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Jul 22, 2002

Versions Of Sachsenring MotoGP Reality From Proton, Suzuki And Yamaha

From a press release issued by Proton Team KR:<BR><BR>DOUBLE TOP TEN FOR PROTON PAIR IN GERMANY<BR><BR>Round 9: German GP, Sachsenring<BR>Race Report: Sunday, July 21, 2002<BR><BR>Jeremy McWilliams: Seventh<BR>Nobuatsu Aoki: Eighth<BR><BR>Proton Team KR riders Jeremy McWilliams and Nobuatsu Aoki scored a double top ten in today's German GP, the team's first of the season in which the lightweight 500cc two-stroke is fighting for the last time against the new generation of 990cc four-stroke MotoGP prototypes. Next year, Proton Team KR will campaign their own new V5 four-stroke.<BR><BR>Given the horsepower and top speed deficit compared with the bigger machines, today's result was a vindication of the design philosophy of the KR3 ... and a tribute to the skill and determination of both riders, who were only 15 and 18 seconds respectively behind the race winner and runaway championship leader Valentino Rossi on the 990cc V5 Honda.<BR><BR>Exploiting the light weight and agile handling of the three-cylinder Proton KR3 to the full, McWilliams had even held provisional pole position after the first day of practice, and made a strong start from the second row of the grid, holding sixth at the end of lap one. Although clearly slower on the pit straight, McWilliams was regaining ground throughout the rest of the twisting 3.704km Sachsenring circuit outside Chemnitz. He lost the leading group only at the end of the 30 lap race as his tyre grip deteriorated. The first six riders finished within less than three seconds of the leader.<BR><BR>Aoki shrugged off the after-effects of a heavy crash in practice and also made a good start - but lost positions in the first corner when an attempt to ride round the outside backfired. He fought back, and spent much of the race tailing 500cc Yamaha rider Garry McCoy. On the last lap, his plan to overtake the Australian came good, and he finished three tenths ahead of him. It was his fifth top ten finish of the year, and he is ninth overall after the halfway point of the season.<BR><BR>Rossi's eighth win in the nine-race-old season came only after two other riders - Olivier Jacque and Alex Barros - had collided and crashed out while in front of his V5 Honda. Now the GP circus breaks up for the summer holiday, beginning again at the end of August at Brno in the Czech Republic, another circuit where continuous corners favour the sweet-steering Proton KR3.<BR><BR><BR>JEREMY McWILLIAMS<BR>"I did everything I could, but the way the four-strokes were flying past me on the straight was frightening. My race was getting a bit silly: I dived underneath Max Biaggi in the first corner and nearly hit him, and I was running up behind people through the turns and messing up my lap time. I was worried I might make a fool of myself, and in the end I just had to line up and think about finishing. It was easier at the end when I lost some side grip, and I was on my own. I'd have loved a top-four finish, but though Bridgestone have come a long way in their first year, but we still have more work to do.<BR> I'm happy with seventh, and some good points."<BR><BR>NOBUATSU AOKI<BR>"My start was good, but I tried to pass more riders round the outside in the first corner, and instead I lost many places. After that I pushed very hard, and I got behind McCoy, who was also making very consistent laps. I was thinking I might get past and catch Jeremy. Then about ten laps from the end I started to have the same gear-shifting trouble as in England - the pedal going really stiff. I could kick through the upshifts; but downshifting was really difficult, especially from sixth to first at the end of the straight. I had to concentrate very hard, and work out where to attack McCoy on the last lap. In the end he made a small mistake and made it easy for me, but I think I would have passed him anyway."<BR><BR>CHUCK AKSLAND - Team Manager<BR>"It's good to get both bikes home in the top ten. They both did a great job, and so did the whole team. It was a tense afternoon for us, and a cruel joke when the TV flashed up a line that Aoki had crashed. Luckily we could see him go down the hill from the pit wall, so we knew right away Nobu was still in the race".<BR><BR><BR><BR>From a press release issued by Suzuki:<BR><BR>SUZUKI RIDERS UNHURT AFTER CRASH<BR><BR>Sachsenring, Germany – Race Report<BR>Sunday July 21, 2002: <BR><BR>TELEFONICA MOVISTAR SUZUKI Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau and Yukio Kagayama escaped unhurt after both were involved in a mid-race collision with a third rider in today's German GP.<BR><BR>The incident took place on the 11th of 30 laps at the tight 3.704km Sachsenring circuit outside Chemnitz, when the Suzuki pair were lying 10th and 12th, with Honda rider Daijiro Kato sandwiched between them. On one of the few fast corners at the tortuous circuit, the slowest on the GP calendar, the trio came together in a clash of racing lines, with all three falling as a result.<BR><BR>Gibernau, a Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki team regular, suffered injuries to his left little finger, but with the five-week summer break beginning directly, he will be fully recovered in time for the restart of the season at the Czech Republic GP at the end of August.<BR><BR>Kagayama was racing in place of Kenny Roberts Jr., who is at home in California recovering from corrective surgery to his right arm. The Japanese rider's full-time job is as a factory Suzuki rider, campaigning the GSV-R V4 MotoGP four-stroke in the All-Japan Superbike championship.<BR><BR>The third Suzuki in the race, ridden by Kagayama's usual team mate Akira Ryo, finished 11th. Ryo was racing as a wild card.<BR><BR>The race was won by defending champion and current points leader Valentino Rossi, but only after two other riders – Olivier Jacque and Alex Barros – had collided and crashed out in front of him.<BR><BR>SETE GIBERNAU – Did Not Finish<BR>"It should have been a good race for me. I made a good start, but in the first corner Rossi and I were both dropped back by my team-mate. He was riding very well, but also very aggressively. I recovered and started to pick up my pace again, and I had worked my way back up with Kato until we were both behind Kagayama. On the way into the corner we all collided in a big mess. Luckily none of us were badly hurt, because it was a fast corner."<BR><BR><BR>YUKIO KAGAYAMA – Did Not Finish<BR>"I was enjoying the race, and thought I was going well. The team helped me such a lot this weekend, and had some very good ideas on how to improve my machine. I had no warning of the crash. I just felt a bang from behind. It was completely unexpected."<BR><BR>GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager<BR>"Yukio was riding well, with lap times in the 1:26 bracket, half-a-second slower than the new lap record, and faster than the old one. In fact he was a couple of tenths quicker than Sete, who was also in the 1:26s. That proves the quality of our bike, and it's also impressive that it was his first time on the four-stroke on Michelin tyres. The way it ended has to be regarded as a typical racing incident. It's fruitless to try to attach blame. In racing you have a bunch of very skilful riders trying very hard. In these circumstances, accidents sometimes happen. It's a pity to lose both our team riders in one crash, but the good thing is that there were no serious injuries."<BR><BR><BR><BR>From a press release issued by Marlboro Yamaha:<BR><BR>GERMAN GP, SACHSENRING<BR>Race Day, Sunday July 21 2002<BR><BR>MARLBORO YAMAHA SHINE IN DAZZLING GERMAN GP<BR><BR>Marlboro Yamaha Team YZR-M1 riders Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa finished second and fourth in today's thrilling German GP, a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride around the ultra-tight Sachsenring.<BR><BR>The leading eight-man pack ran nose to tail until three laps from the finish when two-stroke leaders Olivier Jacque (Yamaha) and Alex Barros (Honda) crashed, putting four-stroke men Valentino Rossi (Honda) and Max Biaggi out front. Biaggi rode a great race, fighting back from seventh in the early stages. Checa was right there throughout, crossing the line just 2.33 seconds behind the winner.<BR><BR>"I enjoyed that race very much, but first I'd just like to give my condolences to Olivier, he was very unlucky," said YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda who intends to use today's two-stroke versus four-stroke battle to further development of the M1. "Both our riders tried very hard and now we will analyze the data to study the difference between the two-stroke and the four-stroke, so that we can make more improvements to our bike. Now we have a month's break before the next race, but we will still be working hard in the run-up to Brno."<BR><BR><BR>BIAGGI TAKES M1 SO CLOSE TO VICTORY<BR>Watched by 78,000 noisy fans, Max Biaggi came within seven tenths of a second of scoring the YZR-M1's first victory today. The Marlboro Yamaha Team star was in typically determined form, gathering himself after a difficult first few laps to battle back and forth with Valentino Rossi, then contesting third place. When Alex Barros took out Olivier Jacque, the two Italians were promoted to first and second but Biaggi couldn't quite get back in front of Rossi on the final lap.<BR><BR>"I'm very, very satisfied with the result, a gift from poor Jacque and Barros," said Biaggi after his second successive runner-up finish. "I rode my own race, though the first few laps were difficult because I was struggling with the weight of the bike and a full tank of gas. Also, we changed the geometry after warm-up. I hadn't had a chance to test it, so it took me five or six laps to get used to the feeling, then I started pushing hard. I got McWilliams, Abe and Nakano, then caught up the front guys but it was tough to overtake. Who knows what would've happened if Jacque and Barros hadn't crashed? Yamaha and the team are working very hard and we're progressing well. Now I'm off on holiday - maybe ten days on a boat doing nothing, having fun with my girlfriend and friends."<BR><BR><BR>CHECA TAKES A SUPER-CLOSE FOURTH<BR>Carlos Checa had a frustrating race - fast as anyone out there but unable to get any closer to the front. Just 1.1 seconds behind the race leader at half distance, the Marlboro Yamaha Team man was just metres behind the winner at the finish. Around this track, the shortest in GP racing, the difference in lap times is tiny, so while Checa had the second-quickest average lap time in yesterday's final qualifier, he ended up on the third row, which put him tenth at the end of the first lap at a track around which overtaking is particularly difficult. He made headway in the race but couldn't get close enough to attack third-finisher Tohru Ukawa (Honda) at the finish.<BR><BR>"My start wasn't so bad, I passed a few guys and near the end I was thinking of trying to take Ukawa but the leaders raised their pace in the final laps, so I didn't get the chance," said the Spaniard. "All weekend we struggled to find a set-up that worked through the faster part of the track. I tried everything to be quicker through there, including adapting my riding style and body position, but I was always losing time through the fast downhill and uphill corners. Now we take a break from racing and I think we need it, everyone's been working so hard this year."<BR><BR><BR>ROSSI GIFTED EIGHTH WIN<BR>World Championship leader Valentino Rossi scored his eighth win of 2002, taking the lead for the second time when Alex Barros and Olivier Jacque crashed. Their lighter two-strokes had dominated most of the race at this tortuous circuit and for once it seemed Rossi wouldn't win, his RCV obviously detuned to make it more manageable on super-short gearing. "That was a great race for the fans," he smiled. "The two-strokes were faster in the first, tighter part of the track because they're lighter, but I could overtake in the faster downhill section at the end of the lap. This win was a bit of a gift but I still had to stay concentrated to beat Biaggi."