Rossi Romps to Fifth Win of the Year
Gathering clouds overhead and a second or two of rain in the early laps of today's British Grand Prix could not stop Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi from picking up his fifth win of the year in commanding fashion.
In front of 82,091 spectators Rossi's one-man charge at the Donington track and ultimate victory increased his championship lead to 22 points ahead of Honda riders Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi. Rossi's team-mate Carlos Checa made a determined ride to sixth place.
Rossi took an immediate lead from pole position into the first turn as he attempted an early breakaway. Passes from Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Sete Gibernau (Honda) prevented him from such a tactic until the second lap, when he managed to pull out a short gap of 0.7 seconds. The distance between Rossi and the rest of the pack increased until half race distance, and his cushion of time had grown to over two seconds. Rossi continued his race domination to build a four second gap which he guarded throughout the final laps, winning by a margin of 2.945 seconds having eased off to enjoy a victory celebration over the line.
Checa's race start pushed him inside the group of top ten riders, and several aggressive moves during the 30-lap contest helped him to a final sixth place. This enabled him to hold on to valuable championship points and the Catalan rider now lies seventh overall in the standings with 72 points. Rossi leads the championship by 164 points, 22 clear of his closest rivals Gibernau and Biaggi, who are tied on 142. After a charged performance to a second place finish, Colin Edwards (Honda) is fourth overall with 95 points.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st, 45'30.473)
"This was a great victory at an important race, and the bike was good to ride. I was a little worried about the tyres. I know it was possible to have a good rhythm through the race but at the start I did not have so much feeling with the rear end because it was colder than yesterday. Slowly, slowly the gap came for me at the front. I had a little problem with the gentle rain that started falling, but everybody slowed down and then the weather got better and it was possible to win. This win was very important because today the bike worked very well. I have to say thank you to the team who worked very well all weekend and to Michelin because the tyres worked right to the end. I am happy because I have taken a small advantage in the championship and at some tracks we will not have the advantage in race conditions so it is good to have these extra points. I will sleep much better in the summer break. We have had problems with the rear at the last few races and we hope to be able to fix those on Tuesday when we test here."
CARLOS CHECA (6th, 45'47.583)
"At the start of the race I lost many places that took some time to recover. When it started raining I saw Capirossi put his hand up and I thought everyone else had so I rolled off the gas. Then I realised that nobody else had so I lost at least four seconds there. I did not have enough confidence in the brakes in the first few laps, plus the position of the bike and myself to push. The start of the race determined my finish in the race. If I had started higher up then I think it was possible to have finished fourth. But it is like it is, I'm not that disappointed because we have done a good job. Watching Valentino winning means that they are doing something better than us so I think it is time for us to go up."
JEREMY BURGESS, VALENTINO ROSSI'S CREW CHIEF
"The bike has been working well over the weekend and we seem to be making inroads into some of the problems we have been experiencing each race. That's very encouraging. It's a different track and tyres to what we used last year, it was the tyre we ran on Friday and Saturday so we had put enough laps on it to know what should work in the race. The only unknown today was the weather and as long as that wind was blowing I felt confident that the rain would stay away. I think we did all we had to this weekend. Five wins out of nine is pretty good but nine out of nine would be better!"