Moto GP Results From Jerez

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
From Jerez comes the results of what was shaping up to be an all-Honda season.

From the looks of the qualifying sessions, the all-Honda trend would continue. Read on to see if somebody else was able to step up their game...

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) took his second race win of theseason after an eventful 27-lap MotoGP race at Jerez. The top fivepositions were monopolised by Honda riders, with the all-new RCV211V infirst and third, and the two-stroke of Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda) insecond place - a superb result for the MotoGP rookie.

Rossi’s dominance in qualifying was eventually carried on in the race butonly after an early scare on lap two. Pushed wide by Kenny Roberts (Suzuki)at the apex of the first turn, Rossi dropped from a safe second place to animmediate eighth. Taking only four more laps to work his way back tosecond, he held a watching brief behind his fellow four-stroke Honda riderTohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RCV211V) until lap sixteen, when he passedhis team-mate and made a small gap back to his pursuers.

Rossi was especially happy to win the race and extend his championshiplead, given the possible consequences of his lap two ‘kiss’ from behind. “Ifelt a bit of touch from behind from Kenny in turn one,” explained Rossiafterwards. “I think Kenny made a big, big mistake under braking but Idon’t know for sure because I didn’t see. I felt a big push and after thatI was just happy that I didn’t crash. I lost some positions so it wasnecessary to start again from the beginning. In the early laps the bike wasa little bit hard to ride because of the extra weight of fuel, but it waspossible for me to return to the first group quite quickly. Ukawa pushedand made a good rhythm so I stayed a behind him for a time. Already thebike had shown good speed but I think it was still possible to go three orfour tenths faster. It was very difficult, however, because the rear wasfinished and started to slide. It didn’t matter, because the main thing isthe victory - especially to win in Jerez with this fantastic crowd. We havea good lead in the championship and this is the most important thing.”Rossi now enjoys a 29-point lead over his team-mate Ukawa. The race timewas over 23 seconds faster than the 2001 500cc GP, with Rossi setting a newlap record on lap four, almost a second quicker than his own previous best.

Daijiro Kato’s first podium finish in the MotoGP class was an assured one,with the reigning 250 champion initially forming the tail of a five-riderHonda freight-train that escaped from the rest of the pack. Kato was happyto score a second place on his first trip to the podium, but equallypleased for his team. “I am very proud of my result today, but also happybecause my main sponsor is a Spanish company and I delivered a good resultin front of them,” enthused the diminutive Japanese rider. “Like Valentinosaid, I had a very hard time with my rear tyre towards the end of the race.

The bike began to slide and it was impossible to move any closer toValentino. Now it is important for me to try and narrow the gap to theother top riders. I will use my energy and all my efforts to do that.”

Tohru Ukawa’s early leading pace was not enough to keep Rossi and Katobehind permanently, but third was an impressive result in any case. “Todaywas a very, very hard, tough race,“ he confirmed. “The feeling from thetyres was OK, but in the middle of the race there was a lot of spinningfrom the rear, which made it difficult to control the machine. Also Ialmost crashed because it was difficult to keep concentration. I rode forthe first position but the podium was OK. I didn’t win today but there arestill 13 races to go, and I am second overall, so I will try my best to tryand win the championship.”

A brave fight from Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) saw himcontinually attack Ukawa during the last laps, with the two-stoke dancingpast the four-stroke under braking, only for the big four-stroke to blastpast again on the main straight. The Italian maestro was resigned to hisfate after the race. “That wasn’t too bad. I tried my best to get pastUkawa, but he kept getting me back coming off the corners. The bike wasfine but what can you do?”

Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) took the lead on the first lap butslowly dropped back to his eventual safe fifth place, a natural function ofabusing his tyres in the first few circuits. “I pushed too hard to beginwith, “ confessed Barros, “Although really I had no other choice. I look atthis as my first race of the season, and tyres apart the bike was good.”

Behind the factory Honda carnival Norick Abe (Yamaha) proved to be theclosest challenger, albeit 14 seconds behind Barros. A further 13 secondsbehind was the Proton KR of Nobuatsu Aoki.

The first of the other new generation four-strokes to finish proved to bethe Roberts’ Suzuki in eighth. Neither factory Yamaha four-stroke finishedthe race, with Carlos Checa retiring and Max Biaggi excluded for ignoringthe black flag.

Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) finished inside the top ten for thefirst time in the 2002 season, stating that: “My final position is not thatgreat and surely not as good as I would have liked, but my progress isevident; In South Africa I finished a minute and 20 seconds behind firstplace, today it was less than 40 seconds.”

Pos / Rider / Nation / Team / Motorcycle / Time / Km/h1/ Valentino ROSSI/ ITA/ Repsol Honda Team/ HONDA / 46'51.843- 152.894 Km/h2/ Daijiro KATO/ JPN/ Fortuna Honda Gresini/ HONDA / 46'53.033- 152.8293/ Tohru UKAWA/ JPN/ Repsol Honda Team/ HONDA / 46'54.288- 152.7614/ Loris CAPIROSSI/ ITA/ West Honda Pons/ HONDA / 46'54.673- 152.7405/ Alex BARROS/ BRA/ West Honda Pons/ HONDA / 46'55.960- 152.6716/ Norick ABE/ JPN/ Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antín/ YAMAHA / 47'10.360- 151.8947/ Nobuatsu AOKI/ JPN/ Proton Team KR/ PROTON KR / 47'23.628- 151.1858/ Kenny ROBERTS/ USA/ Telefonica Movistar Suzuki/ SUZUKI / 47'25.719- 151.0749/ Sete GIBERNAU/ SPA/ Telefonica Movistar Suzuki/ SUZUKI / 47'30.605- 150.81510/ Tetsuya HARADA/ JPN/ Pramac Honda Racing Team/ HONDA / 47'31.818-150.75111/ Olivier JACQUE/ FRA/ Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3/ YAMAHA / 47'39.339- 150.35412/ Jurgen vd GOORBERGH/ NED/ Kanemoto Racing/ HONDA / 47'39.773- 150.33213/ Garry McCOY/ AUS/ Red Bull Yamaha WCM/ YAMAHA / 47'40.136- 150.31214/ Jeremy McWILLIAMS/ GBR/ Proton Team KR/ PROTON KR / 47'41.014- 150.26615/ John HOPKINS/ USA/ Red Bull Yamaha WCM/ YAMAHA / 47'42.092- 150.210Fastest Lap: Valentino ROSSI - 1'42.920 - 154.710 Km/h (Unofficial new record):WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS:1 ROSSI 70, 2 UKAWA 41, 3 KATO 39, 4 CAPIROSSI 36, 5 ABE 30, 6 CHECA 27,7 BARROS 21, 8 RYO 20, 9 AOKI 18, 10 JACQUE 15, 11 HARADA 15, 12 ITOH 13,13 LACONI 9, 14 McCOY 9, 15 GOORBERGH 9
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