2000 MotoGP 500 World Championship, round nine BRITISH GRAND PRIX, DONINGTON PARK Race Day, Sunday July 9 2000 Brilliant youngster Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda-Michelin) made light of damp, treacherous conditions at Donington Park...
2000 MotoGP 500 World Championship, round nine
BRITISH GRAND PRIX, DONINGTON PARK
Race Day, Sunday July 9 2000
Brilliant youngster Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda-Michelin) made light of damp, treacherous conditions at Donington Park this afternoon to win his first 500 victory. The reigning 250 World Champion and former 125 king, riding only his ninth 500 GP, beat off Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin) and Jeremy McWilliams (Blu Aprilia Team-Michelin) in a thrilling three-way battle. The race got underway after a rain shower with the vast majority of the grid choosing Michelin rain tyres and though the track dried as the 30 laps counted down, Rossi & Co kept it together, laying on some superb sideways entertainment. First man to show out front was Regis Laconi (Red Bull Yamaha WCM-Michelin) but then Alex Barros (Emerson Honda Pons-Michelin) moved ahead, looking to repeat his recent Dutch GP success. The Brazilian stayed out front until one third distance when Roberts eased past and began to build a comfortable lead, until home hope Jeremy McWilliams (Blu Aprilia
Team-Michelin) got into his stride. The Briton had been stung into action by Rossi, the Italian fighting back after getting sideways off the grid, and the pair homed in on Roberts. McWilliams was the first past the American and stayed there until the last four laps when Rossi made his move, Roberts repassing the Aprilia twin rider on the very last lap. "That was an incredible race," grinned Rossi, who has also won 125 and 250 GPs at the track. "We were running rain tyres on a drying track, so it was hard to keep in control, but I had a lot of fun getting the bike sideways out of the turns. "I had a bad start because I got too much wheelspin away from the grid. After that there were a lot of riders ahead, so I just tried to find a good rhythm. The bike was perfect and really good on the brakes, so I could get past other guys. When I caught Kenny and Jeremy, it seemed like Jeremy was the fastest and I thought he'd be too hard to catch. With five laps to go the tyres were well past their best, so I tried to ride more smoothly and I was able to catch and overtake Jeremy. After that I just tried to keep it smooth and I won. It's great!" Roberts was happy with second, a result that boosted his World Championship lead over closest challenger Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) who had a bad day, ending up 11th. "I had a lot on my mind before that race," said Roberts, who crashed out of the Dutch GP two weeks ago. "I wasn't my usual confident self and this track is notoriously slippery in the wet. But my bike was set up really good, especially on the brakes. But I found the time I was gaining on the brakes I was losing through other parts of the track, where the bike wasn't working so well. Once the other guys caught me, I just tried to keep their pace. They were getting really sideways, so I was just trying to conserve my tyres." McWilliams tried so hard to score Britain's first 500 success in 19 years and got a rapturous reception for his efforts from the crowd. "The fans were amazing," he said. "It must've been a great race to watch, I had a lot of fun getting sideways, though it was hard to ride. It was Valentino coming past early on who really got me going, he showed me how much grip there was. But once I was in front I lost a bit of concentration, so Rossi got me, then I made a mistake on the last lap and Roberts got me too." Loris Capirossi (Emerson Honda Pons-Michelin) rode a hero's race to fourth, in pain from the injuries he sustained at Assen, just ahead of impressive privateer Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Rizla Honda-Michelin). Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-D'Antin-Michelin) and World Champion Alex Crivill (Repsol Honda-Michelin) followed the Dutchman over the line in sixth and seventh. Michelin Grand Prix manager Jacques Morelli enjoyed the race as much as anyone. "That was an amazing show in such conditions," he said. "All the guys chose wets, with McWilliams running a slightly softer compound than the V4 riders.