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Sep 8, 2002

Updated Post: Rossi Wins Wet MotoGP Race In Portugal, Roberts 4th, Hopkins 8th

Copyright 2002, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.<BR><BR>MotoGP Race Results:<BR><BR>1. Valentino Rossi, Honda RC211V, 28 laps, 54:12.962<BR>2. Carlos Checa, Yamaha YZR-M1, -22.200 seconds<BR>3. Tohru Ukawa, Honda RC211V, -24.220 seconds<BR>4. Kenny Roberts, Suzuki GSV-R, -40.832 seconds<BR>5. Alex Barros, Honda NSR500, -42.709 seconds<BR>6. Max Biaggi, Yamaha YZR-M1, -44.064 seconds<BR>7. Norick Abe, Yamaha YZR500, -109.102 seconds<BR>8. John Hopkins, Yamaha YZR500, -123.101 seconds<BR>9. Jeremy McWilliams, Proton KR3, -1 lap, crash<BR>10. Tetsuya Harada, Honda NSR500, -1 lap<BR>11. Garry McCoy, Yamaha YZR500, -1 lap<BR>12. Shinya Nakano, Yamaha YZR500, -1 lap, crash<BR>13. Sete Gibernau, Suzuki GSV-R, -4 laps, DNF, crash<BR>14. Daijiro Kato, Honda RC211V, -21 laps, DNF, crash<BR>15. Loris Capirossi, Honda NSR500, -22 laps, DNF, crash<BR>16. Regis Laconi, Aprilia RS3, -25 laps, DNF, crash<BR>17. Nobuatsu Aoki, Proton KR3, -26 laps, DNF, mechanical<BR>18. Jurgen vd Goorbergh, Honda NSR500, -26 laps, mechanical<BR>19. Olivier Jacque, Yamaha YZR500, -28 laps, crash<BR>20. Pere Riba, Yamaha YZR500, -28 laps, crash<BR><BR>MotoGP World Championship Point Standings:<BR><BR>1. Rossi, 245 points<BR>2. Ukawa, 156 points<BR>3. Biaggi, 144 points<BR>4. Checa, 116 points<BR>5. Barros, 105 points<BR>6. Abe, 99 points<BR>7. Kato, 80 points<BR>8. Capirossi, 75 points<BR>9. Roberts, 58 points<BR>10. Hopkins, 49 points<BR>11. Jacque, 48 points<BR>12. Nakano, 45 points<BR>13. Aoki, 43 points<BR>14. Harada, 39 points<BR>15. Akira Ryo, 36 points<BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Red Bull Yamaha:<BR><BR>Red Bull Yamaha riders Garry McCoy and John Hopkins were two of just 12 finishers in today's wet, 28-lap Portuguese Grand Prix. In front of 31,700 fans the duo safely raced their Yamaha two-stroke machines past the finishing line, whilst eight of their rivals crashed, retired and failed to score.<BR><BR>Hopkins was off the line fast from his 15th-place grid position, and within 4 laps had moved up 7 places into 8th position. On lap 10, the 19-year-old American hit a stream of water on the back straight and had a front-end slide. Fortunately, the superbly fit and focused American was able to control his YZR500 through the gravel and back onto the track to rejoin the race in 10th place.<BR><BR>"Hopper" was aiming for a top-10 finish and today's result makes this his fourth top-10 finish of the season.<BR><BR>Garry McCoy, who finished 11th, today was disappointed with his race. He has such fond memories of his previous races in Portugal after winning here in 2000 and placing third in 2001. Today was just not his day and his lack of wet-weather riding this year attributed to his result.<BR><BR>John Hopkins, ­ 8th, scoring 8 points<BR>World Championship Classification = 10th on 49 points<BR>"I'm really happy with my race today and I achieved my goal of getting another Top 10 finish and moving back into the Top 10 in the World Championship overall.<BR><BR>"I got off the start well and got squeezed on the first corner up onto the paint, going sideways. I managed to pull out of that OK.<BR><BR>"I moved up the pack and a few laps later hit a stream on the back straight, which I didn't see before and I had to really pick up the front end. Abe passed me at that point and I tried to make a run on him after that, but it was really slick and I didn¹t want to push it too hard in those conditions. After that it was a fairly uneventful and I rode my own race. I'm really happy with my Top 10 result."<BR><BR><BR>Garry McCoy, 11th, scoring 5 points<BR>World Championship Classification = 20th on 26 points<BR><BR>"I don't really have any answers, it's very disappointing. All I can say is I haven't done much riding in the rain this year."<BR><BR><BR>Peter Clifford ­ Director of Racing<BR><BR>"Another fine ride from John, superbly consistent and making the very best use of the equipment. Garry got up to speed towards the end of the race but just lacked the confidence to go from the start."<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Marlboro Yamaha:<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA SECOND AT RAIN-LASHED ESTORIL <BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 rider Carlos Checa took a hard-ridden second-place finish in treacherous conditions at Estoril this afternoon, while teammate Max Biaggi brought his M1 home in sixth place. <BR><BR>The bumpy, slippery Estoril track was wet throughout the 28-lap race, with a particularly vicious downpour flooding the circuit shortly after the start. The earlier 125 and 250 GPs had claimed no less than 43 crashes, so the MotoGP riders knew they were in for something of a challenge aboard their 200-plus horsepower machines. There were eight crashes in the MotoGP race, including long-time leader Sete Gibernau (Suzuki), who fell with just four laps to go. <BR><BR>"In those conditions there's a very thin line between staying up and falling down," said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. "The race seemed to go on forever, for the riders, I'm sure, and also for us, but finally we were able to celebrate Carlos making the podium. He confirmed once again that he's very strong in the wet, coming back from 12th on the first lap. Max also did not so bad, those points are very important for the championship, and it's so easy for a rider to make a mistake in such conditions. As a team I think we can be fairly happy, we've scored pole at the last two races, Max won at Brno and Carlos got second today. But that doesn't mean we're slowing down. We're testing here tomorrow when we will work for more improvements to our overall machine set-up. Then we're off to Rio - it's a very tight schedule." <BR><BR>CHECA TAKES HIS BEST RESULT OF THE YEAR <BR>Carlos Checa was arguably the biggest star of the MotoGP pack this weekend, bouncing back from a massive Friday morning crash to claim his first MotoGP pole position yesterday afternoon, then carving through the pack to take second place today after a disastrous start from the front row. The Marlboro Yamaha Team man was up to third by half distance, ahead of Tohru Ukawa (Honda), and was promoted to second when Sete Gibernau crashed. <BR><BR>"I had a lot of wheelspin in first, second and third as we accelerated away from the grid, it wasn't nice having so many riders come past me on the way to the first turn," said Checa after his fourth podium of the year. "But I stayed calm, took a few laps to get the feeling for the conditions, then I started passing riders. When I was behind Rossi, Ukawa and Roberts I could see they were pushing really hard; they were faster than me in some sections and I was faster in others. I got Roberts then Ukawa, but Rossi was too far gone, so I worked at controlling Ukawa. The conditions were very delicate, we made adjustments in warm-up and some more on the grid, but the track was still slippery, more so in some places than others. Considering my start, I'm happy with second." <BR><BR>BIAGGI ENDS TOUGH WEEKEND WITH GOOD POINTS HAUL <BR>Max Biaggi struggled to a sixth-place finish today, having been unhappy with the set-up of his Marlboro Yamaha Team M1 all weekend. Winner and pole sitter at Brno two weeks ago, the Italian rode an intelligent race, salvaging the maximum-possible points. He spent most of the 28 laps racing with Alex Barros (Honda) but lost the battle on the final lap. <BR><BR>"It's been a tough weekend," said Biaggi, third in the World Championship, 12 points down on Tohru Ukawa. "Since Friday we've not been able to find the right set-up. We had planned to test some adjustments to the new chassis during warm-up but the rain stopped that, so I raced the older chassis, just because I'm more familiar with that one. I feel sorry for Gibernau and I'd like to say Rossi rode a good race, he fought for that win, it wasn't just luck." <BR><BR><BR>ROSSI WINS AFTER GIBERNAU CRASHES <BR>Sete Gibernau threw away a surefire first MotoGP win when he slid off at Estoril's dead-slow chicane while holding a 3.6-second lead over World Championship leader and friend Valentino Rossi, who inherited victory from a crasher for the second time in three races. "I feel so sorry for Sete, for sure if he'd won, it would've been a hard night!" smiled Rossi, who will secure the title at Rio in two weeks if he wins the race with teammate Ukawa lower than third. <BR><BR><BR>More, from MS Aprilia:<BR><BR>Intense rain and bad luck for Régis Laconi - out of race in early stages.<BR><BR>There was driving rain as the MotoGP got underway. Régis Laconi started fourteenth on the fourth row of the grid but then moved up to tenth place after the first lap and, two laps later, was up to eighth position. His slide off the track then put an end to today's race for him. A pity, because Régis has set up his Cube with great care on the damp track yesterday, and had gone out on slicks to try out the grip in case of unstable weather conditions. But he never expected as much rain as he got today. Régis Laconi went off the track just as he was about to finish the fourth lap, in the last right-hander before the slow chicane. <BR><BR># 55 Regis Laconi – (MS APRILIA RACING) – DNF<BR><BR><BR>"The front end blocked and I went for a classic slide on the water - that's what happens when you give it all you've got to catch up with those in front. The rain just kept coming down harder and harder and I couldn't stop aquaplaning. I realised I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace of the leaders but, when I was coming up to Barros and Checa overtook me, I saw I could keep up with them. In a few places along the circuit, I saw I could actually go even faster. It seemed only fair to give it a try, as my position at that moment meant I had to go flat out. Then I went for a slide and that was the end of that. A pity, because I'd really wanted to do well."<BR><BR><BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Michelin:<BR> <BR>ROSSI TAKES FIRST WIN FOR MICHELIN S4 RAIN TYRE <BR>Michelin riders every bit as dominant in the rain as in the dry during soaking Estoril GP <BR>Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) won his ninth victory of the season at soaking wet Estoril this afternoon, inheriting first position when Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki GSV-R-Michelin) crashed with just four laps remaining. Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) came though to take second after a slow start from pole position, Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V-Michelin) taking third. The top seven finishers all used Michelin tyres, and with 11 MotoGP races gone and five to go, Michelin men hold the first nine places in the World Championship. <BR><BR>"That was a pity for Sete, a real pity," said Michelin Grand Prix manager Emmanuel Fournier. "But apart from that this was pretty much a perfect race for us. All our riders raced our new S4 rain rear for the first time, because we didn't have an S4 rain tyre at Suzuka in April, and I have to say we're delighted with the results. We had two different compounds here and both proved very consistent with really nice wear. This tyre is one step up from the tyre some of our riders tested at our Ledoux facility during May. Since then Dominique Sarron has been testing more rain tyres, developing constructions and compounds, though mostly focusing on compound. We also had a new rain front here, a moulded version of the tyre we raced at Suzuka, when our fronts were hand cut." <BR><BR>Gibernau dominated most of the race, which started wet and got even wetter when a downpour flooded the circuit after a few laps. By half distance the Spaniard was over five seconds ahead of Rossi, who'd left team-mate Ukawa behind after a short duel. But with his first MotoGP win in his sights, Gibernau fell at the track's 60kmh chicane, leaving Rossi comfortably in command, over 20 seconds ahead of Checa, who'd got the better of Ukawa and Kenny Roberts (Telefonica Movistar Suzuki GSV-R-Michelin) <BR> <BR> <BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Honda:<BR><BR>HONDA RACING PRESS INFORMATION <BR><BR>MotoGP <BR><BR>Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) splashed to his 22nd win in 43 MotoGP starts and his ninth victory of the season in appalling conditions at Estoril today. If he wins at Rio in Brazil in two weeks time and his team-mate Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) finishes lower than third, the 23-year-old Italian will secure the first-ever MotoGP World Championship title, adding that to his previous 500, 250 and 125 successes. <BR><BR>Early morning mist turned to torrential rain on race day and threw two days of painstaking set-up work by riders and teams into disarray. The total crash toll for the day across all three classes was a staggering 66, nine of those in the MotoGP race. A crowd of nearly 32,000 endured frequent, soaking squalls to watch Ukawa finish third with Carlos Checa (Yamaha) in second place splitting the Repsol Honda riders. <BR><BR>Rossi and long-time race leader Sete Gibernau (Suzuki) exchanged fastest lap times with each other as the Italian World Champion stalked the Spaniard from mid-race onwards. Then Gibernau crashed just four laps from the finish while holding a three and a half second lead. <BR><BR>"I made a good start and tried to get into a rhythm," said Rossi. "But Gibernau didn't have the same idea and off he went. After Ukawa overtook me I got into a good rhythm and passed him and tried to chase Sete. I had to be very careful because it's so easy to make a small mistake in these conditions. Sete did and I feel very sorry for him. I'm really not sure if I would have caught him. I don't think so. The win is great in terms of the Championship and I'm really happy because some people thought I couldn't ride in the rain here. There have now been two wet races in the year and I've won both - very satisfying." <BR><BR>Tohru Ukawa (Repsol Honda Team RC211V) was content with third. "That was a very difficult race," said the Japanese. "I got a good start but I had to be very careful because it was so slippery. I overtook Valentino and tried to stay ahead, but he passed me and I nearly crashed several times trying to stay with him. Then Checa overtook me again and I tried to stay with him and nearly crashed. In the end this result is okay. I have another podium finish and I've strengthened my second position in the Championship - and this is the first time I've managed to finish a race at Estoril without crashing." <BR><BR>Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) was the first two-stroke across the finish line in fifth. "I am happy," said the Brazilian. "I tried everything and it was the absolute best I could have done. On the last lap I managed to pass Biaggi under braking on the back straight and pull out a few metres advantage on him so he couldn't pass me across the finish line. I'm really surprised by the difference in performance between Biaggi and me which shows I did a really good race." <BR><BR>Tetsuya Harada (Pramac Honda NSR500) finished this attritional race in tenth while Loris Capirossi (West Honda Pons NSR500) fell on lap seven. "I had trouble getting the feel of the bike in the tricky conditions," said Capirossi. "When I started to get more comfortable with how the bike was working, I suddenly lost the rear end and then I was on the ground." <BR><BR>Jurgen van den Goorbergh (Kanemoto Racing Honda NSR500) got a good start but was sidelined with machine component trouble after lap one. "Something went wrong with the quick-shifter and I had to stop," said the disappointed Dutchman. "On the second lap it was cutting in and then out and I was nearly highsided. It kept doing that so I had no choice but to stop. It's a great 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 of the season." <BR><BR>Daijiro Kato (Fortuna Honda Gresini RC211V) struggled in his first wet race on a four-stroke and crashed out, but saw it as a learning process. "It's something I have to understand," said the Japanese star. "I didn't want to crash because I need time on the bike in the wet. I'm disappointed to crash, but even in the dry this track always seemed short of grip for me." <BR><BR>The MotoGP points table now shows Rossi in a commanding lead with 245 points with his team-mate Tohru Ukawa second on 156. Max Biaggi (Yamaha) has 144. <BR><BR>Unlucky Robby Rolfo (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) was possibly robbed of his maiden 250 Grand Prix win, but fought hard for his fourth place finish in the rain-lashed race after starting from the front row of the grid for the fourth time in his career. A hotly disputed 10 second stop/go penalty was inflicted on him for jumping the start. The Italian finished only 23 seconds behind eventual winner Fonsi Nieto (Aprilia) - the 23 seconds (and more) that were absorbed by the highly controversial penalty. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) finished second, Sebastian Porto (Yamaha) third. <BR><BR>"It's an injustice," said Rolfo. "I didn't jump the start and I'm sure about that. I had a normal start - exactly the same as the others on the front row, so I have no idea why they penalised me. This was a race I could have won and I showed that by recovering to fourth after the stop/go. I feel I have been robbed of a great result." <BR><BR>Emilio Alzamora (Fortuna Honda Gresini NSR250) finished sixth in his comeback ride after recent surgery on both wrists. "I'm really satisfied," said the Spaniard. "I finished the race on a track that was nearly impossible to race on because there was no grip. I preferred to be prudent because I need to have confidence in myself - and points in the standings." <BR><BR>Leon Haslam (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) finished a career best seventh despite a get-off and remount. "It's weird," said the British rider. "That's my best result even though I crashed in the race. We softened the suspension settings after the morning warm-up, even though I was second fastest, and that really helped in the conditions." <BR><BR>Haruchika Aoki (Arie Molenaar Racing Honda RS250R/W) crashed on lap 17 while holding second place, re-mounted, but machine damage forced him to pit. The Japanese could only sit sobbing as a possible podium finish was washed away in the rain. Jason Vincent (By Queroseno Racing Honda RS250R/W) crashed out mid-race while running as high as fourth. Melandri still leads the World Championship with 215 points from Nieto on 183 and Rolfo with 140 points. <BR><BR>Arnaud Vincent (Aprilia) won a rain-lashed, crash-strewn 125 race from Simone Sanna (Aprilia) who ran wide on the final turn allowing Vincent to claim his fourth win of the year. Steve Jenkner (Aprilia) was third. Masao Azuma (Liégeois Competition Honda RS125R) was a fighting fifth using all his experience to cope with the difficult conditions. <BR><BR>"I took it really easy at the start," said Azuma. "Partly because I crashed in the warm-up and also because so many other riders were crashing. So many riders went down in the first five laps that I went for a safe strategy and as the conditions improved slightly at the end I was still there. At least this result puts me into the top ten in the Championship." <BR><BR>There were 27 crashes in all. Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) went down on lap 17 but re-joined to finish 10th while Joan Olive (Telefonica Movistar Jr Team Honda RS125R) went out on the first lap but was unable to continue due to machine damage. <BR><BR>"I don't know why, but I don't like wet races," said Pedrosa. "I planned to ride very carefully, but I simply don't ride well in wet conditions. The back 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 was at full speed. It was difficult even to finish." <BR><BR>Mika Kallio (Red Devil Honda RS125R) finished eighth after taking to the grass in the later stages of the race. Swiss Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix RS125R), standing in for the injured Jakub Smrz, came home a creditable ninth, while Nobby Ueda (Semprucci-Angaia Racing Honda RS125R) crashed on lap 17 while holding seventh place. <BR><BR>Mirko Giansanti (Scot Racing Team Honda RS125R) was one of the early fallers after qaulifying seventh, his highest grid slot so far this season and Andrea Dovizioso (CE BA Corse Honda RS125R) was in sight of a career best fourth place finish before falling on the penultimate lap. Vincent leads the World Championship standings with 194 points, Poggiali lies second with 171 while Danny Pedrosa is third with 166. <BR> <BR> <BR><BR>More, from a press release issued by Suzuki:<BR><BR>SO CLOSE FOR LUCKLESS SETE, BEST OF THE YEAR FOR ROBERTS <BR><BR>MotoGP, Race Result, Round 11, Estoril - Sunday, September 8, 2002: <BR><BR>Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts Jr. claimed his best result of the season at today's rain-drenched Portuguese GP, overcoming appalling conditions to ride consistently and make the most of his chances on a difficult day. <BR><BR>Roberts had started with the leading group, and held his pace as eight riders crashed out in the spray, choosing a steady and consistent race to add 13 championship points to his score, and a second successive fourth place for the still-developing new Suzukl GSV-R V4 four-stroke prototype. <BR><BR>But the team's celebrations were muted after heartbreak for his team-mate Sete Gibernau. The Spaniard came within less than 10-miles of a resounding victory and the race of his career, only to become the highest-profile victim of conditions that claimed a record number of crashes as intermittent but driving rain punished all three GP classes. <BR><BR>Starting from the third row of the grid, Sete had forced his way into first place on the third of 28 laps of the 4.182km Estoril circuit. He charged away and repeatedly upped the pace to stretch his lead to almost six seconds shortly before half-distance. As the field thinned out, Sete maintained a clear lead, responding every time second-placed Honda rider Valentino Rossi closed the gap with another fast lap of his own. He still had a lead of more than 3.5 seconds ahead of eventual winner Rossi, with less than four laps remaining, when the bike snapped sideways entering one of the tortuous circuit's tight turns, and he was thrown off and out of the race. <BR><BR>Early tests revealed no fractures, but Sete was in considerable pain after landing heavily on his shoulder and his side, and was still undergoing treatment an hour after the race had finished. <BR><BR>This was the penultimate European round, with four "flyaway" races to follow in Brazil, Japan, Malaysia and Australia before the final round at Valencia, where last year Sete won his first GP. <BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS - Fourth Position <BR>"That was a tough race, but at least the track was consistently wet. I started well, then when the pace got faster I was riding by myself. The bike needs to be part of me, and me part of the bike, before I can push to the maximum, and though we're not quite there yet, we're getting there bit by bit. I had to be patient and go for the finish. But this bike is still very young, and we're still at a relatively early stage of development. I'm satisfied with getting my best result so far this year." <BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU - Did Not Finish <BR>"I'm pretty sore at the moment, and though it seems nothing is broken I'm going straight home for some more check ups. Obviously it's disappointing to crash out after leading for so long. I was using the new slipper clutch, which came this weekend. We are still getting it set up right. I thought I had the race under control ... I was getting signals where Rossi was, and I was able to keep the gap. With only three and half laps to go and more than three seconds lead I was fully confident he wouldn't be able to catch me. The crash happened when I was still upright. I closed the throttle and locked the back wheel. There was no chance of saving it." <BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR - Team Manager <BR>"Sete rode a magnificent race today, in spite of the end result. He responded to every challenge Valentino Rossi threw at him. Today he and his crew will be down, but in reality I think he can look back on this race with pride. We're certainly proud of him. Kenny did well in a different way - riding a machine that he's not really comfortable with and in very difficult conditions he achieved his best result of the year. His ride may have been overshadowed by Sete and by what might have been, but fourth place in these circumstances was highly creditable to him and the team. Just what we needed." <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>
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