ROSSI HEADS ALL MICHELIN PODIUM World Champion takes last lap victory after rival makes error Top five places go to Michelin riders, with eight in the top ten After a difficult first day of practice...
ROSSI HEADS ALL MICHELIN PODIUM
World Champion takes last lap victory after rival makes error
Top five places go to Michelin riders, with eight in the top ten
After a difficult first day of practice championship leader Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR- M1-Michelin) recovered strongly to record his 50th premier class win, pouncing on a last lap mistake by long- term leader Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin). All of Rossi's 50 wins in the top class have been taken in conjunction with Michelin. In a halted and restarted race, Gibernau outbraked himself on the first corner of the 25th and last lap, allowing Rossi a clean inside line, and a clear track from then to the flag. In third place, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) could not quite pass a recovering Gibernau and had to take third, only 0.885 seconds from the win. Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) passed Alex Barros (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) with three laps left to run to take fourth. The race had been stopped after Suzuki rider John Hopkins fell, and with his bike on track and the prone rider lying in a dangerous position for both himself and his fellow competitors, the red flags were unfurled.
All ten MotoGP races this season have been taken by riders on Michelin tyres, and now the championship enjoys a traditional mid-season break until the Czech GP at Brno, on August 28.
"This is a very tight racetrack where there is not a great difference in lap time between riders," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "The first five riders finished well ahead of the rest and we only had two competitors in the top ten. The weekend started well and we had the first seven riders after qualifying. We were very happy with the consistency of our product, on a difficult track. There is a lot of time spent on the left side of the tyre here and that builds up a lot of temperature in the tyres. The track and temperatures changed a lot all weekend but our riders found that the tyres we used for the race worked well in a wide range of conditions - from the hot afternoon on Friday to the cool warm-up this morning. We are very happy about this."
Marco Melandri (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) was 12 seconds behind the leaders in sixth, with Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) seventh.
"Friday was very hard for us but the team did a great, great job with the bike, step-by-step," said reigning MotoGP World Champion Rossi. "Even yesterday I was confident for the race. The battle with Gibernau and Hayden was very tough, in some places I was very good in other parts I lost a bit and I knew the hard part was towards the end. At one moment I lost second place and I started to slide a little bit on the lefts with the tyre but everyone else had the same situation and the tyre stayed very constant right to the end. I was ready for a fight, overtook Nicky, but Sete made a mistake on the brakes; so the victory was easier than it could have been. "
Gibernau stated: "We gave away this possible win but I think our team is doing well in a difficult day for us. Today the bike worked well and we could have won the race if not for this mistake." Hayden said. "It was a tough race but after I got the taste of winning at Laguna going back to the podium isn't the same any more."
On a busy day for Michelin Motorsport the Suzuka 8-Hour race was won by Ryuichi Kiyonari and Tohru Ukawa (Seven Stars Racing Honda-Michelin), with their Michelin supplied team-mates Katsuaki Fujiwara and Chris Vermeulen (Seven Stars Racing Honda-Michelin) second. The race was held in both wet and dry conditions, but dominated by Michelin runners in all conditions.
Continuing the strong performances posted by Michelin men around the world, Hungarian Formula One race was won by Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes-Michelin) with a margin of victory of over 35 seconds.