MICHELIN RIDERS BEAT CONDITIONS Barros scores first race win since 2002 season Fast starting Michelin riders able to keep good pace despite rain After the 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin), the ...
MICHELIN RIDERS BEAT CONDITIONS
Barros scores first race win since 2002 season Fast starting Michelin riders able to keep good pace despite rain
After the 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin), the fastest man in qualifying, took his first win of the year, capitalising on the misfortunes of long-time race leader Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin). Gibernau fell while leading on lap 17, a victim of the ever-changing track conditions on the first few corners. Mid-race rainfall brought about the first use new regulations, with riders either obliged to continue or pull into the pits to use their spare bikes, with wet tyres already fitted.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) took second place, pushing Barros in the final few laps, but still some 2.771 seconds down at the flag. He now leads the championship by seven points, from Barros.
"It was a very difficult race but with a very good ending for us," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "Although the conditions were difficult, thanks to low ground temperature, some wind and then the rains, we found really good solutions. Nearly all the riders chose the same rear and that is a sign that you have made something that works well. For the front Alex used a hard tyre, different from the others. He seems to like a hard front tyre and even that worked in the rains. In these circumstances the race time means little but if you look at the pace the leaders set at the beginning, and the pace of the first two laps, none of our riders suffered on the cold track. Last year our closest competitor was second, and it was a big shame for Tamada-san not to be able to participate. Without the crashes we would have had even more riders in the top positions, but of even more importance our nearest competitor was over 29 seconds behind. That's a huge difference."
With Barros and Rossi going 1-2, Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) earned third, shadowing Rossi almost throughout, and only ahead of his fellow countryman for three laps of the 28. Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) was the fourth Michelin rider in the top four, coming out best in a long battle with faller Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), who remounted to finish sixth.
"It was a really tricky race" stated Barros. "When the rain first came I gave up for a lap, then when it came on more heavily at the end of the straight Sete lost the front. The first and second corners were really, really tricky, but I could not relax because Valentino kept pushing me, he closed the gap a lot, so I had to push more to make the gap." Rossi, happy with second in these conditions, said "To make it worth changing bikes we need more water on the track, because you lose too much time coming into the pits; maybe 40 or 50 seconds. So we needed to continue with slicks, and riding a MotoGP bike on slicks in the wet is not the greatest feeling! But I take home 20 points, which are very important for the championship."