Olivier ousted while Max scores another 2nd


The ‘Jacque-Attack’ was back in form at the ninth round of the MotoGP World Championship, held at the Sachsenring on July 21. Olivier Jacque (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) was in a class of his own, and looked set to score the first, and possibly the championship’s only two-stroke 2002 MotoGP victory when the win was knocked clean from his grasp. After taking the first two-stroke pole of the season, the Frenchman found himself trailing Max Biaggi (Marlboro Yamaha Team), Tohru Ukawa (Honda) and Alex Barros (Honda) into the first tight right-hander. Then, with a string of fast, aggressive, but clean laps, Jacque was running second before taking the race lead from Valentino Rossi (Honda) on lap 24. Barros followed the former GP250 World Champion through the gap and then made an overenthusiastic attempt on the lead, while entering turn one three laps from the end. The end result saw the Honda’s front tyre fold, collecting the Frenchman on its way into the gravel trap.

This left the road to victory clear for Rossi and the defending MotoGP World Champion went on to take a close win from Biaggi. The YZR-M1-mounted Italian had timed the start to perfection, but fell back through the field during the opening few laps while adapting to a last minute geometry change. Then, by mid race distance, with 1.5 seconds still covering the top eighth riders, Biaggi began his run through the field to finish 0.730 seconds behind Rossi and 1.100 seconds ahead of eventual third placed Ukawa.

Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team) worked his way through from tenth on the grid to finish the German round just off the podium – ahead of Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) and Norick Abe (Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin), the latter improving nine places on his qualifying performance. In all 13 riders completed the 30-lap event, with seven retirements; the most spectacular a three-bike pileup that included Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki), Daijiro Katoh (Honda) and Sete Gibernau (Suzuki).

John Hopkins was a non-starter after breaking two bones in his left had during the second and final qualifying session. He’s expected to be full fit for the Czech MotoGP in four weeks but the decision has ended the young American’s perfect points scoring run.

Marlboro Yamaha Team
Max Biaggi 2nd:
“I’m very, very satisfied with the result, a gift from poor Jacque and Barros. I rode my own race, though the first few laps were difficult because I was struggling with the weight of the bike and a full tank of gas. Also, we changed the geometry after warm-up. I hadn’t had a chance to test it, so it took me five or six laps to get used to the feeling, and then I started pushing hard. I got McWilliams, Abe and Nakano, then caught up the front guys but it was tough to overtake. Who knows what would’ve happened if Jacque and Barros hadn’t crashed? Yamaha and the team are working very hard and we’re progressing well. Now I’m off on holiday – maybe ten days on a boat doing nothing, having fun with my girlfriend and friends.”

Carlos Checa 4th: “My start wasn’t so bad, I passed a few guys and near the end I was thinking of trying to take Ukawa but the leaders raised their pace in the final laps, so I didn’t get the chance. All weekend we struggled to find a set-up that worked through the faster part of the track. I tried everything to be quicker through there, including adapting my riding style and body position, but I was always losing time through the fast downhill and uphill corners. Now we take a break from racing and I think we need it, everyone’s been working so hard this year.”

YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda: “I enjoyed that race very much, but first I’d just like to give my condolences to Olivier, he was very unlucky. Both our riders tried very hard and now we will analyze the data to study the difference between the two-stroke and the four-stroke, so that we can make more improvements to our bike. Now we have a month’s break before the next race, but we will still be working hard in the run-up to Brno.”

Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3
Shinya Nakano 5th:
“That was a handful of a race, so competitive that there was nothing in it, even from where I was watching. Since I didn’t get the greatest of starts I paid the price today. Even though I was still very close to the leaders it was just too difficult to make the pass at this track. Mind you I didn’t want to finish seventh or eighth today so I did my best and made an aggressive pass on Norick on the last lap. The whole way through the turn the front was sliding, but it stuck enough to get me the place and I finally finished fifth.”

Olivier Jacque DNF: “I could see that Rossi was faster through some of the key sections of the track so I let him by and took advantage of his slipstream in an attempt to break the tow of Barros. Then, near the end, Rossi made a mistake and I pounced on the chance. Just when I was starting to think that I might take my first 500 win Barros came in too hot into turn one. I tried to lift the bike up out of his way but he’d lost the front and took me with him. I’m disappointed, but not with the way I rode today. I hope people can see that I’m trying my best and that I’m still very hungry for the win.”

Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin
Norick Abe 6th:
“I was very happy with my start; I think I made up something like nine places but I couldn’t get past Checa. His bike was just too fast. I was planning on making a last-lap, last-corner move, by setting up for it the corner before, but someone made the move on me. It was a silly mistake from my side, I was so concentrated on Checa that I didn’t protect my line and Shinya got me. Still sixth is ok.”

José Luis Cardoso 13th: “It’s such a shame, I didn’t think I’d jumped the start but clearly I did. I’m disappointed because I felt quite comfortable on the bike, and the tyres were perfect, so I thought I was in for a chance at a top ten result.”

Red Bull Yamaha WCM
Garry McCoy 9th:
“I didn’t quite make the start I was hoping for and then it got a bit messy entering turn one for the first time. Kagayama slammed it home in front of me and it was difficult to get around him, but once I did it felt good to be back in amongst it. I think it’s a case that I am still getting into the swing of those first few laps, not that I’ve forgotten how to race, it’s just that it’s taking me a little longer to get race-aggressive more than I’d like.”

John Hopkins DNS