Max Biaggi scored a masterful start-to-finish victory at sun-blessed Sachsenring today, leading home Marlboro Yamaha Team-mate Carlos Checa and giving his World Championship hopes a dramatic boost. No one came even close to the Italian...
Max Biaggi scored a masterful start-to-finish victory at sun-blessed Sachsenring today, leading home Marlboro Yamaha Team-mate Carlos Checa and giving his World Championship hopes a dramatic boost.
No one came even close to the Italian after he'd got the holeshot from pole position, while Checa had to fight hard for his second runner-up finish of the season, just edging out fellow Yamaha riders Shinya Nakano and Norick Abe. Biaggi's third victory of 2001 narrowed the points gap on series leader Valentino Rossi (Honda) from 26 to ten points. Rossi scored his worst finish of the year today, coming home a distant seventh after starting from 11th on the grid.
This was the Marlboro Yamaha Team's second one-two finish of the year, following their similarly dominant display at May's French GP, and the result sends the crew into the mid-season break in great spirits. Today was also the first time Yamaha has filled the first four places since the 1990 Belgian GP.
"I'm so happy!" beamed Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. "Maybe this is the turning point of the season, I think this victory was very important for all of us. Max rode a fantastic race, he's riding so great at the moment, and Carlos too, it's wonderful to see him back on the podium where he belongs. Also, so good to see four Yamahas in the top four. For sure our bike works well here, but not only that, we've kept improving the balance and I think we can continue in this direction when we test at Brno at the end of the month."
The Marlboro Yamaha Team has three days at Brno from July 29 to 31. The circuit is venue for August's Czech GP, and is Biaggi's all-time favourite, the Roman has failed to win two races on his last seven visits. Both Max and Carlos will also be present at the Marlboro Masters Formula 3 car race in Zandvoort, Holland on 4th and 5th August for a series of demonstration laps on their YZR500 race bikes. Also present will be Randy Mamola on the Marlboro Yamaha two-seater.
BIAGGI DOMINATES AT THE 'RING
Three weeks ago at Assen, when Max Biaggi won his second race of 2001, he said he was riding better than ever. Today's awe-inspiring win at the Sachsenring underlines that fact, Biaggi leading from the first corner to the last and never putting a wheel wrong. Not only that, arch-rival Valentino Rossi crossed the line almost 22 seconds down on his compatriot, his series lead shrinking dramatically as a result.
Biaggi pulled away from the pack apparently at will, easing the gap over Marlboro Yamaha Team-mate Carlos Checa to 1.3 seconds at half distance to win by 3.249 seconds.
"I'm so happy, there's no better way to win a race than leading all the way from pole," said the Italian star after his eighth 500 win. "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 only had one big moment up the hill at the back of the track 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.
"I'm riding harder and harder at the moment because I want to win races and close the points gap. I've been in this situation in the past. The guy who is second must push so hard, while the guy in front always has a bit of a psychological advantage. This result gives me a lot of satisfaction, it 's great for the team to get a one-two, and I'd like to thank everyone within the team, they're doing a wonderful job. Now I go to Brno for tests, then to the US for a two-week holiday, then back to Brno, when I'll be ready for the race."
CHECA BACK WHERE HE BELONGS
Carlos Checa chased team-mate Max Biaggi all the way but later in the race his main concern was fending off Shinya Nakano and Norick Abe. Second from the first lap, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man came under pressure from Abe, who went ahead for nine laps during the mid-stages. Then when Checa went back ahead, Nakano closed on the pair, dispensing with Abe two laps from the flag and getting to within four tenths of Checa at the finish. It was a great race from Checa under serious pressure.
"I wanted to win," said Checa. "This was a good result but I hate second because I've finished there so many times. Maybe I should try third, though first would be even better! It was impossible to go with Max, and then I had to work hard to keep Nakano and Abe behind me. We've had quite a tough year so far, and a lot of pressure as a result, but the team has always supported me and I really appreciate their attitude. Now I hope we can fight for the podium every weekend, win some races and have a good second half of the season. The bike is much better than before, I feel really confident when I'm riding, and that's the best way to go into the next race. Now I want to relax, then focus on Brno. I'm ready to work hard to make the bike even better."
NAKANO SCORED FIRST 500 PODIUM
Rookie Shinya Nakano finally got to back up his impressive pace in qualifying with his first 500 podium finish. Starting from second on the grid for the third time this season, Nakano recovered brilliantly from a poor start that left him eighth on the first lap. He doggedly worked his way through the pack to take Abe just over a lap before the flag. "It was difficult to catch up," said the former 250 winner. "I pushed very hard, too hard even, and I lost the front a few times, so I changed my style a little and my lap times improved again."
RESULTS 1. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team 43'36.983 2. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team +3.249 3. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 +3.642 4. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA-d'Antin +4.784 5. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons +21.164 6. Olivier Jacque (FRA) Gauloises YAMAHA Tech 3 +21.385 7. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Nastro Azzurro HONDA +21.945 8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) West HONDA Pons +22.485 9. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +23.331 10. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI +24.404
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 1. Valentino Rossi 170 2. MAX BIAGGI 160 3. Loris Capirossi 111 4. Alex Barros 100 5. Shinya Nakano 100 6. Norick Abe 87 7. Alex Criville 71 8. CARLOS CHECA 67 9. Kenny Roberts 62 10. Sete Gibernau 60