Checa rides to steady eighth; no points but a brilliant effort from Melandri. History repeated itself in today's German Grand Prix when Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Marco Melandri showed his marvellous potential as he fought with the race leaders...
Checa rides to steady eighth; no points but a brilliant effort from Melandri.
History repeated itself in today's German Grand Prix when Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Marco Melandri showed his marvellous potential as he fought with the race leaders but unluckily crashed out of contention at the Sachsenring circuit. The young Italian tumbled off his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine and out of fourth place in the closing stages of the battle, a similar outcome to his last race outing at Donington two weeks ago. Twenty-year-old Melandri, who won the German 250cc race here last year, produced a lightning start to charge through the Sachsenring field from 12th on the grid to fifth by turn one. Carrying this impressive momentum further, the 250cc World Champion then slipped forward into fourth by the end of lap one. His stampede continued while entering the penultimate turn, pouncing momentarily to second place in the following lap with an audacious double pass of Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and eventual race winner Sete Gibernau (Honda).
Melandri then slipped back behind Gibernau until lap five when Troy Bayliss (Ducati) shot through to take third. Settling into what was a comfortable fourth place, the MotoGP rookie looked set to claim a well deserved 13 points when his M1 slipped out from beneath him. Melandri could not get his M1 into gear entering the tight turn 12, with less than six laps remaining, bringing his solid performance to a premature end.
Up front Rossi and Gibernau set a scorching pace that eventually saw both riders finish more than 13 seconds ahead of third-placed Bayliss and the rest of the field. Rossi had taken early control of the race before Gibernau made a move on lap 20. The Spaniard, who has already claimed three victories this year, was well positioned to take his fourth race win when Rossi made his pass on the final lap. Although the move initially stuck Rossi made a mistake on the crucial final turn, handing the win to Gibernau by a mere 0.060 seconds.
It was further disappointment for Fortuna Yamaha Team rider Carlos Checa who, after an initially promising provisional qualifying performance, ended the German Grand Prix in a lowly eighth place. Plagued by a lack of grip throughout the weekend, Checa was unable to find a solution by race day and struggled to make any improvement over his eventual seventh place qualifying performance.
"It's a similar situation here to Donington, and we tried many things to improve rear stability," said Checa, who retains his seventh position in the championship standings. "That's been my biggest problem at these past two races. We have moved away quite a lot from the set-up we had in Catalunya and Assen where I had stronger finishes. I managed to gain some places but couldn't get any further forward. It's frustrating because I was hoping to improve my position in the championship, and because we had a fairly good weekend here for qualifying. I am going to have a rethink with my engineers and crew to see in which area we should now go in terms of set-up. The next race will be in Brno, and we had a test there before coming to Germany so we will have a good base to start the weekend with."
Checa's team-mate Melandri was customarily philosophical about his performance today; "I started well and was able to overtake early on but at the same time I wasn't able to give gas as much as I would have liked," said the Italian, who has fought in the leading group at the past two races. " After a few laps I decided it was better not to force things but wiser to stay behind Bayliss and to keep my own pace. At the beginning the soft tyres gave me some problems even though I had a good start but then after a few laps my pace improved and I was certain that I could finish the race in fourth or fifth position. I was in the downhill turn and normally I change down from fifth to third gear there. But this time I changed from fifth to fourth, I couldn't engage third gear, and I fell off.
"It's a shame because I was having such a great race, and that mishap could have been avoided. At one point I could see I was getting closer and closer to Bayliss and I really thought I would finish the race well. Anyway now I know I can be competitive at all the races because I was able to fight with the top riders in Donington and here. I am close to the best riders, and now my aim is to finish a race."
Davide Brivio, the Fortuna Yamaha Team's Director, summed up the day with the following comments, "It's a day of mixed emotions really because we again saw the great potential of Marco, who has had two very strong races fighting among the top riders. But then it's also disappointing that he was not able to finish, and most of all frustrating for him. He knows and we know now what his capabilities are and he should be able to fight for the podium at every race in this second half of the season. Carlos did not start so well but managed to overtake several riders and scored some valuable points. He is not completely happy with the set-up choices he made this weekend and is going to review them for Brno with his team. We just all have to keep working until we get what we're all hoping for, a podium result." <pre> RESULTS 1. Sete Gibernau SPA Telefonica Movistar HONDA 42'41.180 2. Valentino Rossi ITA Repsol HONDA +0.060 3. Troy Bayliss AUS DUCATI Marlboro Team +13.207 4. Loris Capirossi ITA DUCATI Marlboro Team +16.521 5. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol HONDA +16.563 6. Tohru Ukawa JPN Camel Pramac Pons HONDA +18.743 7. Shinya Nakano JPN d'Antin YAMAHA Team +18.885 8. CARLOS CHECA SPA Fortuna YAMAHA Team +26.165 9. Olivier Jacque FRA Gauloises YAMAHA Team +28.281 10. Norick Abe JPN YAMAHA Racing Team +29.159
DNF - MARCO MELANDRI ITA Fortuna YAMAHA Team
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 1. Valentino Rossi 187 2. Sete Gibernau 158 3. Max Biaggi 130 4. Loris Capirossi 97 5. Troy Bayliss 80 6. Tohru Ukawa 66 7. CARLOS CHECA 65 8. Shinya Nakano 63 9. Alex Barros 62 10. Nicky Hayden 57
20. MARCO MELANDRI 9