Friday at Jereth...

John P Burns
by John P Burns



Camel Pramc Pons rider Tohru Ukawa put in a confident
performance on the opening day of qualifying to lie second
overnight on the provisional grid for Sunday^Òs Spanish Grand
Prix. His team-mate Max Biaggi sits 12th. In hot, sunny
conditions with a 32-degree track temperature many riders
were struggling for grip. Ukawa also recorded the fastest
top speed (279.1km/h) of the session.

One man who mastered the tricky surface was provisional pole
man Sete Gibernau (Honda) who came to a home track fresh
from a win in South Africa in prime form. The Spaniard was
always in the reckoning here and left it until his
penultimate lap to put in the 1m 42.285s lap that sets the
standard for today.

Ukawa was lurking in the top ten throughout the session
before upping his pace with two minutes to go to record a
time only 0.147 seconds behind the provisional pole-sitter.
With some solutions in mind to improve rear end grip in
tomorrow^Òs final session, the Japanese is confident of at
least staying on the front row and most likely gunning for a

Loris Capirossi (Ducati) kept the rookie factory in touch
with the front runners with a 1m 42.571 lap. And his
team-mate Troy Bayliss heads the second row after crashing
in this morning^Òs warm-up and leaving his charge late after
being outside the top ten until the last ten minutes of the
session.The biggest improver here today was Kenny Roberts (Suzuki)
who topped the morning warm-up times and finished sixth in
today^Òs order.

Carlos Checa (Yamaha) hoisted his machine onto the far end
of the provisional second row with a seventh place as
fastest Yamaha with John Hopkins elevating the other Suzuki
to eighth. Nobuatsu Aoki put the two-stroke Proton machine
ninth ahead of Shinya Nakano^Òs Yamaha in tenth.

First Qualifying:

1. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 1m 42.285s
2. Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons) 1m 42.432s
3. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 11m 42.571s
4. Valentino Rossi (Honda) 1m 42.624s
5. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1m 42.674s
6. Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) 1m 43.026
7. Carlos Checa (Yamaha) 1m 43.064s
8. John Hopkins (Suzuki) 1m 43.244s
9. Nobuatsu Aoki (Proton) 1m 43.367s
10. Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) 1m 43.417s

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda) completes
the front row in fourth place after heading the timesheet
for most of the session.
Tohru Ukawa (second): "I^Òm reasonably happy with that. But
second is only okay for now. I^Òve improved my lap times from
last year, which is a start, but we^Òve plenty more tyre and
suspension combinations to try. The rear is still spinning
and sliding and we think we might have a solution to that.
But the engine is much better than last year with more
consistent engine braking, which has really helped. My front
end set-up is okay for now, but the rear is where all the
riders will need work."

Max Biaggi (twelfth): "We lost time at the start of the
session with a problem and we have been struggling. Twelfth
is not where we should be and we^Òre not exactly happy about
it. We^Òll give it maximum effort tomorrow but I don^Òt know
if we can cure the problems, the main difficulty is braking
into the turns. At the moment we don^Òt have much chance of
the front row."

From your friendly PR professionals at Camel, title partner of the
Camel Pramac Pons team.

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