Dire Day For Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha) was forced to retire from third position with only two laps remaining of today's inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. The 31-year-old Spaniard took the hole-shot from...
Dire Day For Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team
Carlos Checa (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha) was forced to retire from third position with only two laps remaining of today's inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. The 31-year-old Spaniard took the hole-shot from pole position on his YZR-M1 machine and led the first lap. He was edged out of contention by race-winner Sete Gibernau (Honda) on lap two and then by second-placed Colin Edwards (Honda) six laps later. Checa's retirement, which was due to a fuel problem, allowed fellow Spaniard Ruben Xaus (Ducati) to record his first ever MotoGP podium.
Valentino Rossi's race started in controversy, contained sheer magical brilliance but ended in disaster on lap six. The Italian World Championship leader was forced to start from the back of the grid when Race Direction ruled that his team had infringed the rules by making a mark on the track at his third-row starting grid position. The crew had intended that the five-time World Champion could use the mark during the morning warm-up session to develop a good line into the first corner from his original third row grid position. Within one lap Rossi had scythed through the field to eighth and continued his scintillating progress until he caught the edge of the track with his rear wheel coming out of the second last turn on lap six and was thrown from his bike. The bad end to his day was further compounded by Gibernau's win which narrows Rossi's points lead to just 14 with three races remaining.
The MotoGP circus leaves Qatar for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang next Sunday. It then moves to Phillip Island in Australia the following week and back to Europe for the season finale at Valencia in Spain on 31st October.
CARLOS CHECA (DNF - RETIRED LAP 20)
"I want to think in a positive way. My team did a really good job and I really appreciate it -- especially Yamaha. This is not a nice day for us or for Yamaha. But I did some good work this weekend. I was pleased with my pole position and I was riding well in the race. I was under control in third place but I couldn't keep the pace and had some problems with rear stability but then with three or four laps to go I started feeling a throttle connection problem. I was praying and thinking "only three laps to go" but the problem got worse and the bike finally stopped."
VALENTINO ROSSI (DNF - FELL LAP 6)
"Firstly I have to say I was amazed and very disappointed by the decision to make me start at the back of the grid. I don't think there is any consistency in some of the decisions made. At other races people have cleaned their grid places and nothing has happened. In fact, my crew were doing something they used to do with Doohan when the track was dirty. I didn't know about it until after it had happened.
"Finally in the race I made a mistake. I had really pushed in the first few laps and could see that Colin was in slightly better shape than me when I was behind him. I ran wide in the second last turn and just clipped the grass. They were looking strong but I did think I could have made the podium. Fortunately I'm not hurt. I was worried about my finger but it is not serious."
DAVIDE BRIVIO -- GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
"It has been a bad weekend. We'll go away with Qatar with no result and no points but that's racing. Valentino is still leading the Championship by fourteen points and now we will react and fight until the end of the Championship. In Brazil we were in the same situation and we fought back strongly. We have got three races to go and anything can happen.
"It's such a shame for Carlos. He was riding a very good race to follow up his pole. He is really disappointed as he fully deserved a podium. He was suffering with the problem during the race and eventually it stopped."