The very many spectators present at LeMans did not regret to be there today, quite to the contrary, since the third Grand Prix of the season was rich in emotions, with theYamaha of Rossi refusing to start for the warm-up lap, a fantastic start of Carlos Checa followed by Sete Gibernau, who benefitted later from the power of his Honda to win the race and take a slight advantage in the world championship classification, and once more an enormous fight between Max Biaggi (3rd) and Valentino Rossi (4th).
The rider of the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team, although he does not particularly like the Bugatti circuit has ridden, sometimes beyond his limits, but then ensure to score important points for the championship. Marco Melandri finished in sixth position on the Yamaha of the French team Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3, after a courageous race, with the handicap of a painful right arm, whereas Norick Abe was eliminated in a fall in the first lap.
“That was a really difficult race. The bike just didn’t feel right all weekend, especially with the braking. I had a different feeling at the start of the warm-up lap with the new electronic system and the bike stopped. When everything goes well with this bike then it is very easy to ride, but here set-up difficulties have made it more tricky. We’ve spent two days trying to fix the problems but unfortunately it has not been possible for this race; we need some more time to work it out. We have organised a one-day test tomorrow so I hope that we will be able to fix the problem then. Carlos was very strong today and he has more experience than me with this bike. We are not too far behind and Mugello is going to be a brilliant fight.”
Norick Abe retired. Fall during the first lap.
(while not being able to avoid Hodgson which had lost the control of his Ducati right in front of him.)
Hervé Poncharal. Director of the team Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3
I am sorry for Norick who had made a good start and who has missed a chance to make a good race on his favourite circuit. "