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MotoGPJapanOctober 5, 2003
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 13
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

Max Biaggi Wins as Honda Riders Net Top Four Places

Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) was way ahead of the controversy that was eventually to surround the Pacific Grand Prix as he won by 3.754 seconds from Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) in front of 56,000 Japanese race fans in fine autumn weather. But although Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) crossed the line third after barging his way past Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) on the final lap, the Japanese rider was later disqualified for what Race Direction described as "riding in an irresponsible manner."

This elevated Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) to third and Gibernau to fourth, the Spaniard having finished fifth before the authorities stepped in. Gibernau, who had not lodged a protest, later said, "I'm sure it's the correct decision, I don't want revenge or anything."

Gibernau was forced into the gravel trap after Tamada made contact with him in the downhill braking area to the second tunnel section, and although he did not fall off, the move was deemed sufficiently beyond usual forceful racing manoeuvres to warrant a disqualification.

Race director Paul Butler said, "We want to give a message to the riders that these things (MotoGP bikes) are fast, heavy and dangerous. We've spoken to the rider and there was an element of 'it's a fair cop' to his reaction."

Tamada's Pramac Honda Team appealed, but the appeal was thrown out by the FIM stewards. There was further off-track involvement when John Hopkins was served a ban from next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix for a first turn, first lap incident when he collided with Carlos Checa (Yamaha) and Troy Bayliss (Ducati). Hopkins' Suzuki Team appealed against the decision. That appeal was also thrown out.

On track, events were typically compelling. The first turn incident and subsequent evasive action taken by those unscathed deprived the riders stationed behind the chaos of getting in touch with the early leaders. Gibernau made it out of turn one in the lead with Biaggi tucked in behind him and Hayden, Rossi and Tamada in touch.

On lap three Biaggi took the lead from Gibernau and began to build a gap, which stood at 1.236 seconds on lap seven. Rossi was pushing hard in second having disposed of Hayden and Gibernau - hard enough to run wide at turn one on that lap and take to the gravel before rejoining the track in ninth place.

But then the reigning World Champion set a fastest lap of 1.48.885 seconds on lap 16 as he dug deep to make up the final few yards on Biaggi's immediate pursuers. He soon made short work of them, taking Tamada on lap 18, Hayden on lap 19 and then Gibernau two turns after disposing of his American Repsol team-mate.

Biaggi had by now carved out a 5.007 second lead over his pursuers and there was little even Rossi could do in the remaining four laps to put any real pressure on the leader, who was riding a composed and rapid race. He won with comparative ease, although no MotoGP win is ever easy.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 13
Japan Grand Prix at Motegi

1 Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons)
2 Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Sete Gibernau (Team Telefonica Movistar Honda)
5 Marco Melandri (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
6 Alex Barros (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
7 Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons)
8 Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro Team)
9 Shinya Nakano (d'Antin Yamaha Team)
10 Akira Ryo (Team Suzuki)
11 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Telefonica Movistar Honda)
1 Toni Elias (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
2 Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda)
3 Manuel Poggiali (MS Aprilia Team)
4 Yuki Takahashi (Dy Do Miu Racing Team)
5 Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Harc-Pro)
6 Randy De Punet (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
7 Naoki Matsudo (Yamaha Kurz)
8 Fonsi Nieto (Team Repsol Telefonica Movistar)
9 Alex Debon (Troll Honda BQR)
10 Choujun Kameya (Burning Blood RT)
12 Christian Gemmel (Kiefer Castrol-Honda Racing)
1 Hector Barbera (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
2 Casey Stoner (Safilo Oxydo-LCR)
3 Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot)
4 Stefano Perugini (Abruzzo Racing Team)
5 Steve Jenkner (Exalt Cycle Red Devil)
6 Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar jnr Team)
7 Mika Kallio (KTM-Red Bull)
8 Pablo Nieto (Master-MXOnda-Aspar Team)
9 Alex De Angelis ( Racing)
10 Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix)
13 Masao Azuma (Ajo Motorsports)
15 Simone Corsi (Team Scot)

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