Qualification Times Day 1 Dutch 500 GP

Colin MacKellar
by Colin MacKellar
A couple of the Italians were on form today, but others were struggling a little. After a press conference with Valentino Rossi yesterday to "patch things up", Biaggi seemed to have lost his edge a little. Still there is another day to get everything sorted....

2001 Dutch TTTRACK: AssenDATE: 28 June 2001WEATHER: Warm, sunny Qualification times for First Day of Practice 500cc Times------------------Pos No. Rider Nat Bike Time/Diff--- --- ----- --- ---- ---------1 65 Capirossi Ita Hon 2'01.4172 46 Rossi Ita Hon 2'01.6493 4 Barros Bra Hon 2'02.3384 1 Roberts USA Suz 2'02.3495 6 Abe Jpn Yam 2'02.7076 3 Biaggi Ita Yam 2'02.8067 1 Criville Spa Hon 2'02.9218 11 Ukawa Jpn Hon 2'03.1509 56 Nakano Jpn Yam 2'03.20410 7 Checa Spa Yam 2'03.34511 17 v.d. Goorbergh Hol Proton 2'03.54012 15 Gibernau Spa Suz 2'03.58913 41 Haga Jpn Yam 2'03.69914 19 Jacque Fra Yam 2'03.70715 5 McCoy Aus Yam 2'04.04616 8 Walker Gbr Hon 2'04.287

Capirossi going out to burn some rubber

Capirossi tops

Italian heroes Loris Capirossi (West Pons Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda) led the rest of the class by a clear margin, on a track both of them have developed a taste for. Last year Capirossi dominated practice until a heavy fall broke his hand, but he raced all the same and took a heroic third place. Now in third place in the championship table and with good results at Mugello and Barcelona behind him, he looks set to get another podium place. His time was the absolute fastest lap round Assen, beating Okada's pole time dating from 1999. Kevin Schwantz (remember him?) incredibly still holds the fastest lap time run during a race and has held this since 1991. As (almost) always, Valentino is up there with Capirossi, over half-a-second clear of Capirossi's team-mate Alex Barros. Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki) only a tad down on Barros, with Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha) the first Yamaha just ahead of Biaggi. The pressure is now on Biaggi to find a setting to pull back the 1.5 second deficit he has on his compatriots.


Capirossi: I think this track is good for us. The bike is less important at Assen, and, as everyone knows, I'm riding 2000-spec machines while Valentino has 2001-spec bikes. There is a performance difference between the two0, but it is smaller than usual here. We had some set-up problems in the morning and in the first 20 minutes of the afternoon session, but it worked well after we sorted the suspension and found the right tires

Rossi: The first day of practice has been positive, since we started free practice we immediately had a good setting. We worked to find a race tire and race setting and we are already in a good position. The only thing is that the first part of the track is very different from the second part, so you have to find a compromise. The bike is still a little nervous in the fast sections, which is OK for a few laps but would be a problem for the whole race. Obviously Loris is going well and I had a good fight with him for provisional pole, but Roberts and Biaggi are not so far behind. I'm just hoping for a dry race after all the problems of last year.

Rossi rumbles along pit-lane

Biaggi: Our main problem is that our corner speed is down compared to last year. The bike feels a little unstable into the turns, so I'm losing corner speed, and that's obviously loosing me time down the straights too. We started with our Barcelona settings, which aren't too different from what we ran here last year, but there is a difference - we're now running the 16.5 inch rear. So we need to check all the data, work out why our corner speed is down and then adapt the set-up. The pace up front is fast, I think it'll be difficult to find over a second, but the race will be different.

Roberts: Today we've been going through the normal things - I had a problem with one bike this morning that cost us time, because I was limited to just one machine. This afternoon both bikes were fine, so it was easier for us to try some things for the race. We've run through a lot of tire combinations - we're playing round quite a bit, and hoping to find a good combination for tomorrow. I tried the new 16.5 rear and some others.

Gibernau: This is a very different race-track and my first day here on the Suzuki has not been easy. We're just trying to find settings that will suit me, and here is you are a little bit off the gas it means a lot of time, so it is easy to be a long way from the fast guys. So it wasn't bad for day one - we're getting the bike right for me.

Haga: I don't have a very good feeling with the bike and I think it is coming from problems we are having setting up the suspension. We've got two more hours to find a solution and I really hope we succeed, as this is one of my favorite circuits, which I know well from my WSB days.

McCoy: My hand is feeling pretty sore and at the moment I'd say I'm in worse shape than in Barcelona 2 weeks ago. It comes from the layout of the track. In Spain there are just 2 left-hand corners, but there are many more here and plenty of bumps. I'll make a decision tomorrow if I race or not, but at least the bike was working well after we got rid of some chatter I was initially experiencing.

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Colin MacKellar
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