Barros scores Michelin's 290th premier-class win. Brazilian RCV first-timer gets the better of champ Rossi in thrilling Motegi showdown. Alex Barros (West Honda Pons RC211V-Michelin) became only the second man this year to beat MotoGP World ...
Barros scores Michelin's 290th premier-class win.
Brazilian RCV first-timer gets the better of champ Rossi in thrilling Motegi showdown.
Alex Barros (West Honda Pons RC211V-Michelin) became only the second man this year to beat MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) in a head-to-head duel, taking a famous victory in today's Pacific GP, his first four-strok e GP ride. The pair were together throughout the race, chased hard by remarkable third-place finisher Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500-Michelin).
Barros' win was Michelin's 290th in the premier class, coming 29 years after Jack Findlay won the company's first major success in the 1973 Isle of Man Senior TT. Rossi has already secured this year's world title, which is Michelin's 11th successive premier-class championship success and its 22nd in the past 27 years. In today's race the first eight riders home used Michelin tyres and the top ten men in the series points standings are all Michelin equipped.
Barros got the better of Rossi in a dramatic final few laps, crossing the line 1.641 seconds ahead of the Italian, who had tried everything to score his 11th win of the year. The Brazilian veteran established a new lap record on the final lap, proving that his Michelin tyres were giving him all the grip and traction he needed, even after three quarters of an hour of flat-out racing.
"That was a great ride from Alex," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "He hadn't even ridden the RCV before Friday and he only has one bike, so he had to make sure he made no mistakes in practice or qualifying. He worked very well with his crew and with his Michelin engineers, and his bike seemed to work better than Valentino's. Both of them chose exactly the same front and rear tyres, Loris too. Loris rode an amazing race -- no one thought the two-strokes would stand much of a chanc e here."
Barros was in the hunt from the very beginning, leading into turn one from his second-row start, and then disputing the lead with fellow second-row starter Rossi and pole-sitter Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V-Michelin), Capirossi just metres behind. Rossi led for the first five laps before making a minor error that allowed Barros back ahead. He stayed out front for the next 14 laps before Rossi powered past again, only to make another mistake as he fought to control his machine. Making the most of his chance, Barros retook the lead and made sure he stayed there all the way to the flag.
"After Valentino made that mistake braking into a turn I got back ahead and went as fast as possible, that's why I broke the lap record on the last lap," said Barros after his first win since last year's Italian GP. "I tried to race with a good rhythm and I have to say that the RCV surprised me -- it's so fast and easy to ride."
Rossi admitted he was beaten fair and square. "This was my hardest race of the year because my set-up wasn't perfect," he said. "Every time I entered a corner I was fighting with the bike, so second isn't so bad, and the fight with Alex was good." Fellow Italian Capirossi was delighted with his second podium finish of the year. "The bike was 100 per cent and I'm very happy to get third on a two-stroke," he said.
Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) finished a lonely fourth, running the same front/rear Michelin combination as the first three, well ahead of Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki GSV-R-Michelin). Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR500-Michelin) won an entertaining contest for seventh with Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-d'Antin YZR500-Michelin).
A bike problem put Kato out of the race just before half distance, ending the local hero's hopes of scoring a debut MotoGP victory on home tarmac. Second-qualifier Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) also retired after a risky front-tyre choice went wrong.