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Oct 19, 2001

Updated Post: Kurtis Roberts Crashes Out Of First 500cc Qualifying Session In Malaysia

From a press release issued by the Proton team:<BR><BR>UP-AND-DOWN FIRST DAY AT HOME FOR PROTON PAIR <BR> <BR>Round 15: Malaysian GP, Sepang<BR>First Qualifying: Friday, October 19, 2001 <BR><BR>Jurgen van den Goorbergh: 14th Position, 2:08.547 <BR>Kurtis Roberts: Did Not Qualify <BR><BR>Proton Team KR rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh was 14th-fastest in today's first timed qualifying session for Sunday's Malaysian GP, losing places during the session due to some set-up changes that did not bear fruit, but which left him optimistic for tomorrow. <BR><BR>One-race teammate Kurtis Roberts suffered a puzzling mechanical failure that triggered a heavy crash before he had completed his first lap of the afternoon, leaving him unqualified. In the morning free practice session, he had run trouble-free, placing 17th fastest in his first time on a 500cc GP bike. <BR><BR>Today's first timed session was run in hot, sunny conditions. There is one more free session and one timed session tomorrow before the race on Sunday. <BR> <BR><BR>JURGEN VAN DEN GOORBERGH <BR><BR>"At the start of the session, I was up in the top five - but it was really hard to improve after that. We never did get much quicker. We tried some set-up changes that were in the wrong direction - and also as it got warmer we lost a bit of power. It's not too bad, though. We have some other ideas for both the chassis and to improve the engine peformance in the heat, and in any case we can still go back to what we started with". <BR> <BR><BR>KURTIS ROBERTS <BR><BR>"I'm not sure exactly what, but something went wrong with something, and I crashed at the last hairpin on my first lap. I wasn't breaking the lap record or anything - it was my out lap, and I hadn't even got my knee down yet. It was really weird. I'd never ridden on this track before, but in the morning I was feeling comfortable and it was going okay. We'll try again tomorrow". <BR> <BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - Team Owner <BR><BR>"Something seems to have caused Kurtis's front wheel to lock - it may be a brake problem, but we need to look into it a bit deeper before we can be sure. We'd already changed engines on his bike 25 minutes before the session, so things weren't the way they should have been. Jurgen was running well, but this heat affects us a bit. We're looking at different settings tomorrow, and he should be fine".<BR><BR><BR>A press release issued by Marlboro Yamaha gives more details from the first qualifying session at Sepang:<BR><BR> <BR>MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG<BR>First Qualifying, Friday, October 19, 2001<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SECOND AND TENTH<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa rode through oppressive heat and humidity to record second and tenth-fastest times in this afternoon's opening Malaysian GP qualifying session.<BR><BR>Biaggi battled for provisional pole throughout the later stages of the outing while Checa focused on dialling out some minor set-up difficulties.<BR><BR>"Max was the fastest guy here during winter tests, but now some of the other riders are very fast too," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. "We've been working with Max to improve his machine balance and feedback, but most of all we've been working on tyre endurance. It's so hot here and that makes life hard for the tyres, so we do whatever we can do with settings to make life easier for the tyres. Carlos is still looking for the correct bike balance. We made a mistake with his set-up in Australia, so we've gone back to the normal way for here, and now we're just fine tuning that."<BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI VIES FOR POLE<BR><BR>Max Biaggi rode a scintillating lap of Sepang this afternoon to go to the top of first qualifying, but by the end of the session he'd been pipped for provisional pole. The Marlboro Yamaha Team star worked hard throughout the day, revelling in the withering heat, and working towards the ideal set-up for Sunday's race which will test riders, bikes and tyres to the very limit.<BR><BR>"This morning's rain meant we've only really had one practice session so far," said Biaggi. "But we managed to try a few different settings, then decided on one and then went for a fast lap at the end. Engines tend to suffer in this kind of heat, so tomorrow we'll work on carburation to improve performance. Tyres are the other concern, after a few laps you slide around a lot, and it's important to find a chassis set-up that's kind to tyres over race distance. The weather conditions also make this one of the most difficult races of the year for us, but if you work-out, this is when you feel the benefit. It's so hot that it's difficult to breathe, the only time you can really get your breath is down the two big straights."<BR><BR><BR>CHATTER FOR CHECA<BR><BR>Carlos Checa could only manage tenth quickest in today's opening qualifier at Sepang. The Spaniard is working to cure chatter problems that are hampering him through the track's many long corners.<BR><BR>"I seem to have found myself in a bit of a hole at the moment," said the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider, who also had difficult weekends at the Motegi and Phillip Island GPs. "The main concern here is chatter, so far we've only found one tyre combination that helps cure the problem. We did improve the steering after this morning but the chatter is preventing me from going any faster. It seems to be a problem for me at any track where there are long corners which means I have to keep the bike on its side for long periods of time. Anyway, we'll forget today and start working on tomorrow."<BR><BR><BR>CAPIROSSI GOES FOR FOURTH POLE<BR><BR>Loris Capirossi (Honda) grabbed provisional pole at the end of a dramatic session, outpacing Max Biaggi by just 0.205 seconds. "Today was very hard work," said the sweat-drenched Italian. "After this morning's rain the track was very slippery, but it picked up grip throughout this afternoon. Everyone was getting a lot of wheelspin, you could see how much rubber was getting laid down. I'm happy with the time I did with a soft tyre but now we need to work on improving endurance because it's a long and hard race here."<BR><BR><BR>NAKANO BACK UP FRONT<BR>Rookie Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) is back in contention for another front-row start after a difficult Australian GP where he started from row three. "After that I realised I've to work harder for a good grid spot," said Nakano, who was fractionally faster than new World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda). "Also, I love this track because it suits my corner-speed style, and I love the heat, I won the 250s by quite a margin here last year."<BR><BR><BR>PROVISIONAL FRONT ROW<BR>1. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons 2:05.637<BR>2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2:05.842<BR>3. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 2:06.489<BR>4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA 2:06.645<BR><BR>10. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 2:07.905 <BR><BR><BR><BR>Friday's 500cc Grand Prix Qualifying Times:<BR>1. Loris Capirossi, Honda, 2:05.637<BR>2. Max Biaggi, Yamaha, 2:05.842<BR>3. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha, 2:06.489<BR>4. Valentino Rossi, Honda, 2:06.645<BR>5. Garry McCoy, Yamaha, 2:07.018<BR>6. Norick Abe, Yamaha, 2:07.197<BR>7. Alex Barros, Honda, 2:07.348<BR>8. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha, 2:07.536<BR>9. Alex Criville, Honda, 2:07.677<BR>10. Carlos Checa, Yamaha, 2:07.905<BR>11. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki, 2:07.924<BR>12. Tohru Ukawa, Honda, 2:07.943<BR>13. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki, 2:08.188<BR>14. Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Proton, 2:08.547<BR>15. Noriyuki Haga, Yamaha, 2:08.643<BR>16. Haruchika Aoki, Honda, 2:08.894<BR>17. Jose Luis Cardoso, Yamaha, 2:09.162<BR>18. Anthony West, Honda, 2:09.659<BR>19. Barry Veneman, Honda, 2:11.931<BR>20. Leon Haslam, Honda, 2:11.932<BR><BR><BR>Friday's 250cc Qualifying Times:<BR>1. Daijiro Katoh, Honda, 2:09.040<BR>2. Randy De Puniet, Aprilia, 2:09.697<BR>3. Jeremy McWilliams, Aprilia, 2:09.986<BR>4. Fonsi Nieto, Aprilia, 2:10.046<BR>5. Roberto Rolfo, Aprilia, 2:10.119<BR>6. Emilio Alzamora, Honda, 2:10.240<BR>7. Tetsuya Harada, Aprilia, 2:10.470<BR>8. Naoki Matsudo, Yamaha, 2:10.816<BR>9. Alex Hofmann, Aprilia, 2:10.895<BR>10. Sylvain Guintoli, Aprilia, 2:11.167<BR>11. Roberto Locatelli, Aprilia, 2:11.183<BR>12. Shahrol Yuzy, Yamaha, 2:11.269<BR>13. Marco Melandri, Aprilia, 2:11.577<BR>14. David Checa, Honda, 2:11.700<BR>15. Luca Boscoscura, Aprilia, 2:11.751<BR>27. Katja Poensgen, Honda, 2:15.881<BR><BR><BR>Friday's 125cc Qualifying Times:<BR>1. Toni Elias, Honda, 2:15.358<BR>2. Youichi Ui, Derbi, 2:15.520<BR>3. Max Sabbatani, Aprilia, 2:16.164<BR>4. Lucio Cecchinello, Aprilia, 2:16.446<BR>5. Masao Azuma, Honda, 2:16.558<BR>6. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda, 2:16.655<BR>7. Angel Nieto, Jr., Honda, 2:16.905<BR>8. Manuel Poggiali, Gilera, 2:17.068<BR>9. Alex De Angelis, Honda, 2:17.213<BR>10. Gino Borsoi, Aprilia, 2:17.240