Catalunyan GP: Yamaha Team final report

MARLBORO YAMAHA MEN SCORE STRONG RESULT Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi roared their YZR-M1s to third- and fourth-place finishes at red-hot Catalunya this afternoon, local Checa making the running throughout the first...


Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi roared their YZR-M1s to third- and fourth-place finishes at red-hot Catalunya this afternoon, local Checa making the running throughout the first half of the race and sending the 90,000-strong crowd wild with excitement.

The day after Biaggi had given the M1 its first pole position, Checa was in dazzling form, grabbing the lead from the second row to lead all the way to half distance. He held the Hondas of Valentino Rossi and Tohru Ukawa at bay until lap 15 of 24, when he began to slip back to third. Biaggi shadowed the leading group, gradually finding himself alone in fourth place.

"Overall, not such a bad weekend," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda. "Max got pole position yesterday and our bikes seemed good in the race until half distance. At Mugello Carlos was passed easily on the straight but the speed difference didn't seem so big here, though we still need to work on acceleration. Our lap times weren't so good after half distance, however, so I think we need to work on machine set-up to improve tyre endurance."

The Marlboro Yamaha Team and several rival MotoGP squads stay at Catalunya tomorrow for a Michelin tyre test.


Carlos Checa today scored his first podium finish since April's season-opening Japanese GP, a well-deserved reward for his consistently superb riding and tireless dedication. The local Marlboro Yamaha Team man started brilliantly from the second row, took the lead from Tohru Ukawa on lap two at turn three and stayed there until just before half distance when Ukawa sneaked ahead several times, Checa successfully counter attacking on the brakes. But eventually he did slip to second and then third, his pace tailing off in the closing stages. He crossed the line alone, eight seconds behind the winner.

"That was hard work, the bike was working well and I was able to run a good pace," said Checa, who qualified seventh after a tumble in final qualifying. "I never had a good feeling here with the Yamaha 500, but this bike is different and we're making good progress, so thanks to all the team, my engineers and my mechanics. It's not been easy though, because I crashed yesterday afternoon and the bike wasn't so good this morning, so we had to change some settings. In the race I was able to lead for a long time, and when Ukawa came by I could pass him again. But when Rossi went ahead I couldn't keep the pace, it was too risky, I didn't have enough traction, especially on the throttle, so we must focus on that to improve."


Max Biaggi had high expectations for today's race, run in sweltering 30-degree heat. The Italian Marlboro Yamaha Team star started from pole position on his number-two machine and made a good enough start to slot into third at the first turn and run third for the first few laps. But he couldn' t quite match the pace of the leading group and dropped to fourth, running the second half of the race very much on his own. Nevertheless the result moves Biaggi to fourth overall, equal on points with his team-mate but one place ahead thanks to his second place at the Italian GP.

"You have big hopes when you get pole position," said Biaggi after his third successive podium finish on the M1. "I managed to make a good start but I quickly realised that it was going to be a tough race. I was racing my second bike because we had a problem with my number-one machine in morning warm-up. In the race the bike didn't feel so good in chassis or engine performance, so we effectively lost all the hard work we'd done in practice and qualifying. I did the best I could in the circumstances, and congratulations to Carlos, he rode a great race."


Valentino Rossi today scored his fifth victory of the year, beating team-mate Tohru Ukawa into second place after a hard-ridden final few laps. "Checa was running a good rhythm early on," said the Italian. "In some places I was faster, some places slower. But when Tohru went ahead, I decided to make my move. In the last laps I was better on the brakes, so I knew I could win if I didn't make a mistake."

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211V) 44'20.679
2. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211V) +0.880
3. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +8.531
4. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +11.918
5. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) +22.382
6. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) +30.096
7. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +31.525
8. Daijiro Kato (JPN) Fortuna HONDA Gresini (NSR500) +33.912
9. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 (YZR500) +36.847
10. John Hopkins (USA) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) +51.580

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 145
2. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) 97
3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 65
6. Norick Abe (JPN) 52
7. Alex Barros (BRA) 51
8. Daijiro Kato (JPN) 47
9. Olivier Jacque (FRA) 29
10. Kenny Roberts (USA) 28


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Norifumi Abe , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Kenny Roberts Jr. , John Hopkins , Olivier Jacque