Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha) secured a second place at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi today after a closely contested battle with eventual victor Makoto Tamada (Honda). Rossi led the early stages of the 24-lap race but lost his...
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha) secured a second place at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi today after a closely contested battle with eventual victor Makoto Tamada (Honda). Rossi led the early stages of the 24-lap race but lost his advantage to the Japanese rider from lap ten onwards, reserving his concentration to take the 20 points on offer for second place. His team-mate Carlos Checa dropped back from a bright start to finish seventh.
In front of a 67,000 strong crowd, Rossi made an excellent start from his front row grid position, leading into the first corner and thus escaping a six-rider pile-up caused by a collision between Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and John Hopkins (Suzuki). Checa also narrowly escaped the melee, running strongly in the early part of the race until an off track excursion dropped him down the order, leaving him to finish in a solitary seventh place.
Rossi and Tamada charged away from the remains of the pack, with the former leading until Tamada made a successful pass along the back straight on lap 10. From that point on Tamada built a gap over Rossi, and ended the race just over six seconds ahead of the Italian.
Rossi's second place and Gibernau's sixth place finish gives Rossi an additional ten-point cushion at the head of the championship table, with Rossi on 229 and Gibernau on 190. Max Biaggi (Honda) remains third on 158 after being put out on the first corner, with Barros leapfrogging another first corner crasher, Colin Edwards (Honda) to go fourth. Tamada lies in fifth and Checa seventh in the order, with 102 points.
VALENTINO ROSSI (2nd, 43'49.338s)
"I made a great start and that put me in front. That was very important because behind me hell arrived at the first corner! I tried to stay with Makoto and tried to win. After leading for the first ten laps he overtook me and then I started to slide a lot and I had a little problem exiting the corners under acceleration. It was impossible for me to get back in front of Makoto and for sure I would have preferred to win. This second place improves our championship position though, another ten points of a gap. This was an important race for us in every respect."
CARLOS CHECA (7th, 44'19.054s)
"I missed the big crash and I was lucky, because many people did not. I saw Loris Capirossi's screen on the ground, then I touched with Sete. I was thinking about last year and to be involved in a crash at the same place would have been hard. In the race I could not keep the pace I wanted. I pushed and pushed and in turn one I arrived a bit too fast and ran off the track. I lost eight seconds and then I knew the race was gone. After that I finished the race but it was not a nice feeling to stay there."
DAVIDE BRIVIO - TEAM DIRECTOR
"Looking at the championship, today was a good day for us because we have increased our championship lead and that was important. OK, we didn't win, but Valentino tried and today Tamada was quite strong in his entire race package. It was correct for Valentino not to take too many risks at this point in the championship. Now we go to Qatar with a 39-point lead but we have to keep going and keep concentration levels high. Carlos couldn't go faster and that was a pity. We look forward to Qatar, because it will be a new track for everyone."
JEREMY BURGESS -- VALENTINO ROSSI'S CREW CHIEF
"After the incident on the first corner it certainly put a different perspective on the race. Valentino and Tamada avoided all that. Without the other guys it was difficult to say what would have happened. Track temperatures were over 40C in the race, so that may have been a factor. Our rivals have fewer points and fewer races to earn them in now. We knew this race would be difficult for us, so you have to say it turned out not bad."