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Oct 7, 2002

Updated Post: More Team Press Releases From The Pacific Grand Prix At Motegi

From a press release issued by Honda Racing Press Information: <BR><BR>MotoGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2002 <BR>PACIFIC GRAND PRIX, MOTEGI, JAPAN <BR>Race Day, Sunday October 6th, 2002 <BR><BR>BARROS WINS ON HONDA FOUR-STROKE MotoGP DEBUT <BR><BR>Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) took his first race win of the 2002 season after a front-running performance that also delivered him the new Motegi lap record, 1:49.947, on the very last lap. The Brazilian's win ensured that Honda won the Constructors' Championship for the 2002 season, the first of the new era of MotoGP racing, now based on four-stroke machinery. <BR><BR>Barros' outstanding race was particularly impressive as he was having his first ever experience riding the RC211V four-stoke, with all his previous 2002 races being completed on two-stroke machinery. The Brazilian took the lead on lap five and despite later being relegated to second for two laps, held off the close attentions of the newly crowned world champion when it mattered. <BR><BR>Overjoyed with his record-breaking win, Barros said: "First of all I have to thank HRC for giving me this opportunity. The four-stroke is very good, and from the first lap of practice I was surprised how fast and easy it was to ride. I tried to race with a good rhythm because I was not sure how the rear tyre would be in the last few laps. I then tried to keep a leading pace but Valentino overtook me on the straight. Then he made a mistake under braking and I got past him again. I went as fast as possible to stay ahead from then on and got the new record on the last lap, which I am very happy about." <BR><BR>For recently crowned world champion Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) the Motegi race was an uncharacteristically difficult event and despite leading for four laps running at the front throughout, he had to fight for his 20 points. <BR><BR>"This was maybe the hardest race of the year, because the setting of the bike was not perfect," said Rossi in a post-race interview. "Every time I entered a corner I was fighting with it, so second position is not so bad. The battle with Alex was good, especially as we have the same bike now." <BR><BR>An all-Honda podium was completed by two-stoke rider Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500), who maintained station a short distance behind the leaders for most of the race, only slowed in the final laps. <BR><BR>"I had a very good practice here and we were 100% ready going into this race," said Capirossi after his immense achievement. "On the last two laps I went a little bit more easily because I think there was no chance to catch Valentino and Alex - and impossible to overtake. Despite that I am happy to make this result on a two-stroke." <BR><BR>Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) completed Honda's domination of the top four places, after a somewhat solitary ride on his RCV, which proved to be the fastest machine through the Motegi speed trap all weekend, being clocked at 288.2km/h in morning warm up. His 13 points were vital to his Repsol Honda team, as it secured the Teams' Championship with three meetings to go and promoted the rider himself to second in the championship again. <BR><BR>"After the previous round at Rio I was very disappointed to crash and lose second position in the championship," said Ukawa. "The way we were going in early practice I wasn't too hopeful for the race. I couldn't match the pace at the front today but I leave my home race second in the championship again." <BR><BR>Jurgen van Den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) scored three points for his 13th place, after some radical pre-race set-up alterations. <BR><BR>"I was a little bit desperate before this race so we decided to use warm up, and the two laps of pre-race warm up, as a test for some very different suspension settings," said a relieved van Den Goorbergh. "I wasn't sure that we would score points or even finish the race, but it made such a difference that I was able to race against Hopkins, Harada and the others, and score some points." <BR><BR>The last point on offer went to Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500), who took his two-stroke to 15th place. <BR><BR>Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V) retired from the race after his machine suffered a mechanical problem on lap seven, finally pulling out on lap nine. The local rider, who had qualified on pole, was challenging for his first MotoGP win at the time, making his retirement a particular disappointment to him and his team. <BR><BR>"That was a really unlucky day," said a dejected Kato. "I would have liked to have taken my first MotoGP win in front of my own public. I thought I would have the perfect chance after taking pole position and having such a perfect warm-up. Something broke on the bike and I had to return to the garage." <BR><BR>The podium places in a superb 250cc race were contested by two Honda riders at various points through the 23-lap event, with Yuki Takahashi (Team HRC RS250R/W Evolution) taking the best Honda finish, in third place. The 18-year-old from Saitama is currently seventh in the All-Japan Championship and was unfazed by his exposure to this level of competition. <BR><BR>"This was a big opportunity for me and Honda and I am very happy that we made the most of our chances. I might have caught the leaders but I didn't want to risk a crash. Also I knew Melandri and Elias had something more in their pockets. They kept their tyres to the end and that was a good lesson for me. I don't know what I will do next year but I want to race in the Grands Prix again - at least as a wildcard rider." <BR><BR>A strong ride from Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) saw him as high as third on occasion, dropping back to finish fifth, one second ahead of his team-mate Robby Rolfo (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250). <BR><BR>"I am satisfied," said the Spaniard after the race. "This is my first race after the operation on my arm to be held on a dry track and I could feel the limit. In the race I could attack Nieto but the front brake was not perfect and it stopped me from getting past him." <BR><BR>Rolfo, who qualified on the second row, had difficulties dealing with his machine under a full fuel load, but recovered well to finish sixth. <BR><BR>"Today was better than practice, even if I did lose a good opportunity to gain points in the fight for second place in the championship," explained the Italian. "I lost time in the first part of the race because I had to toil while riding with a full tank of fuel. I wasn't fast entering or in the middle of corners. This track is not one of my favourites." <BR><BR>The highest-ranked regular privateer Honda was ridden by Haruchika Aoki (DeGraaf Grand Prix Team Honda RS250R/W) taking 13th, two positions behind <BR>wildcard rider Hiroshi Aoyma (Team Harc-Pro Honda RS250R/W). Jason Vincent (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) missed out on a points score in 19th, with Jakub Smrz (DeGraaf Grand Prix Team Honda RS250R/W) 24th. <BR><BR>In the overall 250 title race Rolfo remains third overall, the top Honda rider thanks to his total of 170 points, with Alzamora eighth on 93 points. <BR><BR>Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) took his second race win of the season in the 125c class, running away with the lead from the second lap onwards and winning by over eight seconds. He was aided in his task by his rapid machine, clocked at 220 km/h through the speed trap, as the young Spaniard took the fastest lap of the race on lap 12, with a time of 1:58.354. <BR><BR>Having scored pole position in qualifying, Pedrosa's weekend of perfection was completed by his maximum points score, putting himself back into the running for the overall World Championship win. Pedrosa is now 24 points behind the lead, with a maximum possible 75 points left to take. <BR><BR>"What can I say? Victory, pole and lap record - it has been a particularly perfect weekend," said a confident and happy race winner. "We worked hard in qualifying and I think that is where we found the difference. I knew we had a pace that nobody else could maintain, so during the race I concentrated on keeping that pace throughout the race. Finally Vincent had some bad luck this weekend and it has changed the championship completely." <BR><BR>Joan Olive (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) performed minor miracles to go from 22nd on the grid to the top ten in a matter of three laps, finishing in eighth place at the end of an epic personal race. <BR><BR>"Starting so far back was real handicap, as I had to pass riders constantly," said a weary but happy Olive. "I felt more comfortable with my bike in the race as we were able to solve some little problems and I was able to fight for every corner. This allowed me to lap half a second faster than I did in qualifying." <BR><BR>Mika Kallio (Red Devil Honda RS125R) took a fine sixth place. <BR><BR>HONDA TEAM QUOTES: <BR><BR>MotoGP: <BR><BR>Alex Barros, West Honda Pons: 1st: " I would like to congratulate HRC, and most of all my team, for having given me the opportunity to ride this fantastic bike. The RC211Vis an easy bike to ride and the technical guys in the West Honda Pons team have worked exceptionally hard to achieve this result. I had no experience of how the bike would react during the final laps and I was worried that the tyres might let me down. For this reason I rode with much care, but when Rossi passed me I decided it was the moment to take risks. I gave 100% on the last lap to win the race and this was reflected in my final lap time which was the fastest lap of the race. Obviously I am extremely happy and I would love to repeat this victory in one of the next races." <BR><BR>Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team: 2nd: " The whole weekend has been not so good really. I was sick at the beginning and we never really found the right set-up for the bike. It was one of the hardest races of the year for me. I got a good start but really had trouble controlling the bike into corners on the brakes. I try so hard and nearly crash several times. I would like to congratulate Barros. He rode a great race and we had a good fight. In the end, second is not so bad; I tried everything. I prefer to stay on two wheels and not end up off the circuit!" <BR><BR>Loris Capirossi, West Honda Pons, 3rd: " The podium finish is a magnificent result, taking into account that I finished very close to the four-strokes of Alex and Valentino. I really think I have had a great weekend here, in both practice and the race itself. Today I went out with my mind firmly set on giving it everything I had to try and score a result like this. I am happy with this third position, which I think is the most I could have hoped for with a bike of these characteristics. I congratulate my mechanics on their work and also Alex on his victory. Today is a good day for the team." <BR><BR>Sito Pons: "Obviously I am very satisfied with the performance of my two riders and allof the team members who have deserved this success after a very tough year. I am very proud of them all, Alex and Loris were quite simply brilliant and they have once again demonstrated that they are two of the best riders in the championship. They are clearly the great winners of the day." <BR><BR>Tohru Ukawa, Repsol Honda Team: 4th: " "After Rio I was really disappointed to crash and to lose second position in the championship. The way we were going in early practice I wasn't too hopeful for the race. However the team worked really hard and we managed to get a better package and the bike actually felt pretty good in the race. I couldn't match the pace at the front and I leave my home GP with second place back in the Rider's Championship. I am pleased that my result today with, Rossi's runner up position, have secured the Team Championship for the Repsol Honda Team." <BR><BR>Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Kanemoto Racing team: 13th: "I was a little bit desperate before the race, I was not sure I would get points, or even finish the race. We made some radical changes to the machine settings overnight, and in the warm up and I tested them by doing two pre-race warm up laps to check out the front end chatter problems that had caused us so much grief in qualifying. After the warm up laps I put new tyres in before the start, that, and the drop in temperature were a big bonus to us, the front-end chatter was 50% less than yesterday. So much better that I could run faster times in the race than I had in qualifying. I was able to fight it out with Harada, Hopkins and Yoshikawa in the race. I thought I would get 12th from Yoshikawa, I got passed him on the last lap but he had the power to get passed me before the end. I only had one bad 'moment' in the race. That was when Yanagawa's Kawasaki engine blew. I had just pulled off my last tear off and the oil spray covered my visor. I couldn't see and missed my braking point, luckily not by much!" <BR><BR>Team owner - manager Erv Kanemoto: "Until the race we had had a terrible weekend, but today everything went better than we could have expected after qualifying in 20th place. Basically everything went much better for us. The lower track temperature, combined with the setting changes we made overnight, were a huge help. We are reasonably happy with the result. The lap times were consistent, Jurgen was running faster times today than in qualifying, the tyres performed consistently, and he was consistently faster at the end of the race." <BR><BR>Daijiro Kato, Fortuna Honda Gresini, dnf: "It was a really unlucky day. I would really liked to have won in front of my home public, and I thought I would go well in the race after taking pole position, and a perfect warm up. Something on the machine broke and I had to retire at the garage. I'm really worried and I hope to do better in Malaysia." <BR><BR>Fausto Gresini: "This race confirmed that this year is not really lucky for us and we cannot have a happy day even if we made a good job and a big sacrifice. Daijiro was going well: fastest in practice, perfect during the warm up, and he wasn't struggling at all to stay with the leaders. The podium was close for us today, but now we will fly to Mlaysia to find success." <BR><BR>250cc: <BR><BR>Yuki Takahashi, Team HRC: 3rd: " Yesterday, I said I wanted to get on the podium, but I didn't expect it be happen so I can't believe it came true. The start was not so good as usual, although it was better than five start practices I did last night after the qualifying. The pace wasn't so fast at the beginning of the race so I thought I must follow the leaders or I get lost. When I was in the 2nd position, I turned back but couldn't see Elias following me, so I was surprised when he passed me. I tried to pass back but run wide. From then on, I couldn't push to the limit because of tyres. If I were risking, I might have caught them, but I didn't want to crash. Also I knew Elias and Melandri had something more in their pockets. They kept their tyres to the end and that was a good lesson for me. I don't know what I will do next year, but I want to race in the Grand Prix again, at least as a wild-card rider. <BR><BR>Tady Okada - Team Manager: " To tell the truth, I didn't expect Yuki to get on the podium, so 3rd is more than satisfactory. He raced really well. Elias and Melandri were keeping their tyres tyres and their pace went up during the last three laps. This is the tactics Yuki had learnt today. However, Yuki was cool enough to stay third and I will give him full marks today." <BR><BR>Emilio Alzamora, Fortuna Honda Gresini, 5th: "I'm satisfied: this is my first race after the operation on my arm tht was held on a dry track and I could feel my limit. Not so bad! In the race today I could attack Nieto, but the front brake was not perfect and it prevented me from getting passed him." <BR><BR>Roberto Rolfo, Fortuna Honda Gresini, 6th: "Today was better than yesterday, even if I lost a good opportunity to gain points in the fight for second place in the championship, but this is a part of the racing spirit. I lost time in the first part of the race because I had to toil while riding with a full tank. I wasn't fast entering, or in the middle of the corners. This track is not one of my favourites….." <BR><BR>Fausto Gresini: "Better than yesterday, even if we lost a good opportunity to close in on second place in the championship. Emilio gave his best performance of the season." <BR><BR>Haruchika Aoki, DeGraaf RS250R-W Honda, 13th: "Not so good for me today. My engine had been giving problems n qualifying and it was the same today, it was just not pulling. I was 11th but on the back straight on the last lap it slowed and I lost two places. It came back off the last corner but it was too late. I'm very disappointed as this is one of my home grands prix." <BR><BR>125cc: <BR><BR>Daniel Pedrosa, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 1st: "What can I say? Victory, pole, and lap record. It's been a practically perfect weekend. We worked very hard in qualifying, and I think that is where we found the difference. I knew I had a pace that nobody else could maintain, so in the race I concentrated on maintaining that pace without thinking about anything else. Finally, Vincent had some problems, and the points gap at the top of the championship table has reduced. This doesn't change our strategy - which is to give the maximum over the next three races, and whatever final result we get, it will be good for us. Obviously I want to thank my team, because of the fantastic work they've done all weekend." <BR><BR>Mika Kallio, Red Devil Honda, 6th: "I'm really pleased with that result, particularly after my high side crash yesterday which gave me all sorts of problems with the front forks. I had to change everything from my second bike to the race machine for the warm up. It worked out OK for me. In the race I got a good start from 17th on the grid, unusual for me. I was 10th at the end of the first lap and after that just raced as hard as I could. The bike was perfect, and I was running just a couple of tenths slower than the leaders and I'm happy with that. " <BR><BR>Joan Olive, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 8th: "It was a very hard race. Starting so far back was a handicap from the first, because I had to pass riders constantly. Today I felt more comfortable with my bike. We were able to solve some little problems, and I felt able to fight in every corner. This allowed me to lap half-a-second faster than in qualifying. I hope that next week in Malaysia I will be able to qualify well, and then be able to fight with the leading group from the first laps." <BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:<BR><BR>ROBERTS TAKES ANOTHER TOP SIX AT MOTEGI<BR><BR>MotoGP, Round 13, Race Result, Motegi, Japan - Sunday, October 6, 2002:<BR><BR>TEAM Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts claimed his third consecutive top six finish on the ever-improving prototype 990cc Suzuki GSV-R racer in today's Pacific GP, and moved one place higher in the top 10 of the championship.<BR><BR>After a slow start to the season, his improving overall position is a clear illustration of the progress made in the 200-plus horsepower V4 machine's first year of race development. Sixth was also two places higher than his qualifying position. Roberts, World Champion in 2000 on the two-stroke Suzuki, now lies eighth overall, with three races remaining.<BR><BR>Team-mate Sete Gibernau did not finish the race and retired on the sixth lap. At the time, Gibernau was circulating in close formation with Roberts, the pair lying seventh and eighth.<BR><BR>The Pacific GP was the first of a trio of long-distance flyaway races on consecutive weekends, with the Malaysian GP next Sunday, and the Australian round one weekend later, before the final round of the year at Valencia in Spain.<BR><BR>Today's race was won by Brazilian rider Alex Barros, his first victory in the new MotoGP class, which has opened the top class of motorcycle racing to the new-generation 990cc four-strokes as well as the traditional 500cctwo-strokes.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - Sixth Position<BR>"All weekend, we've been working on getting the bike more rider-friendly, so that I can ride it a lot harder. The result represents what we've achieved with it so far. I can't yet use all my know-how and ability to ride the bike at 100 per cent. We're still at 70 or 80 per cent of that. We plan to make that better, and then I can use my talent to make it go faster. The most positive side is that we've had a lot of good meetings with top management from Suzuki this weekend, and they take all our comments and requests very seriously. I am confident they will respond and continue to make the bike better."<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU - Did Not Finish<BR>"I got a good start, and Kenny and I were going round together, in a good position. Before I could start thinking about the rest of the race, I had to retire."<BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager<BR>"Kenny once again showed his strength and consistency with another solid ride and a good result. He's making the most of what we have, at the same time as the factory and the team are continuing to make it better. Sete unfortunately didn't finish and retired."<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:<BR><BR>October 6, 2002 - Crash Spoils Kawasaki´s GP Return<BR><BR>Akira Yanagawa crashed out of today's Pacific GP on the seventh of 24 laps of the 4,801-metre Motegi circuit. The spectacular fall spoiled the new Ninja ZX-RR's first race – the Kawasaki factory's return to GP racing after an absence of almost 20 years. But the weekend was far from a disaster for the newest of the new-generation 990cc prototypes.<BR><BR>Entered in the last four GPs as a shake-down run in preparation for a full-scale entry next year, the new bike had showed its potential in practice. Although still in first prototype form, with just five days of track-testing behind it, the new fuel-injected machine was lapping consistently, qualifying 17th to start on the fifth row of the grid.<BR><BR>´It's a pity to finish the week-end in this way, especially as Akira rode very well,´ said Kawasaki Racing Team manager, Harald Eckl. ´Up to the moment of his crash, it had been a very promising start to our new campaign. We were able to improve the bike quickly day by day, even the chattering problems that slowed Akira yesterday were already a thing of the past with today's set-up changes. As everybody could see, the rear of the bike stepped out so suddenly that Akira had no chance to save it.´<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Team Proton KR:<BR><BR>Proton Team KR riders Nobuatsu Aoki and Jeremy McWilliams finished ninth and tenth in today's Pacific GP, a third double top ten this season, at a track where the team had expected the lightweight two-stroke machine to suffer in comparison to its heavier but more powerful rivals.<BR><BR>The Proton pair circulated close together for full race distance, McWilliams ahead for nine of the 24 laps of the 4.801 circuit in the mountains an hour or so outside Tokyo, before he was slowed briefly by a gear-shifting glitch that gave Aoki the chance to reverse the order. At the finish, they were separated by only 1.5 seconds, and were both less than 40 seconds behind first-time four-stroke race winner Alex Barros's 990cc Honda, and just three seconds behind the first of the four-cylinder two-strokes, Olivier Jacque's seventh-placed Yamaha.<BR><BR>This was particularly satisfying, given the nature of the Motegi circuit - mainly single-radius corners separated by short drag-strip straight. This gives a big advantage to the more powerful new-generation 990cc four-strokes as well as the heavier but more powerful four-cylinder two-strokes, and is a clear illustration not only of the sterling efforts of both riders, but also the high level of the lightweight three-cylinder Proton KR3, now approaching the end of its final season. Next year, the new V5 four-stroke Proton will take its place.<BR><BR>The nature of the circuit - with almost constant hard acceleration in the lower gears - poses another interesting technical problem to all the machines: unusually heavy fuel consumption. Proton Team KR technicians borrowed a precautionary solution from F1 car racing. They iced the fuel before filling the tanks to the brim. This reduces the overall volume taken by a specific amount of fuel, effectively increasing tank capacity. Both riders got to the finish without fuel problems.<BR><BR>The Pacific GP was the first of three consecutive flyaway GPs. Next weekend is the Malaysian GP, home race for the Malaysian-backed Proton, with the Australian GP one week later. Two weeks after that the season finishes with the Valencia GP in Spain.<BR><BR><BR>NOBUATSU AOKI<BR>That was a pretty tough race, but thanks to the efforts of the team we managed to get a very satisfying result. The machine and suspension set-up were both good after a lot of work in qualifying. I had another worry. There were a couple of places on the track where it was better to over-rev rather than change to another gear, and I was concerned that the engine might not be able to take it. I think the mechanics did a very good job, making sure it stayed together to the finish. The other thing was the frozen fuel tank. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it felt very strange - cold at the front, with the exhausts making the seat very hot. I am pleased with the race at my second home GP this year, and I want to thank all my supporters and fans who came to Motegi, to cheer me on.<BR><BR>JEREMY McWilliams<BR>I had a couple of problems that made the race difficult. At first it felt as though the engine was a bit lean, and I was worried it might seize, so I took it a bit easy for a while. That seemed to clear up, but then I had some gear-shift problems ... the quick-shift stopped working for a lap or so. That was when Nobu came past me. Apart from that, my rear settings were a bit too soft, and it was hard to steer. Given all that, the result is pretty pleasing, and my collarbone injury from Rio was no problem at all.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - Team Owner<BR>That was a good race - a lot better than we expected. Both riders performed exceptionally well, and the bikes also. It was pretty touch and go on fuel, so we froze it to get a bit more in. That seemed to work out too. We didn't have high hopes at this track, so overall I'm pretty pleased.<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from a release issued by Michelin:<BR><BR>BARROS SCORES MICHELIN'S 290th PREMIER-CLASS WIN<BR>Brazilian RCV first-timer gets the better of champ Rossi in thrilling Motegi showdown<BR><BR>Alex Barros (West Honda Pons RC211V-Michelin) became only the second man this year to beat MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) in a head-to-head duel, taking a famous victory in today's Pacific GP, his first four-stroke GP ride. The pair were together throughout the race, chased hard by remarkable third-place finisher Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500-Michelin).<BR><BR>Barros' win was Michelin's 290th in the premier class, coming 29 years after Jack Findlay won the company's first major success in the 1973 Isle of Man Senior TT. Rossi has already secured this year's world title, which is Michelin's 11th successive premier-class championship success and its 22nd in the past 27 years. In today's race the first eight riders home used Michelin tyres and the top ten men in the series points standings are all Michelin equipped.<BR><BR>Barros got the better of Rossi in a dramatic final few laps, crossing the line 1.641 seconds ahead of the Italian, who had tried everything to score his 11th win of the year. The Brazilian veteran established a new lap record on the final lap,proving that his Michelin tyres were giving him all the grip and traction he needed, even after three quarters of an hour of flat-out racing.<BR><BR>"That was a great ride from Alex," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "He hadn't even ridden the RCV before Friday and he only has one bike, so he had to make sure he made no mistakes in practice or qualifying. He worked very well with his crew and with his Michelin engineers, and his bike seemed to work better than Valentino's. Both of them chose exactly the same front and rear tyres, Loris too. Loris rode an amazing race – no one thought the two-strokes would stand much of a chance here."<BR><BR>Barros was in the hunt from the very beginning, leading into turn one from his second-row start, and then disputing the lead with fellow second-row starter Rossi and pole-sitter Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V-Michelin), Capirossi just metres behind. Rossi led for the first five laps before making a minor error that allowed Barros back ahead. He stayed out front for the next 14 laps before Rossi powered past again, only to make another mistake as he fought to control his machine. Making the most of his chance, Barros retook the lead and made sure he stayed there all the way to the flag.<BR><BR>"After Valentino made that mistake braking into a turn I got back ahead and went as fast as possible, that's why I broke the lap record on the last lap," said Barros after his first win since last year's Italian GP. "I tried to race with a good rhythm and I have to say that the RCV surprised me – it's so fast and easy to ride."<BR><BR>Rossi admitted he was beaten fair and square. "This was my hardest race of the year because my set-up wasn't perfect," he said. "Every time I entered a corner I was fighting with the bike, so second isn't so bad, and the fight with Alex was good."<BR><BR>Fellow Italian Capirossi was delighted with his second podium finish of the year. "The bike was 100 per cent and I'm very happy to get third on a two-stroke," he said.<BR><BR>Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) finished a lonely fourth, running the same front/rear Michelin combination as the first three, well ahead of Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki GSV-R-Michelin). Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 YZR500-Michelin) won an entertaining contest for seventh with Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha-d'Antin YZR500-Michelin).<BR><BR>A bike problem put Kato out of the race just before half distance, ending the local hero's hopes of scoring a debut MotoGP victory on home tarmac. Second-qualifier Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) also retired after a risky front-tyre choice went wrong.<BR>