Marlboro Yamaha two & three

Race

It was a thrilling two-part Brazilian race that concluded not only the 2001 MotoGP 500 World Championship on November 3, but the era of the two-stroke only 500s – with the MotoGP premier class opening up to 990cc four-strokes for 2002. And the man who looked set to win this historic event was Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team); that was until a lapped rider on the final turn slowed the Spaniard’s progress and allowed the perusing Valentino Rossi (Honda) to close the gap – the newly crowned world champion claiming the win on aggregate time by a mere 0.143 seconds.

The opening leg to the two-part event only lasted four laps before the race was called due to rain, but not before the Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3 team suffered the loss of both its riders entering turn one for the first time. Olivier Jacque, who had produced a near perfect start, lost the rear of his YZR500 as he tipped into the turn leaving Shinya Nakano with nowhere to go – the newly crowned 500 ‘Rookie of The Year’ crashing in the gravel trap.

The patchy restarted race came down to four key players; Rossi, Checa, Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team) and local hero Alex Barros (Honda) – finishing in that order, with Loris Capirossi (Honda) fifth. The result secured Biaggi’s second place in the championship with 219 points to Valentino’s 325pts, while Capirossi’s 210pts saw the Italian finish the year third.

With tyres a gamble, Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin) finished the race sixth on aggregate, while teammate José Luis Cardoso was eighth – nearly one lap ahead of ninth placed Nakano – who’d remounted his YZR in the first leg.

With the pain of his infected tooth only worsening on Friday evening Noriyuki Haga (Red Bull Yamaha) was forced out of the Rio MotoGP; departing Brazil for Japan to carry out the necessary operation to remove the tooth and deal with the infection and the swelling of the throat.

Marlboro Yamaha Team
Carlos Checa 2nd:
“I saw the chequered flag and I thought I’d won! When I found out the result it was probably the worst feeling of my life. I’ve been chasing this win for three years. The team did a great job here, the bike felt good and I thought I’d found my opportunity. The lapped rider turned around as we were coming at him, Rossi saw him too, then I met him in the middle of the turn, so I couldn’t open the throttle where I usually do and that was enough to lose me the race. This is such a frustrating way to lose."

Max Biaggi 3rd: "This was a very tough weekend for me. This track is so bumpy that we couldn’t get the bike set up to suit me. I couldn’t use my speed because I wasn’t getting enough feeling from the front, that’s why I qualified tenth. I think the damp conditions helped today, though maybe my choice of an intermediate front wasn’t perfect.

“It’s great to get second in the championship. Okay, so second isn’t brilliant but it’s all I could do today. Over the last few days I’ve read a lot of newspapers telling me how motivated Capirossi was to beat me for second overall, so I wanted to ride a good race to make sure of second. Now we look forward to next year and the big question mark of the four-strokes. We’ve got a lot of testing ahead of us and I hope we can have a great machine for 2002 so that we can go one better than this year."

Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin
Norick Abe 6th:
“It was a great race with Barros and Capirossi, but they were fighting amongst themselves more than with me. That’s how I was able to pass them in the last corner; they’d tripped each other up and I slid underneath both of them. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to beat them on aggregate, but it was still a good race.”

José Luis Cardoso 8th: “I’m happy with the result, it’s good for me, but I don’t think that it was a good race. When I came in for the restart, like Abe, we changed to cut slicks both front and rear but for some reason it brought on some chatter that we hadn’t had in the first leg. It made it difficult to really attack after the first few laps, so I just rode around looking for points.”

Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3
Shinya Nakano 9th:
“Rookie of The Year was one of my targets this year, the other was to win a race, which I think I could have done here. But I guess it was not to be. I did everything that I should have; a good start and I had the setup I needed. I remember seeing Jacque come up the inside into turn one and then the back of his bike just came around and highsided him in front of me. I had nowhere to go.

“It was good that I remounted my bike so that I could take part in the restart, which I needed to do to secure fifth in the championship – Norick still had a chance of beating me if he won the race and I didn’t score a point.”

Olivier Jacque DNF: “I managed a really good start and I carried that momentum into the first turn. It was all looking good until I tried to change down through the gears but it was like the clutch wouldn’t disengage, so I had to bash down through the ‘box. It meant that the transition wasn’t smooth and as I selected second gear the back end locked up. I’m just sorry that Shinya got caught up in it.”

Red Bull Yamaha WCM
Garry McCoy 10th:
“I was feeling confident out there in the dry, and I was amazed at the grip that we had with the slicks, but it was raining enough to call the race. For the restart we opted to run a full wet front and an intermediate rear, but the track dried up so quickly that within only a few laps the front was all over the place. In these conditions it’s a gamble, and you need a little luck on your side.”

Noriyuki Haga DNS