Race Day, Sunday September 23 2001 MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SURVIVE CRASH-STREWN RACE Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi came home fourth and tenth in this afternoon& ...
Race Day, Sunday September 23 2001
MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SURVIVE CRASH-STREWN RACE
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi came home fourth and tenth in this afternoon’s rain-hit and crash-strewn Marlboro Valencia GP. The race started on a wet track after a brief rain shower and the damp but drying surface proved to be as treacherous as ice, with a number of riders sliding off during the warm-up lap and early race laps, the survivors just babying it around. Checa was one of the unlucky men to tumble before the start and he only got back into the race on his spare bike, starting from pit lane at the back of the pack. The Spaniard performed a miracle, coming from last, and was the fastest man on track for much of the 30 laps. Biaggi staged a late-race charge to beat series leader and early race leader Valentino Rossi (Honda).
“ Carlos chose slicks front and rear because he’s not in the championship race, so he could afford to gamble, and he rode a fantastic race,” explained Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust.“ Max is second in the championship, so he had to play a bit safer. There were so many people falling off that it must’ve been hard for them to gauge how much grip was available. This place is obviously very, very slippery in the wet and it’s so easy to make a tiny mistake and end up with nothing. We’d been pit boarding Max for 11 laps, so he knew he was closing on Rossi. We’ve shortened the points gap, not by much, but that’s better than going the other way.”
Today’s race started after a minute’s silence in honour of those who lost their lives in last week’s terrorist attacks in America and ended without a podium champagne celebration.
SUPER-FAST CHECA FOURTH
Carlos Checa’s hopes of winning this home-territory race evaporated on the warm-up lap when he slid off his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500. The Spanish favourite dashed back to the pits where he took his spare bike, also wearing slicks front and rear, and started the race dead last from pit lane. From there he staged a miraculous comeback, often lapping up to a second faster than the leading trio of winner Sete Gibernau (Suzuki), Alex Barros (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki), and finishing just a few seconds behind them.
“ Coming from last in those conditions was really scary,” he said.“ It was like riding on ice, the rear spinning up all the time. I did my best but lost the race on the warm-up lap. The track conditions were unbelievable, I just touched the throttle and the bike went away. Once we’d started I just concentrated on doing my best lap by lap, and that was all I could do. I tried to catch the guys up front and I was closing quite fast at some stages but during the last laps I realised it would be impossible to catch them, unless someone made a mistake.”
BIAGGI TENTH IN TREACHEROUS RACE
Max Biaggi came home tenth today but he did beat World Championship rival Valentino Rossi. The Marlboro Yamaha Team rider chose an intermediate front and slick rear but had a nasty moment in the early stages and was unable to run up front. However, he later closed in on Rossi, stealing one point from his arch-rival, leaving the gap at 42 points with four races to go.
“ There were a lot of guys falling off, it was like riding on ice, I had to stay upright, it was vital not to crash,” said the Italian.“ When I saw Capirossi crash at the first turn I knew Rossi was my target, and when I saw I was closing on him I pushed harder. Even one point can make the difference and anyway, it’s good for morale. Congratulations to Sete, he must’ve ridden a very brave race, though the guys up front aren’t fighting for the championship so they could take more risks. It’s a shame this is the last race in Europe. We now start a long journey with four‘ flyaway’ races and they can always be difficult. No matter, I’ll keep trying to the end.”
GIBERNAU WINS FIRST GP
Sete Gibernau gambled on slicks front and rear to win his first GP success, and Suzuki’s first of 2001. The Spaniard spent most of the race locked in battle with Alex Barros and team-mate Kenny Roberts, winning by just 0.293 seconds to send the local 120,000 fans wild.“ The first laps were difficult, because it was so slippery and carbon brakes don’t work when you’re going so slow,” he said.“ There were people on the floor everywhere but my tyre choice paid off in the end. It was a difficult race, everyone was so tense, and right now I can’t put this win into words.”
Barros finished second, running an intermediate front/slick rear combination, with Roberts third, replicating Gibernau’s choice. Series leader Rossi made a cautious choice, running intermediates front and rear, and though he led early on he slipped to 11th as the track dried.
RESULTS 1. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI 54'39.391 2. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons +0.293 3. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +1.241 4. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team +7.052 5. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 +29.809 6. Tohru Ukawa (SPA) Repsol YPF HONDA Team +29.863 7. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 +31.093 8. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA-d'Antin +31.609 9. Jurgen vd Goorbergh (NED) PROTON Team KR +32.783 10. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team +37.774
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 1. Valentino Rossi 225 2. MAX BIAGGI 183 3. Loris Capirossi 147 4. Alex Barros 127 5. Shinya Nakano 116 6. Norick Abe 108 7. CARLOS CHECA 102 8. Sete Gibernau 93 9. Alex Criville 91 10. Kenny Roberts 88