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MotoGPAustraliaOctober 17, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Grand Prix of Australia, Phillip Island

Gibernau Battles Hard But Title Goes To Rossi
Dani Pedrosa Takes The 250cc World Championship Title For Movistar Honda

The MotoGP race had all the drama now expected of the premier class events. It was a fierce, close race played out in front of 43,000 sun-splashed Aussies. And Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) won it with his title rival Sete Gibernau (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) second and Loris Capirossi (Ducati) third.

Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)

Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)

This race was a ‘must win’ for Gibernau and the Spanish title challenger did everything he could to snatch victory. But Rossi, who only had to finish second to clinch the World Championship, was better on the day and his win here now puts him beyond Gibernau’s reach – this year at least.

But there was consolation for Honda here in the form of the Constructors’ World Championship title. The ‘Big H’ now has an unassailable lead with one round to go after six RC211Vs finished in the top eight here. This is Honda’s 16th consecutive Constructors’ title.

Gibernau who started from pole, tore into turn one in third place after Capirossi got the holeshot. He spectacularly rode around the outside of Rossi into turn two, bravely boxing his rival in behind Capirossi as he then fired his machine past the Ducati rider to take command of the 27-lap race.

Gibernau then worked at his high-speed race rhythm to stretch his rivals to breaking point around the rollercoaster 4.4km of Phillip Island. He had pulled out a 0.55 second gap by lap six. But Rossi was determined not to let his rival break clear and by the next lap the gap was down to just 0.2 seconds.

Rossi seemed content to stay with Gibernau until lap 22 when he made his first real move to grab the lead – and succeeded. But on the next lap Gibernau stole it back and the scene was set for a proper grudge match in the closing laps.

The last lap will linger in the memory. With a World title at stake it was as intense as they come. Gibernau held the advantage into turn one and through the early stages of the final tour until Rossi pounced at the Southern Loop. Gibernau then spectacularly retook the lead at the Honda Hairpin. But Rossi then dived inside at Lukey Heights and held on to win.

Sete was as disconsolate as any rider who has given their all trying, and narrowly failing, to lift a premier class title. “I tried my best,” he said. “I congratulate Valentino and his team – they won this time, but I’ll be back again next year.”

There was action all the way down the field too. Colin Edwards (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) finished fourth after putting in his best qualifying work so far this season to start from fourth on the grid.

He said, “I got a bit boxed in at the start,” he said. “I was seventh on lap one and then got stuck behind Bayliss and Biaggi while I was trying to get on terms with the front guys. The on the final turn Barros made a mistake which let me through, but I couldn’t reach Capirossi for the podium.”

Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) finished fifth. “I’m just really disappointed,” he said. “I lost a bit of time trying to get past Capirossi at the start and then I tried to chase the leaders, but didn’t really have any grip. I tried to get past Capirossi for a podium on the final turn, but went into a big slide and Colin came past. It’s not where I want to be, I know I am better than this.”

His team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) was sixth. “You put yourself in a hole when you have to start from the fifth row,” he said. “I got a good start and made some pretty good passes on the first lap. It took me a while to get up with Biaggi and it was good fun racing the boys. It would have been a whole lot more fun racing for the lead though.”

Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) was seventh and said, “That was a difficult race. One week ago I was on the podium in Malaysia – and now today I’m in trouble. We never really got to grips with set-up here. I couldn’t put the power down properly, we were very short of grip. But I fought hard for the position and could do no more.”

Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V), riding on Bridgestone tyres, was unhappy with himself. “It was hard to do any better than this,” he said. “I just wasn’t as competitive as I wanted to be. It wasn’t really a bike or tyre problem, it was just hard to overtake people throughout the whole race. It was my mistakes that didn’t let me do better than eighth.”

Rossi now has 279 points, Gibernau 244 and Biaggi 197. With only 25 points available for a win at the final round in Valencia, the order of 1-2-3 finish here at round 15 cannot now change.

Sebastian Porto won the 250cc race to notch his fifth win of the season. Alex de Angelis was second and Manuel Poggiali was third (all Aprilia). But the big news is that Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW) finished fourth – and that was enough to secure the 250cc World Championship title in his first season in the class.

Dani had crashed heavily in final qualifying yesterday, then he broke down in this morning’s warm-up session. It looked like events might conspire against him, but the 19-year-old kept his composure to finish in the points and become the youngest ever rider to win two World Championships in two different classes.

The ambitious Spanish star has also gone one step better than even the mercurial Valentino Rossi by winning the 250c title in his first year of competition after graduating from 125s.

It was not a great race though. Dani led into turn one and briefly held the lead until Porto swooped on him. Then it was de Angelis’ turn, then Dani’s again. The lead swapped four times on the opening lap – but that was as good as the action got.

The rest of the contest was a dreary procession with only the efforts of young British rider Chaz Davies (Aprilia) worthy of any mention. He finished sixth – his best ever result after qualifying tenth, his best ever qualifying performance.

“I’m really pleased with this,” said Dani. “It was tough out there and as the race went on, the wind got stronger and the risk of crashing grew. It was hard here with memories of my bad crash and then another bad crash here yesterday. My confidence wasn’t exactly at maximum. But everybody who works with me helped me through here so thanks to them all.”

Tony Elias (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) finished fifth and said, “What a difficult weekend for us. The team worked really hard last night, especially on the suspension. And we managed to improve, but not by enough. The result is okay considering the problems we’ve had here.”

Dani’s team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW) was seventh. “This is a very special moment. Dani has had a wonderful season and I’m really happy for him. Only he knows how hard he’s worked to get here – he’s a phenomenon.”

With the World Championship now concluded in Dani’s favour, the table looks like this with one round to go: Pedrosa 292, Porto 256, Randy de Puniet (Aprilia), who crashed on lap five here, on 198. Dani is thus the Champ, and Porto has secured second in the standings.

Honda now has a one point lead over rival factory Aprilia in the Constructors’ Championship: 329 against 328 with one round to go.

The 125cc race was won in magnificent style by the newly-crowned World Champion Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R). Jorge Lorenzo (Derbi) was second and local hope Casey Stoner (KTM), who won last week in Malaysia, was third.

Dovzioso led the field into the fearsome downhill turn one from the start with Stoner and Lorenzo in immediate attendance. Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) was fourth now having started from pole for the first time since Phillip Island in 2000, the year he won the 125cc World title.

The pattern for the race was set by the time lap two began. The leading trio clearly had more speed than anyone else could deal with – even Locatelli, who was now getting dropped by the front group.

Loca rode hard to get back on terms setting a fastest lap of the race on lap six until Dovi set a new mark of 1m 38.415 seconds just one lap later. And as the 23-lap contest unfolded, it became clear that the last lap would decide this race.

Lorenzo led into the last lap, but Dovi and Stoner were right up with him and after the new World Champion had inched ahead of Lorenzo into the Siberia turn, he would keep his lead until the flag along the 900m start/finish straight despite the best efforts of his pursuers to draft him.

“My plan was to try and get away at the start,” said Dovi. “I put in a 1m 38s lap early on but just couldn’t draw clear. Then I just kept a cool head and decided to really push during the last two laps because the tyres were still really good. Stoner’s last lap move on Lorenzo really helped me too.”

With the title already wrapped up for Dovi, the points standings going into the final round of the 16 race World Championship show Dovi clear with 273 and Locatelli, Lorenzo and Hector Barbera (Aprilia) who finished sixth here disputing second place with 182, 179 and 177 points.

The Constructors’ Championship points table shows Aprilia with 304 points and Honda on 281.

Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)

Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 2nd:
“After two positive practice sessions, today the bike had a problem at the gas throttle and I struggled for the whole race around this problem. I had to anticipate what was happening with the throttle so I couldn’t focus only on pushing hard to win the race. I started leading the race but then I let Valentino overtake me because I wanted to study him and see where I could gain some tenths. The last lap was an incredible battle between me and Valentino. I’m disappointed more because of this problem that didn’t allow me to race as I wanted. Anyway, races are like this. We showed once again to be very competitive and we have given an incredible show, as we have done all along the season.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, 4th:
“The bike was feeling good and with my team we have done a great job. I had not a great start and I struggled a bit in the first laps because the rhythm was too slow. I recovered some positions and could pass Bayliss and Biaggi. At the last corner Barros made a mistake so I overtook him but I couldn’t catch Capirossi because the gap between us was too much. All in all I’m happy with this result and it was a good race.”

Fausto Gresini, (Team manager):
“Here we were concentrated on winning the race and this was our target. Sete’s second position is a great result that crowns him – for the second time – World Vice Champion. My compliments to Sete, he has done a great season. Now we want to analyze the whole championship in order to improve for the next year.
My compliments also to Colin Edwards, he has done a good race finishing forth.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda Team, 5th:
“Just really disappointed. The start of the race was normal – I lost a little bit of time trying to get past Capirossi at the start then I try and chase the leaders but I really don’t have any grip. Even with the engine mode on minimum power it doesn’t fix the situation. On the last corner I try so hard to overtake Capirossi for the podium position but the machine go into a big slide and I lose a bit of control and Colin comes past. I don’t care if I finish fourth or fifth; for me this is bad to be in this position. It’s not where I want to be and I know I am better than this. I was just very disappointed with the performance of the machine and tyre combination we chose– that’s all I can say.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team, 6th:
“This morning was pretty good. I Really need that after yesterday. You put yourself in a hole when you have to start from the fifth row. That’s what happened yesterday and that’s my own fault. I knew I had to get a good start and I did and managed to make some pretty good passes on the first lap. I made a pretty constant and race and at the end I got going much better. Took me a while to get up to Biaggi – me and the boys were all going at it pretty good – actually pretty fun racing. Scrapping like that is not so good for fifth place – would have been a lot for fun for the lead but in the end I was really chasing Capirossi and only finished two seconds off the podium. Sixth is not where I want to be but given the circumstances I guess it was a pretty solid race.”

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda (Michelin tyres), 7th:
“It was a difficult race, and I battled until the very end. The start wasn’t too bad, but in the first few laps I realized that today was a completely different story to Malaysia. It’s strange to think that just a week ago I was on the podium yet instead today I have had so many problems. The conditions were completely different though, and obviously we didn’t quite find the right set-up. After the start I lost a bit of ground because I wasn’t able to time my accelerating right and the bike had little traction. I fought hard, and tried to fend off my rivals’ attacks, but in the end the result was very unsatisfying. We hope that things can be different in Valencia.”

Sito Pons, Camel Honda (Team Principal):
“We were hoping for a little more from this Australian race and it wasn’t one of our team’s better days. Despite the flat-out work we have done in the past days, Max never felt right on the bike and was unable to unleash his full potential. And battled to the end trying to pick up the front-runners. We’ll pick ourselves up and go to Valencia with confidence, it’s the final showcase of the season and we want to celebrate it with a victory.”

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda (Bridgestone tyres), 8th:
“I couldn’t have done much better than I did today, I was not able to make the important overtaking manoeuvres when they needing doing. There was no problem with the bike or the tyres, just that it was extremely tough to overtake my rivals, and that was throughout the race. With a better start and having picked up a few more positions at the beginning I could have been further up, but it didn’t work out like that and I finished eighth.”

Giulio Bernardelle, Camel Honda, (Makoto Tamada’s Technical Director):
“We did much better than last year here, and Makoto was able to be up in the front group. This is one of the most difficult tracks for us, and it’s a sign that Bridgestone have done some fantastic work. It’s a shame for Makoto, who was unable to show off his enormous potential, and he couldn’t just make that extra step towards the leaders and towards the podium because he was constantly caught up in battles which prevented him from getting into a rhythm.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 15
Grand Prix of Australia, Phillip Island

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

Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
1 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
2 Alex DE ANGELIS (Aprilia Racing)
3 Manuel POGGIALI (MS ApriliaTeam)
4 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
5 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
6 Chaz DAVIES (Aprilia Racing)
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
8 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Campetella Racing)
9 Johan STIGEFELT (Aprilia Germany)
10 Roberto ROLFO (Fortuna Honda)
11 Alex DEBON (Wurth Honda BQR)
12 Hugo MARCHAND (Freesoul Abruzzo Racing Team)
13 Jakub SMRZ (Molenaar Racing)
14 David DE GEA (Wurth Honda BQR)
15 Naoki MATSUDO (Team UGT Kurz)
1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
2 Jorge LORENZO (Caja Madrid Derbi Racing)
3 Casey STONER (Red Bull KTM)
4 Roberto LOCATELLI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
5 Steve JENKNER (Rauch Bravo)
6 Hector BARBERA (Seedorf Racing)
7 Gino BORSOI ( Racing)
8 Mike DI MEGLIO ( Racing)
9 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Seedorf Racing)
10 Sergio GADEA (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
11 Gabor TALMACSI (Semprucci Malaguti)
12 Lukas PESEK (Ajo Motorsport)
13 Mirko GIANSANTI (Matteoni Racing)
14 Andrea BALLERINI (Sterilgarda Racing)
15 Pablo NIETO (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
Related Links

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