Jurgen van den Goorbergh: Ninth Position
Proton Team KR rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh claimed his fifth top-ten finish of the year in today's Valencia GP, in an extraordinary race that started with the track streaming wet and desperately slippery, and finished on dry tarmac in bright sunshine.
Like most of the riders, Jurgen chose to start on full slick tyres anticipating that the track would dry, and he survived the crash-strewn early laps of the twisting 4.005km stadium-style Ricardo Tormo circuit, the field riding so slowly that it looked more like a bicycle race.
As the track dried, lap times improved, with Jurgen several times setting fastest lap as he moved through from 13th place on lap two. By half distance of the 30 lap race, he had caught a group of factory four-cylinder machines, and stayed with them as they overtook points leader Valentino Rossi, fading fast on intermediate tyres. Jurgen also passed the pints leader, but by then he had his own tyre problems. All the same, he stuck with the group to the end for yet another strong finish.
The race - 12th of 16 scheduled GP rounds - was won by Suzuki rider Sete Gibernau, the Spaniard's first GP victory.
JURGEN VAN DEN GOORBERGH
That was the strangest race ever! It was very, very slippery at the beginning - two people even fell off on the warm-up lap. I went very carefully - perhaps I could have tried harder, but there was a very big risk of hitting the floor. It must have looked funny to see 500s going so slowly, but it was very difficult to ride with the revs so low, right out of the power band. I even had to slip the clutch out of some corners. As it dried I was able to catch the guys in front of me, but by the time I got there I had used the best of my rear tyre. I could only hang on the back, and wait for somebody to make a mistake. Even though I was faster round the right-hand corners, it was still very difficult to pass. I enjoyed the race, but it was very unusual.
KENNY ROBERTS - Team Owner
With a race like that, you just never know what will happen. You're happy to finish in the top ten, then disappointed not to be better. We never even thought of fitting anything but slick tyres - but as it turned out, the way to win would have been to start on wet tyres, get a big lead, then make a pit stop to fit slicks. We're just not set up to do that, though.