made yesterday, slicing off almost two seconds and closing the session in 17th position, just 1.2 seconds behind today's pole, a new practice-session record on the Rio track. The work on the settings in the morning sessions made the bike much easier to handle for Régis, and easier to take into the technical corners of the Nelson Piquet circuit in Rio de Janeiro. <BR><BR># 55 Regis Laconi – (MS APRILIA RACING) – 17th- 1'51.820<BR><BR>"I could have done better, but two slips on the last corner before coming into the finishing straight meant I lost time. I went in too fast. The second mistake cost me at least two tenths. This is what happens when, like I did today, you take the fast lap giving all you've got and a lot more besides. You can make a mistake and the two slides yesterday are part of the game. I used a smaller front tyre and things went much better than yesterday: I can go faster into the corners and keep the bike on track. We have solved the problem completely but we're working in the right direction. I haven't yet chosen the tyres, as some of the solutions we've tried haven't given the results we were hoping for, as they lose grip after five or six laps. We'll see tomorrow morning, trying out another solution mainly to see how long they actually last, then we'll make the final decision for the race."<BR><BR>