Africa GP Results

Is Rossi the best ever? You decide.

Race Results

1 Valentino ROSSI ITA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha
2 Max BIAGGI ITA Camel Honda 0.210
3 Sete GIBERNAU SPA Telefonica Movistar Honda 7.255
4 Alex BARROS BRA Repsol Honda Team 18.667
5 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team 24.094
6 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 24.375
7 Colin EDWARDS USA Telefonica Movistar Honda 28.855
8 Makoto TAMADA JPN Camel Honda 36.535
9 Norick ABE JPN Fortuna Gauloises Tech 36.643
10 Carlos CHECA SPA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 39.284

11 Marco MELANDRI ITA Fortuna Gauloises Tech 43.806
12 Shinya NAKANO JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 43.920
13 John HOPKINS USA Team Suzuki MotoGP 56.028
14 Troy BAYLISS AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 56.558
15 Shane BYRNE GBR MS Aprilia Racing 1'13.831
16 Jeremy McWILLIAMS GBR MS Aprilia Racing 1'22.206
17 Nobuatsu AOKI JPN Proton Team KR 1'26.933
18 Michel FABRIZIO ITA WCM 144.290 3 laps

From a press release issued by Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha:


Valentino Rossi made history with Yamaha today aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine at the Africa's Grand Prix in Welkom by becoming the first rider in the history of the premier class to take back-to-back victories with different constructors. The reigning World Champion, who joined Yamaha in January, is also the first rider in the premier class since Barry Sheene to win the opening race of the season for four years in succession, taking his 23rd consecutive podium in the process and Yamaha's first win since October 2002. His Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team-mate Carlos Checa had a difficult race and eventually finished tenth after starting 12th on the grid.

Rossi started from pole position and led for most of the 28 lap race with less than a second between himself and Honda rival Max Biaggi. The two swapped the lead several times, Rossi fighting back with some bold overtaking before snatching the lead for the final time with two laps to go, finally crossing the finish line just two tenths of a second ahead of Biaggi, with Honda rider Sete Gibernau in third. Checa finished just over 39 seconds later than winner Rossi, having made up three places in the latter stages of the race but not feeling the confidence to push harder.

From a press release issued by Honda Racing Information:


The win belonged to Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) but masterly Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) proved today in front of a record 45,000 Phakisa Freeway crowd that he is the man most likely to rein in the reigning World Champion with a stirring second place. Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) was a distant third after being right in contention in the early stages of the race.

As a fierce African sun beat down, the new three-abreast grid lined up for this curtain-raising race and scorched into turn one as the red lights went out. Rossi got the holeshot with Max and Sete, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) and Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) pressing him hard.

The pace soon hotted up to the extent that only three riders could stay with it: Rossi, Max and Sete. As early as lap four the threesome fought it out with Max taking the lead at the end of the back straight before Rossi snatched it back on the same lap. Max went in front again two laps later and held the lead again before Rossi wrested it back one lap later.

But the early battle for supremacy soon settled down and Rossi and Max maintained a pace that Sete couldn’t stay with. By mid-distance of this 28-lap contest Gibernau was a second adrift of the leaders and he fell further back to finish seven seconds down at the end.

Now it was a straight fight between two intense rivals. Rossi seemed content to make the running while Max was rarely less than two feet behind him as Rossi fought to break clear of his rival. On lap 23 Max made another move down the back straight and he then lead three laps in a row before Rossi made a block pass on Max at the penultimate tight right turn.

Max was pushed wide and fought to get back on level terms with just two laps to go. Try as the Roman might, and Max set a new lap record on his final lap of the 4.242km track of 1m 33.208s, he couldn’t catch Rossi and finished just over two tenths of a second behind as they crossed the line.

“I’m happy it was such a great race,” said Max. “We kept up an unbelievable pace and had a lot of fun. I didn’t even feel tired at the end and I feel I could have run another 28 laps. The team did a fantastic job setting up the new chassis in just four hours of qualifying and this race was a great way to honour Antonio.” (Antonio Cobas, who died last week, was Camel Honda’s Technical Director)

Sete Gibernau said, “All during qualifying I was trying to improve my rhythm working on the settings of the new chassis – but we couldn’t quite get there before the race. And we ran out of time to try anything else in the morning warm-up. But I’m aiming to be fighting for the podium at every race and I have to be happy enough with this result on a weekend that wasn’t perfect.”

Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) fought hard to finish fourth after languishing in ninth on lap one. “If you qualify eighth on the third row of the grid, it’s hard work. This track is difficult to overtake on and there’s not a lot of grip off the racing line. We had a small chatter problem today which wasn’t there before, but overall today’s not such a bad result for a first race with a new team.”

Nicky Hayden’s fifth place was not what the American challenger wanted but he remained upbeat. “I knew this race was going to be difficult. I got an OK start but it was really painful watching the guys up front disappear. The team has done a great job over the weekend – it just wasn’t an easy weekend. Let’s get on with the next race now.”

Colin Edwards was hampered by chatter problems and finished seventh. “I had problems on the first lap. They were there a little bit on Friday and Saturday, but today it was just impossible to race for 28 laps. I can’t say it was a specific problem, but we’ll check the data and see what’s going on.”

Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V) riding on Bridgestone tyres finished eighth. “All weekend we’ve been making changes, but the tyres were good all race and I didn’t manage to get as much overtaking as I wanted because of a bad start. But this was more good experience for me and the team.”

"This is the best race of my career, it's a real surprise for us, for everyone, and it's difficult to explain the emotion. The weekend was perfect, starting with Friday. I rode well and I worked very well with the team. For me the race was perfect as well, starting from pole, I had a good rhythm and a good fight with Biaggi. I want to say a big thanks to my mechanics, especially Jeremy Burgess, and to Yamaha for all their efforts. At the end of the race I had a different emotion to normal; usually when I win I'm really happy but this time it was more and I had to stop for a moment with my bike to take it all in.

"The bike was quite good at full distance, although the tyres did start to move a bit after seven or eight laps, but after that they stayed constant and the bike stayed with me. I was slower in some parts, faster in others but I knew I couldn't make any mistakes if I wanted to win. Yamaha has made such a great effort and so much work to change their situation. Today's race showed that the level of this sport has greatly increased since last year but winning a race like this is not a miracle, it's down to all the hard work we've put in. It was fantastic!"
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George Obradovich
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