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Having supplied the tools and expertise to allow new signing Valentino Rossi to take a sensational first race win of the season, at the Africa's Grand Prix on April 18, the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team enters round two at Jerez in southern Spain riding a wave of confidence.
The Factory Team's recent acquisition of Rossi's services has delivered success at the first time of asking and the team has been hard at work since, aiming to emulate their recent success this weekend in Jerez.
Jerez, now the venue for the traditional first round MotoGP stop-off in Europe, is always a celebration of MotoGP excess. The enthusiastic and passionate local crowd, some 200,000 strong over a typical weekend, will be paying particular attention the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team, containing as it does two of their heroes; global star Rossi and their own ever-popular Spanish compatriot Carlos Checa.
Having performed well in off-season testing, Rossi showed what a hard winter of development on the YZR-M1 could achieve at the first attempt. His form at Welkom was nothing short of dominant, heading up both qualifying sessions on his way to a close-fought but nonetheless emphatic win over his oldest rival in the premier class, Max Biaggi (Honda). The race-long fight was proof that the consistently fast times set in pre-season testing were no fluke and, more importantly, proved the potency of the M1 over a full race distance. It was also a record breaking feat for 25-year-old Rossi, who scored GP win number 60 in all classes, and has become the first premier-class rider ever to win his first race after making a move to a different manufacturer. It was Yamaha's first premier-class race win since October 2002, in Malaysia.
The impact of the Welkom win for Yamaha sent ripples through the sporting world. Media and fans ran out of superlatives to heap on Rossi, his experienced pitcrew and the M1 development programme, which has been so adroitly pursued by Yamaha since even before the signing of Rossi last winter.
Yamaha MotoGP Technical Director Masao Furusawa and his colleagues realised that the other manufacturers would redouble their efforts to outdo Yamaha and its new signing, in what was already flagged as the most competitive MotoGP season in history. The work carried out over the past few months has nonetheless already reaped a sweet harvest. Rossi and Yamaha top the Riders' and Manufacturers' Championship tables respectively, each with 25 points.
The ominous news for Rossi's rivals is that, while the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team entered Welkom with data only for the 2003 spec machine, at Jerez Rossi and Checa will both have some degree of experience of the latest evolution M1, gathered at the recent IRTA tests there in early April. The team's confidence levels will be fuelled even more by the knowledge that Rossi was fastest during that test, with team-mate Carlos Checa in the top four.
The Spaniard found less than smooth qualifying sessions at the Welkom track and eventually finished 10th in the race. Checa now hopes that the mid-race traction concerns that held back his most recent progress on the M1 will be solved quickly in Jerez this weekend. The partisan Spanish crowd will be the tonic Carlos needs as he approaches what is the first of three 'home' races for the 31-year-old this season.
ROSSI AIMING FOR REPEAT PERFORMANCE
The fame of Rossi, already a global motorsport icon, was redoubled after his Welkom race win. The laid-back native of the hill town of Tavullia, near the Adriatic coast of Italy, was so overcome with emotion at winning his first ever MotoGP race for Yamaha that he stopped out on track on the slow-down lap and wept tears of pure joy and relief. His comments before Welkom had hinted that a podium prize of any colour would be an achievement of note. To take the ultimate prize at the first attempt was doubly satisfying.
With some distance between him and his most recent day of glory, Rossi stated, "Obviously after our success in Welkom I am really looking forward to Jerez. Our tests went well there so it will be interesting to see if we can be on top for the race as well. It was such a great moment in Welkom but we must not let that stop us from continuing to work as hard when we arrive in Jerez, and at least we already have some experience with the Jerez circuit. It's a circuit that I like quite a lot, it holds many happy memories for me and also my favourite corner of any track is at Jerez, the last right hand turn before the hairpin.
"We are ahead of where I was expecting us to be at this stage so even more reason why we should not sit back and relax. Welkom was such a close race and the Honda bike and Honda riders are obviously really competitive, there is not much between us. Anyway we will of course be aiming for a podium again, as we will at every race this year."
CHECA WORKING FOR STRONG HOME RESULT
After some excellent pre-season performances, and much hard work in terms of machine and tyre development, Carlos Checa may have expected more from his latest African adventure.
"Obviously I was very disappointed with the South African race and I was a bit unlucky with the problems I had there," affirmed Checa, now a London resident. "After the Welkom race I had a meeting with my mechanics and we discussed the reasons behind the problems I had over the weekend. They will decide what the best way forward is and we will work together to make the necessary changes."
The recent IRTA tests at Jerez may offer some valuable data for Checa's back-up crew, as he attempts to overturn his recent Welkom ill-fortunes. "In Spain we will start with one bike with the same set-up as we used during the last Jerez test. We will then work from there to find the best race setting. We used a different set-up in South Africa which we won't use this time. I have had bad luck for the last two years in Jerez and have been unable to finish the races due to problems over which I had no control, so I hope that this time things will be better!"
Checa acknowledges that a home race can be hard work off track as well as on.
"Spain is a bit different; there are friends everywhere and many fans. It is a track I know well and the fans there give me a strong feeling of encouragement; I hope I can give them a good show. I am comfortable at this track and I know the corners and the braking points well. It is also safer than it used to be due to some alterations that have been made to the circuit."
Checa welcomes the addition of Rossi to the team this year, recognising the potential benefits to his own campaign. "Valentino's result in Welkom proved that the bike can go faster and, although I don't want to say I can do the same as him straight away, this provides me with some encouragement. It is in our hands to improve our position and it is my biggest wish to be at a point in Jerez where I can fight at the front."
DAVIDE BRIVIO LOOKS AT THE BIGGER JEREZ VISTA
"We are very much looking forward to the Jerez Grand Prix, especially after the perfect start to the season from Valentino in Welkom", said Davide Brivio, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team Director. "We cannot, however, rest for a moment if we want to keep doing the same. Many people have been asking if it will mean even more pressure in Jerez because we won in Welkom. I don't think it's a question of more pressure, as the win has given us a bit more confidence. If anything the win has actually lifted the pressure because we know for sure that we are capable of winning, and that all the hard work we have put into renovating the bike has been in the right direction. We will certainly try to win at every race this season, although that might not be possible as our competitors are so close. It depends on the specific situation at each track.
Brivio acknowledges that the Welkom victory will have had a galvanising effect on the opposition. "For sure everyone is now going to be trying even harder to beat us and they will speed up their development accordingly. We need to work hard to combat their reaction. It won't be easy but we will try to give both riders the ammunition to win.
Of the circuit itself, Brivio stated, "Jerez is a circuit that Valentino likes a lot. He said that the Welkom circuit was not one of his favourites and then he won there, and he says that the Jerez circuit is one he likes a lot, so hopefully that means he will be up at the front again! Most tracks will be new challenges for Valentino on the M1 apart from the tracks he tested at during the winter, so we're not sure what to expect. But he rode well at the Jerez IRTA test almost a month ago and hopefully he will do so again. Carlos has not had the start to the year we were hoping for, but we have every confidence in him for Jerez. His IRTA test times were good there and we expect to see him fighting at the top in front of his home fans on Sunday."
The 4.423 km Jerez circuit may have lost the crown of the most popular testing venue on the calendar but its location and perennial appearance of the MotoGP line-up still makes it a favourite in pre-season.
With the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha team having tested extensively this season in Malaysia and Australia, the Jerez testing was confined to two weather-affected days during the IRTA Tests. Extensive 'primary' safety work, in the form of improved run-off, has been a direct result of the increased power and speed of the current breed of MotoGP machines and is the latest in a string of revamps at the Andalusian circuit.
The Jerez circuit features five left and eight right hand corners, a surprising degree of elevation and to some extent camber changes on what, to the casual observer is a largely flat track layout.
Exactness of line makes precise and repeatable chassis set-up a must, and to make the most of the squirts between corners a clean and predictable throttle response is needed throughout the rev-range. With only a 600m main straight, Jerez is not a long-legged track in the classic mould, but was in the vanguard of more safety-conscious arena-style tracks. Thus absolute horsepower comes into play relatively infrequently, the most important factor being set-up for predictable performance through frequent changes of direction.
Some heavy braking points around the track make that aspect of performance vital to a good race result, while the surface is neither the slickest nor most abrasive on the calendar.
With Jerez a well-known quantity, even from previous seasons, the set-up of the bike is expected to be tuned in relatively quickly, with the fight for pole position expected to be another particularly close one. The pressure to do well in qualifying has been redoubled this season, as MotoGP now features a three-rider grid row, down from the previous four. This qualifying for the front row is a more difficult task by far.
VALENTINO ROSSI: INFORMATION
- Age: 25
- Lives: London, UK
- Bike: Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1
- GP victories: 60 (21 X MotoGP, 13 X 500cc, 14 X 250cc, 12 X 125cc)
- First GP victory: Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
- First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
- GP starts: 125 (33 x MotoGP, 32 x 500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
- Pole positions: 31
- Jerez 2003 results (Honda): Grid: 5th, Race: 1st
CARLOS CHECA: INFORMATION
- Age: 31
- Lives: London, UK
- Bike: Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team YZR-M1
- GP victories: 2 (500cc)
- First GP victory: Catalunya, 1996 (500cc)
- First GP: Europe, 1993 (125cc)
- GP starts: 153 (33 x MotoGP, 92 x 500cc, 27 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc)
- Pole positions: 2 (1 x MotoGP, 1 x 500cc)
- First pole: Spain, 1998 (500cc)
- Jerez 2003 results (Yamaha): Grid: 10th, Race: DNF
- Jerez MotoGP lap record - Valentino Rossi (Honda) 1:42.788 2003
- Circuit best lap - Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1:41.983 2003
Pandemonium in great Supersport race
The massed ranks of spectators were treated to a cracking Supersport race at a balmy Snetterton today. Despite qualifying twelfth, Craig Jones took maximum advantage of being on the inside of the grid. He shot up the inside when the lights went out and then outbraked two bikes going into Sears to hit the back straight in third, behind Riba and Harris. Jones now had the bit between his teeth, and burst through into second at the Bomb Hole on lap three. He immediately attacked front runner Riba at Russells, with an audacious move that had the backend spinning and sliding, eventually making it to the front at the Esses on lap five. But his lead was to be short-lived and the Triumph gradually fell back as the race went on. It was undoubtedly though, a magical six laps from the young Valmoto rider.
Meanwhile, Ian MacPherson was picking them off at an equally rapid rate. He went from sixth to first in almost as many corners, using the superior horse power of the Ten Kate-tuned Vitrans Honda combined with carrying high corner speed at Sears leading onto the crucial back straight. This was a fantastic return to racing for the Scotsman, who has been without a ride this year. Everywhere you looked, there was pandemonium - the slipstreaming effect of the long straights leading to continuous position swapping as battle raged. Karl Harris, Pere Riba, Luke Quigley and Jay Vincent were all involved in this enormous dice for supremacy, and all the time, MonsterMob Ducati rider Michael Laverty was making his way towards the front on the 749. Having been eleventh at the end of lap one, he battled his way through to third on lap 17.
On lap 18, Laverty made his move, attacking Luke Quigley at the Esses. They exchanged position a couple of times before Laverty shot through at the Bomb Hole. Macpherson, having been so fast at Sears was finally to pay the price on lap 19, when the bike folded from under him. Inheriting second, Laverty could sense a win, and in no time he was on the rear wheel of front-runner Riba. As they tipped into Corams, the Spaniard seemed to crack under the pressure - in what was to be a critical error he ran wide. Laverty pounced, sticking it underneath the Kawasaki to take the lead, with Karl Harris following him through into second. Riba was to take Harris back, but the race was red flagged after Cal Crutchlow's R6 let go on the back straight, bringing five others down at the Esses. With the result going back to the previous lap, Riba ended up in third, with Harris second and a jubilant Michael Laverty taking his first win of the season, at what must now be his favourite track, having triumphed here last year as well.
Rizla Suzuki team-mates Kagayama and Reynolds shared the honours in the two Superbike races. Sean Emmett held the lead for a few laps in Race One, but the Crescent boys combined to slipstream past on lap five, Kagayama going from third to first in one move. Michael Rutter bogged off the line again, wasting all the good work in qualifying that took him to pole. The new CBR1000RR is a missile, and was always going to be a danger on this high-speed circuit. But although Rutter closed the Suzukis down, he was nowhere near knocking them off the top steps of the podium. In a heroic effort, Kagayama eventually took the win; it was painful to watch him hobbling around, having high-sided heavily at Russells in practice. God only knows what its like to ride a superbike in that state. In Race Two, JR took his revenge in another faultless display of top class riding, giving the chasing Honda of Michael Rutter no hope of a win. Now in his third year on the GSXR1000, Reynolds looks in total command of his task - it really is man and machine in perfect harmony, and he must now be favourite for the title, with Emmett ( fourth in Race One and third in Race Two) dropping points in the championship. James Ellison won both Superbike Cup races on a R1, with Dennis Hobbs second and Sam Corke third each time.
Adam Jenkinson was having another brilliant ride in the R6 Cup before a tangle with James Hillier ended his race. Having never been to Snetterton before, he took his time to make his way towards the front. But having just taken third at the Esses, Hillier brought him down when he past him back going into the Bomb Hole. Front wheel hit rear wheel and Jenkinson crashed out, with Hillier lucky to carry on. Kiel Bryce took a timely win with the paddock full of rumours involving him taking over Gordon Blackley's ride in the Superbike Cup. Jon Boy Lee was second and Hillier third, the results being aggregate times as the race was red flagged just before half distance.
Maxxis Tyres have today confirmed a major sponsorship deal with Britain's largest motorcycle racing club, the British Motor Cycle Racing Club (BMCRC) to take title sponsorship of their prestigious summer Supermoto championship. This is the 3rd successful partnership for the pairing, the first being the 2003 Maxxis British Superprix, closely followed by the 2003/04 Maxxis British Winter Supermoto Championship.
The '2004 Maxxis UK Supermoto Championship' supersedes the previous 'Super 7' title for the series and the re-branding exercise will take place over the next 4-5 days.
Brokered by the Taiwanese tyre company's UK specialist Supermoto importer Triple A Racing, the deal ensures superb TV coverage for the series and an attractive prize fund for competitors. Additional sponsors will be announced in a comprehensive bulletin due w/c 26th April.
The first round of the championship is at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk on May 3rd
TV coverage begins on 'Motors TV' with a 1 hour programme to be screened in accordance with the following schedule:
Round One - Snetterton
- Friday 14th May - 8.30p.m.
- Saturday 15th May - 11.30a.m.
- Sunday 16th May - 2.00a.m.
- Monday 17th May - 3.00a.m. & 5.00p.m.
- Tuesday 18th May - - 7.00a.m.
- Wednesday 19th May - 3.00a.m.
- Thursday 20th May - 5.30p.m.
- Friday 21st May - 4.00p.m.
Visit the championship website at www.supa7.com.
This is the second in a series of information bulletins giving advance details of the Super 7 UK Supermoto
Championship. Information of the championship is available from www.supa7.com. This bulletin gives specific details of
the SM450 Euro Cup Class. This information contained in this bulletin is not a replacement for the official championship
regulations, which are issued by the organisers. If in doubt, refer to the regulations, which always take precedence.
SM450 Euro Cup
The SM450 Euro Cup is open to riders on the following makes of motorcycle:
All machines will be 450cc four strokes or 250cc two strokes and shall comply with the championship regulations.
The SM450 Euro Cup is open to all riders with the exception of those who have finished in the top twenty of a UEM or
FIM inscribed International Supermoto race.
All machines in the SM450 Euro Cup Class regardless of make will be required to use
Maxxis Goldspeed Supermoto tyres. Riders may choose any tyres from the range of race
Slick, Intermediate or Wet tyres and Slick tyres may be cut in-line with a rider's personal
choice. Maxxis Goldspeed tyres will be available from the Maxxis Race Support Vehicle at
every round of the Super 7 UK Supermoto Championship.
For every round of the SM450 Euro Cup, the winner will receive a pair of Maxxis Goldspeed tyres, second place will
receive a rear tyre and third place will receive a front tyre. A further set of tyres will be awarded to the rider with the
fastest racing lap of the day, subject to a minimum of 15 riders reaching the qualification maxima. The free tyres may
be any type, Slick, Intermediate or Wet as chosen by the winning riders. These positions (and the subsequent podium
presentations) are based upon the aggregated results of the 2 SM450 Euro Cup races held at each round of the
championship in-line with the championship regulations.
The overall winner of the SM450 Euro Cup at the culmination of the championship will receive a new 450cc machine
from the importer of the manufacturer that he represents during the championship. i.e. If a rider competes in every
round on a Husaberg 450 and wins the title, he will receive a new Husaberg 450 as part of the overall championship
prize giving ceremonies. Should a rider change machines during the championship, he will score points on each
Eligibility for other races within the championship
Riders in the SM450 Euro Cup may also enter the conventional SM450 class and indeed the SM650 within the Super 7
UK Supermoto Championship on the same machine if they so wish, as they are eligible for both these other classes.
The incentives outlined above only apply however to the SM450 Euro Cup.
Our thanks go to all the importers whose support has made this unique series possible:
Aprilia, Aprilia UK
Husaberg, Dave Clarke Racing
Husqvarna, Husky Sport UK
KTM, KTM UK
Maxxis Goldspeed, Triple A Racing
Erion Racing announced today that it is releasing rider Anthony Gobert from the Erion team effective immediately.
Gobert was hired by the Honda-supported Erion Racing team to compete in the new AMA Superstock class in 2004.
"There is a level of commitment and dedication that is required to be a rider on our team," said team owner Kevin Erion. "Unfortunately, Anthony was unwilling to demonstrate the level of commitment and dedication required to get the job done. We wish Anthony well. He has displayed great talent over the years."
Troy Corser achieved Foggy PETRONAS Racing's best result on the FP1 when he was second in a dramatic first race at Misano in the third round of the World Superbike championship.
Team-mate Chris Walker, who was sixth when the rain started and the race was stopped early, helped complete the team's best ever points haul from a race.
Both riders made an excellent start to the race on dry tyres, although rain was a constant threat and last minute tyre choices were made on the grid, and Troy had already fought his way to the front by the end of the first lap.
From there he pulled a four second lead as championship favourite Regis Laconi was making his way through the pack on his factory Ducati. Troy was finally caught on the 15th lap of a race that was stopped early just three laps later, with the result standing as more than two thirds of the laps had been completed.
Troy said: "I am really pleased for PETRONAS, for the team and also for myself! It's been a while since I was out there leading a race and I can't help being frustrated that I didn't get the win. I didn't get my greatest start off the line but went round the outside of some riders at turn two as I knew I had to be in the top two or three early on to have any chance at all. Chris was in front of me but I got a draught off him and whipped out before then going round the outside of Chili. Then I just pushed as hard as I could before the performance of the rear tyre started to wear off, especially on the damp patches. So I had to try and keep the times as consistent as possible as I knew someone was catching me, although I didn't know who it was. Laconi's bike was much quicker down the straights so it was no wonder that he did go past me! But my bike worked well and, apart from in one corner, we had the gearing right and also a good set-up."
Chris, who had achieved the first podium finish on the FP1, the Malaysian superbike, said: "I got a really good start but I was struggling to get into a rhythm. Every time I pushed I came out of my seat. The power was snappy low down as the gearing was set for the wet but the bike ran well and I was happy to get sixth, as I had been struggling during qualifying. I kept getting caught, which is frustrating, but I was just praying they would stop the race while Troy was in the lead."
Race one result
- 1 - Laconi (Ducati Fila)
- 2 - Corser (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) - +1.944
- 3 - Chili (PSG-1) - +7.459
- 4 - Haga (Renegade Ducati) - +9.728
- 5 - Vermeulen (Ten Kate Honda) - +12.310
- 6 - Walker (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) - +14.130
- 7 - Martin (DFX) - +14.445
- 8 - Nannelli (Team Pedercini) - +36.96;
- 9 - Bontempi (Zongshen) - +37.379
- 10 - Toseland (Ducati Fila) - +37.501
- 11 - Haslam (Renegade Ducati) - +42.064
- 12 - Clementi (Kawasaki Bertocchi) - +54.642
- 13 - Velini (UnionBike) - +1:02.408
- 14 - Sala (Team Anyway Fidoweb) - +1:05.352
- 15 - Liverani (Caron Dream) - + 1:05.397
- 16 - De Matteis (Xerox) - +1:05.416
Carl Fogarty heaped praise on his two Foggy PETRONAS Racing riders after the team's best display at the third round of the World Superbike championship in Misano, Italy.
The four times World Superbike champion and FPR owner watched his former team-mate Troy Corser finish second in the day's first race, with Chris Walker a creditable sixth. And, although the team did not fare as well in the second race when technical difficulties resulted in Troy finishing 7th and Chris 13th, the results were enough to move PETRONAS above Honda into second place in the manufacturers' standings.
On a day of unpredictable weather conditions, Troy capitalised on the previous two day's good set-up work on slick Pirelli tyres to pull a healthy lead before being caught on the 15th lap by factory Ducati rider Regis Laconi. A heavy shower brought an early end to the race to seal FPR's second podium, following Chris Walker's debut ride to finish third in Valencia.
On a damp track for the afternoon race, both FPR riders went along with the majority of the grid and opted for wet weather tyres in the front and rear. However, local hero Frankie Chili chose an intermediate rear and, on a drying track, hauled in a massive deficit on Laconi to clinch a thrilling victory.
Troy, after an indifferent start, suffered clutch problems early in that race and was unable to improve on seventh place. Chris, on a softer compound, suffered problems with grip early in the race, as well as engine over-heating.
Carl said: "It has been a fantastic weekend, our best to date, with Troy getting an excellent second place - and almost a win! At the start of the year I thought we might be challenging for a rostrum at the end of the season so to have had two in the first three rounds is a credit to the riders and to PETRONAS. The weather was a bit cooler and the conditions damper, so that levels things out and then it is down to the riders. And I believe we have two of the best in the championship. If it had remained wet all day, who knows, we might even have had a win. It was also good to see the old guy Chili still winning races!"
Troy said: "It was hard to believe I was back on the podium after such a long time. The last time was at Imola in 2001! But we have been in the top four pretty much every session here and, if I had got off the line a bit better in the second race, I might have finished a bit further up. This is the best result we have had so far so I am obviously pleased for everyone involved in the project. I was trying so hard to stay in front but the track was getting slippery and I was losing the rear end when I was trying to stay with Laconi, so I had to settle for second. In the second race I had a problem with the clutch on the sighting lap and entry into the corners was difficult as it was oscillating. Then I got tangled up with Sanchini at the start and really just had to ride round and settle for what I had. But this is a positive note on which to move forwards to the next stage of our engine development at Monza."
Chris said: "I am disappointed with the result in the second race as I think we deserved better. I got a great start and was desperate to lead the race but my tyre lost grip after three laps and I was suffering engine difficulties after five laps so there wasn't much more that I could do. But I was happy with sixth place in the first race, although I was praying for it to start raining while Troy was still in the lead so that he could win."
Race two result
- 1 - Chili
- 2 - Laconi - +1.484
- 3 - Martin - +32.259
- 4 - Haga - +38.088
- 5 - Haslam - +41.031
- 6 - Toseland - +45.976
- 7 - Corser (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) - +48.557
- 8 - Pedercini - +1:01.446
- 9 - Pini - +1:04.891
- 10 - Borciani - +1:17.110
- 11 - Sanchini - +1:37.339
- 12 - Vermeulen - +1:37.760
- 13 - Walker (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) - +1:44.683
- 14 - Liverani - +1:44.940
- 15 - Bontempi - + 1 lap
This news item was kindly provided by www.GetYourRideOn.com
Valentino Rossi made history once again today by becoming the first man ever in the history of the MotoGP World Championship to win consecutive races with different manufacturers after clinching victory on his Yamaha debut at the betandwin.com Africa's Grand Prix.
Some 45,000 fans at the Phakisa Freeway circuit in Welkom, South Africa, bore witness to a classic duel between Rossi and his arch nemesis Max Biaggi, who went head to head from the first corner to the last. The reigning World Champion started from pole and maintained his advantage at the front over the opening laps, pushing to escape from a chasing pack with an electric pace that only Biaggi and Sete Gibernau could follow.
As Gibernau lost touch Biaggi took the initiative and attacked his compatriot with several exciting passes, only to be undone by Rossi's own brand of thrilling overtaking. After a brief lull in an energy-sapping bout, when Biaggi gathered his breath and trailed the rear wheel of Rossi to the inch for around ten laps, another frenetic duel sparked into life with six laps remaining. Biaggi was again the aggressor from behind, taking control only for Rossi to strike back within meters - the pair swapping positions until three corners from the end, when Rossi played his final ace and snatched victory from the jaws of the Honda rider.
"This was one of the best races of my career," commented an emotional Rossi, who parked his bike and sank to his haunches in tears of joy on the warm-down lap, in contrast to his usual extravagant celebrations. "It was a great show and a really good battle between myself and Max. My plan was to get a good start and set a high rhythm and I managed to do that. By the end I just tried my best for the win and I was able to do it. All I can say is thanks to all my mechanics and everybody who came with me on this new adventure. Thanks to Yamaha... thanks to everybody!"
With Gibernau reduced to a spectator in a solitary third position, attention switched from the leaders to a gritty comeback from the Spaniard's Honda colleague Alex Barros, who battled back from ninth on the opening lap to seal fourth by the end. The Brazilian overcame his team-mate Nicky Hayden at the halfway stage and broke free of the American youngster, who eventually emerged in fifth place after a skirmish with Colin Edwards and Loris Capirossi. Edwards had to settle for seventh place in his first MotoGP appearance with Honda after being overtaken by the Italian Ducati rider with just five laps to go.
Makoto Tamada made it six Hondas in the top eight ahead of Yamaha trio Norick Abe, Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri. Shinya Nakano finished his Kawasaki debut in twelfth place, whilst Shane Byrne was the only MotoGP rookie to score points in fifteenth behind John Hopkins and Troy Bayliss. Fellow newcomers Alex Hofmann and Ruben Xaus crashed and retired respectively, whilst World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson also retired.
- 1 - Valentino ROSSI ITA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha
- 2 - Max BIAGGI ITA Camel Honda - 0.210
- 3 - Sete GIBERNAU SPA Telefonica Movistar Honda - 7.255
- 4 - Alex BARROS BRA Repsol Honda Team - 18.667
- 5 - Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team - 24.094
- 6 - Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team - 24.375
- 7 - Colin EDWARDS USA Telefonica Movistar Honda - 28.855
- 8 - Makoto TAMADA JPN Camel Honda - 36.535
- 9 - Norick ABE JPN Fortuna Gauloises Tech - 36.643
- 10 - Carlos CHECA SPA Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha - 39.284
- 11 - Marco MELANDRI ITA Fortuna Gauloises Tech - 43.806
- 12 - Shinya NAKANO JPN Kawasaki Racing Team - 43.920
- 13 - John HOPKINS USA Team Suzuki MotoGP - 56.028
- 14 - Troy BAYLISS AUS Ducati Marlboro Team - 56.558
- 15 - Shane BYRNE GBR MS Aprilia Racing - 1'13.831
- 16 - Jeremy McWILLIAMS GBR MS Aprilia Racing - 1'22.206
- 17 Nobuatsu AOKI JPN Proton Team KR - 1'26.933
- 18 Michel FABRIZIO ITA WCM 144.290 - 3 laps
The Husky Sport team hit disaster this weekend, Dave McKee the stand in for the injured Warren Steele ended up paying a visit to the hospital himself. A huge crash in the first Open Class race saw Dave hit the tarmac at about 100mph. Landing heavily on his side Dave was taken to hospital by Husky Sport Team Manager/Owner Mike Carter. X-rays were done and it was confirmed that Dave had badly broken his collarbone and was put on the next flight home to Ireland.
Jay Smith was struck down with a fever and illness on Friday afternoon leaving him also out of the race. All hopes laid on current British Championship Christian Iddon, it was a tight fast track and suited very much to moto crossers. The off road section was very tricky and former Moto X Champion and new KTM signing Matt Winstanley was making impressive ground over the back section making it impossible for anyone to catch him.
Struggling in the 450 Christian still managed to force himself through to 4th place in both the 450 races. Winstanley gained an 8 second lead from Honda's Leighton Haigh in the first 450 race and a massive 14 second lead from KTM's Ady Smith in the second 450 race.
Christian sustained a massive crash on the off road part in the Superpole for the Open Class races, severely winding himself Christian was feeling somewhat second hand for the races. Still starting from 2nd place on the grid Christian was keen to push himself forward, the crash knocked his confidence slightly and he was on the heels of Dave Tougher in a battle for second place unfortunately he was unable to make the pass on the Irish man. Still finishing in third Iddon was reasonably happy.
Wanting to better his results from the first race Iddon got his head down for race two, on lap six whilst leading Winstanley finally came to blows and hit the dirt. This left Irish Champion Dave Tougher and Iddon to battle it out. Tougher began to pull a slight lead, Christian was being hotly hunted down by Husaberg rider Sam Warren however it was Iddon that managed to hold his place and gained a second place in race two.
Commenting he said 'It was a really different track and the off road section was tricky. Matt was just leaving everyone there even the experienced rider Ady Smith couldn't close in on Matt down the dirt section. Not a good weekend for me but things can only get better. I'm riding in the first German Championships this weekend and will be contesting in the first Bemsee Supermoto race at the end of this month.'
450 Race 1
- Winstanley - KTM
- Haigh - Honda
- A Smith - KTM
- Iddon - Husqvarna
- Tollet - KTM
450 Race 2
- Winstanley - KTM
- A Smith - KTM
- Haigh - Honda
- Iddon - Husqvarna
- Tollet - KTM
Open Race 1
- Winstanley - KTM
- Tougher - TM
- Iddon - Husqvarna
- Mitchell - Husaberg
- A Smith - KTM
Open Race 2
- Tougher - TM
- Iddon - Husqvarna
- Warren - Husaberg
- Mitchell - Husaberg
- Kinsella - VOR
Information provided by Carly Rathmell, firstname.lastname@example.org
World-class sidecar racing could still run in Britain, although there's no chance of a full championship at the BSB rounds. BSB bosses and sidecar teams have arranged an eight-round series within the UK, including the BSB Knockhill and Mondello, Silverstone and Brands Hatch WSB rounds and a non-championship round at Caste Coombe.
Kieran Clarke had an impressive weekend at the second round of the British Superbike Championships at Brands Hatch on Easter Monday gaining a 10th and 13th place. Weather conditions were varied throughout the weekend ranging from drizzle and rain on Saturday practise, to dry but cold on Sunday Qualifying and warm come race day on Monday.
After his second race crash at Silverstone he was looking to put those bad memories behind him and looking forward to getting back on the bike and competing amongst the World's best Superbike riders. Good qualifying times throughout the weekend put him consistently in the top 15. Track temperatures were much warmer in the first qualifying session on Sunday and he managed to gain himself a very comfortable 14th place on the grid. A misfortune in the second qualifying session saw Kieran and his Colin Appleyard supported Yamaha R1 take a tumble. Oil on the track forced four riders to crash out at the same place. An impressive highside for the youngster saw him slightly injure his ankle but put an end to his qualifying session.
Competing on last year's 2003 R1 model Kieran placed himself in-between the two factory 2004 Virgin Yamaha riders, Steve Plater and Tommy Hill on the grid. Condition had improved come race day and Kieran was enthusiastic to ensure of a good start and settle himself into a comfortable position. As the lights went green Kieran forced his way through the pack, narrowly missing the huge crash between Sean Emmett and Glen Richards after the first corner. The safety car was sent out whilst the crash was cleared up this bunched the riders together and it was crucial that he got on the power as soon as the car pulled in.
Four laps later and the race was back on a good restart and Kieran was away with them, dicing with Sam Corke, Jon Kirkham, Tommy Hill, Steve Plater and Dennis Hobbs for 9th place. A lap by lap battle ensued and every lap positions between the six swapped. Kieran has a slight moment at Surtees, he was so close to the back end of Jon Kirkham that he was forced to sit up and head across the grass, losing time but rejoining the pack without losing too many places.
It was the two former R6 cup riders, Hill and Clarke that gradually began to pull a slight lead over Plater and Hobbs. Closing in on every lap Kieran was looking right up the exhaust pipes of Hill but was unable to make the move on him before the chequer flag. Still his best result to date and an extremely encouraging one at that.
Another impressive start in race two and it was another tight battle that followed, making up three places in the first lap Kieran was keen to improve on his first race result. Fighting throughout with Kirkham and Plater, Kieran had the upper hand on the factory Virgin Yamaha rider Plater until the last lap, when Plater made a brave move over the young 19-year-old. Kieran was only 0.2 of a second behind Plater as they crossed the line.
Speaking with Clarke he commented 'It's been another good weekend for me, I'm learning new things every time I go out on the bike. It's a big step from the R6 but it's still racing and it's what I enjoy most. The bikes working great and I'm realising that I can still get a lot out of it, it is just a time thing to realise the full potential of the Yamaha and running on slicks. All last year I was on standard road tyres so it is certainly very different. The more I'm on the bike the happier I feel with things. I feel I'm progressing at each meeting and very happy to have scored double points at Brands. The bikes should work well at Snetterton in a couple of week's time so I will be hoping for another good result there.'
Team Owner Colin Appleyard said 'It's only Kieran's second meeting on board the Superbike and he's done very well. It's very encouraging to get a top ten finish and points for the team this early into the season. As the year progresses I'm confident that things will only get much better.'
Information provided by Carly Rathmell, email@example.com
The South African GP, first of 16 rounds of the 2004 MotoGP World Championship, will be the first race for the second-generation Proton KR V5 machine, hand-built in Britain to challenge the Japanese factories.
Team principal Kenny Roberts, himself a racing legend, is confident that the new machine will show some of its impressive potential. But he admits: "This race is too early for us."
The gorgeous V5 machine has been through a major upgrade programme in the winter, including a total chassis redesign, using all-new super-accurate fabrication techniques.
At the same time, the top end of the engine was redesigned, to improve the integration of the engine/chassis/airbox package.
"I think people will be impressed when they see the bike for the first time," said Roberts. "It's a very nice piece: the best and most integrated motorcycle we have ever built.
"The problem is that so far, the revised motor has not lived up to the performance predicted on the computer simulations. We're working flat out to find out why, but these things take time.
"For South Africa the engine will only be at 80 percent ... not a step forward compared with the first engine. Unfortunately the motor is so integrated with the chassis we can't run last year's motor in the new bike," said Roberts.
"The chassis is very good, as usual - but with the delays in deciding to switch to Dunlop tyres, their new product is not ready either.
"Things will get better. Dunlop assure me they will have new product for the French GP (round three, on May 16), and soon after that we should have the engine up to its full potential. By the Dutch TT at Assen, we hope to move the goalposts," said Roberts.
Proton Team KR will be fielding two riders as usual, team stalwart Nobuatsu Aoki and class rookie Kurtis Roberts, second son of Kenny.
Kurtis will be making his return to the track after suffering a dislocated shoulder in pre-season testing. He missed the last tests recuperating at home in California.
The South African GP, which first ran at Kyalami in the Eighties, was revived at the Phakisa Freeway outside the gold-mining town of Welkom, south of Johannesburg, in 1999. The track loops around a banked tri-oval circuit in a tight and challenging layout. Special difficulties include a very bumpy surface, often slippery because of dust blown across the track.
The next round is the Spanish GP, opening the European season at Jerez on May 2.
The best thing that I found in testing was the handling and feel of the new chassis. It is a definite improvement. We have other things that are not so good yet. The engine power and throttle response needs to be better, and we also need to improve the tyre performance. I hope Dunlop will be able to make use of the suggestions we've made as soon as possible. It means this race will be difficult to get a good result, but I will do the best possible, and we will all keep working.
I always measure injuries by how they compare with other injuries. The first time I popped my shoulder last year it was worse than this, and I was racing again in two-and-a-half weeks. This time it seemed to recover quicker, but I'm not getting the strength back. I've not ridden with it, but I'm shooting for racing in South Africa, even if it won't be optimum conditions for myself, the bike or the tyres. Leastways when the new development stuff comes in a few races time, I hope to be more in the flow of things. I'll be there, and I'll ride, and who knows how it will go.
The British Superbike Championship will be sponsored by a Government biker safety campaign, 'Think', nearly 350 motorcyclists died on our roads in 2002.
Yamaha's MotoGP riders put the final touches to their pre-season at the second day of a wet IRTA test at the Spanish circuit of Jerez.
Valentino Rossi topped the leader board again despite doing just 39 laps on his YZR-M1 machine due to sporadic rain showers throughout the first day. His team-mate Carlos Checa also had a valuable day of testing, finishing fourth fastest during his first day.
Non-stop heavy rain turned the paddock into a small river today, Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Carlos Checa completed just 19 and 17 laps respectively and only spending enough time out on track to check their wet-weather set-ups. Like most other riders present they finished early in the final test before the season-opening Grand Prix in South Africa later this month.
With poor weather having also interrupted the first day, Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 Yamaha rider Marco Melandri put in some bright early laps today, despite the conditions.
Melandri's M1 was in possession of a new engine spec for the last day of testing, in readiness for its use in the first race of the year at Welkom on 18 April. With a new power plant to evaluate Melandri was especially keen to lap as often as possible, familiarising himself with the more user-friendly motor from early in the day. Even as the rain increased, both Melandri and team-mate Norick Abe put in more laps in the afternoon, although ultimately Abe was to suffer two falls, without injury.
The fastest dry lap of the tests went to Rossi with a 1m 42.656s, with Checa fourth on 1m 42.927s, Melandri 14th (1m 44.470s) and Abe 19th (1m 45.564s).
It was another good surprise to be fastest yesterday, I am very happy. We arrived here and everything immediately went quite well with a set-up similar to Barcelona. The bike is easy to steer, very agile, and it's handling the braking well. There's not very much to say about today, except that I'm pleased with the way the bike has gone in the wet. It is still not bad to ride and the tyres felt okay too. Anyway this is the end of the winter tests and I'm very happy with our progress."
"We've been wet-weather testing today to get the feeling of the bike in these conditions. The main thing we've been working on is different engine maps. It was good to try the new engine spec in the wet and it is definitely a bit better. It's important to try the bike in these conditions in case we have weather like this at one of the races. Overall I'm very pleased with this test and I think it is maybe the best one yet for us."
"I was riding well in the rain and Biaggi appeared on the track, just as the rain was falling very hard. I saw Max behind me and I allowed him to pass. It was difficult to stay with him for the first lap but after that I was able to catch him. Yamaha gave me a new engine today and I have to say thank you to them for this and I hope we can have some dry time in qualifying for Welkom."
"I crashed twice and it was a little strange because in the first one I had made a push but in the second one I didn't push hard, but still had a highside. Overall, we have had five days testing between here and Barcelona, but not one full day completely dry. So this has not been such a great test."
"These winter tests have been very interesting for us and I can't deny that we are delighted with Valentino's Barcelona results and Carlos' improvement here in Jerez. However we still have room for more improvement. Everyone in Yamaha has worked very hard to get the M1 to the stage it is at now and it will stay like this for the first race in Welkom. It's encouraging that the set-up seems to work in such a variety of circuits. We have a base and it's a good one. The only thing now is to see how the bike responds in race conditions which will be very different to these tests."
"Carlos only went out three times today, just to check the settings in case we have weather like this in Welkom. Once he was happy we stopped; that was enough for the day and it was good to stop early as we have so much work to do getting everything ready to send to South Africa. We are quite satisfied with these two days, even though we haven't completed so many laps. The whole team is now looking forward to Welkom and we feel more confident after these IRTA tests."
"It was completely wet today but it was a good day for testing because we have some new technical aspects of the engine and Marco was very keen to do some laps on the new spec of engine. We also did some very good practice in heavy rain conditions. Marco did a very good lap time and consistent fast times. He was surprised and happy to be able to lap with Max Biaggi for so long because last year he felt really slow in the rain and he knows that Max is a fast rider in these conditions."
"Not such an easy test and there were two crashes today for Norick. He was picking up speed and seemed happy but on the second lap, on the exit of first corner, he fell and we don't really understand why. We checked the bike and data but it was difficult to find out why the crash happened. Second lap out the next time around and he fell again. It's a little bit disturbing because the tyres seemed to be working fine, so it's a bit tough, for Norick and us, right now."
"We received one new specification of engine for Marco, although the weather has not been helping us. We would like to thank Yamaha and especially Mr Furusawa and Mr Nakajima for taking this decision. The second piece of good news is that we will also have a new spec engine for Norick for the beginning of the championship. This is a lot more than we expected at this stage so we are very grateful for this and hopefully it will help Yamaha to get even better results."
- 1. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA 1'42.656
- 2. Kenny Roberts (USA) Team Suzuki MotoGP 1'42.761
- 3. Colin Edwards (USA) Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot 1'42.771
- 4. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA 1'42.927
- 5. Alex Barros (BRA) Repsol Honda 1'42.974
- 6. John Hopkins (USA) Team Suzuki MotoGP 1'43.314
- 7. Shinya Nakano (JPN) Kawasaki Racing Team 1'43.386
- 8. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot 1'43.408
- 9. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda 1'43.457
- 10. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Camel Honda 1'43.541
This news item was kindly provided by www.GetYourRideOn.com
Non-stop rain and soaking track. Jerez is unaccustomed to such weather, especially in the spring. Another tough day of tests, with very different weather from what can be expected in South Africa this coming 18 April.
Despite the bad weather, the riders fired up their engines and took to the track. Some useful laps, also for the two yellow-blue standard bearers of the Camel Honda team, Max and Makoto, who tried out settings and tyres for the rain while carrying on with their work of preparing for the race. The technicians and riders continued working on the new materials for the RC211V and, at the end of the tests, Max Biaggi put all he had into it and posted the best time of the day.
"We tried to make the very best of a rainy day, working to get the settings right for the new frame when riding in the wet. The data we gathered helped us appreciate the characteristics and achieve an efficient set-up. Then we tried out the "rain" tyres, and we worked on these all afternoon. After a series of rather discontinuous days, we can say that we have at least been able to complete part of our work programme."
"Today we did some great work in the rain, because time is running out and the first race is looming up. It's not easy working in these conditions and, to tell the truth, it's also a bit risky: at about 2 o'clock, when the rain was coming down particularly hard, I went through such a puddle that my left foot slipped off the foot peg, which cut through both riding suit and skin. I didn't even think about stopping: I just had to continue. Sure, it's not like riding in the dry, but we were still able to do something useful to understand the new frame, first modifying one bike, then the other. It's better in the wet than the previous one and, generally speaking, we find it has some good solutions."
"We've come to the end of the IRTA tests with a big backlog of work. The weather really didn't help us and from the point of view of getting the new 2004 materials worked out, we still haven't got all the data we need so that we can make our final choices. For us, the Friday at Welkom - the first day at the South African GP - will be a real day of tests. But today we were able to try out the new rain tyres that we've got from Bridgestone: we're very satisfied and Makoto Tamada particularly likes them. New profiles and new compounds gave them a really good grip in today's very particular conditions."
"Things went well with the rain tyres, and what's great is that I've found a rear tyre with good grip. As regards the bike, I must say that for the moment I had a better feeling with the frame we used during the winter tests: I'll need to clock up a few more kilometres before I can really understand and appreciate the new frame. We'll make sure during the tests on Friday at Welkom that we can put in as many laps as possible in order to get a clear idea and to be ready for the first race of the year."
Christian Iddon and Dave McKee had another successful weekend but not as successful as they would have hoped for. Damp drizzly condition at the tight twisting Sunderland track caught out both Iddon and McKee. It was the first time that Supermoto had run at the Karting track and pulled in the biggest crowd they have ever had there.
Qualifying in 5th position for the 450 races Christian was keen to push himself forward to the front of the pack. A poor start in the first race hindered his chances of a win as Matt Wynstanley on his KTM powered across the line only two tenths of a second faster than Iddon. The second race started well and Christian got a good start and was out in the lead when he got caught up with one of the hay bales in the off road section which brought him off. He managed to restart but could only master his way through to 20th.
After setting an impressive Pole Position in the Open Class Iddon was on a mission to earn him some good points after he missed out at the first round. Another bad start saw Christian slip back into the middle of the pack, which left him with a lot of work to do to push himself through the field. As he slowly cut his way through the riders he had his eyes set on Irish star Dave Tougher.
Meanwhile, it was team-mate Dave McKee that got a great start from the second row and was snapping at the heals of fellow Irish man Tougher in a bid for the lead. With the track being so tight and twisty small mistakes were costly, as McKee was about to find out. 11 minutes in to the 15-minute race McKee hit the off road section awkwardly which spat him off the bike. Stalling his big Husqvarna in the process, he managed to restart but his chances of podium place were long gone. His still managed to finish a gallant 9th place. This left Christian to take charge he was pushing hard and was catching Tougher, as they approached back markers, Tougher managed to catch them at the right time and sailed his TM safely through. This hindered Iddon as he got caught behind them on the worst part of the course, unable to make a clean break Iddon had to settle for 2nd place.
Fired up for race two both Iddon and McKee were keen to make a point and get themselves on the podium. A better start this time from Iddon and he was away leaving his rivals in the distance he made the race his own. Taking the overall win by and impressive four seconds. It was McKee that started badly this time round and got blocked in between riders. He soon made a break and was hunting down Tougher, catching him up but with time running out McKee could find anywhere to make the move and get passed. Still both Husky Sport riders ended the day in 1st and 3rd and came away from the track still leading the Manufacturers Championship.
Commenting reigning British Supermoto Champion Iddon said 'The track was very narrow and it made it very hard to pass. Some of the straw from the hay bale burnt out my back break in the 450 race. The Open races were good I didn't get a very good start in the first one and it left me with a lot of work. The bike is running and handling really well and I just need to be consistent from now on and make up some Championship points.'
Speaking with McKee he said 'It was a great little track, very technical and twisty and you couldn't afford to make any mistakes. I hit the off road section badly in the first race and it just threw me all over the place. I was challenging for the lead and it wasn't out of my reach at all. I'm still very pleased with my second race results and just got to keep pushing them hard in the next races.'
For more information see www.supermotoracing.net.
Information provided by Carly Rathmell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Iddon is feeling in a confident mood as he heads to the second round of the British ACU Supermoto Championships this weekend. The second round is being held at the Karting North East Track in Sunderland. After taking the 450 win at the first round a few weeks ago Christian is keen to be on another winning streak as he heads North for the weekend.
He is yet to gain himself some points in the 650 class as a crash at Lydden stopped him from getting on the score board. He is extremely determined to rectify that situation and is adamant of gaining some valuable Championship points. It's still early days and he's definitely not been ruled out yet, as he will be back in fighting force this weekend.
Once again Jay Smith will be battling it out and after his strong 3rd position at Lydd he stands in good stead of gaining more positive Championship points. Barring no disasters he will be running with the front runners and another good results will boast his confidence. The races have now been cut down from a two day event to just a one day event on the Sunday. With two 450 races and two 650 races on the day it gives the riders a bigger opportunity to gain valuable points.
Dave McKee will once again be riding in the 650 class and with a fine fifth place on his debut appearance at Lydd he is feeling confident as his makes his second outing for the Husky Sport Team. He adapted very well to the big Husqvarna commenting 'It's a great bike and I thought it would be a lot heavier than what it was. I was very happy with my performance at the Opening round and I hope to continue my progress as the year goes on. We were unlucky with the weather as I had my sights set on a top three finish. With any luck the conditions will be better this weekend and I can get some positive results.'