Biaggi Rejoins Title Race at Rio Italian takes second behind Tamada to close on points leaders Rossi and Gibernau Michelin riders fill five of the first six positions and still dominate points table Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons ...
Biaggi Rejoins Title Race at Rio
Italian takes second behind Tamada to close on points leaders Rossi and Gibernau
Michelin riders fill five of the first six positions and still dominate points table
Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) put himself right back in the title fight at Rio de Janeiro today with a strong ride to second place, just behind first-time winner Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V). Third-place finisher Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) also rode an impressive race at this very slippery and bumpy racetrack which claimed World Championship rivals Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-M ichelin) in separate crashes.
Tamada's success ended Michelin's remarkable run of 92 premier-class victories. The French tyre brand, last beaten in July 1998, still dominates the 2004 MotoGP World Championship points chase with the top nine riders all using Michelin tyres.
"It's a shame that Sete crashed early on because his pace during practice had suggested that he would be very difficult to beat today," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "But that doesn't take anything way from Tamada's ride, congratulations to him, he rode a brilliant race. This track isn't particularly tough on tyres but it is slippery, and maybe we needed some more grip today. This was also a good track for Bridgestone last year, so we need to understand what is required if MotoGP comes back here next year."
Biaggi led most of the race, slipping to second with four laps to go and crossing the line just 2.019 seconds behind Tamada. "I'm happy for myself, second is a great result for the championship," said Biaggi who is now just 13 points behind Rossi and Gibernau. "It was a tough race, the pace was very fast. Anyway, I trust in Michelin, overall they have the best tyres and I look forward to the next two races in Germany and Britain."
Hayden was delighted with his first podium finish of 2004. "This is the first time I've got points after starting from the front row," said Hayden who started from the front row for the fourth time in his career. "We've been going good all weekend and I enjoyed the race. I was feeling comfortable behind Biaggi, then I saw Tamada was coming. I had a few moments, so I told myself to chill out and get a result. The podium is good but I want to win races, so we've got to take this and build on it."
Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4-Michelin) finished a delighted fourth, his best result of the season so far in his second race with the factory's new Twin Pulse engine. The Italian beat local hero Alex Barros (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) by less than two seconds, Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) completing the top half dozen a further second down.
Gibernau, who had led the early stages of the season, crashed on the second lap while in the thick of the leading pack. That gave Rossi -- who was level on points with Gibernau going into today's race -- a chance to get well ahead in the championship but he too slid off, at the same corner, just after half distance. "Our bike set-up wasn't quite right," explained Rossi who had won on his previous six visits to Rio, the last four with Michelin.