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Marlboro Yamaha

Marlboro Yamaha

Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi battled throughoutthis afternoon´s torrid final qualifying session, ending the day seventhand tenth quickest, giving them starts from the second and third rows. Thesession was a thriller, with no less than seven changes of pole positionduring the hour, and such was the intensity of competition that Biaggi wentquickest with seven minutes to go, only to slip nine places down the orderover the remaining few minutes.

´The track was very busy and most of it came down to who got aclear lap,´ explained Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust. ´There wasonly 0.89 seconds separating the top 13 guys at the end, so all it took tolose a bunch of places was to get blocked by someone through one turn.Carlos had a lot of problems with slower traffic but he kept at it and madeit on to the second row. His times are consistent too, so he should be ableto fight up front tomorrow. Max has been struggling to find a balance thatworks over all the bumps. It´s so bumpy here and if you get knocked offyour line through one or two turns, that´s the lap effectively gone. Turnone is the worst - it looks horrific, it´s so bumpy that the riders aredoing well just to keep their feet on the ´pegs.´

Tomorrow´s Rio Grand Prix is a historic event, bringing to an end53 years of 500 GP racing. The race is the 580th and last 500 WorldChampionship race before bike racing´s premier championship changes for thefuture, with up-to 990cc four-strokes contesting the MotoGP series fromnext season.


Carlos Checa was second in this morning´s ´free´ session but was unable tofind a clear track to allow him to repeat that performance in theafternoon´s all-important final qualifier. The Marlboro Yamaha Team manended up seventh for a second-row start, and is feeling confident abouttomorrow´s race.

´I feel comfortable on the bike here, we´ve got it working wellover the bumps,´ said the Spaniard, who had been sixth in yesterday´sopening qualifying session. ´I did my best lap at the end with race tyres,so that makes me confident that I can run a good pace over race distance.The problem today was that there weren´t any blue flags shown to tell theslower riders to move out of the way. I got held up by several differentguys and I didn´t see one blue flag.´


Max Biaggi was looking good to repeat his pole position from last year´sRio GP until his final qualifying run went awry. The Marlboro Yamaha Teamman had shown his potential by slotting in the fastest time on race tyres,but when he fitted a soft rear for his last outing, he ran into chatterproblems. Biaggi has had more success than anyone in qualifying this year -he´s scored seven pole positions and hasn´t been off the front row sinceMay´s French GP. This will be his first start of the season off the firsttwo rows.

´When I went to pole I was running race tyres, so that made usquite confident,´ said the Italian. ´But the soft tyre we fitted for myfinal run gave us some chatter, so there was no way I could push anyharder. We´ve got a few different ideas to try during tomorrow morning´swarm-up session, and if they work well, and if I get a good start, then Ihope to be able to fight in the leading pack.´

500cc, 2001

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