Biaggi Wins Furious German GP Italian wins to move to within one point of World Championship leader Rossi Fastest-ever Sachsenring GP betters last year's race time by almost 18 seconds Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) reignited...
Biaggi Wins Furious German GP
Italian wins to move to within one point of World Championship leader Rossi
Fastest-ever Sachsenring GP betters last year's race time by almost 18 seconds
Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) reignited his challenge for the 2004 MotoGP World Championship with a hard-fought victory at a baking-hot Sachsenring today. The Italian beat Alex Barros (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) by just 0.349 seconds to bring himself to within one point of series leader Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) who finished fourth behind Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin). Michelin riders dominated the race, filling the first five finishing positions, and also dominate the points chase, holding the first nine places at the championship's halfway point.
"We're quite happy with today's race," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "Our riders' pace was fast - Biaggi was almost 18 seconds inside the race record - and there were some exciting battles. There were also quite a few crashes, maybe because the track lost some grip after it rained overnight or maybe because this circuit is so tight and so difficult for overtaking, which means that riders have to try that extra little bit harder."
Biaggi's first win of 2004 didn't come easily. A higher-than-usual number of crashes suggested that the tortuous circuit was more slippery than it had been during qualifying and the former 250 champ had to fight off determined challenges from Rossi and then Barros. Pole-sitter Biaggi and Rossi dominated the early stages after Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) tumbled out of third place while just behind them. That left the two Italians alone out front, until hard-charging Barros caught them just after half-distance, bringing Hayden with him. Rossi then took the lead for six laps, but the World Champion was riding the outer limits and a couple of close calls convinced him that discretion was the better part of valour, so he eased his pace, slipping to fourth. Barros meanwhile kept up the pressure on Biaggi, trying to snatch the lead all the way to the very last corner.
"The bike was good today, incredible," said Biaggi, who crashed out of last year's German GP. "Rossi managed to pass me in a few places but I could always come back at him. This result is very important for the championship, so my thanks go to my team, to Honda and to Michelin who all did a great job here."
Barros was at least happy that he had been in the hunt after a run of difficult races. "I collided with Sete in the first laps and it took me a while to move forward," said the Brazilian who was down in eighth after the first five laps. "This is the first time all year I've fought for victory, which makes me confident for the second half of the season."
Hayden was also smiling after his second consecutive podium finish. "That was a tough race," said the American youngster. "There was some contact in the first few laps which lost me a few spots. After that I got real aggressive and took some chances because that's what I had to do for a shot at the podium. Alex came by and drove me to the front. But I need to work on my riding a bit - I'm still abusing my tyres too much early in the race."
Rossi ended the eighth GP of the year 4.5 seconds down on Biaggi after closing on Hayden in the last few laps. "The bike consumed the tyres too much," explained the champ. "Later on it was difficult to steer."
Former World Superbike champ Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) equalled his best result of the year, coming home fifth after winning a dramatic battle with several other riders.