Gauloises Yamaha riders Alex Barros and Olivier Jacque suffered a series of disasters that saw them qualify in 11th and 14th positions respectively for tomorrow's Rio Grand Prix, in a session labelled 'catastrophic' by team manager Herve Poncharal.

It began badly when Jacque fell from his machine, while exiting the final turn for only the second time in the hour long session, and as a result was forced to leave his damaged bike on the infield.

The Frenchman managed to return to the pits to continue on his second bike, only to crash on the same corner, in the same way, the very next lap. With both bikes laying damaged on the infield the 2000 GP250 World Champion was forced to sit out the remainder of the session.

"I crashed on my first timed lap of the session at a place on the circuit where you couldn't retrieve the bike," said a red faced OJ. "I came back to the box, took out my second bike and crashed at the same corner and spent the rest of the session as a spectator. If that isn't bad enough I twisted my ankle in the first fall."

Local hero Barros at least kept his machine on two wheels, but found the hotter conditions - and mechanical problems - 'troubling'. He was unable to improve on his opening day performance and will start his home GP from 11th.

"I'm really disappointed. Towards the end of the session the chain started to jump on the sprocket and I had to come back into the box," he explained. "My mechanics checked the tension and out I went again, but the problem persisted. By the time I came in a second time there was no time left to change the chain and I had to go out on my second bike.

"Obviously the second bike didn't have the same settings as my race bike, meaning that I wasn't able to improve my time," continued the GP veteran. "I'm sure that without that incident I would have been able to get into the low 50s (i.e. qualify on the front two rows of the grid). Now I'm going to have my work cut out to put in a good performance in front of my home crowd."

"I don't think it would be an exaggeration to describe this afternoon's session as 'catastrophic'," admitted team manager Herve Poncharal. "Olivier spent 50 precious minutes spectating, while, due to technical problems, Alex was unable to go out for a last fast run on his number one bike. Despite all that I'm reasonably confident that Alex will be able to perform well tomorrow in front of his home fans."