Chinese GP: Michelin race notes

ROSSI IS REIGNING CHAMP IN CHINA World Champion Rossi wins Michelin's 325th victory in soaking Shanghai GP Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was the rain master at Shanghai today, scoring Michelin's...

ROSSI IS REIGNING CHAMP IN CHINA

World Champion Rossi wins Michelin's 325th victory in soaking Shanghai GP Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was the rain master at Shanghai today, scoring Michelin's 325th premier-class victory after a tense duel with Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR).

Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) was third, a few seconds ahead of Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) and Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V-Michelin). Michelin riders ruled the race, filling all but one of the top six finishing positions, as well as recording the fastest lap, almost half a second better than that of the quickest non-Michelin rider.

Michelin men also dominate the World Championship points standings, holding the top six places after three rounds. All three races so far have been won by Michelin – in the dry at Jerez, in the damp at Estoril and in pouring rain at Shanghai.

Today's conditions were atrocious, Rossi making the sensible decision to get up front early on, so he wouldn't be blinded by spray down Shanghai's 340kmh/210mph back straight, the longest in MotoGP racing. Second for the first four laps, the Italian took the lead from Kenny Roberts Junior (Suzuki GSV-R) on lap five and was never again headed, though the impressive Jacque, substituting for the injured Alex Hofmann, put him under serious pressure during the closing laps.

"That was a very exciting race and we're really happy with the result, but congratulations also to Olivier for his brilliant comeback," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycle competitions. "After the wet morning warm-up we asked our riders to make very conservative choices for the race because if the rain stopped we knew the track would be very tough on tyres because it includes two long straights. Valentino chose the same rear compound as all our top guys, on the hard side of medium, just to be safe. In the closing laps it was clear that Valentino was controlling the race, but maybe he would have had a tougher time if Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V-Michelin) hadn't been penalised for jumping the start and if Sete hadn't had a vibration problem. Alex's last two laps were the fastest two laps of the race. We've inspected Sete's rear tyre and so far found nothing wrong with it, but we will make further analysis while the team will inspect the bike."

"This win is the most surprising of my career," said Rossi, who had only qualified sixth quickest. "We made some modifications to the bike after warm-up and it was good, though it was hard to control with so much standing water on the track. Even so, my Michelins worked well to the end."

Jacque crossed the line 1.7 seconds down on Rossi, with Melandri a further 14.874 seconds back.

"I didn't do many laps in morning warm-up so I didn't feel confident at first, but after eight or nine laps I began to be fast," said Melandri who took third from team-mate Gibernau on the last lap.

Although today's race was attended by a modest 25,000 crowd, this is an important new event for MotoGP. China isn't just the world's biggest nation, with a population of 1.3 billion, it is also the world's biggest motorcycle market, with over 17 million powered two wheelers sold here each year, the vast majority of which are manufactured by China's booming motorcycle industry, which now numbers over 200 marques. None of those factories entered Chinese-made machines this weekend (though the Zongshen brand was represented in the 250 GP with Aprilia machinery) but it's surely only a matter of time before they begin to challenge the dominant Japanese and Italian marques.

-michelin-

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Valentino Rossi , Alex Barros , Sete Gibernau , Jurgen van den Goorbergh , Marco Melandri , Alex Hofmann
Teams Repsol Honda Team