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Marlboro Yamaha Team: Marlboro Yamaha men on rows one and two

Marlboro Yamaha Team: Marlboro Yamaha men on rows one and two

Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa were third and fifth fastest in this afternoon´sfirst qualifying session at baking hot and blustery Estoril, giving themprovisional places on the first and second rows. Both Marlboro Yamaha Teammen were right on the pace, though their engineers will be working hardovernight to help them bite into pole sitter Valentino Rossi´s advantage intomorrow´s all-important final qualifier.

´We´re okay so far but we need to improve, we need to get closer toRossi,´ said Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust. ´Max has come here invery determined mood - after Brno he knows he´s got to pull it all backtogether, get his head down and win some more races. A lot has changed toour bikes since the IRTA tests we did here in February. We´ve also tried afew little settings changes to help Max to steer faster with the 16.5,though they´re not a night-and-day difference. Carlos seems to be goinggood, he improves every time he goes out and we know we can make his bikebetter for tomorrow.´


Max Biaggi rode to third-quickest today, just one thousandth of a second offsecond-quickest Norick Abe (Yamaha). However, the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider´s main concern is how to close the half-second gap between himself andarch-rival Valentino Rossi (Honda). And even more than that, how to shrinkthe 29-point championship difference between himself and his fellow Italian.Biaggi had got the gap down to ten points before last month´s Czech GP,where he tumbled out of the lead, while just ahead of Rossi.

´I´m hoping for a little more luck this weekend,´ said Biaggi, who´salready started from pole on four occasions this season. ´We had a fewproblems this morning but we´re better now, I´d say we´re 80 per cent of ourpotential. I don´t know how good we can do here, I guess I won´t know untilwe make the few improvements we need to make. We´re missing a bit of speedand a bit of traction, so after the session I sat down and had a long chatwith Fiorenzo (Fanali, Biaggi´s crew chief) and we have some ideas to fixthose problems for tomorrow.´


Carlos Checa ended day one at Estoril less than a tenth of a second off aprovisional front-row start. The Spaniard rode a great session thisafternoon, looking fast and smooth on his factory YZR500s, moving up tothird with ten minutes to go before finally slipping to a very close fifth,just 0.095 seconds behind Loris Capirossi (Honda).

´I feel pretty confident on the bike,´ said the Marlboro Yamaha Teamman. ´But we need to improve the engine set-up because so far it´s tooaggressive when I get on the throttle. The chassis balance is pretty good,though I´m still getting some front-end push, which comes from having somuch rear grip. We also had some chatter from the 16.5, though you expectchatter when you´re running softer tyres in practice. That shouldn´t be aworry when we concentrate on race tyres tomorrow.´

500cc, 2001

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