Pacific GP: Yamaha Team race notes

HIGH HOPES BUT LITTLE REWARD FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi had high hopes of challenging for victory at Motegi this afternoon after strong performances throughout Friday and Saturday. Both men...

HIGH HOPES BUT LITTLE REWARD FOR MARLBORO YAMAHA

Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi had high hopes of challenging for victory at Motegi this afternoon after strong performances throughout Friday and Saturday. Both men qualified on the front row yesterday, within a tenth of so of pole position, but were unable to match that pace today, Checa finishing fifth and Biaggi retiring shortly after half-distance.

"Carlos and Max ran an excellent pace in practice, qualifying and morning warm-up, but weren't able to reproduce that speed in the race," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "Max had a problem with his front tyre after we decided to go with a soft compound. We knew it was a risky choice - sometimes you take risks and win, but it didn't work out like that today. Carlos also chose the same front but he uses a slightly different set-up, and maybe Max was just a bit unlucky. Carlos did well to score some good points. We leave Motegi tonight, heading for Sepang, where we expect to perform much more strongly on race day."

DOGGED CHECA SALVAGES FIFTH

Carlos Checa completed today's Pacific Grand Prix in fifth place, small recompense for his impressive efforts during qualifying, which he finished just 0.172 seconds behind pole-sitter Daijiro Kato (Honda). The Marlboro Yamaha Team man had a tough race, completing the first lap in ninth place and taking until half distance to leave behind Kenny Roberts Junior (Suzuki).

"I didn't have the same feeling as I'd had during practice and qualifying," said the Spaniard. "Now we must analyse the data and work out what went wrong. The feeling was already different in warm-up, so we changed the set-up for the race but the front-tyre feeling still wasn't right. I tried to adapt my riding to get around the problem but the lap times never came. It was impossible for me to brake and flick into the turns as I'd done before, and I couldn't keep the bike leant over at speed or with the brake on."

TYRE GAMBLE GOES WRONG FOR BIAGGI

Second fastest in qualifying, just 0.11 seconds off pole, Max Biaggi went into today's race confident of challenging for another win on his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1. But the Italian was unable to run with the leading pack from the outset, spending the first half of the race battling for fourth place with Tohru Ukawa (Honda). Then he ran into front-tyre problems which forced him into the pits just after halfway.

"We chose a very soft front tyre, which was a big risk and turned out to be a problem," said Biaggi, whose DNF dropped him back to third in the points chase. "The tyre started smoking and though I was able to do another two or three laps it was impossible to continue. The tyre was our choice, usually the M1 can use softer tyres than the other four-strokes, but this was a gamble that didn't pay off. I was confident of a good result because I 'd been fast and consistent during practice, but now I know that we should' ve been more conservative on tyre choice. I'm disappointed, but hopefully we can make up for this in Malaysia and get back second in the championship."

BARROS OUTRUNS ROSSI

Alex Barros (Honda) dazzled the Motegi crowd with his first race on an RCV four-stroke, defeating recently crowned MotoGP World Champion and identically mounted Valentino Rossi in a thrilling head-to-head battle. The Brazilian, who started his GP career way back in 1986, made the most of a superior bike set-up to defeat the Italian by 1.641 seconds. "I tried to keep a fast pace, then Valentino overtook me but he made a mistake braking into a turn, so I got back in front," said Barros, only the second man to defeat Rossi this year. "After that I went as fast as possible. I'm very happy!"

RESULTS
1. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (RC211v) 44'18.913
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) +1.641
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) +7.672
4. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) +18.120
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +25.036
6. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +29.201
7. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR500) +32.902
8. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA d'Antin (YZR500) +33.287
9. Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) PROTON Team KR (KR3) +35.949
10. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) +37.355

DNF: MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) 9 laps

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 290
2. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) 169
3. BIAGGI (ITA) 164
4. Alex Barros (BRA) 143
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) 127
6. Norick Abe (JPN) 117
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 102
8. Kenny Roberts (USA) 84
9. Daijiro Kato (JPN) 80
10. Olivier Jacque (FRA) 66

-myt-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Jeremy McWilliams , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Kenny Roberts , Olivier Jacque , Nobuatsu Aoki , Abe Norick , Davide Brivio
Teams Williams