MotoGP: Yamaha and Rossi sign for 2006
August 2, 2005 Yamaha Motor and Valentino Rossi signed a contract extension yesterday, ensuring that Valentino will stay with Yamaha for the 2006 MotoGP World Championship. Rossi won the 2004 MotoGP World Championship with Yamaha and is currently competing in his second season with the Japanese manufacturer's factory team. The Italian leads the 2005 MotoGP World Championship by 120 points, following his 8th victory of the season at last weekend's German Grand Prix. Significantly, it was Rossi’s 76th Grand prix victory and moved the 26-year old into equal third place in the all-time victory list alongside the late Mike Hailwood. Rossi rode his victory lap with a flag that read, “Rossi 76, Hailwood 76, I'm sorry Mike,” in deference to Hailwood. Only the greats Angel Nieto (90) and Giacomo Agostini (122) remain for “The Doctor” to conquer should he be able to remain focused for that long given the constant enticements to move to four wheeled motorsport. That said, Rossi’s 76th win last weekend had all the hallmarks of Rossi magic.
"I am so happy to be able to announce the continuation of my relationship with Yamaha" commented Rossi. "Last year was magic, to win my first race with Yamaha, and then to win the championship. I have a fantastic relationship with this factory and my team crew, who have worked so hard to make the M1 as competitive as it is now, and it just made sense to stay with Yamaha for another year."
Just one week after his stunning wet weather win at Donington Park in England, reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi was back on top of the podium at the Sachsenring circuit as he snatched victory from Sete Gibernau (Honda) on the final lap of the German Grand Prix. The tenth round of the 2005 campaign and Rossi’s 150th Grand Prix appearance in all was stopped after five laps when John Hopkins (Suzuki) crashed out in spectacular fashion, lying unconscious on the circuit. By that time Rossi had made his way up to second place and when the race restarted he quickly began to pile the pressure on early race leader Nicky Hayden, taking the lead on the second lap.
One lap later Gibernau passed both Hayden and Rossi, who was then relegated back to third place by the American on lap 13. The Italian mounted a typical late charge, passing Hayden and closing in on Gibernau during the closing stages of the race as he prepared an attack on the final lap. It proved unnecessary however, as a mistake from Gibernau in turn one handed the Italian his 76th Grand Prix victory, moving him third in the all-time Grand Prix winners list, level with Mike Hailwood. Whilst Rossi now leads the championship standings by 120 points over Marco Melandri (Honda), his Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards finished a difficult weekend with eighth position in the race today, and drops to fourth overall behind Gibernau. The Texan nonetheless remains in close contention at the top end of the championship table, where four riders are separated by just four points.
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 1st: “It’s been a difficult weekend for sure. On Friday we arrived with a bad setting for this track and had some big problems. The team and Yamaha have done a fantastic job to recover from a bad situation and have worked step-by-step to resolve the issues. It was a hard race throughout, in some places we were fast and some slower, but the bike was working well after all the work we put in yesterday. At one point I lost second place to Nicky, but luckily I was able to take it back and then I prepared for a last lap battle with Sete. Then Sete made a small mistake at the first braking marker, which is an easy thing to do when you are racing at this speed, and I was able to take the lead. I don’t know if I would have won if he hadn’t made the mistake, but for sure I would have tried! I made a special flag to apologise to Mike Hailwood for matching his 76 wins in Grand Prix, because when another rider arrives at your level, it’s always disappointing! Mike is one of the greatest riders ever, and now I am beside him on the all-time winners podium in Grand Prix, which is a fantastic achievement!”
Davide Brivio, Gauloises Yamaha Team Director: “We won a race at the end of what has been a difficult weekend, so this is another great achievement. Now we go on holiday with an even stronger lead – after ten races we are leading all the categories: the rider, team and manufacturers’ championships. Also Colin remains close to the top of the championship. He is in good shape at the top of the table with all the best riders, despite not having such a good race today. Now everyone will take a well-deserved rest after the first half of the season, and let’s hope we can return in Brno and continue in the same way for the second half of the year.”
Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 2nd: “I’m really happy to have been fighting to win again – this should be our natural habitat and I promise it will continue to be so after the holidays. It has been a good weekend and it almost ended with a perfect race, it was just a shame that I made a mistake on the final lap. I got distracted and lost a precious tenth of a second that cost me victory. The important thing is that we are on our way back and this weekend I had fun on the bike once again. I can guarantee that I will win races this season.”
Nicky Hayden,Repsol Honda Team, 3rd: “I really thought I might have something for them at the end of the race but it wasn’t to be. In the last few laps I closed right up on them. I’m not happy about third but I’m happy about what I learned today. I was riding with two of the top guys in the world and I went to school on them for 30 laps. I feel like I learned a lot from them. I told my boys last night that we could be looking at 25 points but it wasn’t to be. They did a great job and got the bike set-up real well. Once you get that taste for winning you just want more. After so long being off the top of the box, Laguna felt so, so good. I just want that feeling back again real bad and soon.”
Max Biaggi,Repsol Honda Team: 4th: “Well, not so good again I’m afraid. I had to start from the third row as the first race was not so good and I was lying in eighth place when the race was stopped. In the end I made it past Barros and we get fourth place but I am not satisfied, how can I be? We are still fighting with the same problems all season. The front is still jumping and has chatter. It really makes me mad as I know I still have the ability and the motivation to win. At the moment we can only finish on the back and I am very frustrated. I never give up. I will train hard over the next few weeks and will come back after the break at Brno full of spirit for the race and for the rest of the season.”
Alex Barros, Camel Honda: 5th: “I’m a little bit disappointed with fifth place, obviously, but I feel I did everything I could, getting a pretty good start amongst the front group and pushing without a moment’s respite to try and get in front. What I am unhappy with is that eight laps from the end I began to lose rear grip and whatever I tried, including changing the power delivery to save on the tyres, not only was I unable to get amongst the battle for the podium, but I lost the duel with Max as I tried to control the bike which was sliding so much out of the bends. I didn’t’ give up though, and I tried to hang in there, but I couldn’t do anything. Anyway, I’m fifteen points off second position in the championship now and there are still seven races remaining after the summer break.”
Shinya Nakano, Team Kawasaki, 6th place: "That was an exciting race for me, it makes such a big difference when you see the top group and can race close to them. In the second race I was able to do fast and consistent times and overtake Capirossi and chase the front group. The tyre performance from Bridgestone was very good today in these conditions and I was very comfortable at this pace. Towards the end I had a couple of front end slides so I just made sure I finished. Kawasaki and Bridgestone are back challenging the front group, which is exactly where we should be."
Ichiro Yoda, Team Kawasaki, Technical Manager: "A very good race by Shinya. From today we saw that the current tyre direction from Bridgestone is very good for the Ninja ZX-RR. Bridgestone brought special tyres here for the ZX-RR to match a request from Shinya and he delivered a great result. It is a great pity that Alex and OJ crashed, both could have finished in good positions this weekend."
Harald Eckl, Team Kawasaki, Team Manager: "I'm smiling and crying at the same time. Shinya rode a fantastic race, he was fast and consistent, so thanks to the excellent effort from Bridgestone this weekend. I can understand that the situation with Alex and OJ crashing at the first corner is a huge disappointment for Alex with many home fans at this race. Alex was matching Shinya's pace in practice and had the same tyres and set-up for the race, I'm confident he could have finished in the top ten also."
Marco Melandri,Movistar Honda Team MotoGP: 7th: “We found a good set-up in the warm up and that gave me a real boost ahead of ! the race. I was relaxed at the start and held on to fifth place but I just didn’t feel as comfortable in the second race – I didn’t have the same level of traction. I didn’t want to force the pace because my objective was to finish the race as high as possible. Now it’s time for the holidays, which are always nice, and then we’ll get ready to get back on the podium at Brno.”
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team) 8th: “We worked as hard as we could this weekend, but looking back over some of the decisions we’ve made, it seems like we should have tried something different. We just never made that big jump in performance that Valentino made, after we both had problems on Friday. For once my start – in fact both starts – were okay, but unfortunately the first one was the better of the two, which was the wrong way round! I really struggled in the race and I just couldn’t hold on to the leading group. Sections one, two and four were okay but I was losing three tenths of a second in section three, it’s only about 19 seconds through there but I really couldn’t afford to be losing that much time on nearly every lap. The good thing going away from here is that Sete, Max, Marco and I are still all within four points in the championship standings. I’ll come back after the break and do better in Brno.”
Loris Capirossi, Ducati MotoGP, ninth place: "In the second part I did not start so well. I worked hard to go faster so I passed Nakano and Melandri and I stayed with them. Then the front pushed hard a couple of times, the first time at the bottom of the fast downhill curve. Towards the end the bike began moving at the back so my pace went down. Here you stay longer on the left hand side of the tyre than that caused problems at the end of the race. We have made a step forward with Bridgestone and we are almost satisfied. We must keep on working. Today I could have done better but I could also just as easily have lost everything. In Brno the second half of the season will begin and it will be the moment to make the real advance."
Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP Project Manager: "It's a disappointing result after our warm up performances this morning, when we were second and third. It was particularly disappointing as Carlos had such a good rhythm and pace, so it was a pity to lose him at the beginning of the race. Loris, who was able to set a very fast lap, was not able to maintain the rhythm in the race that he showed in the warm up and that is really a pity. Bridgestone proved to have done a very good job in practice this weekend, so we can enter the summer break hoping for a better result when we get to Brno."
Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 10th place: “This hasn’t surely been a great race for me. The setting of the bike was a little better in comparison with this morning, but it still didn’t give me the right confidence to push my bike even more. It is a hard situation because it isn’t simple to understand with precision what doesn’t work. The race had a good rhythm, which before the red flag I could in part maintain. After, the tyres lost a bit of grip and I couldn’t keep going as I was doing before, but this doesn’t have to be an excuse for me. Now I hope that this vacation will help me to find back the best conditions to be ready for the next Grand Prix at the end of August in Brno.”
Kenny Roberts Jr, Team Suzuki, 11th place: “Today was about where I expected to finish in the dry. Basically that’s where we seem to be bike-wise right now. We still need help to get something a little bit more competitive inside the chassis. For me that’s just the way it is at the moment.”
Mr Masahito Imada, General Manager, Suzuki Racing Department: “I have now seen the team in action at the last two races and I understand what we have to do to make more advances with the Suzuki GSV-R. It was very good for Kenny to get on the podium last weekend and it showed that the bike can be competitive in the right conditions. This weekend John looked very fast until his Friday crash and then today was brave but very unlucky. I will now take all the information I have from the races and study it carefully back in Japan. I will see what steps we can take to make the bike a better machine and to strive for better results whatever the weather.”
Paul Denning, Team Suzuki Team Manager: “We started the weekend in high spirits and with big hopes for a decent result – wet or dry. John confirmed on Friday that he was amongst the quickest riders and should have been able to build from there. But unfortunately Friday afternoon’s huge accident put paid to that. His injuries to his foot meant that the flexibility wasn’t there and caused him to knock the bike into the wrong gear in the middle of a corner. That led to a massive high-side that everybody saw, the great news is that he’ll be back Brno, and I think he is relieved to be leaving Sachsenring under his own steam. Kenny also turned in some decent lap-times during practice but we didn’t have the durability – as a mixture of what the bike and tyre package needed – for Kenny to be comfortable after the first third of the race.
“There is a lot to achieve during the summer break and the Factory will be working hard to continue development in the same direction. I think Bridgestone will have learnt valuable lessons this weekend, and a lot of positives from the performance of Shinya Nakano and the speed displayed during the practice sessions by all the Bridgestone racers.”
Toni Elias (Fortuna Yamaha Team) 12th: “I can’t be happy because it was a very difficult weekend and the circuit here really accentuated the injury problems I have had recently. We worked very hard all weekend, though, and this morning we made a big change to the bike which was positive but not quite effective enough. We have a good base now to work from at Brno and I am sure I can improve there. In the end I had an injection before the race and up until the final ten laps, when the effect wore off, I didn’t feel any pain. Of course I would have liked to have finished higher up, but the important thing is to keep scoring points and improving from race to race. The holidays have come just at the right time for me to recover properly from my injury and improve my fitness levels.”
Ruben Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team) 13th: “This morning we were a lot closer to the pace, but in the race we started a long way down because of our qualifying time. I was lucky not to get caught up in the crash on the first lap which saw Troy Bayliss (Honda) forced out. After the restart I rode the bike well and believe I learned quite a lot about the concept of how you need to ride a Yamaha. What I must do now is work on how to set up the bike. I am going to Andorra during the holidays to prepare for Brno and think that will be the last race of adaptation before I can really begin to attack.”
John Hopkins, Team Suzuki, DNF: “Well, I’m battered and bruised. I had one of the worst high-sides I’ve ever had on Friday and then came close to topping that one off this afternoon. It was my fault really. I’ve been taking a few painkillers that I’ve been getting from Dr Costa. I just tried to do the best I could and stick with the lead group, but unfortunately my foot was bandaged up and I just lost feeling in it. That was really dangerous because you are on the edge of the tyre so much here. With a broken foot, I just couldn’t feel it on the shifter and I tried to keep my foot clear but accidentally hit the lever on that corner, the bike shifted to second and then I was flying. Looks like I won’t be doing too much moto-crossing at home now. I was also planning to do some promotional events with Red Bull and Crescent during the break, but I need to be at home and recover for Brno. I went well there last year and I’m desperate to get a good result”
Alex Hofmann, Team Kawasaki, DNF: "It's very frustrating to be out of a 30-lap race after just 250 metres, especially my home Grand Prix, and it is not a good situation for the Kawasaki team. I made a good start and going into turn one Shakey Byrne was way too late on the brakes and I knew he would crash, so I opened some room for him. Then I flicked into the corner, it was open and clear, and then my rear end was gone when OJ hit me. I haven't got eyes in the back of my head. Shakey being late on the brakes is not the reason we crashed. I had a chance today to show what I could do, it's very disappointing."
Olivier Jacque, Team Kawasaki, DNF: "I'm sorry for Alex, I know how bad he must feel about this incident at his home race. In turn one Shakey Byrne came from behind, very hard on the brakes and crashed in front of Alex who just had to wait a moment to flick into the corner. I was behind and on the inside a little and able to turn into the corner, and then Alex had some room and turned in and we just touched, it was an unfortunate incident. It's very disappointing for me, I need to race and do laps and get more experience on the Kawasaki."
Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda , DNF: “Damn! When things are going wrong there’s not too much to say except I’m sorry, because the weekend hadn’t been going at all bad until qualifying. We were able to sort out the situation though because in the warm-up I felt good with the bike and the tyres and so I was confident for the race. Then I got caught up in the confusion at the first corner where several riders crashed out and I went really wide, almost stopping. I put my head down and tried to recover, and got good draught off Tamada but as I tried to pass him I went into the corner a bit too hard.”
Carlos Checa, Ducati MotoGP, DNF: "I'm very sorry because we worked a lot for all the weekend. It is slightly uphill in that area where I crashed and a little bumpy. I think I was a little bit late on the brakes there and probably a bit too strong. It went past the limit when I let the brakes off and the front lost contact."
Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland Race Classification: 1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 35’04.434: 2. Sete Gibernau (Honda) +0.685: 3. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +0.885: 4. Max Biaggi (Honda) +2.365: 5. Alex Barros (Honda) +2.855: 6. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) +4.557: 7. Marco Melandri (Honda) +12.269: 8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +14.849: 9. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) +23.489: 10. Makoto Tamada (Honda) +27.829: 11. KENNY ROBERTS JR (TEAM SUZUKI MOTOGP) +42.099: DNF. JOHN HOPKINS (TEAM SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification: 1. Rossi 236: 2. Melandri 116: 3. Gibernau 115: 4. Edwards 114: 5. Biaggi 113: 6. Barros 101: 7. Hayden 101: 8. Capirossi 72: 9. Nakano 65: 10. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 51