MICHELIN MAN ROSSI SETS NEW MOTEGI LAP RECORD
Michelin man Valentino Rossi (Camel Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) scored a hard-fought runner- up finish in today's Japanese Grand Prix to move closer to World Championship leader Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin). The Italian smashed the Motegi lap record by 0.68 seconds while chasing winner Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici). Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V-Michelin) finished the race in third spot, Michelin riders filling eight of the first ten finishing positions.
With just two races remaining of this year's 17-round series, Michelin riders also dominate the championship standings, Rossi now 12 points behind Hayden, who finished today's race in fifth place, and 15 points ahead of Melandri.
"We didn't win today but this wasn't a bad result, with two riders on the podium, eight riders in the first ten and Valentino and Marco setting the fastest two laps of the race," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "Our new front tyres were the big improvement here this year. The construction of our wider profile front and the new narrow profile front, which we introduced midseason, deliver an advantage during braking and as the riders lean into the turns, and braking performance is primordial here. Congratulations to Loris who rode a great race and also to Valentino who was 14 seconds faster than our top rider here last year. Now we are looking forward to the last two races, with the top three riders separated by just 27 points it's going to be very exciting!"
"This isn't my favourite track, so this is a good result for us," said Rossi. "We were fast from Friday and when we had some problems in morning warm-up my team and Michelin were able to solve them."
Melandri, who won last Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, said: "My bike and tyres worked so good that I was able to run a much faster rhythm than I had run during practice."