MYT Spanish GP race report

Marlboro Yamaha Team men Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had a torrid time in this afternoon's Marlboro Spanish GP, the pair finishing 11th and 14th. Biaggi was in the hunt for a top-four finish until he ran off the track shortly after...

Marlboro Yamaha Team men Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa had a torrid time in this afternoon's Marlboro Spanish GP, the pair finishing 11th and 14th.

Biaggi was in the hunt for a top-four finish until he ran off the track shortly after half-distance, taking a long trip through the gravel trap and rejoining the race well down. Checa had a huge highside tumble yesterday which left him battered and bruised all over. He bravely elected to compete and rode a dogged race to secure two World Championship points.

"There's not much to say -- we've been having a lot of difficult days this year and today was another," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. "Both Max and Carlos were so fast and consistent in pre-season tests but now we seem to have got ourselves into a hole, and sometimes it can be difficult to get out of a situation. We already had a two-day test scheduled at Mugello next week and we will use those two days to look for the problem. We know the Yamaha is a good motorcycle, with two bikes in the top four today, and the difference in set-up between our bikes and the other YZRs is not so big, but it only takes a little difference to cause problems. I believe in the riders, now we must work to give them what they need to fight for wins once again."

Today's race, run in warm conditions in front of a 126,000-strong crowd, was round three of the 2001 series. The GP paddock reconvenes in two weeks time for the French GP at Le Mans.


Max Biaggi had a troubled race aboard his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500. Stuck behind Alex Barros (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki), the two most difficult men to pass in racing, he then ran off the track, dropping back to 12th. Over the remaining laps the Italian fought back as best he could, moving up to 11th and homing in on the battle for eighth between Loris Capirossi (Honda), Garry McCoy (Yamaha) and Sete Gibernau (Suzuki).

"The bike didn't feel so rideable today," said the Italian. "It's not just one problem you can put your finger on. We had a difficult time trying to find a set-up during practice, so the bike wasn't turning well and didn't have much grip. I was pushing hard when I went off, and I kept pushing when I got back on track. The main thing now is not to get demoralised. We have a test at Mugello on Thursday and Friday where we will sort things out."


Despite a punishing get-off in yesterday's final qualifying session, Carlos Checa decided to ride in his home GP today, and his resilience was rewarded with two hard-won points. If it wasn't the greatest of results it proved that Checa is the hardest man in racing and his bravery was rewarded by rapturous applause from the appreciative crowd. Although he broke no bones in yesterday's tumble, he was hurting all over and received pain-killing pills and anti-inflammatory injections to enable him to get through the gruelling 27-lap race.

"I can't even move now I'm so stiff," said a drawn-looking Checa. "It was a tough race and the bike wasn't perfect either. I was getting some chatter which pushed me wide and made it hard for me to keep my speed rolling. Now we've got to look towards the test, reset and start again. Physically I'll be okay for Le Mans, we just need to find the problems that are holding us back."


Valentino Rossi (Honda) made it three out of three at Jerez this afternoon, winning the race in dominant style after running with Norick Abe (Yamaha) until the closing stages. The Italian spent some time with the Japanese but easily left his rival behind when he made his move. "That wasn't a perfect race," said Rossi ominously. "We didn't make the perfect tyre choice and when I saw Abe sliding around, I was a little wary. On a full tank I couldn't go as fast as I wanted to and I ran my best laps at the end, when the bike was more manageable and I had a better rhythm."


Norick Abe rode a great race but eventually had to be happy with second. "I was going well at the start but then my front tyre started pushing," he said. "I didn't want to crash because my team is Spanish and this is their home race."

Alex Criville rode his best race in almost a year to claim his first podium since Assen last June. "It's good to be back on the podium, it feels like '99 again," said the man who won the title that year.


Top bullfighter Fran Rivera and British pop star Richard Jones are the latest celebrities to experience the Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500 twin-seater.

The pair rode behind Randy Mamola this morning, both of them overawed by the buzz and rapturously received by the seething Jerez crowd.

Rivera, from nearby Seville, whooped with joy as Mamola ended his two laps with a huge stoppie on the start-finish straight. "Awesome!" shouted the Spaniard, who rides a Harley on the road. "That was an incredible sensation -- a bit like my own job! It was fun but you also know that the consequences of making a mistake wouldn't be good. I was a little nervous before the ride, just like I'd be before a bullfight. It was really exciting riding with Randy, since I'm a bit of a fan of his. And it was also special to do the ride at Jerez, we got an amazing reaction from the crowd."

Jones, who plays bass for chart-topping Welsh band The Stereophonics, was buzzing after his outing. "That was one of the best rides of my life, it definitely gets your heart going," he said. "A couple of the corners were pretty scary but the braking was something else, I felt like I was going to go over the top. But Randy had total control, so I felt comfortable."

Jones is a big bike fan, owning three Ducatis, a 996R, a 748 and a Monster Dark. He plans to ride his first track day at Pembrey in Wales next week. "I've been into bikes for a couple of years, it was my brother who got me into the whole thing," he added. "Plus there's a big biking community around Aberdare where I live. I plan to go to a few more GPs this year, definitely Donington and maybe another one or two."

The Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500 twin-seater is back in action at next month's Italian GP at Mugello.


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Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Randy Mamola , Carlos Checa , Garry McCoy , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Norifumi Abe , Alex Criville , Alex Barros , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Richard Jones