Michelin Men Reign In Spanish Rain Gibernau scores brilliant victory, 3.9 seconds a lap faster than top non-Michelin rider Popular home win is first success for Michelin's 16.5in front MotoGP rain tyre Rain master Sete Gibernau (Telefonica ...
Michelin Men Reign In Spanish Rain
Gibernau scores brilliant victory, 3.9 seconds a lap faster than top non-Michelin rider
Popular home win is first success for Michelin's 16.5in front MotoGP rain tyre
Rain master Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) scored a superb victory in appalling conditions at rain-soaked Jerez this afternoon, triumphing over Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) after a tense race-long duel. Alex Barr os (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) completed the podium with Michelin riders totally dominating the streaming wet event. Riders using Michelin rain tyres monopolised the top seven finishing positions, leaving the opposition floundering in their wake. T he first non-Michelin finisher was a gaping 1 minute 45 seconds behind Gibernau at the flag, the equivalent of 3.9 seconds per lap. Michelin riders also dominate the World Championship points standings, filling the top nine places with two of the year's 16 rounds done.
"We're very happy with today," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "This was our first race with our new 16.5in rain tyre, so it was an important event for us. The tyre worked really well. Our riders tell us that it offers better grip at maximum lean, increased manoeuvrability and extra feedback, compared to our 17in rain tyre. The conditions weren't easy for the riders but the lap times were impressive, only 11 per cent slower than a dry race pace. It's been a good weekend -- we were on top with qualifying tyres, with race tyres in dry practice and again in today's soaking conditions."
Gibernau is gaining a reputation as a genius in the wet. The Spaniard won his first GP success on a damp track at Valencia in 2001, ran away with last year's sodden Dutch TT and resisted major pressure from Biaggi today to score his first win of 2004 and t ake the World Championship lead. Two weeks ago he started his season with a third-place finish in South Africa.
"I knew we had a good rain set-up but all I wanted to do was finish," said Gibernau who got a hero's reception from the 125,000-strong crowd. "I had a good pace but Max was right with me, and the faster I went the harder he pushed. He rode a great race, we both had a few moments but I was faster than him in the end. Michelin did a great job with their rain tyres, I had good grip all the way to the finish."
Biaggi, who led once just after half-distance, only had two problems: Gibernau and seeing where he was going. "It rained so hard in the middle of the race that I couldn't really see," said the Italian who ended the race 5.4 seconds down for his second runn er-up finish from two races. "I tried very hard but Sete always had something in hand."
Barros, still recovering from a shoulder injury, took his first podium in almost 12 months, 52 seconds down on the winner. "I'm still not 100 per cent fit, so I will be more competitive next time," said the Brazilian who hadn't been on a podium since last May's French GP.
Welkom winner and Jerez pole-sitter Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) was fourth, six seconds behind Barros and a fraction ahead of Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin). Rossi now lies third on points behind Biaggi