Michelin Czech GP race notes

Back on-Form Rossi wins Brno thriller. World champ ends ten-week victory drought with thrilling last-lap win over Gibernau. Michelin riders continue their MotoGP domination, filling top eight finishing position. Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda...

Back on-Form Rossi wins Brno thriller. World champ ends ten-week victory drought with thrilling last-lap win over Gibernau. Michelin riders continue their MotoGP domination, filling top eight finishing position.

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) was back to his winning ways at glorious Brno today, winning a last-lap duel for victory with title-rival Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), the man who beat him in Germany three w eeks ago. The race was a real thriller, with four men battling out front, all of them in with a chance of victory until the final laps. Early pace-setter Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) finished in third place, just 0.668 seconds c overing the threesome at the flag. Michelin riders dominated once again, Rossi's race time 17.6 seconds faster than last year's Czech GP, which was 25 seconds quicker than the 2001 event, underlining dramatic recent improvement in bikes and tyres.

"That was a great race at a great pace," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "Both Valentino and Sete chose the same rears - at the harder end of what we brought here, and Valentino set a new lap record on the last lap, a great result for our tyres. They rode superbly, as did the Ducati guys and Carlos (Checa, Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Nicky (Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin). We stay here tomorrow to try some new fronts and run through some more rears, which some of our riders didn't get to try because of the changeable weather."

Brno is the perfect racetrack for 220-plus horsepower MotoGP machines - fast, wide and open - just what's required for close racing and plentiful overtaking. And that's just the kind of race that Rossi, Gibernau, Bayliss and Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) served up - the foursome running way out front, swapping the lead time and again.

During the final few laps it came down to Rossi and Gibernau, the Spaniard going ahead with one lap to go, the World Champion slipping back into the lead within less than half a lap of the flag. "This is the first time that four of us have raced so close together," said a delighted Rossi who started from pole. "After making stupid mistakes at the last two races - just from thinking too much - I changed my tactics - ride 100 per cent and if anyone comes past, attack them immediately! With two laps to go I made a little mistake and Sete came past, then he made a mistake and I was able to get by again." Joker Rossi wore a prison inmate's hat and ball and chain on the podium. "The media said I was in crisis because I'd been beaten at the last four races," he added. "Leading the championship and finishing on the podium obviously isn't enough, so I must work on the chain gang!"

Rossi had his worst moment of the day after the race when he was stung by a wasp. "I wish that had happened in the race!" joked Gibernau. "And if this is Valentino in crisis, I hate to think what he'll do when he's out of crisis! It was a great race, all of us riding 100 per cent from start to finish, and at that pace it's inevitable that we made a few mistakes. My thanks to Honda and Michelin - they've helped a lot here."

Bayliss was happy with his best MotoGP ride so far. "I felt comfortable out front, I wasn't pushing over the top, and I knew they'd come by some time, though when they did I was surprised they didn't have more left in them," said the Australian, who chose a soft Michelin rear. "Maybe I should've had some more self-belief! This is a learning year for us, things are coming together slowly." Capirossi had just overtaken his team-mate for third when his bike stopped with a suspected electrical fault t hree laps from the flag.

Checa had a great ride to fourth, ending up five seconds down on Rossi and three seconds ahead of Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin). MotoGP rookie Hayden had another impressive outing in sixth, just 11 seconds down and a fraction ahead of Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin). Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) took eighth.

-michelin-

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