Honda on Jerez

Press Release from Honda Racing:


A partisan crowd of 130,000 had to be disappointed with the early departures of their Spanish heroes Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) and Carlos Checa (Yamaha) in the first half of the race. But no one could begrudge Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) his second win of the season in the searing conditions that saw the track temperature at 41 degrees.

Rossi won in style with a standup wheelie across the line while second-placed Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) and Troy Bayliss (Ducati) were slightly were more reserved in their celebrations of second and third places respectively.

The 27-lap MotoGP race began with a mad rush into the uphill right-hand turn one and it was Troy Bayliss (Ducati) who rocketed into the lead as the pack bumped and bored its way around the first circuit of the 4.423km track. His teammate Loris Capirossi collided with him on the back straight and came off better in the altercation. He grabbed the lead.

But Rossi was already sizing up his Italian rival Capirossi having hoisted himself from seventh to second by the end of the first lap. Rossi’s ability to carve his way through the chaos of the opening lap gave him the impetus he needed to stalk Capirossi and then dive inside him at the final left-hand hairpin on lap four. And then he was gone.

Lap after lap he piled on the agony for his pursuers putting anything between two and four tenths of a second into the gap between his number 46 machine and the RC211V of his erstwhile antagonist Max Biaggi. Biaggi could easily maintain the second place he grabbed on lap six but he could make no impression on the rampaging Rossi.

With Biaggi out of Bayliss’ range in second and Bayliss similarly clear of the rest of the field, the action was concentrated on fourth place and beyond. It eventually went to Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211) from Alex Barros (Yamaha) but not without a huge fight from the inspired rookie Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) along the way.

Rossi, who set a new lap record of 1m 42.788s on lap five on his way to GP win number 52, now has a tally of five wins at this happy Spanish hunting ground.

“I’m happy,” he said. “The biggest problem everyone had was traction and we knew we had to work on making the bike controllable even with large amounts of wheelspin. I had a bad start but I didn’t want anyone to get away and so I had to make a lot of places up before I got behind Capirossi. I had a bit more speed than him and that was it.”

Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) was more relieved than happy at securing
a solid points haul when he was in danger of coming away with little or nothing in the early qualifying stages.

“I’m happy with this after the qualifying troubles,” he said. “On Friday I was down in 12th, then I was on the front row on Saturday and now today a podium. Everyone dreams of winning and riding with the number one plate but in these conditions you take what you can get. I had a lot of fun overtaking other riders in the early laps but it was quite lonely towards the end.”

Things got better as the race wore on for Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211) who wasted a front row grid slot with a sluggish start and then couldn’t push through the field until after mid-race distance.

“The bike was not giving me enough confidence to push at the start,” said the Japanese star. “Then as the race went on things actually got better and I could make up places, but it was too late to make decent progress. Maybe there’s a small problem with me too, I seem to take too long to get into a rhythm at the moment.”

For Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) it was all a case of what might have been.

“It was a real shame,” said the Spaniard. “When I was chasing Valentino the front end let go. I didn’t want to settle for second in front of this great crowd but I still have to adapt to this bike. We’re staying to test tomorrow and hopefully I’ll arrive at Le Mans with another chance of winning.”

Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) made his rookie tag look faintly ridiculous as he stormed to sixth in only his third MotoGP race and his first visit to Jerez.

“I’m very satisfied,” he said. “A day like this really pumps up the motivation. This is what we need to move forward and I’m really looking to the Le Mans race although we need to remember not to get carried away with this result.”

Nicky Hayden (Respsol Honda RC211V) went out on lap nine.

“My start wasn’t great,” he said. “Then I caught a good group and got into a rhythm before the engine felt a little slower. Then I fell off and I’m disappointed because I knew I was going to finish higher. I’m aching a bit now as it was a pretty fast fall.”

Rossi leads the points standings after three races with 70, Biaggi is second on 56 points with Bayliss on 40 and Gibernau with 38.
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George Obradovich
George Obradovich

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