Spanish GP Results

John P Burns
by John P Burns
Race Report, Sunday November 3rd

A massive 120,000 spectators witnessed the final chapter of Honda's 2002season domination at Valencia, with Alex Barros (West Honda Pons RC211V)winning a high-speed game of cat and mouse from challenger Valentino Rossi(Repsol Honda Team RC211V).

After catching long-term leader Barros, and being waved past by theBrazilian at mid-race an offer Rossi refused the Italian held station inBarros' slipstream until the tense last lap, during which Barros outbrakedhimself at the first corner. This put Rossi temporarily alongside theBrazilian but at the very next curve Barros re-asserted himself and hung onto take his second win of the year on the RC211V four-stroke. The race wasfully a minute and five seconds faster than the previous fastest Valenciarace, in 2000.

Rossi, Barros and Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) have all takenwins on the new V5 Honda during 2002, with 14 of the 16 MotoGP races won onHondas, and all 16 races taken by the new breed of 990cc four-stroke machines.

A start-line collision between Yamaha riders Carlos Checa and Jose LuisCardoso looked severe enough to call a temporary halt to the 30-lap racebut Checa escaped injury and Cardoso suffered only a severely contusedabdomen. The race itself proved to be a somewhat destructive affair formany other teams, however, with a further six riders failing to cross thefinish line, but only one Honda numbered among them.

Out front from the start, Barros was unaware of the early dramas beingplayed out behind and his win was a vindication of his general 2002 seasonform. Usually the fastest two-stroke rider when in charge of his earlyseason NSR500, and then a force to be reckoned with at each race since hetook delivery of his four-stroke machine, Barros has proved a match foreven Rossi in the last few races."It is so special to win this race in Spain because I have been made tofeel very at home here," said the Brazilian. "I have ridden for this teamfor four years and it was nice to make my last ride for the team a winningone. In the race I tried to push hard but I saw Valentino was right behindme at half race distance. I made a mistake in the last lap and Valentinowent past but I stole the next corner and defended my position to take thewin."

Disappointed not to equal Michael Doohan's record of 12 premier class winsin a season, Rossi nonetheless attained a new record championship pointstotal, 355.

"Today Alex was faster than me," said a disarmingly honest world championafter another top class ride. "Every time I ride with Alex I have to go at110% for all the race and I only get a chance to win if he makes a mistake.I was at the limit today. On the last lap I went past Alex only to findthat he braked 50 meters later than me for the next corner to take the leadagain. In the end I am happy to make the podium in Valencia, something Ihave never done before, and to take the points record."

Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V) scored a fourth place finish onhis four-stroke, taking the IRTA Rookie of the Year prize for being thebest new rider of the season along the way. In contention for a podiumfinish early on but inexorably slipping back as the race continued, Katoexperienced some issues with rear traction."Today the bike was sliding a little at the rear and I could not run thesame pace as the leaders," explained Kato. "My finishing position helped mein the championship and to improve my feeling with the RCV. I'm reallyhappy to be the best newcomer. Anyway my objective for next year is toimprove even more."

Third place for Max Biaggi (Yamaha) at Valencia deprived Ukawa of secondplace overall in the championship battle, although Ukawa's season wasaffected somewhat by injuries picked up at Donington. Finishing fifth atValencia, Ukawa explained his final race of the year.
"All in all a pretty disappointing weekend," he said in summation. "I neverfelt particularly comfortable with the bike's set-up. We made some changesto the bike for the race after warm-up, which was a bit of a gamble, but wehad nothing to lose. I had to beat Biaggi to regain second place in thechampionship. The gamble didn't pay off and I had to settle for third."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) had anotherexcellent race result after his occasionally tough season, scoring seventhplace and the status of top two-stroke at Valencia.

"This has been a hard weekend for us because we started at the bottom butworked ourselves up to this position," said an enthused van den Goorbergh. "When we got to the ten laps to go mark I knew I had the energy and the tyres for it and we were the top two-stroke team again."

Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) had a difficult last race of his career, entering the pits on lap nine but rejoining the fray shortlythereafter, scoring two points for his 14th and last place.

Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) suffered the misfortune of a crashin his final ride for his current team, running out of track on lap 19. Capirossi nonetheless took the unofficial honour of top two-stroke rider throughout the season, placing eighth overall in the championship table.

"I was really enjoying that but I was riding way too fast and I crashed!"said Capirossi. "I went into the corner too hot and lost the front end. But it was really good fun out there today."

Italian firebrand Robby Rolfo (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) scored secondplace at Valencia, his fifth such runner-up position of the year. Sittingthird and fourth until lap 19, Rolfo and Alzamora eventually finished fourseconds behind race winner Marco Melandri (Aprilia).

Rolfo was shadowed and then momentarily passed in the later stages of the27-lap race by his Spanish team-mate Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda GresiniNSR250).

"That was a very hard race but I am very pleased to finish on the podium in the last race of the year, especially at Valencia, the home track of our team sponsor," said Rolfo, who ended his season third overall in the championship ranking and the top Honda finisher. "I am especially pleasedbecause I do not particularly like this track, because of results in the past, so to finish second was a good outcome. Emilio tried very hard to get past me on the last lap but I pushed a lot and managed to keep second place. The team have my thanks for all the hard work this season."

For Alzamora, his third place was a completion of his pre-race ambition tofinish on the podium at home, and he declared himself happy with his finalday's work, despite missing out on second place by a fraction.

"It has been a very good day for me," said a delighted Alzamora. "I had an interesting last lap with Robby, trying to get past him. I did but he got back in front again and I could only get third. It is still a podium finish and hope it was enjoyed by my team and the Spanish supporters."

The best of the privateer Hondas was again ridden by Haruchika Aoki(DeGraaf Grand Prix Team Honda RS250R/W) taking 12th place on the day.Jason Vincent (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) and Leon Haslam (ByQueroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) were the remaining Honda-mountedfinishers, with Vincent 14th and Haslam 17th.

Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) took a fiercelypopular 125cc race win in front of the volatile Valencia crowd, taking thelead on lap five and running at the front from then on, with only new WorldChampion Arnaud Vincent (Aprilia) for company.

Starting from pole position Pedrosa was in determined mood, desperate totake his third race win of the year in some style."I am especially pleased to take this victory in front of my family, friends and fellow Spaniards," said an overjoyed Pedrosa, who was lofted on the shoulders of his countrymen after his race win. "I am so happy not justfor me but for everyone who has supported me this season."
GP1 World Championship Positions:
1 ROSSI 355,
2 BIAGGI 215
3 UKAWA 209
4 BARROS 204
5 CHECA 141
6 ABE 1297 KATO 117
10 JACQUE 81
11 NAKANO 68
12 AOKI 63
13 vd GOORBERGH 60
15 HOPKINS 58.
250GP World Championship Positions:

1 MELANDRI 298, 2 NIETO 241, 3 ROLFO 219, 4 ELIAS 178, 5 PORTO 172, 6 BATTAINI 142,7 ALZAMORA 120, 8 LOCATELLI 119, 9 DE PUNIET 119, 10 MATSUDO 92, 11 DEBON 72,12 STONER 68, 13 CHECA 60, 14 AOKI 58, 15 YUZY 58.

125GP World Championship Positions:
1 VINCENT 273, 2 POGGIALI 254, 3 PEDROSA 243, 4 CECCHINELLO 180, 5 JENKNER168, 6 NIETO 145, 7 SANNA 106, 8 AZUMA 101, 9 DE ANGELIS 87, 10 BORSOI 82, 11 KALLIO 78, 12 OLIVE 76, 13 UI 65, 14 BARBERA 50, 15 GIANSANTI 42.
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