Biaggi bags M1 win number two


Max Biaggi slammed home win number two on the Marlboro Yamaha YZR-M1 with a textbook ride during a sweltering Malaysian MotoGP, held October 13. The second place qualifier held his ground during the 22-bike charge into turn one, entering just behind Motegi race winner Alex Barros (Honda), before shadowing the race leader until a somewhat ragged Valentino Rossi (Honda) worked his way through the pursuing field and began to close the gap. Soon after setting a new circuit lap record, with a 2’04.925 – 1.693 seconds faster than Rossi’s 2001 time (2’06.618) – Biaggi made his move and took control of the race. From lap 11 the Italian left Rossi, Barros and Tohru Ukawa (Honda) to fight it out amongst themselves over the remaining podium positions, the trio finishing second to fourth respectively. The result now returns Biaggi (189pts) to second place in the championship, seven points ahead of Ukawa (182pts) and 30 points ahead of Barros (159pts).

Fifth placed Daijiro Kato (Honda) held off four-stroke debutant Shinya Nakano (Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3) who’d made up for a somewhat average qualifying performance on an unfamiliar bike to finish sixth. The Japanese spent the 21-laps learning the limits of the race-winning M1, with each lap bringing him closer to Carlos Checa (Marlboro Yamaha Team), and eventually past on lap 13 – Nakano finishing 1.360 seconds ahead of the Spaniard.

However, Olivier Jacque’s (Gauloises Yamaha Tech3) four-stroke debut didn’t go as smoothly; the Frenchman was tenth by the third lap before inexperience ended his race in the gravel-trap. Norick Abe took up from where Jacque had left off and competed the top ten on the second highest placed two-stroke – Loris Capirossi (Honda) the first, one place further up the field in ninth.

Marlboro Yamaha Team
Max Biaggi 1st:
“When you win it’s the best day of your life and I’m very, very happy today because this is a very difficult race, the most difficult of the year. I managed to stay second after the start, and when I saw Rossi and Ukawa closing on me and Barros, I went ahead and tried to run a good pace. The heat was incredible, and when you see ‘+0.0’ and ‘+0.2’ on your pitboard all race it’s very tough and not easy to concentrate. But I like this kind of race – push hard and control. I must say thank you to Michelin who are making great tyres. The four-strokes make much more power than the two-strokes, so of course the rear tyre does spin, but with good traction. I’d also like to dedicate this win to my team and to Yamaha. They all put in so much effort, even though I won’t be with them next year, but I think I’ve also proven that I don’t give up.”

Carlos Checa 7th: “We weren’t able to set up the bike for this track, we lost our way and I’ve not felt confident all weekend. I didn’t have the grip to keep rolling the bike into the turns and I couldn’t open the gas out of the corners, I was almost stopped mid-turn. My team worked hard and we tried many things but now we need to analyse what happened here, maybe we will compare our race data to Max’s data.”

YZR-M1 project leader Ichiro Yoda: “Max made a great job today. He now understands the character of the machine, so he can set it up well. During practice and qualifying we worked hard to perfect the spring balance and chassis balance to help the tyres, and also the engine character to make the bikes easier to ride out of the corners. This worked well for Max but not so well for Carlos; he’s had a difficult weekend and didn’t have so much confidence in the bike.”

Gauloises Yamaha Tech 3
Shinya Nakano 6th:
“I’m very happy with that; I got off to a good start and then on the first lap I was able to pass two or three riders, which set me up for the rest of the race. I was able to see Carlos ahead of me; I think the gap was around two seconds, so I tried to stay around that distance from him. But in the beginning it was very difficult because I was still learning about the limits of the bike. Then, from about the middle of the race I began to understand the four-stroke a little better, how to slide the tyres, the line to take, and I saw that I was closing the gap. Eventually I made the pass on Carlos, and it stuck, which made up for a bad qualifier and is my way of saying thank you to Yamaha for this chance.”

Olivier Jacque DNF: “I’d managed to get off the line well, and I think I was up around tenth place when I went into that fast right-hand turn a little too enthusiastically, on an unfamiliar bike, and the back end came around on me. Considering the speed of the fall I was lucky to get away with only a bruised right ankle, it could have been a lot worse. I’m so relieved that I’ll be able to ride at Phillip Island next week, but I’m also a little disappointed not to get more race experience on the M1.”

Antena 3 Yamaha d’Antin
Norick Abe 10th:
“I tried very hard today, I tried my best, but I had to, to make up for a mistake off the start. It meant that I missed out on getting a tow from some of the faster riders. I was battling with McWilliams and Ryo and a few others, but for most of the race I was ahead of this group, which made it a long and tough race. My laptimes weren’t great, but they were very consistent, which meant that my overall race time was actually faster than Valentino’s race winning time from last year. It was a good way to end with the two-stroke, but now I’m looking forward to Phillip Island and riding the M1.”

José Luis Cardoso 16th: “Yesterday afternoon we had a few problems with the chassis set-up so we tried something new this morning, and it still didn’t work. The only thing left to do was to go back to the set-up we used on Saturday morning and, along with the start I made, it helped. I was in amongst Laconi and Hopkins, which was good experience for me, and eventually I finished 16th ahead of the four-stroke Aprilia.”

Red Bull Yamaha WCM
Garry McCoy 15th:
“That was the best I could do, it was tough work out there and I rode the hardest that I could with the package I had, and all to score only one point. It was a big struggle just to keep the bike upright. From early on in the race the tyres lost their edge grip and I was sliding sideways in to and out of almost every corner. I just couldn’t carry any corner-speed at all, so I just decided to have fun.”

John Hopkins 18th: “What can I say. I crashed, similar to how I did in qualifying, and even though I was able to get back out there it was a bad race weekend for me. I got a bad start, after a bad qualifying, and got caught behind some slower riders.”