Rossi scores Michelin's 75th win in a row Rossi heads all-Italian contest for victory in front of massive home crowd Lap and race records broken by Michelin riders despite searing heat Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) produced...
Rossi scores Michelin's 75th win in a row
Rossi heads all-Italian contest for victory in front of massive home crowd
Lap and race records broken by Michelin riders despite searing heat
Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) produced a superhuman performance in punishing 35-degree heat at Mugello today to defeat Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici-Michelin) and Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin ) in a tantalising all-Italian contest. In doing so Rossi scored Michelin's 75th consecutive premier-class GP victory -- a remarkable achievement from the French tyre brand whose riders dominate the current MotoGP points standings, the first ten riders all on Michelins.
The race pace was relentless despite the heat, Rossi smashing his lightning-quick 2002 race record by 12 seconds, Capirossi establishing a new track record with just three laps to go, proving the staying power of his Michelin slicks. "We're obviously very happy with our 75th consecutive win," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "But we are probably even happier about the race itself. First, it was a great show for the fans, second, the first three guys maintai ned an incredible pace, well ahead of the rest of the pack, and third, Loris set the fastest lap right at the end, which always pleases us. Also, it was a very fast race despite the heat -- last year the track temperature was 42 degrees, today it was 47 deg rees -- which is a great result for our tyres. Interestingly, Loris chose a softer rear than the other two -- he ran endurance tests on this tyre in practice -- he can make softer tyres last longer than other riders."
The three Italian gladiators delighted the noisy 72,000-strong crowd by dominating the entire race -- Capirossi leading the first few laps before Biaggi took over until just after half distance when pole-sitter Rossi moved ahead. The World Champion opened a 2.5 second advantage while his two rivals disputed second place, Capirossi eventually getting past Biaggi to chase down the leader in a spectacular final few laps. Rossi crossed the line 1.4 seconds ahead to stretch his series advantage over Biagg i to 32 points.
"It's a big emotion to race here when the place is full of fans," said Rossi after his 27th premier-class win which takes Italy to the top of the national all-time winners' league, one victory ahead of the USA. "After the start I just tried to stay near the leaders, and I have to say congratulations to Max and Loris -- they rode very well. With ten laps to go I started to try hard and gained some advantage. Then with a few laps to go my pit board told me Loris was coming -- so I tried to keep my concen tration and rhythm.
Capirossi was in stunning form over the final few laps, cutting Rossi's lead from 2.5 seconds to one second as he broke the lap record on lap 20. "This is fantastic -- it feels as good as a win," said Capirossi. "I tried my best -- got into a good rhythm from the start, but then Max and Valentino came. Valentino was so fast, then I had a big fight with Max. It was so difficult to overtake him but my bike had fantastic top speed, so I was able to do it. Then I gave 105 per cent over the last few laps ."
Biaggi fought a terrific skirmish with Capirossi, the pair colliding as they fought for the same piece of tarmac. "I had some chances and took them when I could and fought as hard as I could," said Biaggi, 4.5 seconds down at the flag. "Races are for winning but I'm happy to be on the podium."
Shinya Nakano (D'Antin Yamaha YZR-M1-Michelin) scored his best four-stroke result in fifth, a fraction behind Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V). Nakano had started from the front row and enjoyed a long tussle with compatriots Tamada, Tohru Ukawa (Honda Camel Pramac Pons RC211V-Michelin) and Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin). Ukawa and Gibernau ended up sixth and seventh -- just one second covering the foursome at the finish.