MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM MEN DAZZLE IN RIO GLOOM Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa played starring roles in this afternoon's rain-soaked Rio GP, pole-starter Biaggi finishing an excellent second, Checa storming through...
MARLBORO YAMAHA TEAM MEN DAZZLE IN RIO GLOOM
Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa played starring roles in this afternoon's rain-soaked Rio GP, pole-starter Biaggi finishing an excellent second, Checa storming through from last place to first, only to slide off when victory seemed within his grasp.
Checa's ride through the pack awed the 41,000 fans who'd braved the Rio weather but he got no rewards for his effort, his M1 refusing to start after he'd slid into a trackside gravel trap.
"Carlos was so, so fast, I couldn't believe it," declared M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "But he gave me a headache at the start -he was in neutral, not first, when the race started. His fighting spirit is incredible; he had caught the leaders so fast that he knew he could win the race if he didn't make any mistakes. Max had maybe his best-ever ride in the wet and we're very happy he's now second overall, this is a good reward for all his effort. The M1 was once again very good this weekend. We have now scored three pole positions in a row and we are always running up front, even when the conditions are bad, I think this shows that our bike is very user-friendly."
BIAGGI FINISHES SECOND, NOW SECOND OVERALL
Max Biaggi isn't a great fan of riding in the rain but the Marlboro Yamaha Team star was in sparkling form at rain-lashed Rio this afternoon, riding to a superb second-place finish that moves him to second overall, ahead of Tohru Ukawa (Honda) who fell on lap two. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man started well from pole position, holding third place just behind Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) and Valentino Rossi (Honda). When Rossi took the lead, Biaggi also passed Roberts and was then briefly demoted back to third by team-mate Carlos Checa, ending the race just 1.6 seconds down on Rossi.
"It was very wet out there but I felt comfortable," said Biaggi after his sixth podium finish of the year. "I was trying to ride my own race and ride my best, then I saw my pit board saying 'Ukawa out', so I automatically slowed down because I was looking for the points to go to second overall. Considering how we started the year I think moving into second is a great result, so thanks to everyone in the team and at Yamaha. I 'd also like to congratulate Rossi on winning the title, he deserves it. Now I will focus on continuing my battle with Ukawa at the last four races."
CHECA: FROM LAST TO FIRST, THEN.
Carlos Checa staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in modern racing history today, recovering from dead last to take the lead seven laps from the flag, only to fall a few corners later. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man found himself in neutral when the race started and was last away from the grid but was quickly down to business, carving through the pack at astounding speed, often lapping over a second faster than the leaders and at one stage 2.5 seconds quicker.
"I thought I was in first gear for the start, but I wasn't," said the calm and philosophical Spaniard. "After that I said: 'Okay, I'll try my best'. The bike and tyres were working very well, so I just concentrated on my riding and I was amazed at how fast I caught the leaders. When I was with Biaggi, Roberts and Rossi I took my time, then I took the lead from Rossi because it was more comfortable to have a clear track ahead, there was just too much water around when I was behind them. I flicked into that turn the same as I had before, but maybe something was different. I was focusing on the front going into the corner and the rear lost grip, I don't know why. So now I must look to Motegi. I'm confident because Yamaha have done a great job with the bike, you could see that today, that's why I re-signed with them, I have 100 per cent faith in the M1 project."
ROSSI CLAIMS MotoGP TITLE
Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first-ever MotoGP title with his fifth consecutive Rio race victory, adding the crown to his previous successes in the 500, 250 and 125 World Championships. He was virtually assured of the crown after sole title-rival and team-mate Tohru Ukawa fell on lap two. "This is like a dream for me, but it's too soon to express how I feel," he said. "The race wasn't easy, it was so wet I couldn't see. That's why I took the lead from Kenny, so I could see where I was going." Rossi's last four victories have all been inherited from riders crashing ahead of him, but, as racing's favourite maxim says: to finish first, first you must finish.
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 49'09.516
2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +1.674
3. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +18.764
4. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) +24.759
5. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) +32.354
6. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA d'Antin (YZR500) +34.360
7. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR500) +44.250
8. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +57.150
9. Jurgen vd Goorbergh (NED) KANEMOTO Racing (NSR500) +1'09.987
10. Garry McCoy (AUS) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) +1'17.611
DNF: CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) (8 laps)
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 270
2. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) 164
2. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) 156
4. Alex Barros (BRA) 118
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) 116
6. Norick Abe (JPN) 109
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 86
8. Daijiro Kato (JPN) 80
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) 74
10. Olivier Jacque (FRA) 57