Portugal GP: Yamaha Team race summary

MARLBORO YAMAHA SECOND AT RAIN-LASHED ESTORIL Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 rider Carlos Checa took a hard-ridden second-place finish in treacherous conditions at Estoril this afternoon, while team-mate Max Biaggi brought his M1 home in sixth ...


Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 rider Carlos Checa took a hard-ridden second-place finish in treacherous conditions at Estoril this afternoon, while team-mate Max Biaggi brought his M1 home in sixth place.

The bumpy, slippery Estoril track was wet throughout the 28-lap race, with a particularly vicious downpour flooding the circuit shortly after the start. The earlier 125 and 250 GPs had claimed no less than 43 crashes, so the MotoGP riders knew they were in for something of a challenge aboard their 200-plus horsepower machines. There were eight crashes in the MotoGP race, including long-time leader Sete Gibernau (Suzuki), who fell with just four laps to go.

"In those conditions there's a very thin line between staying up and falling down," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "The race seemed to go on forever, for the riders, I'm sure, and also for us, but finally we were able to celebrate Carlos making the podium. He confirmed once again that he's very strong in the wet, coming back from 12th on the first lap. Max also did not so bad, those points are very important for the championship, and it's so easy for a rider to make a mistake in such conditions. As a team I think we can be fairly happy, we've scored pole at the last two races, Max won at Brno and Carlos got second today. But that doesn't mean we're slowing down. We're testing here tomorrow when we will work for more improvements to our overall machine set-up. Then we're off to Rio - it's a very tight schedule."


Carlos Checa was arguably the biggest star of the MotoGP pack this weekend, bouncing back from a massive Friday morning crash to claim his first MotoGP pole position yesterday afternoon, then carving through the pack to take second place today after a disastrous start from the front row. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man was up to third by half distance, ahead of Tohru Ukawa (Honda), and was promoted to second when Sete Gibernau crashed.

"I had a lot of wheelspin in first, second and third as we accelerated away from the grid, it wasn't nice having so many riders come past me on the way to the first turn," said Checa after his fourth podium of the year. "But I stayed calm, took a few laps to get the feeling for the conditions, then I started passing riders. When I was behind Rossi, Ukawa and Roberts I could see they were pushing really hard; they were faster than me in some sections and I was faster in others. I got Roberts then Ukawa, but Rossi was too far gone, so I worked at controlling Ukawa. The conditions were very delicate, we made adjustments in warm-up and some more on the grid, but the track was still slippery, more so in some places than others. Considering my start, I' m happy with second."


Max Biaggi struggled to a sixth-place finish today, having been unhappy with the set-up of his Marlboro Yamaha Team M1 all weekend. Winner and pole sitter at Brno two weeks ago, the Italian rode an intelligent race, salvaging the maximum-possible points. He spent most of the 28 laps racing with Alex Barros (Honda) but lost the battle on the final lap.

"It's been a tough weekend," said Biaggi, third in the World Championship, 12 points down on Tohru Ukawa. "Since Friday we've not been able to find the right set-up. We had planned to test some adjustments to the new chassis during warm-up but the rain stopped that, so I raced the older chassis, just because I'm more familiar with that one. I feel sorry for Gibernau and I'd like to say Rossi rode a good race, he fought for that win, it wasn't just luck."


Sete Gibernau threw away a surefire first MotoGP win when he slid off at Estoril's dead-slow chicane while holding a 3.6-second lead over World Championship leader and friend Valentino Rossi, who inherited victory from a crasher for the second time in three races. "I feel so sorry for Sete, for sure if he'd won, it would've been a hard night!" smiled Rossi who will secure the title at Rio in two weeks if he wins the race with team-mate Ukawa lower than third.

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) 54'12.962
2. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +22.200
3. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) Repsol HONDA Team (RC211v) +24.220
4. Kenny Roberts (USA) Telefonica Movistar SUZUKI (GSV-R) +40.832
5. Alex Barros (BRA) West HONDA Pons (NSR500) + 42.709
6. MAX BIAGGI (ITA) Marlboro YAMAHA Team (YZR-M1) +44.064
7. Norick Abe (JPN) Antena 3 YAMAHA d'Antin (YZR500) +1'49.012
8. John Hopkins (USA) Red Bull YAMAHA WCM (YZR500) +2'03.101
9. Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) PROTON Team KR (KR3) + 1 lap
10. Tetsuya Harada (JPN) Pramac HONDA Racing Team (NSR500) + 1 lap

1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) 245
2. Tohru Ukawa (JPN) 156
5. Alex Barros (BRA) 105
6. Norick Abe (JPN) 99
7. Daijiro Kato (JPN) 80
8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 75
9. Kenny Roberts (USA) 58
10. John Hopkins (USA) 49


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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Max Biaggi , Carlos Checa , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Norifumi Abe , Jeremy McWilliams , Alex Barros , Tohru Ukawa , Sete Gibernau , Kenny Roberts Jr. , Tetsuya Harada , John Hopkins , Davide Brivio
Teams Williams