Reigning World Champion runs away with rain-soaked British Grand Prix A few years ago Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) used to complain that he didn't like "riding under the water" but today the...
Reigning World Champion runs away with rain-soaked British Grand Prix
A few years ago Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) used to complain that he didn't like "riding under the water" but today the reigning World Champion proved that he is as much the master of wet-weather riding as he is the master of a dry racetrack. The Italian comfortably beat Kenny Roberts Junior (Suzuki MotoGP GSV-R) and Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V- Michelin) in a tense encounter in treacherous conditions. Watched by 75,000 soaking but dedicated fans, almost half the grid fell victim to the flooded track - 11 riders finished the race, no less than ten crashed out. Michelin men filled three of the first four finishing positions.
"It's been an excellent weekend for us," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions. "We had a big advantage in the dry yesterday, with the fastest nine riders on our tyres, and today we were able to win in very difficult conditions. It was an interesting race, Valentino was once again very impressive, exploiting the full potential of his tyres. He rode three 1m 45s laps, which is amazing considering the flooded track. Alex got the second fastest lap using a new rear that offered similar performance to Valentino's soft rear, which is good for us because we can use that new tyre in a greater range of conditions. Kenny also rode well, it's good to see a former World Champion back on the podium after so long, even if he does ride for a rival brand!"
The racing was unusually close, considering the atrocious conditions, at least until Rossi decided to up the pace during the last eight laps. After riding much of the race with Barros and Roberts, the Italian pulled out an astonishing eight seconds on his rivals during just three laps. He eased off in the final laps to win his seventh victory from nine races by 3.169 seconds.
"Today it wasn't like riding a bike, it was more like riding a boat," joked the six-time world champ who now leads the 2005 series by a gaping 104 points. "That was one of the most difficult races of my career - very cold, very slippery and very difficult to see. There were many crashes in the first few laps and I came very near to crashing three or four times, then once the situation had stabilised I locked the front and ran wide at the chicane. After that I came back very fast, stayed with Alex and Kenny, then I passed them and pushed 100 per cent."
Barros, who won April's rain-affected Portuguese GP, led more laps than anyone but had to be happy with third after losing a final-lap duel with Roberts. "The track was very tricky," said the Brazilian veteran after his 250th GP. "Some parts were very slippery, other parts had grip, so it was necessary to learn which was which. I led many laps but Valentino's rhythm was too fast."
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) ran with the leaders for quite some while before slipping behind to take fourth, ten seconds down on his team-mate. The American now lies third in the World Championship, just one point behind Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) who today crashed out of a second successive race. With nine of the years 17 races done, Michelin riders monopolise the top seven positions in the World Championship standings.