Biaggi Wins Record-Breaking Pacific GP
Italian scores his second win of the year after rival Rossi makes early mistake
Michelin riders dominate record-breaking race, filling top 13 positions
Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) won an incident-packed Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi today, running away out front as his rivals fought amongst themselves. Series leader Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) finished secon d after taking an off-track excursion in the early stages, while Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) scored his first MotoGP top-three finish just ahead of Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin). The 24-lap race was incredib ly fast, Biaggi breaking last year's race record by a massive 21 seconds, Rossi smashing the lap record by more than a second. Michelin riders filled all but one of the 15 points-scoring positions and hold the top ten places in the World Championship point s standings.
"That was a very fast race, our tyres worked really well," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "My congratulations to Max -- he took pole position and a great win. And Valentino rode another great comeback, his fastest lap was amazingly quick. Both Max and Valentino chose their tyres well, Max going for a slightly softer rear as usual, just because it suits his style. Hayden also rode a great race, and Gibernau did really well considering he had the 'flu."
Pole-sitter Biaggi led all the way after out-braking Gibernau into turn one on lap three. Two laps later he was coming under pressure from Rossi, but the World Champion got turn one all wrong on lap seven and ran into the gravel, regaining the track way down in tenth spot. From there Biaggi led in splendid isolation, stretching his advantage to four seconds at one stage, while Rossi fought his way through the pack to catch Gibernau, Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda) and Hayden who were battling for s econd. Rossi made it into second with six laps to go, leaving his trio of fellow RCV riders to dispute the final podium place. Tamada crossed the line third but was disqualified for a last-lap collision with Gibernau that sent the Spaniard off track, dropp ing him behind Hayden.
"That was a good race for me," said Biaggi. "Everything was good -- the bike and the tyres. I was a little faster than Gibernau and I could out-brake him. After that my rhythm was good, I couldn't go much faster but it was fast enough to make the break from the other guys so I could ride my own race."
Rossi was happy enough with second place, which stretched his series lead over title-rival Gibernau to 60 points with three rounds remaining. "I lost control going into turn one, so I had to go straight," said Rossi who smashed the lap record several times as he came back to cross the line 3.7 seconds down on Biaggi. "After that I was a long way back, I had to ride fast to catch up."
Hayden was delighted with his ride, though he didn't know he had made the top three until some while after the race when the Race Direction announced Tamada's disqualification (currently under appeal) for 'riding in an irresponsible manner'. Hayden, who finished only 5.6 seconds down on Biaggi, said: "That's not the way I want to make third -- I want a proper podium! It was a wild race, I need to smooth things out a little, but I'm learning every race."
Marco Melandri (Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) crossed the line just a fraction down on Gibernau for a fifth-place finish, his best MotoGP result. Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was a second further back, with Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) following close behind. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) was eighth in Ducati's Motegi debut.