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MotoGPSpainOctober 31, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 16
Grand Prix of the Community of Valencia, Valencia

Max Back in The Groove With A Second Place

The final race of this intriguing 16-race season ended with a win for Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) with Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) in second place and Troy Bayliss (Ducati) third. A crowd of 122,000 watched from the hillsides of this natural amphitheatre in bright sunshine.

Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)

Sete GIBERNAU (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)

Max and pole-sitter Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V), riding on Bridgestone tyres, were the first into turn one closely followed by Sete Gibernau (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V). Max led, but he was swiftly overtaken by Tamada who then made the early running.

By lap three an early pattern was set among the front-runners as Sete barged into Max on lap three in a bid to get on terms at the sharp end of the race. But Tamada couldn’t sustain his lead as Rossi moved up the order to lie second to Makoto on lap five.

On the next lap Rossi took the lead only to lose it again to Tamada on lap seven. The next event was the loss of Ruben Xaus (Ducati) and Marco Melandri (Yamaha) on lap ten. Xaus overcooked a corner exit while Melandri lost the front-end trying to avoid getting involved in a Capirossi ‘moment’.

Rossi grabbed the lead back from Tamada at the esses and was never again headed – but the action would continue behind him. Troy Bayliss in fifth was making ground on the leaders and the order now was Rossi, Biaggi, Tamada, and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V).

Hayden was lucky to stay on board and even more fortunate not to collect Max as he fought to keep his RC211V on track under braking for turn one on lap 21. On the next lap he slid off to leave Rossi, Max and Bayliss in the top slots as Tamada dropped back.

That’s how it finished with Gibernau getting past Tamada on the penultimate lap to take fourth. Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) was sixth and Colin Edwards (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) was eighth.

“A second place is not really how I wanted to end this Championship,” said Max. “The race was tough especially in the opening laps. I was immediately involved in the Tamada, Hayden, Sete battle until Sete’s strange manoeuvre that nearly knocked me off. Luckily I saw him coming and had a chance to go wide and avoid him. But getting back on terms after that was tough.”

Sete said. “I made a mistake with tyre choice. We chose a hard tyre, which was not the way to go. I lost time in the opening laps and then from halfway through the race to the end grip improved but by then I was too far away. It’s a shame because I wanted to end the year with a win.”

Makoto Tamada said, “My battle with Rossi was good. I got a good start and the first part of the race was good for me too. But I lost rear grip and I knew this race would not be easy. I went hard at the beginning because I thought this would happen.”

“This was like so many of my races this season,” said Barros. “I found myself half way down the field and then had to spend all the race catching and passing people until the tyres were gone. Then I just had to take it steady to get to the finish.”

Edwards blamed tyre choice for his woes. “I chose the wrong tyre and couldn’t get near the front the way the bike was spinning-up and sliding everywhere. I’m disappointed I couldn’t get a good result here to say goodbye to the team with.”

Hayden said, “It was the simplest of crashes. I just pushed the front, held it for a long time and almost saved it on my knee. But it’s not 100% at the moment and I just didn’t have the strength to save it. I wasn’t just going to cruise around for fifth – that’s no way to end the year.”

Honda won the MotoGP Manufacturers’ World Title this year with 355 points to Yamaha’s 328.

Dani Pedrosa (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250R won the final 250cc race of the season from his intense rival Tony Elias (Fortuna Honda RS250RW). Rookie sensation Hiroshi Aoyama (Telefonica MoviStar Junior Team RS250RW) finished third before being disqualified – his motorcycle was 500g under the minimum weight limit.

Sebastian Porto (Aprilia) led the pack into turn one from the off and was immediately harried by the new World Champion Dani. It was soon clear that these two were in a class of their own. By lap five they had a 5.5 second lead over third-placed Elias.

Aoyama wasn’t to let Elias hand onto third for long. The Japanese pounced on the local boy on lap ten but never looked entirely capable of holding onto the advantage. Sure enough, Elias, who had stalked him, passed him, been passed again by him, finally nailed the Japanese charger in the closing laps.

Porto crashed on lap 19 after losing ground steadily to the flying Pedrosa and Dani’s win clinched the Manufacturers’ World Championship for Honda with 354 points to Aprilia’s 344.

“Porto set a fast rhythm at the start,” said Dani. “But I opened up a gap over him as soon as I could and then I was able to build a comfortable advantage, until he crashed. I had a few problems with the bike at the end and I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the end. This is a great end to a marvellous year.”

His team-mate Aoyama was crestfallen after his disqualification. “I’m gutted,” he said. “The fight with Elias was intense and I lost count of the number of times we passed each other. I had very little rear grip at the end of the race and I really had to try to hang onto third place. Big thanks to my team who have been fantastic.”

Tony Elias said, “That was a tough race and Aoyama rode really hard. In the end I was able to get past him and set a rhythm he couldn’t match. To end the season with a podium is always good even though I would have preferred a win.”

Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) finished a creditable seventh after starting from the fifth row of the grid. “After all the problems we had this weekend in qualifying it’s not bad. The team have worked wonders all season.”

The 125cc race was won convincingly by Hector Barbera (Aprilia) after Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) who looked to be in command of this 24-lap encounter visited a gravel trap on lap seven. The finishing order was Barbera, Dovizioso, Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia).

But this was after the race was tightly fought by a group of local hopefuls gunning for an end of season send-off in front of a sell-out crowd. Gino Borsoi (Aprilia) got the holeshot but he was soon overhauled by Dovi with Barbera in close attendance.

Jorge Lorenzo (Derbi) was in the mix by lap five but he baled out on lap 13 to leave Barbera out front, late season revelation Sergio Gadea (Aprilia) in second, and his team-mate Pablo Nieto in third.

As the race drew to a conclusion Barbera held a 1.9 second advantage over Nieto who had now elevated himself to second. It didn’t last though. Dovi was on the move after his off-track excursion and he scythed past Nieto and Bautista in the closing laps to net second. Simone Corsi (Team Scot Honda RS125R) finished eighth.

“I made a mistake with tyre choice,” said Dovi. “That’s why I ran off track. It was tough to get back on terms when the race pace was as high as it was. I just couldn’t get back the ground I lost.”

Despite Dovi’s best efforts the Constructor’s World Championship went to Aprilia this year. The Italian factory garnered 329 points to Honda’s 301.

Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)

Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda, 2nd:
“Second place isn’t the perfect result to end the season but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The race was exciting, tough, and hard-fought especially on the first few laps. Straight away I found myself battling with Tamada, Hayden, Bayliss and Gibernau until a bit of a risky manoeuvre from the latter meant I nearly crashed. Luckily I saw him coming and I was able to brake and run a little wider. The fight-back was difficult but I enjoyed it too. Thanks to Honda and my team. They always have worked as hard as they could to get me into the best shape possible.”

Sito Pons, Camel Honda, Team Principal:
“Our bikes and our team were main protagonists in this special day which closed the 2004 season. In Valencia today, it was a real festival of sport and people. We would have liked to have won, and we were in with a shout until the very last lap. It ends an important season for us, and I want to thank both Honda and Camel for their constant support. Thanks also to the team and to all the partners who have shared this recently ended season with us. Together we have won three races, we got on the podium 12 times and we are third in the team championship. Thank you.”

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot, 4th:
“We have two things to relfect on today – one being the season and also the race. We had a really good first half of the season and from Brno onwards a few problems have prevented us from fighting for the championship. We have to be self-critical about the things we could have controlled and the things we couldn’t in order to be in a stronger position next season. In this race we made a completely wrong rear tyre choice and that is our responsibility. We were the only ones to pick a hard tyre, thinking that the temperature would rise, and it didn’t. That was why I lost the race in the first few laps. It’s a real shame because I would have liked to have put on a better show for the crowd here.”

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda, 5th:
“I got a good start and it was a good first part of the race with a couple of duels with Rossi which I enjoyed immensely. Then I lost grip on the rear end of the bike and the decrease in grip became very clear. I knew that today wasn’t going to be easy and that the grip would worsen at some point, and that’s why I tried to open up a gap at the beginning, when I was at the front. However then I wasn’t able to be aggressive and I had to give up a few positions before finishing in fifth.”

Giulio Bernardelle, Makoto Tamada’s Technical Director:
“A great first third of the race for Makoto, but then a sharp dip in grip, which continued until the end of the race and which stopped him from fighting for the podium. Even though we might have expected the decrease in grip levels around the halfway point, we didn’t expect it to be so consistent. Makoto has shown himself to be a very strong and determined rider and if we look back, we believe that we have succeeded in getting a good set-up for his style of riding and that bodes well for the future.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda Team , 6th:
“That was like so many races this season – sadly. Finding myself half way down the pack at the end of the first lap and then spending all the race just catching and passing as many as I can until the tyres are gone and I just have to ride steady to get home! I’m just disappointed we couldn’t make a better result at the last race of the season and give all my team a good experience. Overall the first part of the season was bad. I was recovering from the winter shoulder surgery and in the first few races I crash a lot which was disappointing. In the second half of the year we were much more competitive but the whole performance was not good enough. I believe I can do better and will now look for the opportunity to prove myself.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot, 8th:
“We made a good start, but we didn’t choose the right tyre and there was no traction. The bike was sliding from the start and it was impossible to make up positions. It’s a real pity because I wanted to dedicate a good result to the team in my last race.”

Fausto Gresini, Team manager:
“It was a strange race and we haven’t got the results we were hoping for. But overall it’s been a positive season for us – I want to congratulate my two riders, starting with Sete, who had some brilliant races and finished as the runner-up, and also Colin who did a good job for us. I wish him all the best for the future. Our objective is to continue to improve day by day.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team, DNF:
“I got a decent start and made up a few places early. I got with the leaders and for a long time felt pretty comfortable. I saw Rossi and Tamada getting away and wanted to close the gap – I had the speed on them and wanted to get past Tamada to chase Rossi as quick as possible. Later in the race I got sucked into Turn 1 behind Biaggi in his draft and ran a little wide and lost a couple of places. I got going again and caught Tamada – still wanted to get past and chase the boys ahead. It was the simplest of crashes! Just pushed the front – held it for a long time and almost saved it on my knee but its not 100% strong at the moment and I just didn’t have the strength in it to save it. Just down and out. So frustrating. I knew I had the speed. I just didn’t want to cruise around and get another fifth. That ain’t no way to end the year. It’s going to be a long winter but we’ll come back stronger.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 16
Grand Prix of the Community of Valencia, Valencia

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

Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)
1 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
2 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
3 Randy DE PUNIET (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
4 Franco BATTAINI (Campetella Racing)
5 Chaz DAVIES (Aprilia Racing)
6 Fonsi NIETO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
7 Roberto ROLFO (Fortuna Honda)
8 Naoki MATSUDO (Team UGT Kurz)
9 Hector FAUBEL (Grefusa - Aspar Team 250cc)
10 Alex BALDOLINI (Matteoni Racing)
11 David DE GEA (Wurth Honda BQR)
12 Arnoud VINCENT (Equipe GP de France - Scrab)
13 Jakub SMRZ (Molenaar Racing)
14 Alex DEBON (Wurth Honda BQR)
15 Naoki MATSUDO (Team UGT Kurz)
1 Hector BARBERA (Seedorf Racing)
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
3 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Seedorf Racing)
4 Pablo NIETO (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
5 Sergio GADEA (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
6 Roberto LOCATELLI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
7 Gino BORSOI ( Racing)
8 Simone CORSI (Kopron Team Scot)
9 Gabor TALMACSI (Semprucci Malaguti)
10 Steve JENKNER (Rauch Bravo)
11 Mattia PASINI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
12 Mirko GIANSANTI (Matteoni Racing)
13 Julian SIMON (Angaia Racing)
14 Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix / HONDA)
15 Fabrizio LAI (Metis Gilera Racing Team)
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