Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Ends Tough Weekend in Rio After a difficult couple of days of qualifying for Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa, raceday at Rio proved to be equally demanding today, with Rossi falling after...
Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Ends Tough Weekend in Rio
After a difficult couple of days of qualifying for Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa, raceday at Rio proved to be equally demanding today, with Rossi falling after losing the front on lap 13 and Checa fighting through from a fourth row start to finish tenth.
The 24-lap race began brightly for Rossi, the reigning World Champion, as he jumped from a starting position on the third row to fifth place at the very first corner. His main championship rival Sete Gibernau (Honda) crashed out on lap two, just as Rossi began to really turn up the pace on his Yamaha YZR-M1. Moving up to fourth and past pole position man Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) after passing up the inside at turn one, Rossi seized a chance to pass Alex Barros (Honda) and began the task of reducing the 1.6 second gap to race leaders Max Biaggi (Honda) and Nicky Hayden (Honda).
Simultaneously defending pressure from eventual race winner Makoto Tamada (Honda) while still cutting the gap to 0.8 seconds on lap ten, a mistake on the twelfth lap allowed Tamada to pass for third. Pushing hard to stay in contention for a podium, Rossi fell on lap 13, at the last left hand corner on the 4.933km Jacarepagua circuit.
Excellent progress from the determined Checa, 12th in qualifying, put him up to ninth after a quarter race distance, until Marco Melandri (Yamaha) ran both riders onto the grass while attempting an outbraking manoeuvre. Battling his way back on track Checa was to finish tenth overall. The race win was taken by Tamada, his first win in the premier class, Biaggi second and Nicky Hayden (Honda) third.
Despite his raceday misfortune Rossi still leads the championship, sharing a 126-point total with Gibernau, but ahead because of his better win ratio of 4 to 2.
CARLOS CHECA (10th, 44'58.784)
"We seemed to change everything through the weekend and in warm up but I still didn't feel comfortable; It was a difficult weekend. Here in Rio we had a very negative feeling from the beginning and this has not been the case anywhere else this year. During the race Marco Melandri lost the rear and then could not brake properly as he tried to pass. He went straight on and then we touched. Luckily I saw him coming just as I was about to flick it in, I stood the bike up, we touched and then ran off the track. Luckily nothing happened and I don't think it changed my race result. At that moment maybe I could have caught Capirossi but I could not have kept doing the lap time, as I was already at the limit."
VALENTINO ROSSI (DNF)
"We made some modifications before and after warm-up this morning. Even though I was riding better the set-up was still not quite right. What a shame. I lost the front and that was it. I haven't fallen in a race since Mugello 2001. We've been having problems all through the weekend, but we were having a strong race and I felt I was catching the leaders. Even though I was up with the front group it was very difficult on the left hand corners. If I had managed to finish in fourth place it would have earned us some good points."
DAVIDE BRIVIO, GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"Not a good day for us and we've had a difficult weekend trying to find the best settings for our machine. Valentino's fall brought it to an end but that's racing. It's a missed opportunity because we could have gained some points on Sete. Valentino is a fighter and that is probably what has helped him get so many victories in the past but today it didn't work out that way. The main thing is that we restart in Sachsenring still leading the championship, so that is the positive side of the story. For Carlos, he didn't manage to get a good feeling from the machine, struggled all the race and could only finish tenth."