Carlos Checa made a mockery of Yamaha’s four-stroke troubles when he grabbed a shock MotoGP provisional pole position in Le Mans today.
The Spaniard took his YZR-M1 to the top of the leaderboard in the closing stages with a best time of 1.36.59 to edge out runaway world championship leader Valentino Rossi by just nine-hundreths-of-a-second.
Checa told MCN: " I am feeling really confident on the bike. I’m more comfortable backing in to turns after we made some improvements to the engine braking system and the chassis in Mugello last week. I can brake deeper now with the front and rear.
" We have softened the suspension and springs by about 15 per cent which has made a big difference. "
It was a good day all round for the Marlboro Yamaha squad as Max Biaggi slotted his M1 onto the last place on the front row. Biaggi also had the fastest bike out there as well. His M1 clocked a speed just short of 185mph.
Best two-stroke on show was the works Yamaha YZR of Shinya Nakano, who came from nowhere to grab third place having followed Biaggi round on his fastest lap.
Britain’s Jeremy McWilliams ended up the incredibly tight opening session in 14th position, with top 14 riders split by just 0.9s.
He had been quick of the traps by slotting himself into second position after just 15 minutes.
The session was frantic throughout as riders desperately tried to get in a good lap time with ominous rain clouds hanging over the circuit. Checa though could not have timed it any better as he hadn’t got back into the pits to celebrate when the showers started.
1)C Checa 2) V Rossi 3) S Nakano 4) M Biaggi 5) L Capirossi 6) T Ukawa 7)N Abe 8) O Jacque 9 )S Gibernau 10) A Barros 11) D Katoh 12)J van de Goorbergh 13) K Roberts 14)J McWilliams 15)T Harada 16) N Aoki 17) R Laconi 18)G McCoy 19) J Hopkins 20) J L Cardoso