German Grand Prix, Sachsenring Race Day, Sunday July 22 2001 Roman Emperor Biaggi Wins To Close In On World Leader Rossi Max Biaggi takes crucial German GP victory while Valentino Rossi has to be happy with seventh Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha...
German Grand Prix, Sachsenring
Race Day, Sunday July 22 2001
Roman Emperor Biaggi Wins To Close In On World Leader Rossi
Max Biaggi takes crucial German GP victory while Valentino Rossi has to be happy with seventh
Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) scored a storming start-to-finish victory at the Sachsenring today while World Championship leader Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda-Michelin) could do no better than seventh. The race has dramatically enlivened the pair's fight for the last-ever 500 crown, reducing Rossi's advantage from 26 points to ten with seven of 16 races remaining.
Biaggi was in control all weekend, clocking the fastest times on Friday, claiming pole position yesterday and running away with this afternoon's gruelling 30 lap race. In warm sunshine the Roman Emperor rocketed away from the start to, easing ahead of team-mate Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team-Michelin) to win by 3.249 seconds. Checa had a tougher time of it, riding on the limit to keep his pursuers Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3-Michelin) and Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-D'Antin-Michelin) behind him. Just 1.5 seconds covered the trio at the finish.
"There's no better way to win a race than leading all the way from pole," grinned an ecstatic Biaggi. "Of course, I was ready to battle if anyone came with me but the bike set-up was good and we made the right tyre choice. I chose a medium 16.5in rear because a soft tyre wouldn't have been the correct choice for the second half of the race. The way I ride, I don't like the tyres to move around too much and that's what happens when you go soft. I prefer a slightly harder tyre, so when it starts to spin, the bike keeps moving forward. I only had one big moment when I was trying to get away from Carlos and Abe. I wanted to push hard, then maintain the gap, and that's what I did."
Michelin Grand Prix manager Jacques Morelli was impressed with Biaggi's third win of the year. "His lap times were very consistent, so he could break away while Checa and Abe were fighting between themselves," he said. "Nakano also rode very well. He uses a softer construction front tyre than the others because he prefers the feedback. For Rossi, it was one of those weekends when nothing was quite right. His bike set-up wasn't perfect and maybe he didn't make quite the right tyre choice, and because he was trying so hard to make up time, he was abusing the tyres more than the others, which gave him more wheelspin."
Checa went for the same hard front/medium rear combination as his team-mate and it proved an excellent choice. The Spaniard chased Biaggi in the early stages then switched focus from attack to defence as he came under pressure from Abe, who passed him mid-race. Checa went back ahead later on, only just fending off a hard-charging Nakano on the last lap.
"I finishing hate second because I've been there so many times," he smiled. "Maybe I should try third, though first would be even better! Anyway, I hope we can fight for the podium every weekend from now on, win some races and have a good second half of the season."
Nakano's first 500 podium finish followed a determined ride after he messed up his start from second on the grid. The former 250 star worked his way into fourth at one-third distance, but by then the leading three were well ahead and only by dint of intelligent riding did he close the gap after a mid-race lull. He got Abe with just over one lap to go and was right on Checa's tail at the finish. "For a while I was pushing too hard and I lost the front a few times," he explained. "So I changed my style, my lap times improved again and finally I was able to pass Abe. My target was the podium, so I'm happy."
Abe was fourth to give Yamaha their first one-two-three-four since the rain-lashed 1990 Belgian GP, with Alex Barros (West Honda Pons-Michelin) next up in fifth, though a further 17 seconds down. The Brazilian enjoyed an entertaining skirmish with a bunch of other riders in the later stages, Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3-Michelin), Rossi and Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons-Michelin) right behind him at the finish. Rossi did get to the front of the group at one stage, putting him fifth after running 11th on lap one.
Reigning World Champion Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin), team-mate Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki-Michelin) and comeback-man Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha WCM-Michelin) completed the race line astern, a second down on Capirossi.
Grand Prix racing now takes a four-weekend break, returning at the Czech GP at Brno on August 26.