MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN TAKE POINTS ON ISLAND

Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa completed a difficult weekend at cold and windy Phillip Island with sixth- and 11th-place finishes in today's Australian Grand Prix, just a week after Biaggi had scored a brilliant win in Malaysia. The pair, who had qualified eighth and 20th, struggled to get the usual performance from theirs M1s at this unique high-speed venue.

"It's been a difficult weekend," admitted Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "We struggled all weekend to find a good compromise with our settings, which has been especially frustrating after Max's fantastic win at Sepang, but that's racing. Max and Carlos couldn't ride the way they want to ride, the general concern has been front-end confidence and the bike moving around. Now we will analyse all the data from this weekend and try again at Valencia, where we hope our riders and bikes will get the results they deserve."

The Valencia GP, last race of the first four-stroke-based MotoGP season, takes place at the Spanish track on November 3.

BIAGGI GIVES IT THE MAX TO STAY SECOND

Max Biaggi rode a super-determined race at Phillip Island this afternoon, coming home sixth after a long and entertaining contest with Nobuatsu Aoki (Proton), Olivier Jacque (Yamaha) and Kenny Roberts Junior (Suzuki). The Marlboro Yamaha Team man battled back and forth with his three rivals, eventually emerging at the front of the group. The result keeps him in second place in the MotoGP World Championship standings, albeit just one point ahead of today's third-place finisher Tohru Ukawa (Honda).

"It was impossible to do better than that," said the Marlboro Yamaha Team star. "I tried everything but I'm not happy with the result. Things have been difficult all weekend, and though we tried many settings changes throughout practice and qualifying, we couldn't really resolve our problems. At least I'm still second in the World Championship, so I've simply got to do better than Ukawa at Valencia, it's imperative for me to finish second overall, for Yamaha and for myself."

CHECA RECOVERS FROM FIFTH-ROW START

Carlos Checa recovered well from a gruelling two days of qualifying to score an 11th-place finish, just behind Jeremy McWilliams (Proton), who had started the race from pole position. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider made major changes to bike spec overnight, which allowed him to move up the order, after starting from 20th on the grid. Checa still retains fifth overall in the points chase, with just his home-country Valencia GP to go.

"Last night we changed to our previous-spec chassis, but then I had engine problems in warm-up, so I couldn't fully test the settings we'd decided upon," explained the Spaniard. "I was able to give some feedback though, so we could make some small adjustments to the suspension balance for the race. The early laps were okay, then we lost some stability through the high-speed turns. I tried everything - different lines, moving my body position around on the bike and using the throttle differently - but with no real effect. The main thing is that we've learned a lot this weekend, which will help us build a better bike for 2003."

ROSSI WINS AGAIN AFTER TWO-RACE LULL

World Champion Valentino Rossi scored his first victory in three races today, beating fellow Honda rider Alex Barros after a tantalising race-long duel. The pair were side by side on the final lap when Barros ran off the track as they braked for a hairpin turn, Barros recovering to take second. "Alex's rhythm in the early stages was incredible," said Rossi after his 50th GP win. "But when he started sliding around I knew I could attack, and when he ran off on the final lap the battle was over."

RESULTS
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 42'02.041
2. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (RC211v) +9.782
3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) +11.134
4. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (RC211v) +11.327
5. Jurgen vd Goorbergh (NED) Kanemoto Racing (NSR500) +11.414
6. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +20.937
7. Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) PROTON Team KR (KR3) +22.505
8. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR-M1) +26.642
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +26.692
10. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) +31.994
11. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +34.563

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 335
2. MAX BIAGGI (JPN) 199
3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) 198
4. Alex Barros (BRA) 179
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) 141
6. Norick Abe (JPN) 123
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 109
8. Daijiro Kato (JPN) 104
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) 99
10. Olivier Jacque (FRA) 74

-myt-