PACIFIC GRAND PRIX, MOTEGI
Race Day, Sunday October 7 2001
UNHAPPY DAY FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN
Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi had a difficult race at Motegi this afternoon, Biaggi tumbling out of the lead while Checa could only manage a seventh-place finish. Biaggi's crash all but ended the Italian's brave attempt on this year's 500 World Championship crown, which now looks certain to go to Motegi winner Valentino Rossi (Honda).
"It's not been a happy day for us," said Marlboro Yamaha Team manager Geoff Crust. "It was disappointing for Max because he was leading the race and going fast. He chose to run a 17in rear and we could see that Rossi was struggling to keep up through certain sections of the track. He was trying very hard, lost the front and down he went. The one good thing is that he's not hurt, just frustrated. You'd have to be something of an optimist to keep thinking about the World Championship, so we'll just try and finish the season with the best results we can. Carlos had some trouble in practice but neither he nor his team gave up. They kept working and by warm-up they'd found a solution to their problems. Considering he was 13th after one lap, I think he rode a good race."
CHECA IMPROVES TO SEVENTH
Carlos Checa made good work of a difficult weekend at Motegi today, finishing a hard-charging seventh after starting from 11th on the grid. During practice the Marlboro Yamaha Team rider struggled to find a good set-up for this awkward stop-and-go track but his commitment and some tireless work from his crew brought a breakthrough during this morning's warm-up session.
"We had a difficult time with settings here but my mechanics did a great job and the bike wasn't so bad this morning," said the Spaniard. "The engine was better and I was getting less chatter, though things were difficult during the early laps when the full fuel load was causing the front to push. With less fuel the bike got better, the tyres were good and I was able to run quite a good pace. This has been a weekend of experience for us, but I think it's good to come from 13th on lap one to seventh."
BIAGGI LEADS THEN FALLS
Max Biaggi grabbed the lead on the first lap and stayed there until he slid off five laps later. It was another display of ultra-determined riding from the Marlboro Yamaha Team man who was doing everything he could to break his pursuer, Valentino Rossi. Biaggi lost the front through the 160kmh left hander that leads into the track's final chicane, and though he was unhurt, his YZR500 was too badly damaged for him to continue.
"There's nothing to say really," said an understandably glum Biaggi. "I was having to ride over the limit to stay ahead of Rossi, so there's no margin and that's when things like this can happen. Just like the last time I fell, I was doing nothing different through that corner from the laps before, but the front just let go. It was another fall that we can't explain. All I can say is that I had to try everything I could. I used a 17-inch rear tyre to try and give myself some form of advantage over the others but that had nothing really to do with the fall. I am very frustrated and upset. I'll still give 100% for the last races but also I'll start looking to the future."
ROSSI WINS EIGHTH GP
World Championship leader Valentino Rossi won his eighth GP of the year today, giving him a gaping 67-point advantage over Max Biaggi with three races to go. An eighth place finish at next Sunday's Australian GP will secure the title. The Italian chased Biaggi in the early stages of the race, then inherited a good lead over Alex Barros (Honda) when his compatriot fell.
"Biaggi was faster than me at some points of the track, while I was quicker in other corners, overall we were about the same," he said. "When he crashed I rode one slow lap because I was thinking about how to change my tactics. I had two seconds on Barros, so I just kept pushing and didn't make any mistakes. I can win the title in Australia but it doesn't matter where I win it, so long as I do win it!"
SLOW START COSTS BARROS
Alex Barros fluffed his getaway from third on the grid to finish 2.6 seconds behind Valentino Rossi and well ahead of team-mate and pole-sitter Loris Capirossi. "My start made a big difference because I got stuck behind Sete (Gibernau, Suzuki) and Kenny (Roberts, Suzuki) which cost me time while Max and Valentino got away," said the Brazilian. "My only chance was if Valentino had made a mistake but I didn't expect that to happen."
<pre> RACE CLASSIFICATION
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA 46'32.600 2. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons +2.607 3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons +9.765 4. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA d'Antin +13.951 5. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol YPF HONDA Team +21.994 6. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 +22.279 7. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marloboro YAMAHA Team +27.332 8. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +27.607 9. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +33.822 10. Yukio Kagayama (JPN) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +38.139
MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team DNF
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSIFICATION
1. Rossi 250 2. BIAGGI 183 3. Capirossi 163 4. Barros 147 5. Nakano 126 6. Abe 121 7. CHECA 111 8. Gibernau 100 9. Criville 96 10. Roberts 96