Team Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau and Kenny Roberts finished first and third in today's Valencia GP, conquering extraordinarily difficult mixed conditions to dominate a race that started on a slippery wet track,...
Team Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau and Kenny Roberts finished first and third in today's Valencia GP, conquering extraordinarily difficult mixed conditions to dominate a race that started on a slippery wet track, riders tip-toeing round and several falling, but finished in sunshine, the surface fully dry.
The team's fine result came from a combination of clever team tactics and tyre choice, and courageous riding in very difficult conditions.
Gibernau and Roberts both gambled on full slick tyres, and started cautiously on the very slippery track, as Rossi led away with the advantage of intermediate tyres. Gibernau was second, losing three seconds on the leader as the field tiptoed round the 4.005km circuit on the first lap. Roberts was eighth on that lap, but gradually picked his way through, and he was with the leading group as they caught and easily passed the fading Rossi on the eighth of 30 laps.
With the track drying fast as the sun broke through, Sete held the lead from laps eight to 13, with Alex Barros second and Roberts right behind in third. Then Barros led for a spell and Sete dropped to third, the leading trio pulling more than ten seconds clear of the next man.
On the penultimate lap, Sete was back ahead of his team-mate, and saw his chance to pounce on the leader. He held on, to finish almost three tenths of a second ahead of Barros, with Roberts less than a second behind in third.
It was the 28-year-old Spanish rider's first GP win, achieved at home in front of a vast crowd of 120,000 fans, who greeted their hero's fine victory with a storm of fireworks and smoke bombs, and the first win of the season for the Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki team. The sponsors were also celebrating victory in the 250cc race, and a close second in the earlier 125cc event. On the slow-down lap, Sete laid his bike down to greet the crowd, and Kenny also stopped to embrace his successful team-mate.
It was also defending World Champion Kenny Roberts's best result of the year so far. The 28-year-old Californian wore a New York Fire Department cap on the rostrum, as a tribute to heroes of the recent catastrophe in New York.
SETE GIBERNAU - First Place
"It's no big secret that for the last couple of years I've been in a difficult situation, with poor results. It's never easy to deal with that, but I've kept my head down. Maybe now is the time it starts to pay off. The tyre choice was a gamble. I may be Spanish, but I had no idea that the rain would go away. Using slicks meant the first laps were really difficult, but I knew I had to just stay on to get the benefit later. Passing Alex at the end was as close as it could be, but I knew I was faster than him at that part of the track. From then on I just went as fast as I could until I saw the chequered flag. I have to thank my team, and Suzuki, and also congratulate Kenny, because I know what a difficult race it was. I know it's going to be hard to do it again, but I will never stop trying."
KENNY ROBERTS - Third Place
"I wasn't the quickest guy on a Suzuki today, and the main thing is to congratulate Sete. This was a very tough race - the sort you have to win with your head. And that's what happened. The team did a great job. In the beginning, it was like riding on ice. I didn't want to jump off when I was sure it would get dry. I had slightly different tyres than Sete - I chose a softer compound. If the track had still been grimy after it dried, my tyres would have been better. As it was, the harder compound worked better, and that's what made the difference ' with six laps left, my race was run. I'm trying to be realistic about this, but it was a fun race, and it's good to be on the rostrum again."
GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager
"What an incredible day. If you'd have asked me two weeks ago whether we could get two riders on the rostrum, I would have said yes, but not believed myself. I don't have the words to express my feelings about what Sete achieved today, It's the result of him keeping cool in a very difficult season, and always pushing himself to improve. If ever anyone deserved a GP win, it was him. Third place probably felt almost as good as a win for Kenny after a bad season so far. There was a lot of uncertainty about the weather conditions at the start, and I need to pay tribute to the whole crew, but especially Stuart, Bob and Warren. Now we have to build on this - and I am sure the factory will take heart from today, and that it will motivate them even more for the future."