Win no 46 for no 46 after Checa tumbles. 60,000 fans watch as race favourite Rossi recovers from practice crash to dominate Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) won another brilliant victory at Donington Park this afternoon -...
Win no 46 for no 46 after Checa tumbles.
60,000 fans watch as race favourite Rossi recovers from practice crash to dominate
Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) won another brilliant victory at Donington Park this afternoon - his 46th success in his 100th GP ride, a significant milestone for the youngster who has always raced with his father's favourite number 46.
Watched by the biggest British Grand Prix crowd in a decade, Rossi worked hard to come out on top, still aching from his big Friday tumble. He spent much of the race shadowing Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) until the Spaniard slid off just after half distance. Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) finished the race in second, ahead of top 500 finisher Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500-Michelin). Michelin riders filled the top seven positions in the fastest-ever Donington GP, Rossi smashing the lap record by more than a second, and his race time over 20 seconds inside his 2001-winning pace.
"We're very happy with that because we've seen another big jump forward in performance," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "This is never the easiest race for us because we never test here, so it's not so easy to develop tyres for Donington's unusual asphalt. Valentino, Max and Carlos all rode with dual-compound S4 rear slicks because this track doesn't have so many left handers. This was our first dual-compound win since Welkom, the next track at which we will use dual compounds will probably be Phillip Island. Barros used a soft single-compound S4, with a softer overall construction and compound, because the 500s are lighter than the four-strokes."
Michelin's technicians weren't the only people impressed by today's race pace. "It was incredible, Checa was very, very fast," said Rossi, who started from pole despite missing Friday qualifying. "After my crash I didn't expect to win, though I was lucky because I only really hit my head! The rest of my body was fine, so I could ride well, though I don't know if I'd have beaten Checa if he'd stayed on. After that, I was all alone, so it was difficult to stay concentrated."
Biaggi, recovering from a fever, was happy enough with second, which moves him to third overall behind Rossi and Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin), who was too beaten up to race after his Friday fall. "I got a pretty good start, kept the door closed for the first few laps and then worked at staying concentrated because the pace was very fast," said Biaggi, fifth in qualifying. "I could stay with Carlos and Rossi, although my bike was lacking a little agility through the fast section. All things considered, it wasn't so bad because I'd been sick for a week."
Barros had been expected to give the four-strokes a hard time at this unusual circuit but fluffed his start and spent much of the race alone in fourth, until Checa's mistake promoted him to third. "I was running the same times as the leaders but couldn't close the gap," said the Brazilian veteran, who also bettered Rossi's 2001 500 race time. "Checa's crash makes this third place feel like a present!"
Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-d'Antin YZR500-Michelin) equalled his best result of the year with a lonely ride to fourth after escaping an entertaining skirmish with Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR500-Michelin), who scored his best result of 2002 in fifth, Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki GSV-R-Michelin), Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR500-Michelin) and others.
The MotoGP circus gets no rest this week - heading back across the English Channel for next weekend's German GP at the Sachsenring.