Marlboro Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa completed his first test session of 2002 today, making useful progress with YZR-M1 development at Almeria, Spain.

The tests had originally been scheduled for Spanish GP track Jerez but at the last moment the circuit was forced to close due to on-going construction of a new pit block. The Marlboro Yamaha Team therefore decided to switch the tests to Almeria, in the south west of the country, though Max Biaggi, in agreement with the Team Management, opted to miss the session and will return to action during next month's IRTA team tests at Valencia.

Although Almeria isn't a Grand Prix circuit, the team learned plenty during the two days, while Checa got back into the groove after a relaxing winter break.

"This is the first time I've been on a track since our Sepang tests in early December," said the Spaniard. "It's good to be back on the bike and I think this session has been very useful because the M1 feels better and better. I've never ridden a 500 here but I found that an advantage because it cleared my head from thinking about how I used to ride the 500, so I could focus fully on getting the best out of the four-stroke. And Almeria is a great track for testing, very challenging for the motorcycle."

YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda focused the tests on a number of improvements made since the team's last outing at Sepang. "We have been evaluating some new engine and chassis parts, as well as new tyres from Michelin," he said. "The engine parts have improved throttle linearity and the chassis parts have also worked well. Michelin brought a different construction rear to this test, based on our feedback from Sepang, which has been a good step forward. We had been having some trouble with the rear tyre making the front push, but this new rear has solved that problem .

"This track isn't a Grand Prix venue, but with its long straight and many corners it proved quite interesting for the test."

With just over two months to go before the start of the new-look MotoGP World Championship - which pits the YZR-M1 and other big-bore four-strokes against the established 500 two-strokes - the Marlboro Yamaha Team has five further tests scheduled, at Valencia, Estoril, Mugello, Catalunya and Suzuka, where the Japanese Grand Prix opens the 2002 season on April 7.



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