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MotoGPItalyJune 6, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 4
Italy Grand Prix at Mugello

Gibernau Takes Second as Rain Plays Havoc at Mugello

Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) rode a determined race to second place in awkward conditions as the scheduled 25-lap MotoGP was stopped and the results annulled because of rain. The restarted 6-lap race was won by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) with Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) third.

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot

The new regulations (introduced at the beginning of last season) state that the race order two complete laps before the stoppage determines the grid order for the restarted race. Rossi was leading the ‘first’ race when rain fell on lap 19 and the red flags came out. Gibernau was second and Max third and those three comprised the front row as the second 6-lap ‘sprint’ race began.

The track was part wet and part dry – the worst conditions imaginable. And most riders had opted for slick tyres as the 15 remaining racers assembled on the grid for the start. But the ‘first’ race had been an action-packed thriller played out in front of 85,000 baying Italian race fans.

Four riders fought it out in the early stages: Rossi, Biaggi, Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V) riding on Bridgestone tyres, and Gibernau. Rossi and Tamada exchanged the lead five times on lap seven. But Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) had a massive crash on the start/finish straight, amazingly without serious injury, when his rear tyre failed on lap 13. That same lap Tamada was forced to retire when he felt vibration from his rear tyre and wisely pulled off the track.

Gibernau and Rossi then slugged it out at the front as Max gradually lost touch. He had been struggling to find his customary speed here all weekend and ultimately was content with a rostrum in the second race. The Rossi versus Gibernau battle intensified on lap 17 when the two riders touched. Everything looked set for an epic contest until the rain shower spoiled the show.

But the restarted 6-lap race proved every bit as entertaining as the original as the remaining 15 riders sped into a wet turn one knowing that places lost early on in a six-lap sprint would prove very difficult to get back. Norick Abe (Yamaha) led the charge with Max, Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) and Sete Gibernau in close pursuit.

There were some early showings from unlikely candidates in the first three laps, Troy Bayliss was up at the front and so too was Ruben Xaus (both Ducati). But as the last two laps loomed, the front runners in the abandoned first race began to show their form again and come through the field.

The final race order was as it had been before the restart: Rossi, Gibernau, Biaggi. And Gibernau was realistic about events. “If the race had not been stopped – who knows what might have been,” he said philosophically. “I got two bad starts but came through and I’m leading the World Championship going into my home race at Catalunya. There won’t be so many Rossi-fans in yellow in the grandstands there!”

For Max it was a disappointing home race performance. “I’m just relieved to be on the podium,” he said. “To start a home race from sixth on the grid is not good enough – but this result is. It’s my fourth podium in four races and so my season is still very much alive. The team has been working hard to give me a good bike and I hope Catalunya is better for me.”

Alex Barros finished 6th. “In the first race I made a good start but at the first corner I made a mistake and lost positions. Then I concentrated hard and worked my way up the field – and then it rained. I could maybe have got a podium. The second race was crazy and I’m a bit disappointed after all the effort the team has put in this weekend.”

Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) finished 12th after struggling during qualifying. “I think I may have to think about my training methods,” said the Texan. My style is very front-end biased and I’m doing a lot of Supermotard training at the moment which may be affecting my riding style. So I’m going to change my training regime and see if that helps.”

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) fell in the first race while disputing fifth place with Marco Melandri (Yamaha) and so he was ineligible to start the second race. “Today was a big disappointment,” said the American. “I took a risk and I fell off. I feel bad for the team because the boys all worked so hard. Now we have a few days off before we start again at Barcelona.”

Tamada too was disappointed. “I want to battle at the front again,” said the Japanese. “The bike was perfect and I was at my absolute maximum. But the vibration that happened forced me to stop, which was too bad. But I want to be involved in races like that at the front every Sunday.”

Gibernau heads the pints table with 86 points, Rossi has 76 and Max 72. Alex Barros lies fourth with 48.

In the 250 class Sebastian Porto (Aprilia) won from Danny Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS250RW) after Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) broke down on the last lap to coast over the finish line in fourth. Manuel Poggiali (Aprilia) was third.

Pedrosa got the holeshot from the front row with pole-sitter Porto right on his rear wheel into turn one. De Puniet was right with them and the three soon made it clear they were going to fight this one out without further company. Poggiali was 2.3 seconds behind the trio by lap five.

The three took it in turns to lead the race, but in the closing stages it became clear that Pedrosa was not as comfortable with the pace as Porto and de Puniet. And by lap 18 he was just under one second adrift of the lead duo.

Porto looked strong enough to survive an attack by de Puniet – but that never came. And de Puniet’s wretched luck at Mugello continued. Last year he qualified on pole and crashed out while dicing for the lead. This year he was denied a certain second place – and possibly a win.

“I knew it would be a tough race,” said Pedrosa. “I was fighting in the lead group but the front tyre couldn’t take it so I decided to hold my advantage over Poggiali and make sure of the podium, even though de Puniet’s problem at the end allowed me to take second.”

Tony Elias (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) was sixth and said, “I’m not happy with my position or my time. But the bike feels better with every race and we have improved a lot – but I’m never happy unless I’m in the lead group and fighting to win. But my arm, which has been a problem, is now much better.”

Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) could only manage seventh. “I had a big problem with the engine,” he said. “It would rev but it wouldn’t pull and I could only stay with the privateer Aprilias – and that’s not good. On the fast turns I could make up ground but then I lost it all again on the straights.”

The World Championship points table now shows de Puniet leading the series with 73 points, Pedrosa second on 70 and Porto now entering the fray with 50.

Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) won a thrilling 125 race when Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) looked to have the advantage on the final turn before the finish. But a slide put paid to his chances of victory and the veteran Locatelli was in the right place at the right time to take the win from Casey Stoner (KTM) who was second with Hector Barbera (Aprilia) third.

This was a hard race with riders five abreast on the 1.14km main straight. The struggle was so intense that Pablo Nieto (Aprilia) chopped in front of Dovizioso on lap 16 with such menace that he actually clipped the Italian’s front wheel – a puff of smoke was ample evidence of the forceful manoeuvre.

Eight riders formed the leading group for much of the race, but as the final laps loomed this number got whittled down to five – with anyone capable of taking the win. Locatelli, the only rider on the grid to have won at Mugello, did it again this year having won here in 1999 and 2000.

“I made a mistake on the last turn,” said Dovizioso. “I should have been second because I don’t think I could have caught Locatelli. Some riders did some strange things and it was a hard race – but a wonderful race too.”

Simone Corsi (Team Scot Honda RS125R) finished 11th and said. “I lost too much time in the early laps. Normally I can go fast early in a race on the tyres I had but today I just didn’t get into a rhythm quick enough.”

The World Championship points table now looks like this: Dovizioso leads with 76 points, Locatelli has 73 and Casey Stoner lies third with 55. The fifth race of the season is in Catalunya, Spain next weekend.

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda

Alex BARROS, Repsol Honda Team

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 2nd:
“To finish second after such a nice battle with Valentino and to still be leader of the World Championship is an incredible result for me. I am happy with all the work we have done this weekend and with the feeling I’ve had – now I’m looking forward to going to Barcelona, where the fans should enjoy themselves as much as the Italians here today. I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. In the first part of the race I recovered from a bad start and just when it seemed like a head to head between myself and Valentino, it started to rain. It was another tough battle in the last six laps and I’m satisfied with the result. Congratulations to Valentino”.

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda (Michelin Tyres) 3rd :
“You could say that I’m happy to be on the podium in my home race, especially after having started in sixth place on the grid and after a not so easy weekend as regards the set-up of the bike. I could probably also say though that I’m unhappy about the fact that we were never in a position to battle for victory with Sete and Valentino. In the parts of the track where I have always been strong, the two “arrabbiate” corners and the fast esses, I was impeded by a sharp vibration which meant I couldn’t keep the best line and this made me lose tenth after tenth, whilst on the straight, the engine was really powerful. The second race was incredible; we set off with slicks and in the first bend it was like a lake, whilst in other parts of the track there was less standing water. This is an important podium, the situation in the overall standings is wide open, and I have basically the same distance in points to the top position as Rossi had before Mugello. In Barcelona however I need to do well, and I want to get my revenge.”

Sito Pons – Camel Honda (Team Principal):
“It was an exciting Sunday, and as we expected, the yellow RC211V of the Camel Honda team were involved in all the action. Max did some great work and even went into the second part of the race risking everything by riding in the rain with slicks. I also feel so sorry for Makoto becase in the first part he did some fantastic things. Next week in Catalunya it will be another important race for us, where we’ll do our best once more.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda Team: 6th:
The final result is very disappointing. In the first race I made a good start but at the first corner made a mistake and I lost many positions. Then I concentrated hard and worked my way up the field; then the rain comes. I was catching Max. We had five laps left. Who knows? It could have been a podium. In the second race the conditions were crazy. On one corner for one lap it was dry; the next lap was wet. Each lap it changed a little. I guess I needed to be more aggressive. I was leading then I ride a little bit smooth in the conditions and many come past. I’m really disappointed as all the effort the whole team has put in all weekend is really for nothing. The bike felt good and we have a really good set-up. We have to start again in Barcelona.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica MoviStar Honda: 12th:
“I can’t say anything about the result… The only positive thing is that here in Mugello I have understood the reason behind some of my problems this year. I think it’s important to change my preparation and go back to training by doing some motocross and dirt-track. I have changed too many things this year, but I’m confident that I’ll find the right solution soon.”

Fausto Gresini (team manager):
“It was a strange and difficult race and I think that the two starts didn’t help us at all, but don’t let me take anything away from Sete’s second place; it’s a great result for us. We fought to take victory again and we still lead the championship after a very difficult weekend. For Colin I only want to say that the team’s aims are to give him all the support we can, and hope that we can all find the right way soon so that he can be at the front.”

Nicky Haydon, Repsol Honda Team: DNF:
“Today was a big disappointment really. Everything felt real good in the warm-up this morning. In the race I made an okay start and got a little held up by Capirossi in the beginning. A few guys came by and I felt real comfortable. Me and Melandri went past each other a couple of time, then I made the pass stick. There was a little gap to the leaders so I just had to go for it. There was now way I was going to sit and watch them disappear. The bike felt good; I just had to go for it. Those are just decisions you have to make. I took a risk and I fell off. I feel bad for the team. The boys all worked so hard. At least we only have a few days off before we have another crack at it in a week.”

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda (Bridgestone Tyres) –Retired in the first part of the race
“The duel with Rossi was fantastic. That’s how I always want to ride. The bike was perfect and I was riding at the limit. I’m so unhappy about having to retire, but the vigorous vibrations from the rear tyre as I came out of the Bucine corner became really worrying as I came down the straight. I knew something not quite right was going on with the rear tyre, and I preferred to stop. It’s a real shame, because it was a fantastic Sunday.”

Gianluca Montiron, Camel Honda, (Makoto Tamada Team Manager) :
“Exiting the last bend before the start-finish straight, Makoto noticed a strange vibration in the rear which increased a lot as he went down the straight itself. After a slight off-track moment at the San Donato corner, Makoto decided to shut off the gas and retire from the race because the rear tyre anomaly was becoming worrying. The engineers will now do an exhaustive analysis to find the issue. I have to thank the squad for the competitiveness we showed with our RC211V and Makoto for having given us some unforgettable moments in the battles he had as he became the star of the first part of the race.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 4
Italy Grand Prix at Mugello

1 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
2 Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
3 Max Biaggi (Camel Honda)
4 Troy BAYLISS (Ducati Marlboro Team)
5 Ruben XAUS (D'Antin MotoGP)
6 Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)
7 Norick ABE (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
8 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
9 Marco MELANDRI (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
10 Shane BYRNE (MS Aprilia Racing)
11 Ruben XAUS (D'Antin MotoGP)
12 Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
13 Nobuatsu AOKI (Proton Team KR)
14 Alex HOFMANN (Kawasaki Racing Team)

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot
1 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
2 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
3 Manuel POGGIALI (MS ApriliaTeam)
4 Randy DE PUNIET (Safilo Carrera)
5 Fonsi NIETO (Aspar Team 250cc)
6 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
7 Roberto ROLFO (Fortuna Honda)
8 Alex DE ANGELIS (Aprilia Racing)
9 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
10 Anthony WEST (Freesoul Abruzzo Racing Team)
11 Joan OLIVE (Campetella Racing)
12 Franco BATTAINI (Campetella Racing)
13 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Campetella Racing)
14 Hector FAUBEL (Grefusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
15 Alex DEBON (Wurth Honda BQR)
1 Roberto LOCATELLI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
2 Casey STONER (Red Bull KTM)
3 Hector BARBERA (Seedorf Racing)
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
5 Mirko GIANSANTI (Matteoni Racing)
6 Pablo NIETO (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
7 Steve JENKNER (Rauch Bravo)
8 Mattia PASINI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
9 Gino BORSOI ( Racing)
10 Jorge LORENZO (Caja Madrid Derbi Racing)
11 Simone CORSI (Kopron Team Scot)
12 Andrea BALLERINI (Sterilgarda Racing )
13 Gino BORSOI ( Racing)
14 Dario GIUSEPPETT (Elit Grand Prix)
15 Lukas PESEK (Ajo Motorsport)
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