Rossi claims another win while Checa secures fifth


The final MotoGP race of the 2003 World Championship season, held at Valencia Spain, was dominated by recently crowned world champion Valentino Rossi (Honda). The Italian stamped his authority on the main event, and the championship, with a clean and consistent performance. After breaking the tow of Sete Gibernau (Honda), Loris Capirossi (Ducati), Max Biaggi (Honda) and Carlos Checa (Fortuna Yamaha Team) – the quintet eventually finishing first to fifth respectively – Rossi went on to take the final race win of the year by 0.681 seconds. For Checa, the fifth place result secured seventh place overall in the championship.

Checa produced a reasonable start to the 30-lap MotoGP race and entered turn one in sixth before filtering his way through the field to be as high as fourth. By lap five the 31-year-old Spaniard was all over the rear of the leading trio. But as the race progressed Checa, who opted to run the latest generation Deltabox Yamaha chassis during the race, found that the limited time to set-up his new race package hindered his progress in the latter stages. Although satisfied with the overall progress of the weekend Checa is certain further testing time would have revealed the full potential of the M1’s latest frame.

Gauloises Yamaha Team rider Alex Barros put in a determined ride to finish the day sixth after a difficult start. The Brazilian was as far back as tenth in the first turn before working his way through to the tail end of the top five. Meanwhile Norick Abe (Fortuna Yamaha Team) – drafted into the team to fill in for the injured Marco Melandri – finished a respectable ninth place, after last racing at the Sachsenring round mid way through the 2003 season.

Fortuna Yamaha Team
Carlos Checa 5th:
“I only had two hours on the new chassis this weekend, and not quite enough time to perfect the set-up before the race. It was still a good race, I got some good lap times and I was the fastest of the Yamaha riders. I’m a bit disappointed not to have managed to increase my points standings by more, but I’ve still taken seventh place in the championship. Anyway I can make more progress with the new chassis in our team test this coming week, and try some things we didn’t try this weekend. There is still quite a way to go but I’m optimistic for next year.”

Norick Abe 9th: “I’m not especially happy because I made a bad start and my position at the beginning was not good. By mid-race my tyres were sliding, and I’ve never ridden under these conditions before. I tried a lot of different riding styles during the race and changes in my work with the throttle. Eventually I found a slightly better way to ride and I managed to stay in the same position. I really want to say a big thank you to my staff because they did a lot of work in not much time and all worked really hard this weekend.”

Gauloises Yamaha Team
Alex Barros 6th:
“It was a really difficult race for me. My result wasn’t too bad but I really suffered – I knew it was going to be tough but I didn’t think my rib was going to hurt quite so much. After about 15 laps I could barely ride any more, but Bayliss was trying to come back and so I did what I had to do to hold him off. I started talking to myself to help me keep up my concentration. Right from the start of the season I have been injured one way or another and now I am going back to Brazil to have an operation on my shoulder and get myself back in shape. It will be nice to be home but it won’t be a holiday. I will be working very hard with my physiotherapist to get ready for the 2004 season.”

Olivier Jacque DNF: “I made a good start and managed to get up to tenth place. There was no particular problem with the bike, but it was difficult to turn and lacked speed through the turns. Then towards the end I ran off the track and, although I managed to stay upright, I obviously lost all the places I had gained.”

D’Antin Yamaha Team
Shinya Nakano DNF:
“It was a shame to finish the year this way. It’s been a tough weekend but I was feeling good and confident in the race. I tried to pass Tour on turn two but I couldn’t avoid touching him and finally we crashed. I went to his box to apologize because it was my fault and I was really sorry. This was a positive season, however, and I’m very happy and satisfied with the team and the work they have been doing during the year. It was just a pity not finishing this last race.”