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MotoGPMalaysiaOctober 10, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 14
Grand Prix of Malaysia, Sepang

Rossi’s Race, but Biaggi and Barros on Podium


This was a typically hard MotoGP encounter in oppressive heat and after 21-laps of the demanding 5.548km Sepang circuit it was Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who prevailed. But the race marks a return to form for Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) who was second, and Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) who finished third.



Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)


Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)


Barros had qualified well in second on the front row and made his start count as he headed the pack into turn one. Rossi was on his tail with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) lying third.

This was only the beginning of a trial of speed and strength in 33-degree heat and with a track temperature at 55-degrees. The pace, as it has been all season, was searing, despite the conditions. The top men were reeling off laps in the low 2m 4 second bracket.

By lap three the top six of Barros, Rossi, Max, Carlos Checa (Yamaha), Nicky and Sete Gibernau (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) had made a break from the pack and as the half dozen top early runners fought for every centimeter of this 25m wide track, Rossi slipped past Barros on lap four.

By lap six Max was up to second after making a great start from the third row of the grid. Barros lay third with his team-mate Hayden close with him. Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V), riding on Bridgestone tyres, was at this stage eighth. Colin Edwards (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) lay 11th – and he was to finish there too.

By lap 11 Rossi had a 1.3 second advantage over Max, but in the second half of the race Max, who was now fully into a race rhythm he’s been struggling to find in qualifying, made inroads into Rossi’s lead.

He reduced the deficit to under a second and looked like he could mount a late charge before Rossi stretched his lead in the final laps. The man who was making up places was Tamada. The Japanese ace first picked off Checa for seventh and then went after Gibernau for sixth.

He made it past the World Championship challenger on lap 18 and then began work on Loris Capirossi (Ducati), making it past the experienced Italian on the last lap to finish fifth.

Max was buoyed by his podium finish after a run of rotten luck. “It looks like there’s some light at the end of a very black tunnel,” he said. “I really wanted a podium after a few crashes deprived me of points. It’s not easy to overtake here because you can make mistakes on the brakes. This 20 points is good, but I’m looking for 25.”

Barros was content enough with third. “I tried to follow the two guys when they got in front,” said the Brazilian. “Under these conditions after half race distance I began losing the front-end so I just tried to keep a rhythm and finish in the points. I couldn’t do better than this today.”

Hayden still wants more after his fourth place here. “I was riding really aggressively this morning and all felt good. But there was no way I could be so aggressive in the race. I got a good start, which I was overdue this season. In the end I guess it was a respectable fourth and now I’m looking forward to getting to Phillip Island.”

Tamda was realistic about his fifth place. “In the first few laps I was not on the pace,” he said. “It was hard to achieve a rhythm. The temperature was higher and that should have been good for me – but it didn’t turn out like that. Now for Australia.”

Sete was crestfallen after finishing seventh and losing momentum in his bid for the World Championship. “In pre-season testing here I was lapping in 2 minutes 3 seconds and today the best was 2 minutes 5 seconds. I couldn’t turn the bike properly because of rear chatter and I couldn’t push. I just couldn’t fight that today.”

Edwards in 11th said, “I’m really disappointed. I just couldn’t do anything because of the chatter that affected us. The only thing I can do is go to Phillip Island and make up for this.”

Rossi now holds a significant advantage in the World Championship title race. He has 254 points to Gibernau’s 224. Gibernau must now hope that Rossi fails to score in Australia and the Spaniard wins himself. The gap would then be down to five points with everything to ride for in the final round in Valencia three weeks time.

Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW) did everything in his considerable powers to tie up his first 250cc World Championship in his maiden season by winning here – but his efforts were foiled by his title rival Sebastian Porto (Aprilia) who finished second to scoop enough points to keep his late bid for honours alive. Tony Elias (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) was third.

Dani got the holeshot into turn one and was never headed throughout the 20-lap race. And by lap two the top three finishers, including at this stage Alex de Angelis (Aprilia), were already 3.4 seconds ahead of the second group headed by Hiroshi Aoyama (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW).

Aoyama would eventually crash out on lap 16 while de Angelis finished fourth, 11.4 seconds behind Elias. Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) fell on lap one with Anthony West (Aprilia) while Alex Debon (Würth Honda BQR RS250R) crashed out on lap nine.

Dani’s title chances swung in the balance as Porto and Elias diced it out throughout the race. The duo swapped second place countless times in the race as Dani sped into the distance. By lap ten the 19-year old Honda protégé held a 10.8 second lead over his forlorn pursuers.

Barring mistakes, and Dani is as error-free as any rider has a right to be, Pedrosa had the race in the bag – but not his title. With a lead the length of the 980m main straight, Dani could even have afforded to roll off the gas in the closing stages. But he kept his speed and his concentration going to press home his complete domination of this race.

“We did a good race,” said Dani. “My rhythm was good because I had a really good bike today, very constant, and with good tyres – even though we were all sliding at the end. Now we go to Phillip Island in a week and we’ll hope to do better than last year there.” Dani crashed and broke both ankles in the 125cc class having wrapped up his title here in Sepang.

Tony Elias said, “Pedrosa was very fast – impossible to follow. I had a real fight with Porto and he was too strong today as well. I tried to look at his lines to see where I could pass him. I thought I might be able to do it at the last turn, but he was too quick. We all had rear grip problems, but it’s good to at least be on the podium.”

With Dani sitting on a 48-point lead with two rounds of this 16-race World 250cc Championship remaining, he only needs a 14th place finish in Australia to score three points and clinch the title.

Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) secured his first World Championship title when he finished second to Casey Stoner (KTM) in the 125cc race. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) was third.

Dovi tried his utmost for the win having shadowed Stoner from lap three of this hard-fought contest. But even the mighty efforts of this emerging Italian star weren’t enough to steal past the determined Stoner.

Andrea’s only real challenger for the title, Hector Barbera (Aprilia), fell on lap two while leading. And with Barbera out of the running Dovi’s task was made simpler. But Stoner, who had gone six races without scoring points, was in no mood to be deprived and the canny Dovi was never going to spoil his chance of wrapping up the title with any rash manoeuvres.

The pair were the only real contenders for the win having stretched out a 9.55 second lead over Bautista by lap ten. And although Bautista began reeling them in during the closing laps, the fight was a straight affair between two hard riders.

Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) who had thrown away his title challenge a week ago in Qatar when he fell on the last lap, was fourth. Julian Simon (Angaia Racing Honda RS125R) was sixth while Dovi’s team-mate Simone Corsi (Team Scot Honda RS125R) fell on the opening lap. Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) finished just outside the top ten in 11th.

“What an emotional day,” said Dovi. “It won’t sink in for a bit, it’s actually very confusing emotionally because a lot of people expected me to win this title here. The track had changed since yesterday and on hard compound tyres we were sliding a lot, and were two or three seconds slower than in qualifying. I played it safe on the last lap and tried to pass Stoner, but I couldn’t get him.”

The World Championship points table now shows Dovi with an unassailable 248 points and the title in the bag with two races remaining. Locatelli has 169 and Bautista 167 making the struggle for second-place overall a tight affair with Jorge Lorenzo (Derbi), who retired from the race, still in touch on 159 points.



Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda)


Max Biaggi, Camel Honda (Michelin Tyres), 2nd:
“It wasn’t an easy race because I had to come from behind on the grid and I needed a good start. I did quite well, but then I had to pass Nicky, Checa and Barros, three real battlers in the early stages and with fresh tyres. We all made errors, the conditions were really extreme, but in the end I managed to get by. I lost time however and had taken a lot out of the tyres. When I cut the gap to Rossi to a second I had a couple of surprises which made me realise how close to the limit we were, both he and I. In any case today he rode very well and I think he would have won anyway. I want to thank my team and Honda again, because together we have done a good job and we have returned to the podium after three tough races.”

Sito Pons, Camel Honda (Team Principal):
“After two unlucky races, Max reacted, and today in Sepang he took second place in a tough and challenging race. In this morning’s warm-up we made a step forwards in terms of the bike’s set-up compared to yesterday and Max showed a race pace which meant he was able to fight for the win. With Makoto in fifth, we saw two Camel riders in the top five, so a good team result. I hope we can do similarly good races in the final two races of the season.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda, 3rd:
“At the beginning of the race we had some problem with the front tyre – the temperature increase has been so much over the practice days. I suffered a little more than I expected. Halfway through the race I nearly lose the front two or three times so I just try to keep concentrated and keep my rhythm. Over the last few races we have had some real bad luck with running off the track and not getting the results I know we are capable of. Today I am just happy to be able to get on the podium; it is the best we can expect today.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda, 4th:
“It was so hot out there. The heat really changed the grip levels on the track from how it had been all weekend. It felt really greasy. The last few days I’ve really been improving my pace – the team has done a real good job and we’ve really seen a step-up. I was riding really aggressively this morning and it all felt good. We were bottoming out on the forks a little under braking so we made some adjustments but they was no way I could be so aggressive in the race. I got an awesome start – which I was due this season but locked up a bit on the back straightaway. In the end I guess it was a respectable fourth and I’m looking forward to getting on to Phillip Island.”

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda (Bridgestone tyres), 5th:
“The clutch worked well at the start, but in the early stages I wasn’t as competitive as I should have been and the other went better. With a poor start to the race you get stuck in the middle of the traffic and you have to fight back without being able to get into a rhythm. With a much higher temperature than the other days, I thought I would be in a better shape than the others, but it wasn’t to be. I wanted more from this race. Now we go to Australia, with very different weather conditions, but we will do our best to go well.”

Giulio Bernardelle, Camel Honda, (Makoto Tamada’s Technical Director):
“Unfortunately Makoto didn’t get a good start, something which affected his whole race. With the lap times he was setting in the final laps, made us all realize that if Makoto had been up there at the beginning with the front runners he could have kept up their pace. This morning we improved the bike’s set-up and the heat, which was higher than the other two days, favored our consistency over the whole race. So we are a little sad, but fifth place today is still important nevertheless.”

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 7th:
“I don’t want to start looking for excuses – we’ve had a bad weekend in general, both myself and the team. Things haven’t gone well for us this weekend – we were unable to solve the problems we had in qualifying and the situation got worse in the race. Despite everything we have to keep working and never lose hope.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 11th:
“I am disappointed with this result because the chattering problem has prevented me from setting a fast pace all weekend. Hopefully I’ll have a better feeling in Australia at a circuit which I love and I’ll be able to be fighting for a top result again.”

Fausto Gresini (team manager):
“This result was a real shame because it was the most difficult race for Sete in a decisive weekend for the championship. Now the gap is bigger and everything becomes very complicated. Now we have to study what went wrong and try and do better in Australia.”


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 14
Grand Prix of Malaysia, Sepang


line
MotoGP
1 Valentino ROSSI (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
2 Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)
3 Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
5 Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)
6 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
7 Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
8 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
9 Carlos CHECA (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
10 Troy BAYLISS (Ducati Marlboro Team)
11 Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
12 Norick ABE (Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3)
13 Ruben XAUS (D'Antin MotoGP)
14 Yukio KAGAYAMA (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
15 Jeremy McWILLIAMS (MS Aprilia Racing)



Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)
250cc
1 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
2 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
3 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
4 Alex DE ANGELIS (Aprilia Racing)
5 Randy DE PUNIET (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
6 Franco BATTAINI (Campetella Racing)
7 Fonsi NIETO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
8 Hugo MARCHAND (Freesoul Abruzzo Racing Team)
9 Chaz DAVIES (Aprilia Racing)
10 Naoki MATSUDO (Team UGT Kurz)
11 Alex BALDOLINI (Matteoni Racing)
12 Dirk HEIDOLF/GER/Grefusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
13 Hector FAUBEL (Grefusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
14 Jakub SMRZ (Molenaar Racing)
15 Johan STIGEFELT (Aprilia Germany)
125cc
1 Jorge LORENZO (Caja Madrid Derbi Racing)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
3 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Seedorf Racing)
4 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM)
5 Fabrizio LAI (Metis Gilera Racing Team)
6 Pablo NIETO (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
7 Julian SIMON (Angaia Racing)
8 Gino BORSOI (Globet.com Racing)
9 Mattia PASINI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
10 Mirko GIANSANTI (Matteoni Racing)
11 Steve JENKNER (Rauch Bravo)
12 ector BARBERA (Seedorf Racing)
13 Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix)
14 Andrea BALLERINI (Sterilgarda Racing)
15 Gioele PELLINO (Abruzzo Racing Team)
Related Links

· Honda Worldwide | MotoGP - FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
· Malaysia


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