Michelin Portuguese GP race report

Rossi beats Estoril record by 37 seconds. World champ obliterates Estoril race record by 37 seconds, beats Biaggi by 2 seconds Michelin men fill top nine positions and hold top 11 places in World Championship Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team...

Rossi beats Estoril record by 37 seconds. World champ obliterates Estoril race record by 37 seconds, beats Biaggi by 2 seconds Michelin men fill top nine positions and hold top 11 places in World Championship

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) reasserted his dominance of the MotoGP World Championship with a superbly dominant victory at windswept Estoril today. Three weeks after he'd won a close-fought Czech GP, the reigning MotoGP king bettered the two-year-old Estoril race record by an astonishing 37 seconds, proving once again the amazing performance of the pace-setting MotoGP bikes and their Michelin tyres. Rossi defeated Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) by two seconds, while Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) just beat Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) to complete the fourth all-Italian podium of 2003. Michelin riders dominated again, filling the top nine finishing positions. Michelin men also hold the top 11 places in the World Championship.

Biaggi led the early stages, rocketing into the lead from second on the grid while Rossi gave chase. Fourth at the end of lap one, Rossi passed Capirossi and Gibernau on the next lap to home in on Biaggi who held his arch-rival at bay untilhalf-distance when Rossi swept ahead at turn one. The world champ then rode a devastating series of fast laps to open a 3.7 second advantage, easing his pace during the final laps to win by two seconds.

"That was a very fast race, I didn't expect so many 1m 39s laps," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "Everyone seemed to have a lot of grip, even though this isn't an easy track for the four-strokes, just becauseof the layout, the bumps and so on. Valentino and Sete chose a harder-compound rear than Max and Loris, who both chose quite soft rears. Max often chooses slightly softer tyres than Valentino, just because of his riding style, while the Ducati allows its riders to choose soft tyres."

Rossi, who had gone four races without a win before his Czech GP success, was delighted with his fifth win of the year. "That was a great race for me," said the 55-time GP winner who now enjoys a 46-point series lead. "Biaggi started very fast so Ineeded to get by Loris and Sete. After that I rode some quick laps and arrived with Biaggi. I finally passed him at half-distance and rode two or three very good laps so I could get away. We did a fantastic job here to solve some problems we'd had on Friday, so thank you to my team and to Michelin. Also, Sete finishing fourth is very good for my championship situation."

Biaggi was happy enough with his first podium since his victory in July's British GP. "I had a good rhythm in the early stages -- I was trying to split the pack," said the Roman after his seventh podium of the year. "Rossi had a faster pace than meafter he got ahead, so I just tried to stay as close as I could."

The Capirossi/Gibernau duel was the main entertainment during the final laps. Capirossi ran third until he messed up turn one on lap 12, allowing Gibernau past. But the Italian, who started from pole after setting the fastest-ever lap of Estorilduring yesterday's final qualifier, never gave up. The pair swapped places three times on the final lap, Capirossi drafting ahead on the final straight to take third by 0.015 seconds. "I got by him at turn one but then I had a big slide in turn seven which allowed him to re-pass me at the chicane," explained Capirossi. "After that I stayed close, using my bike's engine to overtake him just before the finish."

Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) came through from tenth on the grid to take fifth from Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin). Marco Melandri (Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) scored his best MotoGPresult in seventh ahead of Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin).

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Max Biaggi , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Troy Bayliss , Tohru Ukawa , Sete Gibernau , Marco Melandri
Teams Repsol Honda Team