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Oct 7, 2001

Updated Post: Suzuki, Yamaha, Proton And Now Honda Issue Official Team Views Of Reality From Motegi

Press releases issued by Suzuki, Yamaha, Proton and Honda, giving their versions of what happened at the Pacific Grand Prix of Motegi:<BR><BR><BR>From Suzuki:<BR><BR>ALL THREE SUZUKIS IN TOP TEN AT MOTEGI<BR><BR>2001 World Grand Prix<BR>Round 13, Motegi, Japan, October 7.<BR><BR>Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts, Sete Gibernau and one-race wild card Yukio Kagayama finished eighth, ninth and tenth in today's Pacific GP, after a race of changing fortunes for all three.<BR><BR>World Champion Roberts led into the first corner, and held a top three position for the first four of 25 laps of the 4.801-km Twin Ring Motegi circuit. After he started losing positions, he stayed consistent to the finish to be the first Suzuki home.<BR><BR>Gibernau also started well, and actually passed Roberts, working his way through to fifth place in the latter part of the race – only to run short of fuel on the very last lap, dropping back behind his team-mate again.<BR><BR>Kagayama, in his first ride on a two-stroke GP machine for two years, made a cautious start after some last-minute setting changes. As the race wore on, he was able to increase his pace and enjoy a good battle with regular GP riders including reigning 250 champion Olivier Jacque and former 500 champion Alex Criville. At the finish he had left Criville behind (Jacque retired) and was closing on his temporary Suzuki team-mates.<BR><BR>Gibernau's fuel problem was a first-ever for the Suzuki team, and may have been the consequence of extra wheelspin on the slippery Motegi circuit during a storming ride by the winner of the Valencia GP two weeks ago.<BR><BR>Next weekend, the Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki team regulars will contest the Australian GP at Phillip Island, and the weekend after that the Malaysian GP, before a one weekend break, followed by the last race of the year in Rio.<BR><BR>KENNY ROBERTS – Eighth Place<BR><BR>"I'm finding it hard to race to my ability, and in my opinion the machine settings come into that. It's difficult for me to keep my race pace, when I have these limitations. When the top three guys come by me and start pulling away, it's extremely frustrating. It makes racing no fun. We tried some different chassis stuff here. Now a decision has been made as a result of today's race that in Australia I'll try Suzuki's latest engine configuration, closer to the motor Sete has been using, which will limit us to the latest chassis that I've used at previous races this year."<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU – Ninth Place<BR><BR>"I rode my heart out, and then I ran short of gas on the last lap. What can I say?"<BR><BR>YUKIO KAGAYAMA – Tenth Place<BR><BR>"I changed my settings after morning warm-up – but they were no good. For the first half of the race I was struggling. When the fuel load became lighter, it got better and better and I could start to speed up, and I could race with some good riders. At the finish I could see Kenny and Sete ahead of me, but couldn't quite catch them. There are just three days at a GP to adapt to the bike, and adapt the bike to me, and rain on the first day made it even harder. But I really enjoyed the weekend all the same."<BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager<BR><BR>"That was heart-breaking for Sete, after winning in Valencia two weeks ago. It appears that he ran out of gas, which is something that has never happened to us before. The increased consumption may have been influenced by the weather, or wheelspin in a hard race, It's puzzling, and it shouldn't have happened, and we apologise to Sete. But it's interesting that Alex Barros also had the same trouble, running short on the last lap and running out completely on the slow-down lap. Kenny rode a great defensive race, holding his position in the early stages, using all his considerable skill, and riding consistently to the finish. And it was a pleasure to see Yukio going so well and having such fun after a long time without riding a GP two-stroke. Three machines in the top ten is some consolation."<BR><BR><BR>From Yamaha:<BR><BR>Biaggi's title hopes slip away<BR><BR>Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) looked set to take his fourth win of the year at Motegi, Japan, held October 7--a much needed result if the Italian was to keep his championship hopes alive--after he timed the lights to perfection and led the 25-lap race from the start. But as the 30-year-old, and championship rival Valentino Rossi (Honda), began to build a buffer over the rest of the field the multiple 250 World Champion unexpectedly lost the front of his Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR500. This time he was unable to remount the damaged machine. The incident occurred on the fifth lap as Biaggi entered the penultimate corner, handing Valentino the race win. The result has seen the points gap between the pair increase from 42 points to 67--with only 75 points up for grabs over the next three races.<BR><BR>Meanwhile Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin), spurred on by the home crowd, made up for a bleak qualifying performance to finish fourth - a 12-place improvement over his grid position. The Japanese slid his way around the 4801m circuit fast enough to close the gap to third place Loris Capirossi (Honda) and second placed Alex Barros (Honda).<BR><BR>Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) put in a gallant effort to finish sixth; five seconds ahead of Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team). As for Garry McCoy (Red Bull Yamaha) his hopes of heading to the Australian GP on a high came to an end when a cracked exhaust slowed his progress.<BR><BR>Antena 3 Yamaha d'Antin Norick Abe 4th: "Compared to yesterday this was much better. Imagine what I may have been able to do if I'd qualified better. Yesterday we had so much rear wheel chatter, so this morning we tried something completely different, and it paid off! The bike was working well, I'd managed to make a great start and was as high as seventh by the end of the first lap, but it was still a lot of ground to make up - especially on this track.<BR><BR>"Passing Kenny (Roberts) was very hard, his bike accelerates really well and he's good under brakes. When I'd finally managed to pass him the gap to Loris was quite big and my front tyre was pretty much finished, so I just settled for fourth."<BR><BR>José Luis Cardoso 13th: "Today was a little bit better than yesterday, we'd removed the wheel chatter problem from the equation but there's still a few other things that were holding us back. From around lap 12 I'd lost a lot of rear wheel grip, so it was very difficult to get the drive I needed--which is why McCoy and (Alex) Criville were able to get by."<BR><BR>Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3<BR>Shinya Nakano 6th: "It wasn't my best start, that is for sure. And then there was the fact that the rear tyre I had was sliding more than I would have liked during the first few laps. That's why I lost a few places early on. Once I got a feel for it, though, I was able to get my rhythm and start making up some ground. I was sure I'd get Ukawa by the end, and even attempted a pass on the last lap, but I it just wasn't to be."<BR><BR>Olivier Jacque DNF: "I actually had a pretty good start to the race today. The bike was feeling good and I was settling in nicely when the front<BR>brake lever started to feel a bit vague and inconsistent from about the fifth lap. This is why I lost so many places and eventually decided to pull in."<BR><BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team<BR>Carlos Checa 7th: "We had a difficult time with the settings here over the last few days, but my mechanics did a great job and the bike wasn't so bad this morning. The engine was better and I was getting less chatter, though things were difficult during the early laps when the full fuel load was causing the front to push. With less fuel the bike got better, the tyres were good and I was able to run quite a good pace. This has been a weekend of experience for us, but I think it's good to come from 13th on lap one to seventh."<BR><BR>Max Biaggi DNF: "There's nothing to say really. I had to ride over the limit to stay ahead of Rossi, so there's no margin and that's when things like this can happen. Just like the last time I fell, I was doing nothing different through that corner from the laps before, but the front just let go. It was another fall that we can't explain. All I can say is that I had to try everything I could. I used a 17-inch rear tyre to try and give myself some form of advantage over the others but that had nothing really to do with the fall. I am very frustrated and upset. I'll still give 100-percent for the last races but also I'll start looking to the future."<BR><BR>Red Bull Yamaha WCM<BR>Garry McCoy 12th: "I'm stiff and sore from this morning's crash but I didn't really notice the pain once I started racing. I managed a reasonable start and was just getting into the flow of it when the bike suddenly lost power and there was this wicked noise coming from the back. It sounded like the M1 was following me. It turns out the exhaust system cracked near the back--explaining the loss of power.<BR><BR>"I thought I'd just keep going until they black flagged me, but they never did so I just continued on to get as many points as I could."<BR><BR>Noriyuki Haga DNF: "I just lost the front of the bike. I hit a bump in the corner just as I was tipping it in and then the tyre just let go. There was no chance of saving it. It's a shame because I was feeling very good, especially after being second fastest in this morning's warm-up."<BR><BR><BR><BR>Matsudo's Motegi seventh<BR><BR>After challenging for a podium place in the opening quarter of the Motegi MotoGP 250 World Championship race, held October 7, Naoki Matsudo (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) eventually greeted the chequered flag in seventh place.<BR><BR>The Japanese rider found himself in a three-way scrap with eventual second placed Emilio Alzamora (Honda) and Jeremy McWillams - the latter finishing third - before falling back into the clutches of Fonsi Nieto (Aprilia), Roberto Rolfo (Aprilia) and Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) - the trio finishing fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.<BR><BR>Race winner Tetsuya Harada (Aprilia) was handed a valuable 25 points when both Marco Melandri (Aprilia) and championship points leader Daijiro Katoh (Honda) crashed out of contention on the fifth lap. Melandri, running a close second to Harada at the time, highsided his 250 while exiting the medium-speed left hander, leaving Katoh with nowhere to go - the Japanese riding over the Italian and crashing into the gravel trap. The result saw Katoh's championship points lead over Harada reduced significantly from 49 points to 24, with three races still remaining.<BR><BR>Shahrol Yuzy (Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK) finished 19th after battling with setup problems all weekend.<BR><BR>Petronas Sprinta Yamaha TVK<BR>Naoki Matsudo 7th: "A good start was just what I needed, and just what I managed to produce. Once I was in fourth I just tried my hardest to stay with the lead group, but as the laps wore on my rear tyre started to slide a fair bit and it was hard to keep up the momentum. That's when the Aprilias started to close in on me. I didn't want to crash at my home grand prix so I played it safe."<BR><BR>Shahrol Yuzy 19th: "As you can imagine I'm quite disappointed not have been able to add any points to my championship tally. I'm not sure where it all went wrong because yesterday I was very happy how things were progressing. The bike was just sliding everywhere, on both the front and the rear, which means I didn't have the confidence I needed to go faster."<BR><BR><BR>From Proton:<BR><BR>PROTON RETIRES FROM PACIFIC GP <BR>Round 13: Pacific GP, Twin Ring Motegi Race Report: Sunday October 7, 2001 <BR><BR>Jurgen van den Goorbergh: Did Not Finish <BR><BR>Proton Team KR rider Jurgen van den Goorbergh retired from today's Pacific GP with overheating problems - spoiling what was an almost perfect finishing record this season. <BR><BR>The problem struck on the eighth of 25 laps of the 4.801km circuit, when the Dutch rider was capitalising on a good start from the third row of the grid. He had moved through from 12th on the first lap to ninth, in the thick of the factory-bike pack. Then the bike lost power and the temperature gauge started to climb, and he toured into the pits. <BR><BR>It was his first mechanical problem all season, and only his second retirement. The first was at the Czech Republic at Brno, where he started from the front row, but suffered wheel vibration problems that forced him into the pits. <BR><BR>The race - 13th of 16 scheduled GP rounds - was won by Honda-mounted Valentino Rossi, further extending the Italian rider's points lead, with three rounds remaining. <BR><BR>Next weekend, Proton will take part in the Australian GP at the sweeping Phillip Island circuit, which should suit the sweet-handling lightweight three-cylinder perfectly; and the week after that the Malaysian GP, before the season finishes at Rio another fortnight later. <BR> <BR><BR>JURGEN VAN DEN GOORBERGH <BR>"It just wasn't our day. Yesterday afternoon I managed to find some good speed after trying a 17-inch rear tyre rather than the usual 16.5, but a problem in warm-up meant we missed out on extra time to refine the chassis and suspension settings with that tyre. Even so, it felt good. I got a good start, and I was in the top ten when I saw the temperature gauge going up really quickly. The engine was still running, but there was obviously a problem, so I had to pull in to the pits. Now I'm really looking forward to next weekend in Australia. The circuit has fast, sweeping corners instead of the stop-and-go slow turns here, and that's the sort of track where the KR3 is really at its best. I'm hoping for a really good finish there to make up for the disappointment here". <BR> <BR><BR>TOM O'KANE - Development Engineer <BR>"There was a problem with the cooling system, which is pretty much a first for us, and we have to find out exactly why it happened us. I believe it was just a one-off thing. It's disappointing, because Jurgen was going better than he'd expected before we came here. Now we'll concentrate on doing the best we can at the next race, where we're expecting both the bike and Jurgen to really show their full potential".<BR><BR><BR>From Honda:<BR><BR>Pacific Grand Prix, Twin Ring Motegi Racing Circuit, Motegi, Japan<BR>Sunday, October 7, 2001<BR><BR>HONDA RACING PRESS INFORMATION<BR><BR>Valentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500) won his eighth Grand Prix of the year at Motegi this afternoon to put himself one step away from winning the last ever 500 World Championship. The Italian superstar led a Honda clean-sweep at the track that Honda built, followed home by Alex Barros (West Honda Pons NSR500) and teammate Loris Capirossi.<BR><BR>The early stages of the race had a familiar pattern - Rossi coming from fourth on the grid to chase second-quickest qualifier and title-rival Max Biaggi (Yamaha) who then tumbled out of the lead. Biaggi's third crash from the last four races leaves Rossi with a huge 67-point advantage with three GPs remaining. All he has to do to add his first 500 crown to his 125 and 250 titles is finish inside the top eight in next Sunday's Australian GP.<BR><BR>"I hope to win the title in Australia but it doesn't matter when or where I win it, so long as I do win it," grinned a delighted Rossi, who also won the season's other GP on Japanese tarmac at Suzuka in April. "We had a few problems in practice here but we made some quite big changes to the bike for warm-up and it was much better for the race. I knew I had to get a good start because Biaggi had chosen a 17in rear tire, instead of the 16.5 we all use at most races. I knew he'd try and make an early break but I was able to stay with him. I was very close to him when he fell on lap six. After that I had to change my tactics to keep my two-second advantage over Barros, so I just pushed hard and maintained my rhythm."<BR><BR>Barros, who didn't get the best of starts from third on the grid, did close the gap to 1.3 seconds at half distance but Rossi responded well, upping his pace to cross the finish line 2.6 seconds in front. "My start made a big difference because I got stuck behind Sete (Gibernau, Suzuki) and Kenny (Roberts, Suzuki)<BR>in the early laps which cost me time while Max and Valentino got away," said Barros. "My only chance was if Valentino had made a mistake but I didn't expect that to happen. Anyway I got a lot of points for the championship and it's great for our team to get second and third at Honda's house!"<BR><BR>Capirossi, who had started the race from pole position after scoring the fastest-ever two-wheel lap of Motegi on Saturday afternoon, was another who didn't get a great getaway. "My start wasn't good but I'm happy with third, especially after my crash at Valencia," said the Italian who had to work hard to keep Norick Abe (Yamaha) behind him. "I pushed hard and defended my position and I'm happy for my team to get this good result in Japan."<BR><BR>Capirossi's result maintained his third place in the World Championship and brought him to within 20 points of no-scorer Biaggi. At the same time, fourth-placed Barros closed to within 16 points of his teammate. The two West Honda Pons men are going to have an interesting final three races in Australia, Malaysia and Brazil.<BR><BR>Local star Tohru Ukawa (Repsol YPF Honda NSR500) won the most entertaining encounter of the day, battling back and forth for fifth place with Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) and Gibernau. Ukawa took the position by just seven tenths of a second after coming through from 11th at the end of the first lap.<BR><BR>"I need to get some better starts," said Ukawa, who had qualified ninth quickest for his first 500 race at the track. "Once again I found the bike got easier to ride as the fuel load went down, so I started to get faster and was able to get ahead of the group in front of me. I can't be really satisfied with this result, however, because my aim was to get on the podium."<BR><BR>Former World Champion Alex Criville (Repsol YPF Honda NSR500) struggled to 11th, behind Carlos Checa (Yamaha), Roberts and Gibernau, suffering the effects of a recent trials-bike tumble and a debilitating stomach ailment. "I'm not in good physical shape," said Criville, the only other top V4 rider to choose a 17in rear. "I've had a stomach problem since I arrived in Japan, so I'm dehydrated and I had no strength for the race. I had some pain-killing injections to help my ribs but when you ride in a bad condition it's easy to make mistakes and crash, so today I just concentrated on finishing."<BR>