DISAPPOINTING DAY FOR ROSSI IN EVENTFUL JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
Gauloises Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi suffered a rare fall in the Grand Prix of Japan today, after making a sensational start from eleventh on the grid and passing seven riders by the fourth lap. Seven laps later he suddenly came together with Marco Melandri (Honda) as they pitched into the notorious turn ten and collided into the gravel, leaving Max Biaggi (Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) clear at the front. The race was eventually won by Capirossi, who passed Biaggi six laps from the end and opened up a 1.4 second advantage to claim his first win of the season.
Rossi's Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards rode a battling race and eventually finished sixth, despite some front-end problems with his M1. He moved up to third in the championship, sixteen points behind Biaggi. Biaggi is now the only rider with a mathematical chance of denying Rossi his second MotoGP title for Yamaha, with the reigning World Champion needing thirteen points from next Sunday's race in Sepang, Malaysia, to clinch the title.
COLIN EDWARDS (6th -- +34.915)
"I made a good start for once and it wasn't too bad to begin with. I got past Kenny Roberts but I lost the front going into turn seven and ran wide. It was strange because, apart from my crash on Friday, the front has been very stable this weekend but in the race I lost it in a few corners and it affected my confidence. For the rest of the race it was survival for me. I got past Kenny again but the conditions were hotter than they had been during practice and our tyre and suspension combination suffered a little. It has been a struggle for the past few races but I like the tracks we've got coming up so hopefully we can sort it out and make some progress. At least we've moved up to third in the championship, so that's one good thing we can take away from here!"
VALENTINO ROSSI (DNF)
"We knew this would be a difficult race but the mechanics worked hard to improve the bike this morning in the warm-up and it worked well over the first few laps. I was able to pass a lot of people but I started to have a few problems with the front tyre when I arrived behind the front three. I knew it would be a risk to try and overtake and I expected Loris to pass Max in the final few laps. I knew I could be World Champion with fourth place and so I decided to just wait and do my race. Then Marco made a small mistake and suddenly I was behind him. It was the first time I had followed him into turn ten and we took completely different lines. He went to the outside of the track to cut across and get good acceleration out of the corner but I went to the inside to run wider on the exit. For the first 50m of braking we were at exactly the same speed so there was no warning, but he was able to stop the bike much harder than me and I couldn't avoid him. You can't see it very well on the television but I wasn't even trying to pass him, it was just one of those things. I apologised to Marco and he said 'it happens.' Now I am very concerned for him and I just hope he is ok."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"Our first concern is for Marco Melandri. We are not sure of his injuries just yet but we hope it is not serious and I wish him well on behalf of the whole team. There was a protest against Valentino put forward by Honda on behalf of all its MotoGP Teams, but Race Direction has judged this unfounded. As far as the championship is concerned, it is a pity we couldn't finish it off here and for Valentino it is a shame that his run of podiums has been interrupted. All we can do is try to make up for it by taking the points back next time. Colin finished sixth in a difficult race, but it was an important result for him as it means that he remains in the top positions."