Rossi Second and Still in Championship Lead
Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi finished a fighting second in today's Czech Republic Grand Prix after a determined 22-lap race. The Italian had a close battle on his YZR-M1 machine with championship Honda rivals Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi, ultimately holding on to finish in second, 3.514 seconds behind Gibernau. Rossi's team-mate Carlos Checa also had a tough fight throughout the race to a final sixth place.
After an unfortunate start Rossi slotted into fourth place at the end of lap one, with Checa just inside the top ten riders. After a slight scare at the end of the first lap as his wheel touched the trackside grass causing a serious wobble, Rossi went on to pass Honda riders Alex Barros and Max Biaggi in the ensuing laps into second position. Meanwhile team-mate Checa entered a fight to stay in the top ten as Makoto Tamada (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) closed in.
With Barros out of the picture having crashed out after 14 laps, Rossi made a beeline for the lead. The Yamaha rider managed to pass Gibernau on lap 17, then the two swapped places no less than six times as Max Biaggi crept up close behind the duelling pair into third. Finally it was not to be Rossi's day, as a worn rear tyre meant he was unable to make another steady pass on Gibernau. Checa won his final personal duel by holding off Colin Edwards' Honda, passing him to finish sixth.
Rossi's second place leaves him with a 17-point cushion over Gibernau, 184 to 167. Biaggi sits third on 158 with Edwards on 104. Checa is currently seventh but just four points shy of fifth place in the order.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd, 44'06.994)
"We tried! The race was at a top level, the rhythm was very good and it was a great fight. I tried to follow Sete and understand a good point to overtake. With five or six laps to go I made my attack. But we had lost grip with the rear tyre and I had lost a little bit too much time. In the earlier part of the race the bike was good under acceleration but not later, and then it also became difficult under braking. When our bike loses rear grip it becomes very difficult to stop. In the end Sete was too strong and had a better rhythm than mine. It was impossible to beat him. Anyway I'm quite happy, we've worked well but we need to get our bike to 100% for the whole race next time. Now we have two days of testing where we will look at solving that."
CARLOS CHECA (6th, 44'24.661)
"The conditions were the same for me as everyone else but we had some limitations because of the lack of set-up time. I started quite well in the big group at the front, and the lap time was good but then the rear grip dropped down and I got involved with Edwards. His bike was a little bit faster than mine so that made it difficult to pass him on the brakes, as I was not close to him on the corner entry. One time I tried and ran a little bit out but I was able to pass him eventually, as he had a problem that slowed him down. We need to keep working but I was pleased that the lap time was good at the beginning."
DAVIDE BRIVIO - TEAM DIRECTOR
"All in all a good result. I think that we had a good race and a good fight to the very end for the win with Valentino. We are still leading the championship and so we are still going forward. We are testing after this race for two days starting tomorrow, with a new fairing and some electronics. For Carlos his result is not so bad, considering that both riders had a very short time in the dry to set up the bikes. Normally this year we have needed as much time as possible because Valentino has not so much experience on this bike."