Lane News Editorial
Babes Builders Riders Racing News
2004 Superbike World Championship
Superbike & Supersport World Championship
Marlboro Team Ends Amazing MotoGP Rookie Year on the Podium
This has been an incredible year for the Ducati Marlboro Team. At the end of its first GP season in more than three decades Ducati has taken second in the constructors’ World Championship, the Ducati Marlboro Team has secured third in the teams’ championship, while Capirossi and Bayliss ended up fourth and sixth in the riders’ World Championship.
Other results from the factory’s remarkable rookie MotoGP season include one victory, nine podium finishes, three pole positions and 14 front-row starts. The team’s Desmosedici was also the fastest bike of 2003, exceeding 332kmh at June’s Italian GP and once again heading the top-speed chart here.
“Today’s race ends an amazing first season for us,” said Ducati Marlboro Team director Livio Suppo. “I’d like to thank everyone involved, from the riders and the team to everyone at the factory, as well as our technical partners, including Shell Advance and Michelin. The fact that we didn’t have a single mechanical failure in a race all year is a testament to our engineers and the people at Shell. Loris did an incredible job today, Troy had more of a struggle after his crash on Friday.”
Ducati Marlboro Team technical director Corrado Cecchinelli also expressed his satisfaction at his team’s 2003 season. “The year was better than we expected,” he said. “And we’ve completed it with another podium at a track which wasn’t supposed to be so good for our bike. Everyone in this project has worked so hard this season, during which it’s always been hard to find a balance between making small improvements for the next race and concentrating on more important improvements for the future. We always try to take the long-term view, so we hope to make a good step forward for next year. We test here next week, though we’ve no major new parts to try. Our first real test with our 2004 development bike will probably take place at Sepang in February.”
Capirossi Scores 81st Podium In 200th GP
“I’m very, very happy – a fantastic result and a great way to end the year,” said Capirossi, who has claimed 81 podium finishes in his 14-year GP career that spans the 125, 250, 500 and MotoGP classes. “The podium result allowed me to have a bit of a party after my 200th race and it also gives us great motivation to take us into winter testing. I’d like to thank Marlboro, Ducati and everyone else who believed in this project. I signed with Ducati because I believe in them. I’m delighted with the way we’ve worked together, they react so quickly when we want new parts or any other improvements. It’s been an unforgettable year – one win plus many podiums and front-row starts.
“I got a great start today and gave my everything during the early laps. When Valentino and Sete passed me they were just a bit faster, but I always had Biaggi under control.”
Bayliss Just 2 Points Shy of Rookie of the Year
“Today was satisfactory – it was just nice to finish a race after a few up and down weeks,” said Bayliss who crashed out of his home race two weeks ago. “The crash at Phillip Island wasn’t good, then I had another crash here during qualifying. Even today things were a bit hectic, I had a few dramas and we had something missing with the suspension that used the tyre about nine laps from the finish. Seventh wasn’t too bad but it’s a pain to have missed fifth in the championship by a couple of points. I’ve really enjoyed this year, well, most of it, and I’m really looking forward to testing and building an even better bike for next season. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who’s helped us along the way – in the team, at the factory, all our technical partners – you know who you are!”
Carlo Fiorani, Repsol Honda Team Sporting Manager-“Everyone in this room knows; indeed anyone with even the slightest interest in motorcycle racing around the world will know that we at Honda have been in contract negotiations with Valentino Rossi’s management for much of this season. We at Honda have done everything in our power to secure Valentino’s services for next year. In the end we understand that it is not about money, sponsor obligations or any of the standard issues that are negotiated over in more general contract discussions. The area we have had difficulty in, is one of providing Valentino with a new challenge and it is an area we at Honda totally understand. This is totally a Valentino choice.
career Valentino has moved onto a new challenge every season and in
the end, it is this that Valentino seeks. In many ways his driving
force is reflected in the spirit of this great company. Soichiro Honda
who founded the business over 50 years ago understood and rejoiced
in this spirit. So, on the evening of the final Grand Prix of 2003,
and Valentino’s 64th with Honda, we announce officially today
that Honda and Valentino Rossi will not be renewing any contract for
the 2004 season.
I’d like to publicly thank Valentino for all the success and fun we’ve had over the last four years. The Honda / Rossi partnership has been an incredible one. Together we have won three World Championships, three Manufacturers Titles and 33 races in four very special years. We have had this situation before when riders either move teams or retire. Mike Hailwood, Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan and now Valentino Rossi. On behalf of all at Honda, the racing community and fans world-wide I thank you for your efforts Valentino and I wish you well in the future and we look forward to the challenge of 2004 and beyond!”
Together we start in 2000 with a new challenge with the 500. There were many problems to start with. Straightaway we were working with HRC and it as amazing. To work with HRC for a rider is like a dream. If you are able to give the right information to the engineers they are able to change. At the end of the first year we arrive in second position in the championship and take more podiums than anyone else.
The next year I have a new NSR – after six or seven years of the old NSR. We win 11 races and the championship. It was a great championship as it was the last of the 500’s. The 500cc was the story of the sport. To win the last 500cc race was like a dream. Maybe one of the best races of my career.
After, we sign a new contract and we start another time from zero with the new 4 –stroke. I first ride at Suzuka in 2001 in August. It was already a good bike. But even at the beginning I was wondering if it was as good as the 500’s as it was not as fast. We work hard and the bike was ready for the first GP and we win. At the end of last season the Yamaha was at the same level and we make a good step over the winter in testing and arrive this season in good shape.
This year was great for me. We make many emotional races. We had a good second part of the championship. At a point after Sepang the idea arrived about making a change because we win in the dry, we win in the wet, we win at circuits I like and like today, we win at circuits I have not had such good luck at in the past. We finish our work with the bike.
So, we don’t
race together next year. I try a new challenge. Maybe to make this
choice at this point is a little mad. We see next year if it is possible
or not. For sure all the fans will be happy, as it will make a great
show! Unforgettable our time together. The HRC engineers, and all
my friends at Honda.
MotoGP Grand Prix at Circuito Ricardo Tormo, Final Round 16 of 16
Valencia Italy, Nov. 1-2nd, 2003 -The final MotoGP race of the 2003 World Championship season, held at Valencia Spain, was dominated by recently crowned world champion Valentino Rossi (Honda). The Italian stamped his authority on the main event, and the championship, with a clean and consistent performance. After breaking the tow of Sete Gibernau (Honda), Loris Capirossi (Ducati), Max Biaggi (Honda) and Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team) – the quintet eventually finishing first to fifth respectively – Rossi went on to take the final race win of the year by 0.681 seconds.
Qualifying Saturday - Rossi Sets Fastest Lap Ever
This fastest ever lap of the 4.005km circuit came late in the session, after two of Valentino’s great championship rivals from the early season, Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) and Loris Capirossi (Marlboro Ducati) had beaten his previous best from the first qualifying session on Friday, temporarily displacing Rossi to third on the timesheets. Rossi had regained the advantage near the end yet still pushed to the edge even at the very end of the session, to ensure his pole position.
Gibernau, guaranteed second in the championship already, matched his finishing position by securing second in qualifying, with Capirossi third and Rossi’s ever-more impressive team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) in fourth spot. Hayden had been fast all weekend, and was the biggest threat to Rossi for the majority of the two hours of timed qualifying. He was also the first of the top riders to secure a time faster than his Friday best, after only ten minutes of the final hour.
Max Biaggi (Camel
Pramac Pons RC211V) was the only rider out on the same final lap as
the late charging Rossi, but could make no impact on the front row
places, finishing sixth, behind top Yamaha rider Carlo Checa. Colin
Edwards (Aprilia) and Alex Barros (Yamaha) went seventh and eighth,
in a field of 23 riders.
For Rossi the Valencia circuit has seldom been kind but this year he has made his intentions clear from the outset. “The last lap was very, very good,” said the understated Rossi. “I used two qualifiers, the first wasn’t so good but the second one was very good. Usually I find this track harder than the others but so far so good and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Gibernau, who has won four races so far this season, put in his usual fighting performance, and is pleased with his work so far on one of his home circuits. “We are pushing hard and fighting to win,” said Gibernau. “The bike is working very well but tomorrow’s race will be difficult. We are fighting for a podium at every race so we are doing OK. I have mixed emotions because I have already got second place in the championship but the home crowd will stop me from relaxing and keep me pushing.”
Hayden was delighted
with his front row start, a new landmark in the rookie rider’s
Biaggi was mystified by the lack of lap time but looks to the race itself for salvation. “I’m not very happy today,” said the four-time 250cc champion. “Compared to the winter tests we did here, our time is worse. It’s not that I don’t like the track because last year I was on pole. Tomorrow I’ll have to try really hard to stay in contention but at least the tyre choice is already made.”
Loris Capirossi (65) lead the first two laps on the Ducati Desmodici ahead of Rossi (46), American Nicky Hayden (69) who crashed on lap 5, and Stte Giberneau (15).
Race: Rossi fights off challanges
Rossi is now looking for a new challenge after scoring the highest ever points tally of 357 in the blue ribband class. He beat the previous record (his own) by two points and has now scored 22 consecutive podium finishes equalling the record set by Giacomo Agostini from 1967 to 1969. The Italian ace will leave Honda to try and repeat his phenomenal success with another factory next season after achieving all he felt he could with the most successful factory in Grand Prix racing.
The sun was out and the wind that had caused big problems for riders on Thursday, and to a lesser extent Friday, had dropped significantly. The track temperature was 30 degrees and the ambient temperature 22. Rossi started from pole after pulverising the opposition with a 1m 32.478s qualifying lap and he led into turn one when the lights went green at 2:00 this afternoon. With 30 tortuous laps of the 4.005km Ricardo Tormo Circuit ahead of him, he was in no mood to make the race last any longer than it had to. He wanted a win and he wanted it fast.
But Capirossi fired his Ducati past him at turn two on the opening lap and Rossi responded by blasting past Capirossi on the next lap as the riders gradually shifted into an early race order. That order was Rossi, Capirossi, Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V), Gibernau, Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) and Carlos Checa (Yamaha).
But then Hayden lost the back end of his RC211V on lap four and hit the dirt. But the American, who collected the coveted Rookie of the Year title here after the race, held onto the bars as the bike spun and then was on his feet with the RC211V upright again almost before they had come to rest. He restarted the bike and rejoined the race – in 20th place. Hayden eventually finished 16th.
Out front Rossi was finding it hard to shake off the man who has posed him the most problems this season: Sete Gibernau. The Spaniard eventually made it past Rossi briefly on lap 11, but that was to be his only experience of leading this contest. Rossi turned up the heat and pulled out a gap of 0.250 seconds, a significant margin after they had been locked in close combat for ten laps. But Gibernau responded with a fastest lap of the race so far at 1m 33.657s and it looked as if this would be a battle on a par with the epic tussles at Welkom, Le Mans and the Sachsenring between these Championship rivals.
But Rossi, as
so often, had more to give and on lap 21 he scorched round the track
in 1m 33.518s to set a fastest lap aimed at breaking Gibernau’s
spirit. The gap between the two now stood at just over half a second.
But the Spaniard, as he showed many times this year, was never going
to lie down and meekly accept the inevitable. He came back again with
a 1m 33.404s circuit on lap 23 to keep the fight alive.
Rossi eased off on his final lap to pull a monumental stand-up wheelie across the line to sign off his Honda days in style. “I’ve never won at this track before,” said Rossi. “And this is a really good feeling this time. The weekend was perfect with the pole position but today was hard because Sete is in good shape and riding well. This has been a great season for MotoGP.”
Gibernau was typically generous to Rossi. “This race resembles the picture of the whole year,” he said. “Battling away until the end of each race and this Championship. It was a fun race at a high pace but in the final laps I started losing a few tenths of seconds as the bike started moving around a bit more. I’ve been competitive in races this year and to end the Championship in second is not bad.”
Hayden was disappointed. “I got a good start, felt good and was going good,” he said. “Then I got a little bit too excited and got into turn two a bit hot. It was a stupid mistake and I’ve got to learn from that. I’m really not happy about it because I was running strong.”
Max Biaggi is looking forward to another year on the RC211V after his fourth-place finish today and conceded that this year had been tough. “I had trouble with engine braking today and after five laps I had to brake deep into the turns and that destroyed my front tyre,” he said. “I knew this year would be hard and now I’m looking forward to another season with Honda.”
His team-mate Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) had a luckless time, the Japanese was punted into the gravel by Shinya Nakano (Yamaha) on lap five. “Nakano hit me from behind,” said the disappointed man. “This result is dreadful.”
Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) finished tenth after starting from the fourth row of the grid. “The race conditions were hotter than yesterday,” said the Japanese rookie. “And that suited us. I was in good shape for the race and enjoyed a bit of overtaking. So the Championship is finished for this year and in some ways I’m cross with myself as a rider, but overall things have been good.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) finished 14th. “Valencia is the end of MotoGP for me,” said the debutant. “But it has been like a fantastic dream. I’ve learnt a great deal of technical knowledge about the RC211V and that will be very useful for me. I’m happy about the success the team has had and I thank Fausto Gresini and everyone for my time with them.”
The final points standings show Rossi, the World Champion with 357, Gibernau with 277 and Max Biaggi on 228. Nicky Hayden finished a creditable fifth overall with 130.
and Poggiali Win 250cc race and tile for Aprilia
The major result
was that Manuel Poggiali (Aprilia) finished third to clinch the 250cc
World Championship after crashing heavily in the morning warm-up.
He rode clear of the chasing pack by lap five and circulated on his
own to cross the line and secure his first 250 crown to add to the
125cc Championship he won in 2001.
The final World Championship points table finished like this: Poggiali 249, Rolfo 235, Tony Elias 226. Poggiali is the third youngest 250 World Champion aged 20 behind Marco Melandri and Valentino Rossi.
Race to Stoner, Title to Pedrosa
Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) was eighth after running off the track at the final turn too. The Italian Honda man was in the running for fifth place at least when he overshot. Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS125R) was not racing, but the injured World Champion was on hand to watch Masao Azuma (Ajo Motorsports Honda RS125R) finish his last race in 15th. The Japanese stalwart concludes his career with a tally of 10 wins and a third place overall in the 1999 World Championship. He has been riding in Grands Prix since 1996.
The final 125cc World Championship standings show Pedrosa home clear with 223 points, with Alex de Angelis just pipping Stefano Perugini (both Aprilia) for second overall with 166 points to Perugini’s 162. Sandwiched between them is third-placed Hector Barbera with 164.