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MotoGPPortugalSeptember 5, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
Grand Prix of the Portugal, Estoril

Rossi Wins With Tamada in A Strong Second Place

A crowd of 45,000 watched Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) ride to victory with Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V) riding on Bridgestone tyres finishing second with Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) third. The threatened thunderstorms never happened, but nor did the challenges expected from Sete Gibernau (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) and Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V). Sete was fourth and Max crashed out on the first lap.

Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)

Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)

Tamada made the most of his maiden pole position to fire his RC211V off the line in lightning fashion. But he didn’t make turn one in front of the pack. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) beat him into the right-hander with Max and Rossi right up with them.

As the close-quarter combat began with riders fighting desperately to stay in touch with the front-runners, it was Max who became the early casualty. He tangled with Capirossi at the uphill chicane and went down. Despite desperate efforts to pick up his machine and restart it, his Portuguese Grand Prix was over.

Rossi now led the pack with Tamada tucked in behind and Barros in fourth behind Marco Melandri (Yamaha). Melandri would eventually crash spectacularly at turn seven on lap eight while holding fifth. But Barros was up to third by lap two.

Both Tamada and Barros had little trouble holding their places for most of the race, although Gibernau’s attack on third place in the last two laps came closest to depriving Barros of his podium finish. But none of them could make any impression on leader Rossi.

Just after mid-race distance it looked like Tamada was reeling in Rossi. He’d reduced the gap to 2.4 seconds by lap 19 and the Japanese charger had taken half a second out of Rossi’s advantage on the previous lap. But by the closing stages it was back up to 4 seconds and was eventually 5.1 seconds at the flag.

There was frantic action for third place between Barros and Gibernau on the final lap. Sete had been struggling in the first section of the track and had made no real impression on Barros until lap 28 when he hung onto him and tried to ride round the outside of the Brazilian on the final turn.

Barros rode defensively and used all the track on the exit to squeeze Sete wide. Sete would not back off and he hit the dirt when he ran out kerb, kicking up a cloud of dust and popping a violent wheelie when his rear tyre bit on tarmac again. It was a typically brave move – but in vain.

Tamada was typically forthright in his assessment of the race. “The race was controlled by Valentino,” he said. “I tried really hard to catch him but he was simply faster and hard to chase. I had some problems with chatter but overall our tyre development is very good.”

Max was seething. “What can I say? What’s the point of talking to Capirossi. Three years ago he did the same thing to me on the last lap at Mugello and took out my front wheel. Did he want to do one lap or 28 laps? This is bad for me, but I still can’t say whether the World Championship is over for me or not.”

Alex Barros said, “I’m tired but happy. I tried to follow Valentino and Makoto but it was impossible. My tyres went off a little and I tried to keep my rhythm because I knew Sete was close. That was a very physically and mentally punishing race and this result is important after some of our recent results.”

Sete was never fully dialled-in here and admitted as much. “I had problems with settings since Friday especially in the first section of the track. We just couldn’t find a fix. I was losing seven tenths of a second in those first two turns and that was too much.”

Colin Edwards (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) finished ninth and said, “Chatter, chatter, chatter. I couldn’t push and my lap times were all the same – worse than ever. I went for a soft tyre to help cure the problem but it didn’t work and the bumps here just made everything worse.”

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) did not race after breaking his right collarbone last weekend in a training crash. He will ride at Motegi in two weeks time.

The World Championship points table now looks like this: Rossi 209 points, Gibernau 180, Biaggi 158, Edwards 111.

Tony Elias (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) won a riveting 250cc race from Sebastian Porto (Aprilia). An equally compelling fight for third place went to Randy de Puniet by 0.017 seconds from Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW).

Porto led into turn one from Pedrosa with Elias in close touch, but by lap two Elias and de Puniet had relegated Dani to fourth. Porto looked in command until lap seven when Elias began making serious inroads into his lead.

On lap ten Elias pounced and then managed to pull out a half second advantage on Porto. But that slender margin was to be short-lived. Porto gradually whittled it down and on lap 17 he eased past the young Spaniard.

But Elias was determined to see off his challenge and on lap 20 he muscled his way back into the lead after the pair had fought side-by-side and swapped the lead twice. But it was Elias who eventually prevailed to record his first win of this season and his first for Honda.

“Porto set a tough rhythm,” said Tony. “I had to wait for the right time to overtake him and then I went for it. I expected him to fight and he did. But I’ve been waiting for this win for a long time and things have not been easy for me and the team, so thanks to everyone for helping me to this victory.”

“My rear tyre was punctured by a nail,” said Dani. “I could tell something was wrong from lap one and I couldn’t do anything but give it my best efforts. I just hung on and got fourth. It’s not the result I wanted but at least I made it to the finish line.”

Alex Debon (Würth Honda BQR RS250R) finished eighth, Hiroshi Aoyama (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW) ninth and Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) was tenth.

Pedrosa still heads the overall points table with 209 points from Randy de Puniet with 182 and Porto on 173.

Team Scot’s perfect 125cc qualifying performance with Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) and Simone Corsi (Team Scot Honda RS125R) first and second on the grid did not translate into a winning race result. Both riders failed to finish.

The race win went to Dovizioso’s title rival Hector Barbera (Aprilia) after a tense battle with Mika Kallio (KTM) in the closing stages of the 23-lap contest. Jorge Lorenzo (Derbi) was third.

Dovizioso didn’t get off the line well, and Corsi led into turn one until Stoner slid past at the next corner and made the early running. But Dovizioso was scything through the field from eighth on lap one and by lap three he was in the lead.

Corsi was then eliminated from the race. The Italian ran into the back of Stoner’s machine on the exit of the final turn on lap five and crashed on the main straight when the KTM rider missed a gear. Stoner’s exhaust was damaged in the incident and he retired at the end of the straight as he began lap six.

On lap ten Dovizioso slowed with a puncture. He had held a 1.4 second lead over the pursuing Barbera, who now inherited the lead. Dovi then retired a lap later. Lukas Pesek (Ajo Motorsports Honda RS125R) was eighth and Dario Giuseppetti (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) 14th.

“I can’t blame anything for this except bad luck,” said Dovi. “A 4cm long screw went through my rear tyre. Everything was fine and I was set for a good result and then this happens. There’s nothing more to say.”

Barbera’s win now gives him a tally of 163 points in the title chase to leader Dovizioso’s 183. Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) has 154 and Lorenzo 125.

Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)

Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda (Bridgestone Tyres), 2nd:
“We were able to get the bike set up well and to eliminate the serious chattering that we got in the practices. It was a good start and the first part of the race I tried to contain the gap Valentino was pulling out. In the middle part of the race I made up some time and closed in on Rossi but he was going strong and got the race under control. I didn’t quite have that edge to make a final attack, but it was a good race anyway, great to start from the front and to be able to decide what movements to make. Motegi is up next, an important race because it’s my home. The place I most want to win.”

Gianluca Montiron, Camel Honda, (Makoto Tamada Team Manager):
“We’re delighted with Makoto’s race, we even began to think that he was going to catch up the race leader. The tyres have really made a step forward and the bike’s set-up was really good. We’re reaching that consistency which helps you go that extra mile: the extra three or four seconds on the race time which means you can compete with the leaders throughout. Now we go to a really important race for our Japanese rider; Motegi, and we want to back up the positive steps we have made in this race.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda Team, 3rd:
“I am so tired but very very happy. That was a very hard race from the start to finish. At the start I tried to follow Valentino and Tamada but it was impossible. My tyres go off a little and I tried to keep my rhythm. I knew Sete was very close. I didn’t need a pit board to tell this – I could hear him. I tried to reduce the pace in the middle of the race to conserve my tyres for the end. I defended my position and took the tight line wherever possible. It was a very physical and mental race but a race that was very important after some of the recent results. We need to build on this performance in preparation for the rest of the season. My team have worked very hard this weekend and I am very happy to be able to give them and my sponsors something to smile about!”

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 4th:
“We got what we deserved today because we’ve had a bad weekend in general and we’ve paid for it in the race. I made too many mistakes in qualifying, we changed the bike again for the race and we didn’t get it right. These things happen when everything is nort perfectly in its place and we have to learn from it.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 9th:
“The chattering was my biggest problem once again. It was worse than ever today and if you look at the lap times it was the same all the way through because I couldn’t push any harder. We chose a slightly softer tyre than Brno because there are more bumps here but even so I couldn’t do any more.”

Fausto Gresini, team manager:
“Sete gave his best but the setting wasn’t right for the race and his level is better than fourth. The whole weekend was tough and we lost precious time in the wet session. The important thing is that we are not beaten yet, even though the gap is increased. We will keep focused and fight for the championship until the end.”

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda (Michelin Tyres), Not finished first lap:
“Obviously I’m disillusioned with today’s events, even though I know it’s all part of racing. It was an involuntary accident which came about from a misunderstanding with Capirossi. He probably had a lot to do on the first lap, he was ahead of everyone from the first bend on the track. He was ahead and detached from the rest and he went very wide, going well outside the normal line on that turn. I was right behind and with Loris going wide, as well as slowly, I held my line as he closed the throttle suddenly. Trying not to crash into him I jammed on the brakes so hard that my rear tyre left the ground. We made contact then and I crashed. It’s a shame, today I was in the right shape to do a good race. I don’t want to think about the championship at the moment, but it’s obvious the situation is very difficult now. There are still five races left however and we will wait to see what happens.”

Sito Pons, Camel Honda (Team Principal):
“A very unfortunate race for Max and for the title challenge. Max had the necessary pace to fight for victory and his chances ended on the first lap, as well as making his title chances that bit slimmer, which is the main disappointment today. In any case, the team can celebrate a great second place for Makoto Tamada who rode a superb race. Now we must focus on the next race, to take the championship fight even further and recover some of those lost points.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda, dns:
Nicky Hayden did not start the race due to a broken collar bone sustained in his race crash at Brno.

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 11
Grand Prix of the Portugal, Estoril

1 Valentino ROSSI (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
2 Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)
3 Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
5 Carlos CHECA (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
6 John HOPKINS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
7 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
8 Troy BAYLISS (Ducati Marlboro Team)
9 Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
10 Norick ABE (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
11 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
12 Jeremy McWILLIAMS (MS Aprilia Racing)
13 Alex HOFMANN (Kawasaki Racing Team)
14 Kenny ROBERTS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
15 Nobuatsu AOKI (Proton Team KR)

Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)
1 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
2 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
3 Randy DE PUNIET (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
4 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
5 Alex DE ANGELIS (Aprilia Racing)
6 Anthony WEST (Freesoul Abruzzo Racing Team)
7 Manuel POGGIALI (MS ApriliaTeam)
8 Chaz DAVIES (Wurth Honda BQR)
9 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
10 Roberto ROLFO (Fortuna Honda)
11 Hector FAUBEL (refusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
12 Franco BATTAINI (Campetella Racing)
13 Eric BATAILLE (Wurth Honda BQR)
14 Jakub SMRZ (Molenaar Racing)
15 Dirk HEIDOLF (refusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
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