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Marlboro Yamaha Team: MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN BURN UP ESTORIL

Marlboro Yamaha Team: MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN BURN UP ESTORIL

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN BURN UP ESTORIL

Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Max Biaggi grabbed pole position in superb styleat stifling-hot Estoril this afternoon while team-mate Carlos Checa rode agreat session to make sure of a second-row start.

In 35-degree heat, and with track temperature soaring to 50 degrees,the pair got to grips with the tortuous Estoril track, chasing gridpositions and the best-possible set-up for tomorrow´s Marlboro PortugueseGP, round 11 of this year´s 16-race World Championship.

´We´ve had a very good day, I´m pleased for the whole team,´ saidMarlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. ´We´ve worked as usual, tryingto adapt the set-up of Max´s bike to this circuit, to suit his favouritestyle. After yesterday´s session we´ve been able to improve brakingstability and make the bike steer and handle better. I think the race willbe another duel between Valentino and Max, and it will be very close. ForCarlos we have adjusted his bike balance, taking a little weight off therear to suit his style. We made a little mistake with his settings on raceday at Brno, so I´m glad he is fast again here.´

BIAGGI´S FOURTH POLE IN A ROW

Max Biaggi is the fastest rider in Grand Prix racing at the moment: today´spole position was his fifth of the season and his fourth in succession. TheMarlboro Yamaha Team man´s performance also proved beyond doubt that he hasanything but given up his title hopes following his crash at the Czech GPtwo weeks ago. Fourteenth fastest yesterday morning and third in yesterdayafternoon´s first qualifier, Biaggi grabbed pole from Valentino Rossi with22 minutes remaining, edging out his title-rival by nine thousandths of asecond. By the end of the session he had opened the gap to 0.182 seconds,with Loris Capirossi (Honda) moving up to second.

´As everyone knows I´m a one-lap specialist!´ joked Biaggi. ´But Iknow it´s going to be tough in the race. We started off with a few problemsyesterday, the bike wasn´t steering so well, and turning is so importanthere, so we´ve made a big improvement since then. We were up late last nightworking on solutions and the bike is much better now, though I´m stilllacking a little speed and acceleration. I think my best lap wasnear-perfect, but we need to work some more on race-distance set-up. It´sgoing to be a tough race, I´ll give it everything I can.´

Biaggi, of course, is still very much in the title hunt, with 150points to play for. If he wins all six remaining races, with Rossi second oneach occasion, Biaggi will win the title by a single point.

CHECA STAYS ON ROW TWO

Carlos Checa did well to stay on row two in the frantic final few minutes ofthis afternoon´s session that ended with just 0.961 seconds covering the 12fastest riders and front three rows. Despite improving on his times fromyesterday afternoon, the Marlboro Yamaha Team star slipped three places, buthe´s happier than before.

´I´m still on the second row, and I feel more comfortable with thebike, which is the most important thing for the race,´ said the Spaniard.´We´ve been working to find the right balance and it´s not bad so far,though I´d like to make a few little adjustments for the race. The enginealso needs some work because the low-rpm power is not so constant and that´swhat you need for this track, especially through the last series of turns. Ithink I can keep a good pace for the race but in this heat it´s going to betough on the tyres.´

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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