ROSSI CLOSES THE GAP WITH ANOTHER HARD-EARNED PODIUM
Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi now trails MotoGP World Championship series leader Nicky Hayden (Honda) by just twelve points with two rounds remaining thanks to his fourth consecutive podium, his eighth from the last ten races, in Japan today. Rossi took second place in a race dominated and won by Loris Capirossi (Ducati), with Marco Melandri (Honda) completing the podium in a carbon copy of the front row order. The 20-point reward for Rossi moved him another nine closer to Hayden, who finished fifth behind Sete Gibernau (Ducati).
Colin Edwards had shown promise of mounting a podium challenge himself this weekend but unfortunately his excellent practice pace on race rubber did not translate into the top result he was hoping for. Despite making a good start from tenth on the grid the American was forced wide by another rider into turn one and lost several positions, dropping back to twelfth. However a determined ride from that point onwards saw him battle back to eighth place - a position he also now holds in the championship after moving above John Hopkins (Suzuki).
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd; +5.088)
"I'm really happy with this second position today. It wasn't a great battle like in Sepang, but my rhythm was really good and my bike worked very well. We had a few problems in warm-up this morning and, like always, my mechanics, the Yamaha engineers and Michelin did a great job to make some last-minute changes to our race set-up. At the start my M1 was a little bit hard to ride but slowly I found my rhythm and then bit by bit I started to come closer to Marco. Once I passed him I started pushing to try to reach Loris and made the fastest lap, but once he realised I was coming closer he opened the throttle again and he was just too fast for me to catch. My bike worked brilliantly since Friday morning and I want to thank everyone for all their hard work, it seems that when everything is working for us then it's hard for the others! 20 points is a great result for me at this track, which isn't one of my favourites, and now we're only 12 points behind in the championship. We have two races left and if we can continue in this way then it's possible!"
COLIN EDWARDS (8th; +22.492)
"I got off the line pretty well but then (Dani) Pedrosa pushed me out a bit on the exit of turn one and I had to chop it. I lost speed and then about three people went by me so I was playing catch-up from then on. I had to spend some time getting past (Makoto) Tamada and (Randy) De Puniet but then I got my head down and just kept going in the same rhythm. I was doing good lap times, consistent with what we were doing all weekend, but it wasn't enough to make up for our grid position and the problems in turn one. About 15 laps in I hit a bit of a wall, couldn't hold the load on the rear tyre and started losing corner speed, so life was more difficult from then on. Of course I'm really disappointed; we had a plan but it was messed up by our starting position and turn one. On the bright side we were able to run the same good pace we ran all weekend for most of the race, but it seems a few others, my team-mate included, found a bit extra today and what we had just wasn't enough!"
DAVIDE BRIVIO - CAMEL YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"Today was a very important race for us because we have been able to reduce the gap by another nine points, which keeps us on target. Our goal today was to finish on the podium and we did that so we are happy, even though Loris had a pace that Valentino wasn't quite able to follow. Unfortunately Colin couldn't quite live up to the high hopes he had raised before the race so we will investigate the reasons for that. We still have two races left and we want to help get him back to the front of the pack. The last three weeks have required a lot of energy, effort and concentration from the whole team and I am delighted the way every one of them has responded. Now we need them to keep it going for two more races and hopefully we will continue to get our rewards."