Biaggi wins Dutch duel


Marlboro Yamaha rider Max Biaggi snatched the race lead from archrival, Valentino Rossi (Honda) moments before the Dutch TT was officially red flagged due to rain - handing the now 30-year-old a thrilling 0.126 second Assen win. The two riders were in a five-way battle that included Loris Capirossi (Honda) - who eventually finished third - Alex Barros (Honda) and Kenny Roberts (Suzuki) before the Italian pair built a buffer over the perusing pack. Biaggi led the charge from lap seven, after passing Barros, until lap 15 - the lap when the official race results were taken. It was on this final lap that Rossi took the race lead for the first time, potentially handing the Honda rider the race win on count-back, but Biaggi dug deep and fought his way past only two corners before the final chicane, a move that placed the Marlboro rider atop the rostrum.

Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) came through for another solid performance after a hard fought battle with Alex Criville – the latter crashing out of contention on lap four while entering the chicane. Nakano, the 2000 MotoGP 250 vice-World Champion, managed to avoid becoming involved in the incident and continued on to take Kenny Roberts and a solid fifth place.

In the thick of the battle was the lone Red Bull Yamaha of Noriyuki Haga – as high as sixth – before the former world Superbike star only just avoided an accident that claimed both Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) and Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin) on lap three. Combined with a poor tyre choice Haga eventually finished a creditable tenth.

Meanwhile Red Bull Yamaha rider Garry McCoy decided to withdraw from the Dutch TT after completing Thursday’s free practice and opening qualifying sessions. The Australian made the difficult decision Friday morning after it became clear the break he suffered to his left wrist during the French MotoGP (May 20) had not completely healed.

Marlboro Yamaha Team
Max Biaggi 1st
: “It was a very good race today. Last year it was stopped after five laps, and looking at the conditions I knew it was a possibility today as well, so I just wanted to get up the front and control the race. I followed Barros from the start, and then once I managed to get in front I wanted to make a gap on the field. But of course the pace was fast and it wasn’t so easy.

“After a while Rossi managed to get past, but he made a small mistake soon after and I managed to get by again. It wasn’t a case of me being faster, it’s just that there was an opportunity and I took it. I am very happy for the team after all the work we put in over the weekend. This is a very good win.”

Carlos Checa DNF, crashed lap 3: “I got an OK start, but unfortunately I did not feel as comfortable with the bike as in qualifying. The first few laps I took it easy, but then I saw the lead riders getting away so I tried to up my pace. I was behind Abe and tried to pass him on the inside, but I went in the corner a bit too hot and I lost the front. As I went down I took Norick with me. I am sorry for him, it was my mistake.”

Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3
Shinya Nakano 5th
: “My start was so-so. I made a mistake with the clutch, I took two bites at it and lost a few places because of it. Fortunately the bike has been feeling really good, and it was almost perfect for the whole race, so once I collected my thoughts I put my head down and went after the lead group.

“I had one moment when I tried to pass Criville in the chicane, I went in a little too fast and had to stand the bike up and run on through the grass. Once I re-joined I went after Kenny, but by the time I passed him the gap to the lead group was just too big, so I focused on securing a safe fifth. It’s a very difficult circuit so I’m happy with that.”

Olivier Jacque 11th: “I’m very disappointed. It’s good to finish the race with a result but after three days I still had the same problems I had on day one – the bike was feeling so heavy and I wasn’t able to get a good rhythm. It’s not the bike itself, rather the limited time we’ve had on it. Shinya has done around 9000km on the 500 while I’ve only managed something like 1000km so far. It means that I can’t expect to be able to match Shinya until the team and I learn more about the bike. We need to find our own balance, a base setting that works for me.”

Red Bull Yamaha WCM
Noriyuki Haga 10th
: “The bike was working well for the first eight laps and then the rear started to chatter. It means that I lose feel from the tyres and confidence in them making it hard to keep pushing hard. I’d made a good start and was up in sixth when the problem started. I also had to avoid Criville’s crash in the chicane, which didn’t help.

“I had an injection in my left arm to help with the pain, and my knee has a huge bruise on it from yesterday’s crash making it hard to really throw the bike around. I had to try and compensate for my left arm by working harder with my right; not easy to do around this circuit.”

Garry McCoy DNS: “I knew it would be a possibility that I might not be able to race here this weekend because of the limited time I’ve had for physiotherapy. As it turns out this circuit, with it’s high-speed changes in direction and bumps, has really taken its toll.

“It’s not so much the muscle that’s the problem, rather it seems that the bone isn’t fully healed and it doesn’t seem strong enough, yet. I’ve decided to pull out for the rest of this GP, and I’ve also decided I won’t be doing Donington either. It’s not an easy choice but I want to come back where I left off. I don’t want to be just making up the numbers. I want to be racing for a top five finish, and if I can’t, I can’t see the point in risking another setback if I strain the injury, or crash and break it again. It’s better to make sure everything is 100 percent and then I can concentrate on racing. I’ll now just focus on getting ready for the German grand prix.”

Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin
José Luis Cardoso 12th
: “I’m really not happy with how I rode this weekend. The result is ok but that’s only because so many riders crashed. I’m just not feeling confident with myself, or the bike. The mechanics and the team are working so hard for me and it just hasn’t clicked yet.”

Norick Abe DNF, crashed lap 3: “It was difficult to say what happened at the time. All I knew was that I was about to tip into the corner and then the bike was just out of control. It just kicked me off and I crashed. I think that Carlos ran into the back of me and that’s why I went down.

“It’s very annoying when it’s not your fault and then you get hurt. I think a foot-peg went into my left knee and it took out a piece of skin, so it is very painful. I guess I will need stitches tomorrow, and an x-ray for my shoulder. I don’t think it’s broken but it is very painful.

”I was approaching the first few laps like I always do, take it easy, get settled in and then go for it. It’s a long race, 20 laps. I just hope things will be OK for Donington.”