Rossi triumphs in thrilling brawl at the 'Ring. Rossi wins again after breathtaking 2-stroke v 4-stroke battle at tortuous Sachsenring. Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) took his eighth victory of the year at the Sachsenring ...
Rossi triumphs in thrilling brawl at the 'Ring.
Rossi wins again after breathtaking 2-stroke v 4-stroke battle at tortuous Sachsenring.
Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) took his eighth victory of the year at the Sachsenring today, but this time the Italian looked like he might not win. Racing around a track which puts the lighter 500cc two-strokes on equal terms with the more powerful 990cc four-strokes, Rossi was involved in a breathtaking 30-lap brawl with up to seven other riders and admitted that he was gifted the race when leaders Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR500-Michelin) and Alex Barros (West Honda Po ns NSR500-Michelin) crashed out three laps from the flag. Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) completed the podium, Michelin riders once again monopolising the action.
The German GP was the best of the season so far, with the all-Michelin, eight-man leading group swapping places lap after lap to the delight of the capacity 78,000 crowd. Rossi always knew this was going to be a tough one. For the first time this year he started off the front row, after qualifying sixth quickest, and had an arduous ride towards the front of the pack. He took the lead at two-thirds distance but then ran wide, allowing Jacque and Barros back in front. Three laps later Barros tried an over-optimistic move on leader Jacque at turn one, slid off and skittled the luckless Frenchman, who'd started the race from pole. From there all Rossi had to do was hold off Biaggi.
"That was a spectacular race," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "And most of the front group were clocking their fastest laps at the very end. That always makes us happy because it shows that the performance of our tyres is really good. All the top guys made good tyre choices, Abe the only guy amongst the leaders not to go for a dual-compound rear. Rossi and Ukawa chose our harder dual-compound rear, which they only tried for the first time in warm-up. Biaggi chose a softer r ear, because his bike is more gentle on tyres. It's been quite a challenging weekend for us because the track temperature has been so variable, but we knew that's always possible here, so we brought a larger than usual range of compounds."
Rossi crossed the finish line just 0.730 seconds ahead of Biaggi, with Ukawa, Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin), Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR500-Michelin) and Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-d'Antin YZR500-Michelin) all within 2.78 seconds of the winner. "That race must've been a lot of fun for anyone watching TV, and for us the riders, too," said Rossi, who established a new lap record on the penultimate lap as he worked to stay ahead of Biaggi. "The two-strokes and four -strokes were very close here, the two-strokes easier to handle through the tight section, but I found I could overtake through the fast, downhill part near the end of the lap."
Biaggi rode hard after an awkward first few laps. "They were difficult because I was struggling with the weight of the bike and a full tank of gas," he said. "Also, we changed the geometry after warm-up. I hadn't had a chance to test it, so it took me five or six laps to get used to the feeling, then I started pushing hard. I caught up the front guys but it was tough to overtake."
Ukawa was delighted with third place, achieved just nine days after his huge Donington crash, which left him nursing a broken foot and tailbone. "I got a good start and led the first laps but then the pain started," he said. "I tried my maximum and nearly crashed many times, finally I made the podium, so I'm very happy."
Checa did well to come back from a third-row start. In the thick of the action all race long, he never quite got close enough to challenge for a podium finish, finishing 1.2 seconds down on Ukawa at the flag and a fraction ahead of Nakano and Abe.
The MotoGP circus now takes its traditional midseason break, reconvening for the Czech GP in late August.