Rossi romps home to win Spanish thriller
Valentino Rossi took a stunning win in Jerez today, his first of the season and the 98th of his career taking him 11 points clear at the top of the championship. His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had a disappointing home race, crashing out on lap 24 when closing on the final podium position.
The reigning World Champion had looked in trouble yesterday but an overnight set-up change saw him fastest in warm-up and he lined up confident that he would be able to mount a challenge. Starting from fourth on the grid, Rossi held his position at the start and managed to pass Lorenzo on the final turn of the second lap. Casey Stoner was the next target and the Italian quickly began to close the gap, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap four. Rossi and Stoner exchanged a couple of entertaining passes in the next few laps before the Yamaha rider made it stick at the end of the seventh lap, with the gap to Dani Pedrosa in the lead then standing at 1.2 seconds. The middle section of the race saw Rossi making little headway into the Spaniard’s lead but at two-thirds distance he suddenly found a new rhythm and started shaving tenths off the gap, making the definitive move and claiming the lead with 10 laps to go. From then on there was only one winner and the irrepressible 30-year-old brought his M1 home 2.7 seconds clear of second-placed Pedrosa. Ever the joker, Rossi took advantage of the moment to replicate one of his most famous post-race stunts ten years on, making a stop on his victory lap to pop into a track side portable toilet, to the delight of the 120,000-strong crowd.
After his dazzling pole position Lorenzo was fully expecting to challenge for the win but the higher track temperature today caused problems and he lacked the grip and pace of yesterday. The Mallorcan, who turns 22 tomorrow, spent most of the race in a lonely fourth position but in the final stages began to close on Stoner and looked like he might have a podium chance. With the gap down to under half a second the excitement began to build in the 99 side of the garage but with just four laps to go he lost the front and went down, emerging unhurt from the gravel trap but with damage to his foot peg and throttle meaning there was no chance to finish the race.
Rossi now leads Stoner by 11 points in the standings, whilst Lorenzo slips to third, 13 points adrift of the Australian. The MotoGP paddock will reconvene on French soil in ten days time for round four in Le Mans.
Valentino Rossi – Position: 1stTime: 45’18.557
"This is a wonderful victory because yesterday we were really quite worried! I couldn’t ride how I wanted to and it was very hard. We had to work all together to understand how to fix the problem and finally we made a big change to try to make the bike feel how I like in the corner, which worked, so I have to say a huge thank you to Jeremy and all my guys. This morning we could tell immediately that things were much better and then we made a couple more small changes after warm-up, which made my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres feel even better. The race was long and quite hard – I lost some time getting past Lorenzo at the start and then I had a good battle with Stoner, which I enjoyed. After that I wasn’t so fast and I couldn’t close the gap to Pedrosa for a while; he was very quick but finally things improved and I was able to catch and pass him. It’s great to win again and especially here in Jerez, which I love. It’s ten years since I made the joke with the toilet here and so I thought it would be funny to do it again if I won – I liked that a lot! Now I hope that the changes we’ve made here will help us for the rest of the season. Thanks again to everyone!"
Jorge Lorenzo – Position: DNF
"I am very sad, because I was so fast all weekend and on pole position. Unfortunately today the temperature meant that our setting did not work in the same way and at the moment we don’t understand why. This is really more disappointing than the actual crash. Fourth position wouldn’t have been so bad but when you’re in front of your fans, at home with so much adrenalin on the bike of course you try to do the maximum. I could see that the podium was possible and maybe the right thing would have been to go more gently and not push so hard in that moment, but I always want to do my best. Then I made a mistake and I threw all my good work away. We have to try to forget this and wake up feeling positive tomorrow because Le Mans is near. I’m sorry to all the fans who came to see me, to my team, family and to everybody!"
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
"This is a very important victory and after two second places everyone in the team was waiting for it and really wanted it. To win like this is something special; after being in trouble and quite sad on Saturday there was a lot of effort, long meetings, hard work by all the engineers, mechanics and technicians and finally we were able to give a good package to Valentino. If you can make Valentino feel happy on the bike then he will always give you this kind of performance and today it was wonderful to watch. This has to be our target every time. I am very happy and proud of all our guys, and of course of Valentino!"
Daniele Romagnoli – Team Manager
"We’re very disappointed for today’s result. After excellent practice and qualifying sessions we expected to be on the podium but with the warmer temperature Jorge lost grip on the rear. At the end he was catching Stoner but then he lost the front and that was that! Now we need to make a deep analysis of why we had these unexpected problems and make sure they don’t happen again. It’s bad luck but now we will look forward to Le Mans, where we had a great result last year."
Seventh for Edwards in scorching Spain, Toseland battles to 13th
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team ended a scorching hot Spanish MotoGP race with hard fought points scoring finishes for Colin Edwards and James Toseland.
Texan Edwards starred in one of the most fiercely contested battles of the 27-lap encounter, dicing throughout with Italian duo Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi in front of a sun-drenched crowd of 123,340 fans. Edwards expertly moved his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine by Capirossi to take seventh on lap ten, and four laps later he passed Melandri to set about securing his second top six in the opening three races. Small issues with his rear suspension setting though saw Edwards lose a superb last lap battle with Capirossi that left him only 1.3s away from a superb top five finish. Today’s result though keeps Edwards in the top six in the championship standings and leading non-factory rider.
British rider Toseland rode a determined race to finish 13th, the 28-year-old unable to progress any further through the field as he never found a comfortable set-up on his YZR-M1 machine. He showed his battling qualities though to fend off a persistent challenge from Alex de Angelis.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team now takes a deserved break before its home race at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans on May 17, with expectations high after Edwards finished third in 2008.
Colin Edwards – Position: 7th Time: +0’34.421
"I got a really good start but right from the first lap I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run the pace I needed. The guys in front just gapped me immediately and I couldn’t get the bike to turn. We went in the wrong direction yesterday when it was hot, so for the race we went back to the setting I’d had in the morning when the track temperature was a bit cooler. In the cooler temperatures that setting was fine, but once the temperature goes up I just couldn’t get into the rhythm I want and know I was capable of. I wanted to be smooth and precise but I couldn’t do that. I was having to adjust my style to get some weight on the rear to help the bike turn, but it wasn’t enough for me to get into the top six and that’s a bit frustrating."
James Toseland – Position: 13th Time: +0’53.683
"It has been a tough weekend and we have got some issues to sort out. We’re still trying a few things on the bike and I’m still searching for a comfortable setting over a race distance. I still need a second or so on race pace but I need to sort out qualifying too. I can do the same times as four or five guys in front of me, but when you’re all lapping at the same pace, it’s hard to come through. I’m giving myself too much to do from qualifying and being too far back. You don’t need to be too far off but if you start at the back you stay at the back in a competitive class like this. It has not been a great start to the season but I don’t feel we’re that far away. We’ve got a lot of information from this weekend and we’re eliminating things that we know don’t work. I’m confident we’re close to finding the setting I need and working hard with my guys to find it."
Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
"It was a difficult race and in the first two races I have to say we were a little bit closer to the front. It’s a shame that Colin wasn’t quite comfortable enough with the setting to fight closer with (Loris) Capirossi and (Marco) Melandri at the end. A top six would have been well deserved for his hard effort and maybe fifth was achievable. It was also a tough weekend for James. His lap times in the race were not too bad but it is clear he must improve in qualifying. He is capable of a much stronger performance, but it is difficult when you don’t qualify well. The start of the race now is crucial and qualifying is something that he will work on with his team. Everybody at Tech 3 is now looking forward to our home race. We know Le Mans is very good circuit for Yamaha and last year Colin was on the podium behind Jorge (Lorenzo) and Valentino (Rossi). I’d also like to thank Mark Hall from Monster Energy for his support this weekend. The Yamaha Tech 3 team is delighted to have Monster Energy as our title sponsor, and I’m sure our partnership will bring success in the future."