British MotoGP: Rossi in a class of his own
July 24, 2005 Gauloises Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi extended his advantage at the top of the MotoGP World Championship to 104 points, with his seventh victory from nine races this season in the British Grand Prix today. The Italian splashed his way through several centimetres of standing water and lashings of torrential rain to clinch his fourth MotoGP win at Donington Park after a treacherous race that saw no fewer than eleven riders crash.
Rossi didn’t get the best of starts as he dropped from pole position to seventh but fought his way back to the front by the fourth lap. A slight mistake at the midway point saw him lose ground on the lead group but two fast laps brought him back into contention. Another burst from the Italian seven laps from the end shaved over 2 seconds from the fastest lap of the race up to that point and left Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) and Alex Barros (Honda) trailing in his wake.
Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards joined in the battle for a top three finish but settled with fourth place at the end of the intense race, another solid points haul moving him up to third in the championship, just one point behind Marco Melandri (Honda), who crashed out of the race.
Kenny Roberts Jr started the race in 16th position and by lap three had moved up to fourth place. He then became involved in a five way tussle for the victory with Valentino Rossi, Alex Barros, Suzuki’s own John Hopkins and Colin Edwards. The lead changed hands between all the riders before a break away from World Champion Rossi gave him the victory, leaving Roberts Jr to battle it out with Barros for second.
As the rain continued to fall heavily, Team SUZUKI MotoGP racer Roberts Jr made a fearless last-lap overtaking manoeuvre to seal a fantastic second place at the end of the exciting 29-lap race. Over 75,000 fans braved the sodden conditions to witness one of the best races of the season.
Hopkins made a great start to the race and was leading by lap three, but a serious misting problem with his helmet visor caused him to run off the track and fall from his Suzuki GSV-R.
The brave Anglo-American re-mounted his bike and forced his way back to the pits to repair the damage before re-joining the race and finally finishing in a courageous and points scoring 11th place.
Team SUZUKI MotoGP now travels to Sachsenring in Germany for round 10 of the MotoGP World Championship next weekend, hoping to build on today’s result.
Valentino Rossi, Gauloises Yamaha Team, 1st: “That was one of the most difficult races of my career – the conditions were incredible. It was very, very cold and the track was very slippery. At the beginning I was lucky because I made a mistake on the start and spun the tyre but after that I came back fast to the front. Biaggi crashed in front of me, then Gibernau… there were a lot of people making mistakes, also me, so I preferred to wait. Alex had a good rhythm so I stayed behind him but I made a mistake at the chicane when I was fighting with Kenny and locked the brakes. Today was not like riding a bike, it was like riding a boat because there was a lot of water between the wheels and the track – always spinning the rear and locking the front. I tried to understand the points where I could push more and said to myself: ‘Now I try and we see what happens!’ I was able to go a lot faster and keep the advantage. It was a great job by the team because the bike worked well even though we only had 20 minutes this morning to find the wet-weather set-up. Yesterday when I looked at my best lap time I thought it was like a symphony of violins – perfect, so I decided that if I won I would do this celebration across the finish line!”
Kenny Roberts Jr, Suzuki, 2nd: “This was a tough race today, but when you’re up front it’s a lot easier than where we’ve been recently. I had a fun day and it’s nice to be able to ride with these guys and to cross the chequered flag with them just behind or just in front of you. Today was one of those days when you really had to concentrate and not get ahead of yourself and start thinking about winning. I looked at my pit-board and it said 20 laps to go so I made an effort not to look at it again until later in the race. I didn’t want to see what was happening behind – if I’d made a bit of a gap – because it’s easy to lose concentration and run wide. Today was so easy to fall down and I just wanted to be there at the end – not to necessarily win the race but to have a good race and be up there with these guys. It’s been a long time since we have been on the podium and this is great for all crew and I hope that we can build on this and get something underneath me to be competitive next time out.”
Stuart Shenton, John Hopkins’ Chief Technician: “Today was a great day for the team. A fantastic result from Kenny’s side. It was very unfortunate for John, he felt the bike and the tyres were working well. Unhappily for him his visor misted up. He thought if he got in front it would clear – but it didn’t – so he dropped back and then ran off the track. The guys did a good job to get the bike fixed and get him back in the race and 11th was as good as we could have hoped for – but it could have been an awful lot better. Both riders could easily have finished in the top three or four today!”
Paul Denning Suzuki Team Manager: “This result is nothing less than the whole team – by that I mean Kenny’s crew, John’s crew and all the Factory staff – deserve. The work-rate that everybody has put in so far this year, the motivation and the pro-active attitude to improving our position has finally resulted in an extremely positive position and a fantastic podium for Kenny. The way Rossi has been going this year I almost think it’s fair to say we won the race and that Valentino doesn’t count! Bridgestone did a great job with the wet tyres that it put under the guys and on a weekend where we were struggling a bit with grip in the dry this made it even more an achievement.
“John is massively disappointed with 11th place but then again there are so many positives for him to take away from this race. It wasn’t his fault that his visor fogged and cost him his rhythm, causing him to run off the track. He showed such great pace in the wet, he was able to get back to the pits and repair the bike, and for the rest of the race he rode a rather bent and battered GSV-R at similar times to the lead group and collected points. This also shows the strength and reliability and improvements that the bike has made.
“As for Kenny I am somewhat lost for words. The Shanghai result stayed with us for all the wrong reasons and this will stay with us for all the right reasons. It’s his birthday tomorrow and this was a great present for him and all the team. He rode as well today as he did when he won the World Championship. I hope that Kenny and John can take all the positives forward from this weekend to Sachsenring next week and build on this result.”
Alex Barros, Camel Honda, 3rd : “The track was in terrible conditions today: in those situations you have to know how to deal with the race, you have to know where the limit is and how far you can push it. I had a few problems with the front tyre under braking, on several occasions I could hardly control the front end but it probably was happening to a lot of my rivals because they were racing in the same conditions. Somehow it was an enjoyable race, despite how difficult it was. When Valentino overtook me I was unable to maintain his pace. On the last lap Roberts won the duel for second place, taking advantage of having been behind and seeing where I had problems. I’m a little bit disappointed, but that’s racing and he played his card. Being on the podium is a great way to celebrate my 250th GP: it’s a nice record to have, there have been so many races now but I still have the desire to race and to battle it out, and I will do so once more at Sachsenring next week.”
Colin Edwards, Gauloises Yamaha Team, 4th: “After the warm-up I was a bit down because it wasn’t great. We made some changes to the spring settings but we weren’t really sure whether it was the right option. Anyway, I got out on the warm-up lap and the balance of the bike was awesome. The race was basically a case of survival. My start wasn’t as good as it might have looked and the pace felt really slow to start with, but then it picked up and it was a pretty eventful first few laps. Then the front locked when I was braking in a straight line and I almost ended up in the dirt! I caught up very quickly but about 12 laps from the end I had another scary moment and the bike spat me up out of my seat, so I thought about the situation and decided to wait and see what happened in front of me. Towards the end I was keeping an eye on Checa behind me because he was quite close. The points are really important; it’s great to have moved into third place and to be so close to Melandri. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but I’m really pleased with what we’ve achieved this weekend.”
Carlos Checa, Ducati Marlboro fifth: "That wasn't an easy race but we got a good result, which gives the whole team a chance to breathe. I got a lot of wheelspin at the start, then I wanted to get the feeling with the tyres before I began to push. A lot of guys were crashing and I couldn't see much, so it took me a while to feel confident. I was trying not to be too aggressive because it was so easy to fall. Considering where we were yesterday, fifth and sixth is a good result for the whole team."
Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro, sixth: "Thank God it rained. We were pretty fast in the damp warm-up, so I was hoping for a wet race and that's what we got. At the beginning I had an engine glitch, maybe some rain got in an ignition coil, which lost me contact with the front group. If I hadn't had that problem and I'd got a better start, maybe I could have made the podium. The track was very dangerous, flooded and with small rivers everywhere, plus visibility was really bad. In these conditions I prefer to get sixth, rather than lose everything with a crash. Today's race showed that the bike and tyre package worked well - Bridgestone has made great progress with its rain tyres. A difficult weekend, but I'm finally satisfied."
Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 7th: “Today it wasn’t easy to control the power of the RCV with this track’s conditions. While accelerating the rear tyre skidded a little. The track was at its limit. For me this has been the first race with Michelin tyres on a completely soaked track. Today’s positive thing is that after having found the right confidence with the bike, between the fifteenth and the twenty-fifth lap, I made it to keep a good rhythm at the same level of the fastest. This made us think well to be at a good level of competitiveness also in these conditions in the next Grand Prix.”
Alex Hofmann, Team Kawasaki, Eighth: "That was a cold and tough race, but my best ever result so I'm very happy about that. The conditions were unpredictable and very slippery, but I was able to control the sliding and over the final ten laps I was running at the same pace as Capirossi and Tamada ahead of me, but we had lost contact with the front group. At the start I was in the group with Shinya and Carlos when we got to Elias and he was braking very early and I ran wide to avoid him at the chicane and lost five places. I had to do it all again and would have liked to have been closer to the front, but I can't complain, it was a good result for me today."
Ichiro Yoda, Team Kawasaki Technical Director: "The clutch on Shinya's bike would not open properly and this led to the downshift problem, so we need to investigate this situation. In the heavy rain conditions of today's race we again saw the potential of the Bridgestone wet weather tyres."
Harald Eckl, Team Kawasaki Manager: "That was great effort by Alex to achieve his best ever MotoGP result in these conditions, it was a very difficult race. It was unfortunate that Shinya had a problem and crashed, which has cost him some valuable points in the championship."
Toni Elias, Fortuna Yamaha Team, 9th: “Although I did not get a good start, and Hopkins hit me from behind, I felt comfortable and was able to pass a few riders in the opening stages. But I soon saw there was hardly any grip and the bike kept skidding at the front leaving me aquaplaning all the time. After a few scares I tried to follow Checa and Capirossi and just get a finish - that was the most important thing, to score more points. My injury responded well to the conditions and now I am looking forward to Germany as I am getting better all the time.”
Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda, DNF: “I got a good start, and despite the conditions being awful, I felt comfortable in the front group, and I was right in there. Unfortunately when Marco crashed in front of me he was too close and I tried to avoid him but I touched him and I was forced out onto the grass where I couldn’t control my bike. There’s no point saying how disappointed I am, but it was just a racing incident.”
Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda, DNF: “It’s obvious this is not our year. I tried to get a good start and set my own pace and I wasn’t pushing. My first scare was my crash. It was a fast crash and nothing more. I’m sorry for my team after all the work they’ve done, this is tough for all of us, but we’ll get back to work next week and go from there.”
Marco Melandri, Movistar Honda, DNF: “This is a shame because in the morning I felt good and I was looking forward to the race. There’s not much I can say about my race because it only lasted three laps. I got a good start and was feeling comfortable but then I got thrown off. We just have to look forward now.”
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team, DNF: “I got a terrible start and in the first lap or two had a few guys crash right in front of me. I only just avoided Biaggi and Xaus. I made a mistake in the Melbourne loop and ran a bit wide but generally in the opening few laps the bike felt pretty good. I just wanted to get into a good rythmn but just didn’t get time. I’m mad at myself for crashing at that corner. I almost crashed there myself this morning and I watched lots of guys crashing there in earlier races. It was just so slippery. It was so quick and I was down. Unfortunately I broke the handlebar – it was an easy crash. It’s frustrating being so high from the last race and so low from this one. It’s a cruel game sometimes.”
Max Biaggi, Repsol Honda Team, DNF: “In the sighting lap we had absolutely no traction. In the five-minute stop before the race we made some adjustments but it seemed to make no difference. We had spinning in the straight - in second, third and fourth gears. It was strange to have no feeling. I made a good start but very soon crashed out. I managed to get back on but then fell again. I feel very sorry for my team, as I know they work so hard and I couldn’t repay them. All I can say is I will come back strong at the Sachsenring.”
Ruben Xaus, Fortuna Yamaha Team, DNF: “It was a shame because I was lapping with the top ten riders. I lost a good opportunity but I could see hardly anything out on the track. It was a very difficult race because of the conditions, but we will keep working as we have done up to now.”
Shinya Nakano, Team Kawasaki, DNF: "On the grid leaving for the final sighting lap I had a strange feeling with the clutch and the engine stalled. After restarting I took my place on the grid, but then in the opening laps I still had a problem and it was difficult to downshift. I missed a gear on the entry to Redgate and crashed, which is disappointing as it cost me points in the championship. The conditions were very, very difficult today."
betandwin.com British Grand Prix Race Classification:
1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 52.58.675: 2. Kenny Roberts Jr (Team Suzuki MotoGP) +3.169: 3. Alex Barros (Honda) +4.005: 4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +10.292: 5. Carlos Checa (Ducati) +13.020: 6. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 23.321: 7. Makoto Tamada (Honda) 37.833: 8. Alex Hofmann (Kawasaki) +44.617: 9. Toni Elias (Yamaha) +1 lap: 10. Roberto Rolfo +1 lap: 11. John Hopkins (Team Suzuki MotoGP) +2 Laps:
World Championship Classification:
1. Rossi 211: 2. Marco Melandri (Honda) 107: 3. Edwards 106: 4. Max Biaggi (Honda) 100: 5. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 95: 6. Barros 90: 7. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 85: 8. Capirossi 65: 9. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) 55: 10 Checa 51