Results From the Czech Grand Prix

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From Honda Racing Information

Race Day, Sunday August 25th


Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V) enjoyed a dream debut on hisnew five-cylinder four-stroke Honda, taking second place behind race winnerMax Biaggi (Yamaha). Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) scored thirdplace despite a morning warm-up crash. In contrast Valentino Rossi (RepsolHonda Team RC211V), lost his chance of at least second place when he wasforced to pit to change his rear tire, then opted to retire altogether,ending his run of seven straight race wins and nine consecutive podiumplaces in 2002.

Kato, the reigning 250 World Champion was fast from the start of the race,forming the final part of a three man breakaway group with Biaggi andRossi, and taking a new lap record of 2:00.605 in the process. Looking setto score third place after a somewhat processional race at the front, heunwittingly benefited from the misfortune of the current championshipleader Rossi and gained the highest place finish of his rookie MotoGPseason so far.

"I am very happy to have taken second place in my first ever four-strokeMotoGP race," said Kato in the post-race press conference. "In the firstpart of the race I just wanted to stay smooth on the machine, in the secondhalf I tried pushing hard to catch Valentino. He eventually had a problem,so you never know what can happen in racing. I don't know when it may bepossible for me to win because I still have a lot to learn about suspensionand tires on a machine like this."

Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) saw a gritty ride turn into adeserved podium after Rossi's initial exit. Running at a good pace, butunable to join the leading trio at any stage, Ukawa's performance washampered by the huge high-side crash he suffered in the morning warm up.

"After my crash at Donington I was still not perfect, so I knew when I fellthis morning it would not be good," explained the third place man. "It didnot make my old foot injury worse but I hurt my hip and back and I was in alot of pain. I tried to push forward in the race but I found it hard toconcentrate. Also, because of the crash, my machine was not perfect, but Iam very satisfied to get third. It is not the way to I want to close thegap on Valentino but I am still happy with my position in the championship."

Retirement was a bitter blow for Rossi, who was sitting in second placeshortly before his tire problem, biding his time for the final laps to comearound. He suddenly slowed, pitted for a new rear, and rejoined the raceout of the points scoring positions. Circulating in 18th and last place,and with no chance of scoring points, he retired with two laps remaining."The race was going fine," affirmed Rossi. "Me, Kato and Biaggi had a goodpace. The bike had a few little problems but this seems to be a Yamahatrack and not a Honda one- because I couldn't seem to make any impressionon Biaggi. Half way through the race the tire went and that was that. Icame in to change the tire, went out again, but I had lost a lot of time soI came in again. It will be interesting to see what they say about thetire. This has never happened in my career before. Anyway, I still have agood lead in the championship with six races left. Not a disaster."

The first two-stroke home belonged to Loris Capirossi (West Honda PonsNSR500), who had a lonely race to sixth position, despite not being fullyfit after his Assen wrist injuries.

"Considering my present physical condition, and the lack of mobility andstrength in my right arm, I had quite a good race," understated Capirossi."I think we had a good tyre compound and our machine settings were ideal."

In ninth place Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) was far from his best2002 form, after some radical pre-race changes in machine set-up.

"This morning we changed the front forks during warm-up and instead offinding a solution to the problems we are having, we made matters worse forthe race," said Barros. "The positive aspect is that I was able to scoresome points, which is important for my overall classification in thechampionship." Barros retained his status as top two-stroke rider in theseries, fifth overall.Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) had an eventfulrace, eventually taking his Bridgestone-shod two-stroke to 12th.

"I got a good start, for a two-stroke," said the Dutch rider. "Only thechicane proved difficult, as one of the Suzuki riders missed his brakingpoint and cost me time. I got in a good fight with Barros, Jacque and McCoyat one stage and I really enjoyed that. Then I got some vibration and Idecided to slow a bit. I had picked up some rubber on my rear tire."

Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) experienced problems once more in arace situation, but stuck to his task to take the final point for 15th place.

"I tried to stay with the riders ahead but it was really impossible," saida frustrated Harada. "From the first laps the rear tire slid and I couldnot push hard without risking a crash too much. I thought it better tofinish the race and at least I scored a point. That part at least was good."

Despite Rossi's no-score he still enjoys a handsome lead in the overallchampionship after 10 of the 16 rounds. Rossi's unchanged total of 220heads Ukawa, on 140, with Biaggi third on 134.


MotoGP:Daijiro Kato, Fortuna Honda Gresini, 2nd: "I think that I have made a goodrace and I'm really satisfied. At the beginning I felt I could go fasterbecause I had no problems. The bike is fantastic and the team prepared itperfectly for the race. At the end of the race I wasn't too sure about tireperformance and how long they would stay good. Then I preferred to checkthe situation and only think of a positive result. If this first time hadto be a test I can say I was really fast and that from the next race I canbegin to think of taking a victory."

Fausto Gresini: "Honestly the Rossi tire problem gave us an advantage, butthe team is really happy. For us this was a really important event. It hadto be a test and we are on the podium: this means that the bIke, the rider,and the team are of great value. Now our objective is to improve what weknow about this machine. Our adventure has just started."

Tohru Ukawa, Team Repsol Honda: 3rd: "A podium is great and so are 16points. After the big crash I had in the warm-up this morning I reallydidn't think I would be standing on the podium. I fell heavily on my back.I was just beginning to feel better after Donington! The bike was goingwell this morning and I caught a neutral between gears. It's not the way Iwant to close the gap on Valentino but I am still happy with my position inthe championship. The final 6 races will be very close."

Loris Capirossi, West Honda Pons: 6th: "Considering my present physicalcondition, and the lack of mobility and strength in my right arm, I hadquite a good race and I am satisfied with my performance. I think we chosea good tyre compound and the bike settings were ideal. I was very motivatedat the start and I was determined to stay with the leaders but when thefour-strokes overtook me I could not stay with their pace. Everyone knowsthe situation and it is not necessary to repeat it. But there is one thingworth pointing out: Kato has always been behind us up until now. He gets anew bike at Brno and suddenly, curiously enough, he is fighting forvictory."

Alex Barros, West Honda Pons: 9th: " I am unhappy with the result, not somuch for finishing in ninth place, but more over for not having lapped inthe times I should have. I guess I was lapping slower than I thought. Thismorning we changed the front fork during the warm-up, but instead offinding a solution to the problems we were having, we made matters worsefor the race. The positive aspect of the race is that I was able to scoresome points which is important for my overall classification in thechampionship."

Sito Pons: " Loris Capirossi has a very good race indeed, especially aftera two-month lay-off. He gave it his all on the bike, as is always the casewith him, and he finished as the fastest two-stroke bike. Alex's race, onthe other hand, was disappointing. I think that after Saturday's fallduring Free Practice he did not find the right settings for his track andas a result he did not perform as well as he might. In normal conditions hecould have fought hand in hand with Loris to be the fastest two-strokebike here."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Kanemoto Honda, 12th: "I got a good start, for atwo-stroke, and ran wide at the first turn and carried good speed. Only thechicane proved difficult as one of the Suzuki riders missed his brakingpoint and that cost me time. After that I got into a good fight withBarros, McCoy and Jacque, and really enjoyed it. When McWilliams camepassed us I couldn't stay with him. Then I got some vibration and decidedto slow a bit, I had picked up some rubber on my rear tire. In terms oftyre performance we made a step forward today. I ran a hard front and amedium rear and it worked out well for us."

Team owner manager Erv Kanemoto: "That was a good race for us, Jurgen rodereally well, and the tires performed today. From yesterday indications werethat we could run well here. The front wheel chatter we had yesterday wasminimised for the race, all in all that was the best combination we couldhave run with. It has been a really encouraging weekend. The tires lookedgood at the end, they look as if they performed constantly through the wholerace. We now go to Valencia for a Bridgestone test, next Thursday andFriday, where Shinichi Itoh will test for us. Bridgestone are workingreally hard and they want us to test new tires. This race was our firstreally promising step."

Tetsuya Harada, Team Pramac Honda: 15th: "I tried to stay with the ridersahead but it was really impossible. Since the first laps the rear tireslipped too much and I could not push hard risking to crash. I took manyrisks even if I was slower than the others so I thought only to finish therace."

Valentino Rossi, Team Repsol Honda: Race position; DNF"The race was going fine. Me, Kato and Biaggi had good pace. The bike had afew little problems but this seems to be a Yamaha track and not a Hondaone. I couldn't seem to make any impression on Biaggi. Half way through therace the tire went and that was that. I came in to change the tire. I wentout again but lost a lot of time so I pulled in again. It will beinteresting to see what they say about the tire. This has never happened inmy career before. Anyway I still have a good lead in the championship with6 races left. Not a disaster."


Race Classification MotoGP (22 laps = 118.866 km)Pos/Rider/ Nation/ Team/Motorcycle/Time/Km/h1/Max BIAGGI /ITA /Marlboro Yamaha Team/YAMAHA /44'36.498/159.8792/Daijiro KATO /JPN /Fortuna Honda Gresini/HONDA /44'39.253/159.7153/Tohru UKAWA /JPN /Repsol Honda Team/HONDA /44'44.096/159.4274/Sete GIBERNAU /SPA /Telefonica Movistar Suzuki/SUZUKI /44'48.387/159.1725/Carlos CHECA /SPA /Marlboro Yamaha Team/YAMAHA /44'50.527/159.0466/Loris CAPIROSSI /ITA /West Honda Pons/HONDA /44'54.758/158.7967/Jeremy McWILLIAMS /GBR /Proton Team KR/PROTON KR /45'01.338/158.4098/Norick ABE /JPN /Antena 3 Yamaha d'Ant�n/YAMAHA /45'03.070/158.3079/Alex BARROS /BRA /West Honda Pons/HONDA /45'05.239/158.18110/Olivier JACQUE /FRA /Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3/YAMAHA /45'05.654/158.15611/Kenny ROBERTS /USA /Telefonica Movistar Suzuki/SUZUKI /45'09.418/157.93712/Jurgen vd GOORBERGH/NED /Kanemoto Racing/HONDA /45'15.168/157.60213/Garry McCOY /AUS/ Red Bull Yamaha WCM/ YAMAHA/45'21.642/157.22714/Akira RYO /JPN /Team Suzuki/SUZUKI /45'28.430/156.83615/Tetsuya HARADA /JPN /Pramac Honda Racing Team/HONDA /45'38.669/156.250Fastest Lap : Daijiro KATO - 2'00.605 - 161.276 Km/hWorld Championship Positions:1 ROSSI 220, 2 UKAWA 140, 3 BIAGGI 134, 4 CHECA 96, 5 BARROS 94, 6 ABE 90,7 KATO 80, 8 CAPIROSSI 75, 9 JACQUE 48, 10 ROBERTS 45, 11 AOKI 43,12 NAKANO 41, 13 HOPKINS 41, 14 RYO 36, 15 GIBERNAU 34.
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