[This is the first motorscycle-related submission we have received; I would appreciate comments for or against posting further motorcycle racing articles in the future.]
For those of you out there in netdom without live(ish) TV coverage here is the results from Suzuka today.
250cc - 18laps shortened to 12 due to rain
1 Ralf Waldman 2 Nobatsu Aoki 3 Sadanori Hikita 4 Tetsuya Harada 5 Jean-Phillipe Ruggia 6 O. Miyazaki
It was raining when they started and Okada pulled steadily away from Waldman and Aoki after a brief tussle with Romboni who went straight on at the chicane on lap 3 with what looked like a seizure- he was braking fine, not too late but then straightened up, ran straight on and parked the bike against the wall and walked off! At about lap six it really started to rain heavily bringing calls from Barry Sheene (our channel 9 commentator) to stop the race. But it seemed to ease off a bit and Waldman put on a charge to be about 10 seconds behind Okada on lap 10 with a further 24 back to Aoki. Then on lap 11 Okada lost the back end had a 'high-lowside' where the back stepped out then came back in and threw him reasonably gently to the inside of the bike on the back of the circuit sliding off aparently unhurt, although he did look at his hand after he punched the fence in frusatration after he realised what he'd done!
This left Waldman with a 25 second lead but by lap 12 it was raining REALLY HARD and Ralf had a similar rear end lose to Okada which gently highsided him off on the third or forth corner of the track. Amazingly he pulled the bike out of the sand and remounted still in the lead! They raced till lap 14 when the race was abandoned and results called at lap 12. Half points were awarded. Max Biaggi rode a cautious race top finish 9th or 10th- I forget now. The rain was so hard we lost our pictures along with the rest of the world on lap 13!!
Championship Standings: Waldman 50.5 Harada 46.5 Biagi 45 Aoki 30 Ruggia 16.5 Okada 16
500cc - 18 laps
An absolute corker of a race fought right to the last lap.
1 Darryl Beattie 2 Michael Doohan 3 Aoki (brother of 250 rider & wildcard on works NSR) 4 Luca Cadalora 5 Alberto Puig 6 Kevin Shwantz
Absolute pouring rain forced the race to be delayed half an hour and they set off in reasonable conditions on a track wet and likely to stay that way. Shinichi Itoh made a runner and had a handy lead for much of the race as things went haywire behind him. Doohan made a cautious start running as low as low as sixth or seventh while he waited to see who would fling it early. A group emerged behind Itoh with Barros, Cadalora, Shwantz, Beattie, Honma (the Japanese wildcard on a Yamaha), Aoki(wildcard NSR), Criville, Doohan and Puig. By lap 3 Itoh had a few seconds on the bunch headed by Barros. Cadalora and Shwantz faded and Honma crashed while Doohan began to make his way back up. So it was soon Aoki leading the bunch in second followed by Doohan passing Barros on lap 5 who promptly fell off unhurt on the ultra fast curve coming off the main straight. At this stage Beattie was back in 7th but on the charge. By lap ten Aoki dropped to forth behind Itoh Doohan and Beattie who was reeling off fastest laps regularly. Now it was Itoh's turn to throw the lead away as Doohan inched closer as on lap 11 he lost it coming out of the same turn as Barros. He lay on the trackside grass for a while but seemed OK- he just looked pissed off with himself. So now Beattie moved right up on Doohan only to outbrake himself into the chicane before the start/finish straight on lap 14. From here on it was tooth and nail with Beattie trying to make up the second or so he lost in the chicane. Lots of lapped bikes made things more difficult but Mick seemed to get a better run than Darryl. So on the last lap with a lead of half a second or so Mick had a HUGE rear end slide coming around the long righthander two corners before the main straight (spoon curve I think) was thrown up onto the tank slithered across the grass going airborne and landing on the huge skid pan thing- all at what must have been 200+kmh in the pissing rain! He ragained control and rode across the skid pan, wobbled back down the grass to rejoin still in second but with Aoki gaining fast. Meanwhile Darryl was long gone and headed for his second 500GP win while Doohan fought back like the Legend he is to hold onto second- just, from Aoki. An excellent race.
Championship standings: Not too sure because we didnt get a full post race rundown due to being run so late but Doohan leads on 70 points from Beattie on 65.
Drop me a line with any suggestions if you found this to be of interest to you. I stress that this is written purely from an armchair racers perspective so all I've written about is what I saw of the races on telly.
Ciao for now, Steve
_______________________________________________________________ Stephen Battisson Stephen.Battisson@anu.edu.au +61-6-2492407 phone +61-6-2492453 fax