Dutch GP Results

From a press release issued by Honda Racing:


Results Dutch Grand Prix, Assen, The Netherlands

Track temperature: 26 degrees C
Humidity: 77%
Ambient temperature: 21 degrees C, dull, raining

Raceday Saturday June 27


Conditions were truly appalling at Assen today, but that didn’t deter a 90,000 raceday crowd from enjoying spectacular, if mildly processional racing, for the podium places in the later stages of the seventh MotoGP round of the 2003 season. Spanish title challenger Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) won with Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) second and reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) third.

The first attempt at getting the MotoGP race underway was scuppered by a cloudburst on the sighting lap. Just as the riders were heading onto the back part of the track, the rain began. It worsened as the re-start was taking place – this time as a ‘wet’ declared race, although no one need have been in any doubt – such was the deluge.

Gibernau stormed away from the line and made the rush to turn one just in front of Biaggi and Rossi. He emerged from the chaos in front at the exit and Biaggi began to pressure the Spaniard heavily as he tried everything to get out of Gibernau’s wheeltracks and the drenching, blinding spray that came with them.

By lap two Max had made his move but Sete was having none of it and re-passed Biaggi on the next lap. The pair locked horns for three consecutive turns and Gibernau eventually came out on top, never to be headed for the rest of the race. Max opted for discretion too at that stage and played a waiting game behind the Spaniard.

But when it came to passing backmarkers, as early as the tenth lap – such was the discrepancy in speeds here – Max lost out badly. As Gibernau slipped past Garry McCoy’s Kawasaki, Max was badly baulked and the time he lost was enough for him to lose touch with Gibernau. The gap had been down to a manageable 0.9 seconds and by the next lap, after the incident, it was up to 2.8 seconds.

Mindful perhaps of his crash two weeks ago in Catalunya when he fell while disputing third place with Gibernau, the Roman preferred the points haul for third to a wet trudge back to the garage if he did the same thing here. And by the time Max had settled for a finish, Rossi was making the same plan for a solid third instead of a fretful attempt at making ground, never mind making a pass.

“The weekend started badly and ended well,” said Gibernau. “The team did a great job. We won again in the wet but the bike was going equally well in the morning warm-up. I stepped up the pace in the race because I didn’t want Max to be too close at the finish. Now we got to Donington to try and be equally competitive in the dry too.”

Max was happy enough with second. “The conditions were very difficult,” he said. “The start was especially hard with the rain, the tyre changes, the re-start… And all that with the adrenaline running really high. After the lights I was able to make a fast rhythm, but lapping behind Sete meant it was almost impossible to see the track with all the spray. But in the end it was okay as I lapped fast enough to keep Rossi behind me and I earned 20 very important points.”

Rossi was realistic about his points haul and surprised at the amount of grip he had in the conditions. “That was strange,” he said. “Because the grip was incredible. The lap times are only ten seconds slower than in the dry and we were on our knee-sliders in nearly every corner. I got behind Sete and Max but I could hardly see a thing. The end result is that I didn’t lose too many points in the Championship and now we wait for Donington and some dry weather.”

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) finsished just outside the top ten in 11th and was happy to finish a race where visibility was a real problem for the riders. “That was real tough,” said the American rookie. “I made a good start like I knew I had to, but I’ve never raced anywhere where it’s been that hard to see. I had a few good battles in the race and managed to get past Ukawa. I had a good feeling about this weekend and it’s a pity about the conditions.”

Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) in 12th was bitterly disappointed with his race. “It’s difficult for me to say anything at the moment because it sounds as if I’m just making excuses,” said the super-honest Japanese. “I just want to get to Donington and concentrate on the bike and forget about the problems we have had here.”

Things weren’t much better for Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) who finished 16th. “This is the first time I’ve been lapped,” said the disappointed rookie. “That feels bad. I couldn’t have done better although I managed to finish the race so this will be useful development work on the tyres. I didn’t have the grip I needed and I found myself on the defensive instead of attacking.”

Rookie Ryuichi Kiyonari (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) finished 16th. “In terms of gaining experience that was a big step forward,” he said. “I’ve learned not to push the bike beyond its limits in these conditions and I’ve also learned that this track is a tough one if you’re new to it.”

Rossi now has 151 points, Gibernau has 113 and Biaggi is on 105.

1. Sete Gibernau, Honda, 19 laps, 42:39.006
2. Max Biaggi, Honda, -10.111 seconds
3. Valentino Rossi, Honda, -13.875 seconds
4. Carlos Checa, Yamaha, -36.978 seconds
5. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha, -40.345 seconds
6. Loris Capirossi, Ducati, -42.177 seconds
7. Colin Edwards, Aprilia, -50.518 seconds
8. Alex Barros, Yamaha, -59.023 seconds
9. Troy Bayliss, Ducati, -93.536 seconds
10. Alex Hofmann, Kawasaki, -96.403 seconds
11. Nicky Hayden, Honda, -99.033 seconds
12. Tohru Ukawa, Honda, -102.398 seconds
13. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha, -103.690 seconds
14. Andrew Pitt, Kawasaki, -1 lap
15. John Hopkins, Suzuki, -1 lap
16. Makoto Tamada, Honda, -1 lap
17. Ryuichi Kiyonari, Honda, -1 lap
18. Garry McCoy, Kawasaki, -1 lap
19. Noriyuki Haga, Aprilia, -2 laps, DNF, crash
20. Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki, -5 laps, DNF, crash
21. Marco Melandri, Yamaha, -5 laps, DNF, mechanical
22. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton, -9 laps, DNF, crash
23. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton, -10 laps, DNF, crash

MotoGP World Championship Standings:

1. Rossi, 151 points
2. Gibernau, 113 points
3. Biaggi, 105 points
4. Capirossi, 71 points
5. Barros, 62 points
6. Ukawa, 56 points
7. Bayliss, 53 points
8. Checa/Nakano, TIE, 47 points
10. Jacque, 43 points
11. Hayden, 38 points
12. Tamada/Edwards, TIE, 34 points
14. Haga, 21 points
15. Norick Abe, 17 points
16. Hopkins, 16 points
17. McWilliams, 14 points
18. Aoki/Kiyonari, TIE, 11 points
20. Melandri, 9 points
21. McCoy/Hofmann, TIE, 8 points
23. Pitt, 3 points
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George Obradovich
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