McCoy spearheads Yamaha’s Malaysian effort

Qualifying

Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha WCM) spearheads Yamaha’s MotoGP effort after day one of the Malaysian GP, held October 11 in saturating humidity. The Australian charged through from the back of the field part way into the provisional qualifier to set the fourth fastest lap with a 2’05.743, before Alex Barros eventually relegated the two-stroke Yamaha to the second row on the grid by the smallest of margins – 0.041 seconds. What remained was an all-Honda four-stroke front row with Tohru Ukawa leading the way with a new outright circuit best lap, a 2’05.106. The Japanese was closely followed by newly-crowned MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (2’05.195) and third placed Daijiro Kato (2’05.356).

Hot on the heels of the Red Bull Yamaha YZR500 was Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Max Biaggi, in sixth place. The Roman Emperor, who’s currently chasing second place in the championship points race, was hindered by chassis set-up issues and could only manage a 2’05.911. His Spanish teammate Carlos Checa (2’06.323) was also finding the slick 5548m track somewhat challenging, a lack of chassis balance and front end grip prevented him from improving on his 11th fastest time.

Making their debut on the Yamaha YZR-M1 four-strokes, Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque spent the opening day becoming acquainted with the characteristics of the more potent machine. Shinya eventually placed his new bike 13th on the grid with a 2’06.691, with his French teammate 16th after registering a 2’07.053.

With Pere Riba no longer contesting the rest of the 2002 season for the Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin team, due injuries sustained during the season, José Luis Cardoso (2’08.136) made yet another appearance on the MotoGP timesheets, in 20th. The Spaniard will remain with the team until the 16th and final round, due to be held in Valencia on November 3.

Red Bull Yamaha WCM
Garry McCoy 5th, 2’05.743:
“I was actually hoping to go faster. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be where I am, but I’m actually a little disappointed to be only two tenths quicker than last year. At some other tracks this season I’ve knocked nearly a second off my previous best, and that’s what I was hoping for here. Earlier in the session it was a bit of a race against what looked like rain, we could see the weather coming, but it never actually rained until everything was over. I put a qualifier in early, and that’s when I jumped up to fourth, and from then I concentrated on finding a race set-up. To be honest, though, we don’t have too many tyre options at the moment so that’s something we’re going to have to concentrate on tomorrow.”

John Hopkins 19th, 2’07.761: “On the last qualifier I made a couple of mistakes in T1 so I just aborted the lap. Considering that I guess I’d only really spent the session concentrating on race set-up and that’s why the times aren’t there, yet. The good thing, though, is that the weather conditions aren’t really bothering me physically, but we do need to get the bike to grip a little better in this heat… it’s quite slick out there on such a hot track surface.”

Marlboro Yamaha Team
Max Biaggi 6th, 2’05.911:
“I don’t really understand why we’re not running as fast as we did when we tested here last December, because the bike is much better now. We tried various different settings this afternoon, so far without any dramatic improvement. It’s too early to predict how the race will go for us, but I hope to cut the gap to pole by at least half tomorrow. Then we’ll see if we can be competitive on Sunday.”

Carlos Checa 11th, 2’06.323: “It was impossible to go really fast today. I tried hard all through the session, with both bikes, but they both pushed the front. We made many changes but only found small improvements to front-end stability and grip. It’s difficult to keep the bike on angle, especially at speed. But I know we can improve from here. We just need to keep working and find a different direction.”

Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3
Shinya Nakano 13th, 2’06.691:
“I’m happy with the four-stroke, I like it quite a lot, but considering the amount of time I’ve spent on one it wasn’t that easy out there. The first thing we had to do is tune the engine braking to suit me, at the same time I needed to learn a new racing line around a track I thought I already knew. And then finally we’re trying to find the chassis balance that will suit my riding style, and all that is not easy to do in two one-hour sessions. One thing is for sure the power is fantastic, when you open the throttle it’s all there.”

Olivier Jacque 16th, 2’07.053: “It was my first time riding a four-stroke under pressure, and we’re not that far off the rest, so I’m happy with that. This morning I did have a little bit of difficulty getting used to the engine braking, then this afternoon, once I had digested that, it allowed me to concentrate on the chassis set-up. We don’t have all the elements in place, yet, but we will – I’m confident about that.”

Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin
Norick Abe 18th, 2’07.144:
“I can’t believe it, that was such a hot session. Even so everybody was really fast, and I wasn’t fast enough… and that’s not so good. The laptime I did is the same time I did last year, so for a first qualifier it wasn’t a disaster. The difficulty was that we never came here this year for a test, so it means I have bit of catching up to do, but I’ll do it step by step. Today we concentrated on tyres, yet still we do not know what will be the best to use. When I went for a fast time at the end of the session we put in a tyre we thought would work, but it had no grip at all. We now need to look at this data and make sure we’re on track tomorrow.”

José Luis Cardoso 20th, 2’08.136: “This morning I had a small crash, nothing serious, but it did know my confidence around for a bit. Then this afternoon I spent the session looking for the setting that would suit me, along a tyre choice, but I want to work my way through progressively rather than making anymore mistakes. It also helps to know that I have three GPs to get myself up to speed, rather than just the one every so often, so it has taken a little pressure off me.”