Michelin Man Rossi Shows The Way MotoGP leader Valentino Rossi scores vital and impressive victory Estoril race record broken by 13 seconds, lap record by 0.7 seconds Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) moved further...
Michelin Man Rossi Shows The Way
MotoGP leader Valentino Rossi scores vital and impressive victory
Estoril race record broken by 13 seconds, lap record by 0.7 seconds
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) moved further ahead in the 2004 title battle with a stunning victory at Estoril today. In cool, windy conditions the reigning World Champion destroyed his rivals to go 39 points clear of main title rival Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin), who could only manage fourth at this tight and tricky racetrack. Rossi's race time improved his own race record by 13 seconds and puts him in a strong championship position with five ra ces remaining. Michelin riders also dominated the top ten today, eight of the first ten riders past the chequered flag using the French company's tyres, as well as the championship chase, with the top six all on Michelin.
The tension-packed race got underway beneath threatening clouds, Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4-Michelin) grabbing the holeshot into turn one from the fourth row of the grid, only to run into the dirt after a collision with Max Biaggi (Honda Camel Pons RC211V-Michelin) as the pack streamed through the chicane for the first time. Biaggi came off worst, crashing out. Rossi led from there all the way to the chequered flag, edging ahead of the pack by as much as half a second a l ap and controlling the pace at will to beat runner-up Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda) by over five seconds -- a lifetime on MotoGP.
"After the race Valentino told us he could have done the entire race at 1m 39.5s if he'd had to," said Nicolas Goubert, Michelin's chief of motorcycling competitions. "When he saw that Tamada was catching him after half distance he immediately upped his pace by three tenths of a second. I was happy to see that his first lap was 0.7 seconds faster than it had been last year. And he also beat his own lap record by 0.766 seconds. We had two main choices of rear tyre for this race, both very similar Valentino, Sete, Loris and Carlos (Checa, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) chose the slightly harder tyre, Max, Alex (Barros, Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) and Colin (Edwards, Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V-Michelin) used the other. It was a shame that Max and Loris collided because Loris recovered to ride a very fast race and I think Max could've made the podium because he was consistently the fastest Honda/Michelin rider in practice."
Rossi was delighted with his performance at a crucial stage of the season. "I wanted to push very hard from the beginning," he said after his sixth win of 2004. "We did a great job in warm-up, so I could go very fast from the start. Four or five good laps and I could go. The tyres were good, moving around a bit at the end but very controllable."
Barros filled the final step on the podium behind Tamada, ending the race 8.1 seconds down on the winner after a race-long duel with Gibernau. "Sete gave me a lot of pressure," said the Brazilian. "But at the end I had good grip, so I could make a successful defence of third place."
Checa came in fifth, two places ahead of Capirossi who made a remarkable comeback from second-to-last to finish seventh, proving both his own determination as well as the improving performance of his Ducati. Troy Bayliss (Ducati Marlboro Team Desmosedici GP4-Michelin) and Edwards were just a few tenths down on the Italian at the finish.