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WGPGermanyJuly 18, 2004
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 8
German Grand Prix, Sachsenring

Battling Biaggi Fights His Way Into Title Chase

A sun-soaked 93,000 crowd watched majestic Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) catapult himself right into World Championship title contention with a crucial first win of the season here in Saxony in eastern Germany. The Roman maestro beat Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) into second and Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) was third.

Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)

Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda) & Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)

Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V), the man who shared the lead in the overall World Championship points standings going into this the eighth race of the 16-round season, crashed out of the race on lap nine. His title rival Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) finished fourth.

With track temperatures eight degrees higher than even the scorching 36 degrees of yesterday, most riders opted for medium compound tyres front and rear. But grip was again a supremely rare commodity today and it was the men who had the set-up to hook up the rear tyres of their 230bhp MotoGP machines in the closing stages who made the running.

Max started from pole but Rossi dived inside him on the way down from the double left-handed hill turns to lead the first lap momentarily before Max got him back two turns later to lead the pack over the line.

Gibernau was on the move to third by lap two and it looked like the three main contenders for the World Championship would be fighting it out at the front until Carlos Checa (Yamaha) joined them by lap four and then overtook Gibernau for third on lap five before crashing out on the same lap moments later.

Nicky Hayden meanwhile was making a meteoric charge through the field. He started from ninth on the grid and was only in 12th place on lap one. He was fifth by lap seven and then third by lap ten. Then Barros relieved him of third and began closing on Biaggi who led with Rossi in close attention.

By this stage Gibernau had crashed out for his second DNF in a row. Rossi’s pitboard informed his of this and on lap 16 Rossi made a move past Biaggi with the prospect of a 25 point haul in sight for a win.

But with more than two thirds of race distance completed Rossi’s tyres had had enough and Max re-took the lead on lap 22. Rossi was in trouble and a lap later Barros relegated him to third. Before another two laps had been run, Hayden took the reigning champ for third and Rossi looked in no shape to mount a challenge.

Barros wanted a win though and he hounded Biaggi in the final few laps to finish second by just 0.349 seconds with Hayden third 4.293 seconds adrift of the victor.

There was action all the way down the field with seven riders crashing out. Both Ducati riders crashed, three Yamaha men went down and as well as Gibernau, one Proton crashed and another failed to finish.

Max was delighted with his win that takes him to within one point of current World Championship leader Rossi. “A fantastic weekend,” he said. “My Honda was incredible and this was great time to close the gap in the Championship. We worked hard on suspension set-up this morning for the last part of the race and even when Valentino passed me I knew I had the right set-up to be able to get back at him as soon as he made a mistake.”

Barros said, “The race went very well. I made contact with Sete at the start and lost a few places, then I got it together and went after a win. The new exhaust system helped a lot in the slower turns with traction and this is now the first race where I really had a chance to go for a win.”

Hayden was equally positive about his German experience. “There’s more to come,” he said. “I rode hard for the whole race and Alex came past and pulled me though to the front group. I really worked my tyres at the end of the race and I had to keep it together with Rossi behind me – not the sort of guy you want behind you at the end of a race.”

Colin Edwards (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) rode a strong race for fifth and said, “We found some more from the bike in morning warm-up and that was great. I got a good start and worked on taking places at every opportunity. From lap three the front started sliding and that was a bit uncomfortable in turns five, six and seven. But a fifth-place finish from the fourth row of the grid has to be okay for now.”

Makoto Tamada (Camel Honda RC211V) riding on Bridgestone tyres finished sixth. “I tried to make a few places where I could and I had a good dice with Colin Edwards – he was good on the brakes and I just couldn’t make it past him. I also had a bit of vibration from the rear which needs looking at, but I like this track now.”

On this tight track, the 250cc race was expected to be a close-fought affair, but no one reckoned on the utter domination shown by winner Danny Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS250RW) who strolled to his third win of the season. Sebastian Porto (Aprilia) was second and Alex de Angelis (Aprilia) third.

One of the sensations of the race was rookie Hiroshi Aoyama (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS250RW) who started from the third row of the grid in 12th and muscled his way to an eventual fourth – just 0.364 seconds shy of what would have been his first podium finish.

Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) was the early leader with Porto tucked tight beside him as the first lap unfolded. Pedrosa held third and on lap two, the young Spanish star who had already motored past Porto, stole past Rolfo, who eventually finished sixth, for the lead.

He was never troubled and extended the margin between himself and the forlorn pursuer Porto to 4.2 seconds at the flag. The gap had been as high as six seconds before Pedrosa eased off slightly to safeguard this valuable points haul – his third win of the season.

“I knew I’d have to go hard at the beginning,” said Pedrosa. “And I just tried to stretch my lead as much as possible until I knew I could get to the finish without pushing too hard. The whole team really did an excellent job here.”

Randy de Puniet (Aprilia), Pedrosa’s current main rival for the World Championship finished fifth and the overall points standings now show Pedrosa out in front with 155, de Puniet on 130 and Porto third with 108.

The 27-lap 125cc race was a nail-biter with Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) getting the verdict over Hector Barbera (Aprilia) on the last lap, with Pablo Nieto (Aprilia) third. Andrea Dovizioso (Team Scot Honda RS125R) was lying second as the four began the last lap, but an attempt to get past Locatelli on the final downhill section lost him ground to his rivals and he finished a close fourth.

Dovizioso had predicted that Barbera and local man Steve Jenkner (Aprilia) would be his main threats and had Jenkner not incurred a ride-through penalty for overtaking under a yellow flag, the German would most likely have been part of the final fight for podium positions.

Dovizioso got the holeshot from the lights and by lap eight, a race pattern emerged that featured a 13-rider lead group covered by a mere 1.7 seconds. The freight train would soon shed some riders and among them was early leader Marco Simoncelli (Aprilia) who also incurred a ride-through penalty for overtaking under a yellow flag.

By mid-race distance the leading group was a four-rider affair with Barbera, Dovzioso, Nieto and new addition Locatelli. It looked as if Derbi rider Jorge Lorenzo might join them in the closing stages, but the gap between him and the leaders remained at just over one second as the front-runners fought it out. Julian Simon (Angaia Racing Honda RS125R) was ninth.

Locatelli’s win means he is now only seven points behind World Championship leader Dovzioso at the halfway point of the season with eight races completed. Dovzioso has 138 to Locatelli’s 131 with Hector Barbera lying third overall with 129.

Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)

Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

Max Biaggi, Camel Honda, 1st:
“This is an incredibly important victory that I dedicate to a person that I shared a garage with for a year and a half, Antonio Cobas. I have wanted to dedicate a race to him for a long time, but I never got the chance: it needed to be a triumph. I’m obviously delighted, these 25 points change the standings and they fire us into an important second half of the season, which should be very hard fought. For this reason it’s better to keep our feet on the ground and to continue to work as we have done so far. The bike is improving, the relationship with the team is unbeatable and with both Honda and Michelin we are working superbly. The whole weekend went well, from the work we did on Friday, Saturday and also in the warm up this morning. I worked then on the suspension for the second half of the race, which I was more interested in. In fact, when Valentino passed me, I gritted my teeth and waited to attack. I caught my breath for a couple of laps and then returned the favour by waiting for a moment of weakness. Then on the last lap I closed all the doors on Barros, I didn’t want to lose it in the last metres after such a great race, that would have been awful. And it all paid off.”

Sito Pons, Camel Honda (Team Principal) :
“I’m delighted, it’s the second consecutive triumph for the Camel Honda team and the first for Max this year. It’s a fantastic reward for the entire team and for Honda, Camel, and all our partners. I want to thank every single person in the Camel Honda team, they have all done a brilliant job. Now the championship is entering a really important phase. Max is just one point off the top, and today’s victory is an important confidence boost for Max and for the team, and we will continue to work immediately as we prepare for the British race in a week’s time.”

Alex Barros, Repsol Honda, 2nd:
“The race went very well. I had some contact with Sete at the start of the race and lost a few places, then I ride hard and fight for the win. Overall the machine worked very well all weekend and the new exhaust system definitely helped in the slower turns with traction. It was the first race for me this season when I really had a chance to fight for the win. I need to say thanks to HRC and the team for their continued faith in me they have done a great job. I hope that this race marks the changing point in the season for me and we can look forward to a second half with expectation.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda, 3rd:
“Definitely a tough race and Im real happy to get another box finish. I said last time in Rio I wanted more but Ill take this. Regular box finishes are good. There’s more to come. It was real tough at the start. Made contact and lost a few spots. I really had to get my head down and take my chances in the early laps. I passed two at a time - I had to do. It was my only shot at the podium. I rode hard for the whole race. Alex came past and pulled me through to the front group. I really abused my tyres and at the end of the race I had to collect my thoughts with Rossi behind me. Not the sort of guy you want behind you at that stage of the race. Any how, I hung on, took the box finish and we move on to Donington from here.”

Colin Edwards, Telefonica MoviStar Honda Jnr Team, 5th:
“Yesterday we found a good set-up for the race but, even so, we made a few small changes which I felt better with in the warm-up. I got a good start and tried to push forward, but the traffic got in my way. The front end dtarted to tuck from the third lap and it was really difficult to control the bike through turns 5, 6 and 7. I would like to be fighting for the podium but after starting from so far back, fifth place is a good result.”

Fausto Gresini (Team manager):
“It is Sete’s second consecutive crash and the truth is that it doesn’t help at a time when it is important to score points, but that’s racing. Now we have to analyze why it happened and keep working as we have done up to now. There’s no need to give up, we have lost a battle but not the war. We are still in with a great chance in the championship and, even though this is a tough time, I have confidence in the team and I’m sure they’ll be back where they belong.”

Makoto Tamada, Camel Honda, 6th:
“I tried to fight back as much as possible, but there were a lot of crashes in front of me. I think I did well considering the shape we were in, and it was a good duel with Colin Edwards. In the end he was stronger and if I’d have tried any harder to go past him, for sure I would have ended up crashing out. We need to understand the rear tyre vibrations that also made the front unstable too. Anyway, it was a great race, and I like the track a bit better now.”

Gianluca Montiron, Camel Honda (Makoto Tamada Team Manager):
“Makoto made a good comeback through the race today, making sixth by the finish line after having crossed in 17th place after the first lap, and being unable to give 100%. Makoto said he had some chattering problems in the rear tyre that the technical staff are looking at now. We gave everything we could in the situation we were in, and we will certainly do better next week. I’m happy about Max’s important victory and for the all-Honda podium.”

Sete Gibernau, Telefonica MoviStar Honda, dnf crash:
“There's not much I can say now. We had another good weekend until the final part. I want to try and take it calmly, analyze exactly what happened and leave Germany remembering that there is still a lot of the championship left and hope that my bad luck will come to an end at Donington. It's going to be very important to recover mentally, to arrive in England thinking that nothing has yet been decided and that we can continue to be strong.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 8
German Grand Prix, Sachsenring

1 Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda)
2 Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team)
3 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Valentino ROSSI (Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha)
5 Colin EDWARDS (Telefonica Movistar Honda Mot)
6 Makoto TAMADA (Camel Honda)
7 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
8 Kenny ROBERTS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
9 John HOPKINS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
10 Alex HOFMANN (Kawasaki Racing Team)
11 Ruben XAUS (D'Antin MotoGP)
12 Jeremy McWILLIAMS (MS Aprilia Racing)
13 Neil HODGSON (D'Antin MotoGP)
14 Shane BYRNE (MS Aprilia Racing)

Max BIAGGI (Camel Honda) & Alex BARROS (Repsol Honda Team) & Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
1 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
2 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
3 Alex DE ANGELIS (Aprilia Racing)
4 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250)
5 Randy DE PUNIET (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
6 Roberto ROLFO (Fortuna Honda)
7 Anthony WEST (Freesoul Abruzzo Racing Team)
8 Fonsi NIETO (Repsol - Aspar Team 250cc)
9 Franco BATTAINI (Campetella Racing)
10 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Campetella Racing)
11 Alex DEBON (Wurth Honda BQR)
12 Chaz DAVIES (Aprilia Racing)
13 Joan OLIVE (Campetella Racing)
14 Eric BATAILLE (Wurth Honda BQR)
15 Jakub SMRZ (Molenaar Racing)
1 Roberto LOCATELLI (Safilo Carrera - LCR)
2 Hector BARBERA (Seedorf Racing)
3 Pablo NIETO (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Kopron Team Scot)
5 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM)
6 Jorge LORENZO (Caja Madrid Derbi Racing)
7 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Seedorf Racing)
8 Mirko GIANSANTI (Matteoni Racing)
9 Julian SIMON (Angaia Racing)
10 Marco SIMONCELLI (Rauch Bravo)
11 Steve JENKNER (Rauch Bravo)
12 Simone CORSI (Kopron Team Scot)
13 Gioele PELLINO (Abruzzo Racing Team)
14 Sergio GADEA (Master - Repsol Team 125cc)
15 Stefano PERUGINI (Metis Gilera Racing Team)
Related Links

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