Rossi wins soaking Suzuka showdown. Victory in first four-stroke MotoGP race continues Rossi's remarkable run of results. Italian genius Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) opened MotoGP racing's four -stroke era the same way he...
Rossi wins soaking Suzuka showdown.
Victory in first four-stroke MotoGP race continues Rossi's remarkable run of results.
Italian genius Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) opened MotoGP racing's four -stroke era the same way he ended GP racing's two-stroke era - winning in fine style. Racing his RCV for the first time in the wet, Rossi won an enthralling Japa nese GP confrontation with determined local wild card Akira Ryo (Suzuki). The result was in doubt all the way to the flag but Rossi used all his talent and intelligence to take his first four-stroke Grand Prix victory, adding to his previous successes in 1 25, 250 and 500 GPs. This was also Rossi's third successive Suzuka win; last year he won both the 500 GP and the Eight Hour here, all three victories achieved with Michelin tyres. Third place in today's race went to Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M 1-Michelin), Michelin riders filling all but one of the top six placings.
"That was a very exciting but very tiring race for us!" said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "We are happy to have some competition this year, it makes the emotion of winning all the greater. But I think the best thing about today's race wa s having three different makes of bike on the podium, that's great for interest in the new MotoGP championship. Valentino used an S2 profile rear wet, like he used on his 500 last year, so he was familiar with this tyre. We don't plan to create a rain vers ion of our new 16.5 because the profile is designed for cooler running, which isn't necessarily what you're trying to achieve with rain tyres. But he did use a new front, with new compound and tread pattern."
Although Rossi had a busy off-season spent testing and developing the RCV, he only got to ride a handful of laps in the rain, at Sepang during February, so today was effectively his first wet-weather outing with the bike
"When I woke up this morning I wasn't so happy to see that it was raining, like most riders, I'm sure," he smiled. "We were only 14th in warm-up but I stayed calm and made sure I got a good start. It's very important to stay with the leading group in these conditions, because only then can you understand where the limit really is. So I used this tactic and when I could overtake some riders I did it at the chicane. Then I was with the wild cards, Ryo and Itoh, who both know this track very well in the wet. When it was just me and Ryo I could see he was faster in some parts and I learned from that. Also, I have ridden the Superbike in the wet here, so that helped. This weekend has given me very much emotion, bot h good and bad, because I had two crashes in practice. It was a good race for sure, now I'm very happy!"
Checa was almost as delighted with his third place. "I'm so happy even if I consider that wet-weather results aren't so 'real'," said the Spaniard who qualified fourth fastest, just 0.244 seconds off Rossi's pole position time. "In some ways the most impor tant thing this weekend was yesterday's qualifying session because that showed we're already at a high level with this machine. The bike is ready to fight to win, that's the main thing, so I'm confident for the next race." Checa passed wild card rider Shinichi Itoh (Team HRC RC211V-Michelin) for third with four laps to go, Itoh impressing with his speed even though he hadn't raced for almost a year. Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-d'Antin YZR500-Michelin) and Alex Barros (West H onda Pons NSR500-Michelin) were the first of the 500s home in fifth and sixth. There were a number of tumbles in the tricky conditions but none of the fallers were injured.