Italian GP Shell Advance Honda race notes

Shell Advance Honda rider, Chris Walker, fell victim to appalling conditions and crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix while poised for a top ten finish. Walker was just one of a number of star riders who succumbed to a water-logged Mugello...

Shell Advance Honda rider, Chris Walker, fell victim to appalling conditions and crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix while poised for a top ten finish.

Walker was just one of a number of star riders who succumbed to a water-logged Mugello track with the race run in two parts after a stoppage when a rain storm hit the circuit after seven of 23 laps.

Shortly after the restart the rainstorm worsened with blinding spray and water puddles creating havoc for riders. Walker completed 11 laps and apart from a bruised right ankle was unhurt as a result of his crash. Walker had started 15th but was running strongly in 11th when the drenching rain ended his race.

After a post-qualifying discussion on Saturday with five time world champion Mick Doohan Walker believes he has made a step forward with his approach to factory 500cc racing and is looking forward to round six in Barcelona on June 17.

At the Catalunya GP Walker is expected to be joined by teenage teammate Leon Haslam who missed today's race because of a broken wrist.

The 23-lap race was won by Brazilian rider Alex Barros (Honda) who led home teammate Loris Capirossi with Max Biaggi (third). World championship leader Valentino Rossi (Honda) and defending titleholder Kenny Roberts both crashed out of the race.

CHRIS WALKER
Crash/DNF
Championship: 17th/ 5 points

"There was water everywhere and I just hit the white line on the kerb with the front tyre on the righthander in the final chicane, the same corner where Rossi crashed. Before I knew it I was upside down, the conditions were pretty horrible. I had not done any wet practice on the Honda 500 before this so it was really a case of being thrown in at the deep end, and it actually was like a swimming pool out there."

"I'm obviously disappointed because despite all this I was feeling good on the bike, my lap times were competitive and I was up to 11th place and in with a chance of the top ten the way the race unfolded."

-SAH

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