Portuguese GP Results

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From Honda Racing Press Information:

Results Portuguese Grand Prix, Estoril, Portugal

MotoGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2002
PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX, ESTORIL
Race Day, Sunday September 8 2002

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) splashed to his 22nd win in 43MotoGP starts and his ninth victory of the season in appalling conditionsat Estoril today. If he wins at Rio in Brazil in two weeks time and histeam-mate Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) finishes lower than third,the 23-year-old Italian will secure the first-ever MotoGP WorldChampionship title, adding that to his previous 500, 250 and 125 successes.

Early morning mist turned to torrential rain on race day and threw two daysof painstaking set-up work by riders and teams into disarray. The totalcrash toll for the day across all three classes was a staggering 66, nineof those in the MotoGP race. A crowd of nearly 32,000 endured frequent,soaking squalls to watch Ukawa finish third with Carlos Checa (Yamaha) insecond place splitting the Repsol Honda riders.

Rossi and long-time race leader Sete Gibernau (Suzuki) exchanged fastestlap times with each other as the Italian World Champion stalked theSpaniard from mid-race onwards. Then Gibernau crashed just four laps fromthe finish while holding a three and a half second lead.

"I made a good start and tried to get into a rhythm," said Rossi. "ButGibernau didn't have the same idea and off he went. After Ukawa overtook meI got into a good rhythm and passed him and tried to chase Sete. I had tobe very careful because it's so easy to make a small mistake in theseconditions. Sete did and I feel very sorry for him. I'm really not sure ifI would have caught him. I don't think so. The win is great in terms of theChampionship and I'm really happy because some people thought I couldn'tride in the rain here. There have now been two wet races in the year andI've won both - very satisfying."

Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) was content with third. "That was avery difficult race," said the Japanese. "I got a good start but I had tobe very careful because it was so slippery. I overtook Valentino and triedto stay ahead, but he passed me and I nearly crashed several times tryingto stay with him. Then Checa overtook me again and I tried to stay with himand nearly crashed. In the end this result is okay. I have another podiumfinish and I've strengthened my second position in the Championship - andthis is the first time I've managed to finish a race at Estoril withoutcrashing."

Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) was the first two-stroke across thefinish line in fifth. "I am happy," said the Brazilian. "I tried everythingand it was the absolute best I could have done. On the last lap I managedto pass Biaggi under braking on the back straight and pull out a few metresadvantage on him so he couldn't pass me across the finish line. I'm reallysurprised by the difference in performance between Biaggi and me whichshows I did a really good race."

Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) finished this attritional race intenth while Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) fell on lap seven. "Ihad trouble getting the feel of the bike in the tricky conditions," saidCapirossi. "When I started to get more comfortable with how the bike wasworking, I suddenly lost the rear end and then I was on the ground."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) got a good startbut was sidelined with machine component trouble after lap one. "Somethingwent wrong with the quick-shifter and I had to stop," said the disappointedDutchman. "On the second lap it was cutting in and then out and I wasnearly highsided. It kept doing that so I had no choice but to stop. It's agreat pity as I was third fastest in warm-up and was just behind Sete(Gibernau) in the race. It had to happen when I was set for my best race ofthe season."

Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V) struggled in his first wet raceon a four-stroke and crashed out, but saw it as a learning process. "It'ssomething I have to understand," said the Japanese star. "I didn't want tocrash because I need time on the bike in the wet. I'm disappointed tocrash, but even in the dry this track always seemed short of grip for me."

The MotoGP points table now shows Rossi in a commanding lead with 245points with his team-mate Tohru Ukawa second on 156. Max Biaggi (Yamaha)has 144.

Unlucky Robby Rolfo (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) was possibly robbed ofhis maiden 250 Grand Prix win, but fought hard for his fourth place finishin the rain-lashed race after starting from the front row of the grid forthe fourth time in his career. A hotly disputed 10 second stop/go penaltywas inflicted on him for jumping the start. The Italian finished only 23seconds behind eventual winner Fonsi Nieto (Aprilia) - the 23 seconds (andmore) that were absorbed by the highly controversial penalty. MarcoMelandri (Aprilia) finished second, Sebastian Porto (Yamaha) third.

"It's an injustice," said Rolfo. "I didn't jump the start and I'm sureabout that. I had a normal start - exactly the same as the others on thefront row, so I have no idea why they penalised me. This was a race I couldhave won and I showed that by recovering to fourth after the stop/go. Ifeel I have been robbed of a great result."

Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) finished sixth in hiscomeback ride after recent surgery on both wrists. "I'm really satisfied,"said the Spaniard. "I finished the race on a track that was nearlyimpossible to race on because there was no grip. I preferred to be prudentbecause I need to have confidence in myself - and points in the standings."

Leon Haslam (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) finished a career bestseventh despite a get-off and remount. "It's weird," said the Britishrider. "That's my best result even though I crashed in the race. Wesoftened the suspension settings after the morning warm-up, even though Iwas second fastest, and that really helped in the conditions."

Haruchika Aoki (Arie Molenaar Racing Honda RS250R/W) crashed on lap 17while holding second place, re-mounted, but machine damage forced him topit. The Japanese could only sit sobbing as a possible podium finish waswashed away in the rain. Jason Vincent (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W)crashed out mid-race while running as high as fourth. Melandri still leadsthe World Championship with 215 points from Nieto on 183 and Rolfo with 140points.

Arnaud Vincent (Aprilia) won a rain-lashed, crash-strewn 125 race fromSimone Sanna (Aprilia) who ran wide on the final turn allowing Vincent toclaim his fourth win of the year. Steve Jenkner (Aprilia) was third. MasaoAzuma (Lingeois Competition Honda RS125R) was a fighting fifth using allhis experience to cope with the difficult conditions.

"I took it really easy at the start," said Azuma. "Partly because I crashedin the warm-up and also because so many other riders were crashing. So manyriders went down in the first five laps that I went for a safe strategy andas the conditions improved slightly at the end I was still there. At leastthis result puts me into the top ten in the Championship."

There were 27 crashes in all. Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr TeamHonda RS125R) went down on lap 17 but re-joined to finish 10th while JoanOlive (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) went out on the first lapbut was unable to continue due to machine damage.

"I don't know why, but I don't like wet races," said Pedrosa. "I planned toride very carefully, but I simply don't ride well in wet conditions. Theback wheel slid out before I'd even opened the throttle and I went down.The brake lever was twisted and the throttle was sticking open when I wasat full speed. It was difficult even to finish."

Mika Kallio (Red Devil Honda RS125R) finished eighth after taking to thegrass in the later stages of the race. Swiss Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand PrixRS125R), standing in for the injured Jakub Smrz, came home a creditableninth, while Nobby Ueda (Semprucci-Angaia Racing Honda RS125R) crashed onlap 17 while holding seventh place.

Mirko Giansanti (Scot Racing Team Honda RS125R) was one of the earlyfallers after qaulifying seventh, his highest grid slot so far this seasonand Andrea Dovizioso (CE BA Corse Honda RS125R) was in sight of a careerbest fourth place finish before falling on the penultimate lap. Vincentleads the World Championship standings with 194 points, Poggiali liessecond with 171 while Danny Pedrosa is third with 166.

HONDA TEAM QUOTES:

MotoGP:

Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team, 1st: "This morning when I woke up I wassorry to see the weather. We had some good dry settings that we foundyesterday and I was enjoying riding the bike again. I made a good start andtried to get a rhythm. However Gibernau didn't have the same idea and hewent. After Ukawa overtook me I got good rhythm and passed him and tried tochase Sete. I had to be very careful, as it's very easy to make a smallerror. Sete did. I feel very sorry for him. I'm not sure if I would havecaught him. I think not. The victory is great for the championship. I'malso happy because two years ago some people thought I couldn't ride in therain here. There have been now two wet races in the year and I win both.Very satisfying."

Tohru Ukawa, Repsol Honda Team, 3rd: "It was a very difficult race. I got agood start but I had to be very careful, as it was so slippery. I overtookValentino and tried stay ahead. He passed me and I nearly crashed severaltimes trying to stay with him. Then Checa overtakes and again I tried tostay with him and nearly crash again. The result is good in the end. I haveanother podium finish and I have strengthened my second position in thechampionship. I am also happy as this is the first time I have managed tofinish a race at Estoril without crashing!"

Alex Barros, West Honda Pons, 5th: "I am happy because I tried everythingduring the race and it was the best I could have done. In the beginning Ihad trouble staying with Mc Williams, who was pushing hard, but after hiscrash I stayed on Max Biaggi's wheel for the rest of the race. On the lastlap I managed to pass Biaggi under braking on the back straight and get afew metres of advantage ahead of him so that he did not pass me on thefinish line. I did not try the manoeuvre before because I knew he couldpass me again easily. I am happy as I am the first two-stroke rider but Iam really surprised by the difference in performance between Biaggi and mewhich shows that I really did do a good race. Finally I would also like tosay that I thought that after the tyre testing with Michelin in ClermontFerrand we would be closer to the four-strokes in wet conditions, but inreality it was completely the opposite. After the race it seems to me thatthe greater weight of these bikes gives them more front-end grip."

Sito Pons: "I am satisfied because Alex rode an intelligent race andfifth place in an excellent result for him. In fact he was the onlytwo-stroke rider to stay with the four-strokes and that is a reflection ofthe good work he has done. Meanwhile, it was a great shame that Loriscrashed because he was starting to lap quickly. Today was anotherdemonstration of how the four-strokes are much easier to ride than thetwo-strokes in wet conditions and this was clear from the number of crashesamongst the two-strokes."

Loris Capirossi: Crashed: "In the beginning of the race I had troublegetting the feel of the bike in the tricky track conditions, but when Istarted feeling more comfortable I started to ride faster. Then, suddenly Ilost the rear-end and I went to ground."

Daijiro Kato, Fortuna Honda Gresini, dnf: "From the start I understood thatI couldn't have a good chance. I didn't have feeling from the bike becauseI've never tried this bike in the wet. Luckily I didn't hurt myself in thecrash."

Fausto Gresini: "It's a pity after all the work we had done in practice toget on the front row. Usually Daijiro is not fast in the wet, but today hecouldn't do more. In the warm up, after only four laps, he slid off and hehad to start with a bike that was not perfect. During the race we didn't doa lot and the mistake ended the race on an unlucky note. We will make upfor this in Brasil in two weeks time."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Kanemoto Honda, dnf: "Something went wrong withthe quick-shifter system on lap two and I had to stop. The system is linkedto the ignition system and every time you shift the ignition cutsmomentarily. Unfortunately when it cut back in during the race it wasn'tworking at all after lap one. At the second lap at turn four it cut in andout and nearly high sided me. It kept doing that so I had no choice but tostop. A great pity as I was third fastest in the warm up, got a good startfrom 10th on the grid and was running really well in the race, just behindSete (Gibernau). It had to happen to us on the day I was set for my bestrace of the season."

Team owner - manager Erv Kanemoto: "It appears that something in thequick-shifter system broke, maybe a wire or something. We don't know yet,we have to send it back to the factory to be looked at. Jurgen got a goodstart and was riding well, it looked like it would have been our best raceof the season. We could have shown how much progress we have made recently,and just how good the Bridgestone tyres are in the wet."

250cc:

Roberto Rolfo, Fortuna Honda Gresini, 4th: "It's an injustice: I didn'tjump the start, of that I'm sure. I had a normal start, exactly as theothers on the font row, so I don't know why they have penalised me. Thiswas a race I could have won and I showed that, recovering to fourth afterthe stop and go. I feel I have been robbed of a great result."

Emilio Alzamora, Fortuna Honda Gresini, 6th: "I'm really satisfied becauseI finished the race on a track that was impossible to race on, becausethere was no grip. I prefered to be prudent because I needed to haveconfidence in myself, and points in the classification."

Fausto Gresini: "I spent one hour reviewing the images of the start of the250 race and I didn't find an anomily in Roberto's behaviour: he started atexactly the same moment as the others on the front row: behind him othersdid worse things. The regulations says: when the red light goes out, thepivot of the front wheel must not cross the white line and he was in thecorrect position. He didn't have an advantage that should be punished, witha penalty of more than 30-seconds. We must accept the regulations but therace direction did not convince me. Rolfo didn't make a mistake and nobodygave me written notifiction of this penalty. In this professional world wehave to be confident of the marshalls: maybe we need an electronic systemconnected to the stat lights. The system is wrong: the decision isirrevocable and it should be better a penalty in seconds that they can takeaway after a check on he situation. I'm really upset: we need technology tohelp the regulations to end this sort of injustice. I'm sorry for Robertobecause he rode a wonderful race. I congratulate Emilio on his comebackperformance in such terrible conditions."

Leon Haslam, Cibertel Honda BQR, 7th: "That was a really weird race. Mybest ever GP result - even with a crash. I slid off trying to pass Jay(Vincent). I ran wide, hit a puddle and was down. I bent the clutch lever,and damaged the fairing. I tucked the fairing up and restarted. Then I putin some consistent laps and got up to seventh. It sounds strange to say I'mdisappointed after scoring my best ever GP result, but it could have beenso much better."

Haruchika Aoki, DeGraaf RS250R-W Honda, dnf: "I braked too hard for acorner and lost the front. The machine was too badly damaged to continue.I'm really disappointed with that, it could have been the best result yetfor he RS250R-W."

125cc:

Masao Azuma, Tribe by Breil Honda, 5th: "I crashed in the warm up afteronly two laps so I went into the race without a good wet set up. I wascautious at the start, as I wasn't too sure of the bike. But I wasconsistent and with so many riders crashing out in front of me I got up tofifth at the end, quite amazing!"

Mika Kallio, Red Devil Honda, 8th: "I took it easy away from the start andwas in about 11th at the end of lap one. But the bike was working well andI got up to seventh at one point. But with six laps to go another riderwent across the front of me and I nearly crashed. A few guys went passedme. I had to ride hard to get eighth. It would have been better if I hadn'thad that problem. Still it's a few more points in the bag for me."

Thomas Luthi, Elit Grand Prix Honda, 9th: "Before the race I was worriedabout racing in the wet, I had only ever raced one German Championship racein the rain. After only one lap I had found confidence in the wetconditions. Now I hope all the remaining races are run in the wet. I'mproud of my finish, as I'm the first Swiss rider to score 125cc pointssince Olivier Petrucciani, in 1992."

Dani Pedrosa, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 10th: "It's the second time thatit has rained when I had pole and the bike perfectly set. I don't like wetraces- I don't know why. I've asked myself many times, but simply I don'tride well in wet conditions. That's the reason why I planned to ride verycarefully. But on the way out of a corner, before I'd even opened thethrottle, the back wheel slid away. I was able to start again, but thefront brake lever was twisted, and the throttle was sticking when I was atfull speed. As a result, it was impossible to defend any position, eventhough it was difficult to finish and gain six points."

Joan Olive, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, dnf: "I still don't understandexactly what happened. I knew this would be a race of attrition, and that Ihad to finish it without crashing, then it would be possible to achieve agood result. The track was very slippery, and on the second lap I openedthe throttle smoothly in a corner, and just hit the ground. It's clear thatthis year the luck is not on my side."

RESULTS

Race Classification MotoGP (28 laps = 117.096 km)Pos./Rider/Nation/Team/Motorcycle/Time/km/h1/Valentino ROSSI /ITA /Repsol Honda Team/HONDA /54'12.962/129.5882/Carlos CHECA /SPA /Marlboro Yamaha Team/YAMAHA /54'35.162/128.7093/Tohru UKAWA /JPN /Repsol Honda Team/HONDA /54'37.182/128.6304/Kenny ROBERTS /USA /Telefonica Movistar Suzuki/SUZUKI /54'53.794/127.9815/Alex BARROS /BRA /West Honda Pons/HONDA /54'55.671/127.9086/Max BIAGGI /ITA /Marlboro Yamaha Team/YAMAHA /54'57.026/127.8567/Norick ABE /JPN /Antena 3 Yamaha d'Ant�n/YAMAHA /56'01.974/125.3868/John HOPKINS /USA /Red Bull Yamaha WCM/YAMAHA /56'16.063/124.8639/Jeremy McWILLIAMS /GBR /Proton Team KR/PROTON KR /54'33.830/124.16310/Tetsuya HARADA /JPN /Pramac Honda Racing Team/HONDA /55'01.691/123.11511/Garry McCOY /AUS/ Red Bull Yamaha WCM/ YAMAHA/55'15.117/122.61712/Shinya NAKANO /JPN /Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3/YAMAHA /55'21.518/122.380Fastest Lap : Valentino ROSSI - 1m52.302 -134.059 Km/hWorld Championship Positions:1 ROSSI 245, 2 UKAWA 156, 3 BIAGGI 144, 4 CHECA 116, 5 BARROS 105,6 ABE 99, 7 KATO 80, 8 CAPIROSSI 75, 9 ROBERTS 58, 10 HOPKINS 49,11 JACQUE 48, 12 NAKANO 45, 13 AOKI 43, 14 HARADA 39, 15 RYO 36.Race Classification 250cc (26 laps = 108.732 km)Pos./Rider/Nation/Team/Motorcycle/Time/km/h1/Fonsi NIETO /SPA /Telefonica Movistar-Repsol/APRILIA /53'58.901/120.8542/Marco MELANDRI /ITA /MS Aprilia Racing/APRILIA /53'59.585/120.8283/Sebastian PORTO /ARG /Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK/YAMAHA /54'06.243/120.5804/Roberto ROLFO /ITA /Fortuna Honda Gresini/HONDA /54'22.477/119.9805/Roberto LOCATELLI /ITA /Tu Racing Team/APRILIA /54'48.135/119.0446/Emilio ALZAMORA /SPA /Fortuna Honda Gresini/HONDA /54'59.529/118.6337/Leon HASLAM /GBR /Cibertel Honda BQR/HONDA /55'35.535/117.3538/David CHECA /SPA /Safilo Oxydo Race LCR/APRILIA /55'38.451/117.2509/Dirk HEIDOLF /GER /Aprilia Germany/APRILIA /56'11.641/116.09610/Hector FAUBEL /SPA /RFME Equipo Nacional/APRILIA /54'02.669/116.07111/Raul JARA /SPA /RFME Equipo Nacional/APRILIA /54'06.465/115.93512/Erwan NIGON /FRA /Equipe de France - Scrab GP/APRILIA/54'41.563/114.69513/Toni ELIAS /SPA /Telefonica Movistar-Repsol/APRILIA /54'55.925/105.059Fastest Lap = Fonsi NIETO - 2m00.120 - 125.334 Km/hWorld Championship Positions:1 MELANDRI 215, 2 NIETO 183, 3 ROLFO 140, 4 PORTO 110, 5 ELIAS 1056 LOCATELLI 98, 7 BATTAINI 88, 8 DE PUNIET 86, 9 ALZAMORA 73,10 MATSUDO 65, 11 DEBON 52, 12 STONER 44, 13 AOKI 42, 14 YUZY 38,15 CHECA 32.Race Classification 125cc (24 laps = 100.368 km)Pos./Rider/Nation/Team/Motorcycle/Time/km/h1/Arnaud VINCENT /FRA /Imola Circuit Exalt Cycle Race/APRILIA/49'05.300/122.6782/Simone SANNA /ITA /Tu Racing Team/APRILIA /49'06.167/122.6423/Steve JENKNER /GER /UGT 3000 - Abruzzo/APRILIA /49'07.900/122.5704/Pablo NIETO /SPA /Master-Aspar Team/APRILIA /49'53.820/120.6905/Masao AZUMA /JPN /Tribe by Breil/HONDA /50'03.272/120.3106/Lucio CECCHINELLO /ITA /Safilo Oxydo Race LCR/APRILIA /50'15.335/119.8297/Gino BORSOI /ITA /UGT 3000 - Abruzzo/APRILIA /50'19.982/119.6448/Mika KALLIO /FIN /Red Devil Honda/HONDA /50'33.294/119.1199/Thomas LUTHI/ SWI /Elit Grand Prx/ HONDA /50'44.743/118.67110/Daniel PEDROSA /SPA /Telefonica Movistar jnr Team/HONDA /50'55.819/118.24111/Chaz DAVIES /GBR /CWF - Matteoni Racing/APRILIA /50'59.825/118.08612/Christian PISTONI/ ITA/ Italjet Racing Service/ ITALJET/49'16.373/117.12613/Marco SIMONCELLI /ITA /CWF - Matteoni Racing /Aprilia/50'29.152/114.31214/Julian SIMON /SPA /Telefonica Movistar Team /HONDA/50'29.216/114.309Fastest Lap : Steve JENKNER - 2m01.050 - 124.371 Km/hWorld Championship Positions:1 VINCENT 194, 2 POGGIALI 171, 3 PEDROSA 166, 4 CECCHINELLO 126,5 JENKNER 122, 6 SANNA 87, 7 NIETO 78, 8 DE PUNIET 63, 9 BORSOI 63,10 AZUMA 61, 11 UI Youichi 54, 12 OLIVE 51, 13 KALLIO 51, 14 GIANSANTI 39,15 DOVIZIOSO 32
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