News Report 17 September 2006

2006 MotoGP Phillip Island

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Phillip Island
4445 m
09 / 17 / 2006
Time to be confirmed

Rossi salvages podium in dramatic flag to flag race at Phillip Island


Valentino Rossi clinched the final spot on the podium with a daring manoeuvre in the very last corner of a dramatic flag-to-flag race, the first of its kind in MotoGP, held in mixed weather conditions at Phillip Island this afternoon. The drama started on the warm-up lap when a light shower meant that the race was recalled as wet, giving the riders chance to change tyres on the grid. However, with track conditions still relatively dry they all opted to stay on slicks until the rain intensified – Rossi eventually coming in to pit on lap eight, having battled back to third after dropping to ninth after a poor start from the front row.

The Italian’s team-mate Colin Edwards had also been about to come in and change his tyres on the same lap but the American was caught out by a slippery patch of track in the middle of the second corner, which caused the rear tyre of his YZR-M1 machine to lose grip and step out before digging in again and throwing him over the handlebars. Edwards landed hard on his backside and was badly winded but thankfully he escaped any serious injury.

Rossi jumped onto his second bike and headed back out onto the track, although over-cautiousness on the wet tyres saw him lose several places and drop to eighth. After a brief battle with eventual winner Marco Melandri (Honda), Rossi took a few laps to carefully judge the condition of a track that had now begun to dry out again, making the performance of the wet tyres difficult to predict. Over the closing laps he picked up his pace and launched a typical charge past several riders, culminating in a thrilling final corner move on Sete Gibernau (Ducati) that sealed third place and moved him up to second in the championship, 21 points behind Nicky Hayden (Honda), who finished fifth. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) completed the podium in second place.

Valentino Rossi (3rd; +10.526)
“I’m a little disappointed with third place because I know that in dry conditions we had a very good set-up and I think the result could have been better. Anyway, we can’t do anything about the weather and in these circumstances I have to be thankful for third place because we have pulled some more points back on Nicky. After we changed the bike I lost a few places because I didn’t have a good feeling initially on the wet tyre. Honestly I think this was my fault because once I found my rhythm I realized my M1 was in good shape and I was able to push more. I’m really happy with the second half of the race because the gap to Sete was seven seconds, but I made my mind up to try and pass him and my bike and my Michelin tyre worked very well to the end. I saw the red dot getting bigger and bigger and to pass him in the last corner was excellent. I would have liked to win for the sixth time here but at least I got to celebrate on the podium in front of all these wonderful fans. Now we are 21 points behind – it is a lot, but not impossible.”
Colin Edwards (DNF)
“That was a weird race. I actually got a decent start and I felt comfortable out there, but I think this flag to flag racing is dangerous. I think most of us thought we’d just keep riding until somebody crashed, and wouldn’t you just know it – that person was me. I’d actually made my mind up to pit and I held my leg out to the crew as I came down the straight to warn them, so I wasn’t pushing any harder than I had done on the previous lap. I was off the brakes and off the gas, just tipping it into turn two, when the rear stepped out then dug in and threw me into a handstand. I came down real hard on my backside and that’s where the pain is right now. I’m extra disappointed because we’d done a good job with the bike this weekend and if it stayed dry we were all set for a top result. Unfortunately it seems whenever they put the race back an hour it gives the weather a chance to move in. I guess that’s live television for you!”

Davide Brivio - Camel Yamaha Team Director
“It's good news that Colin is not hurt after his crash, and it's really unlucky that it happened when he was going so well and after he had made such good progress this weekend. He could have had a good race so it's a pity for him. Today with Valentino we got five important points on Hayden, so in such difficult conditions, when it was very easy to make mistakes, we can consider this a very positive result. Well done to everyone in the team for managing a difficult situation so well. Although it wasn't the result we were hoping for today, all in all we're happy.”

Downpour destroys efforts for Tech 3 Yamaha Team at Phillip Island
It was a day that promised so much but delivered very little for the Tech 3 Yamaha Team as a rain shower lashed the Phillip Island circuit just as the Australian Grand Prix commenced. After qualifying in sixth position, there were high hopes for Carlos Checa but these ambitions evaporated as the field charged off the line as rain started falling.

In a historical moment for the sport it was left to the riders to make the decision to enter pit lane to change to their number two Yamaha’s already setup with rain tyres as conditions worsened. Checa and his team mate James Ellison were the first riders to enter the pits to change to wet weather tyres and the decision appeared to pay off as Carlos was in second at one point but without a refined wet-weather set-up and varying conditions the wet weather tyres didn’t last and both riders were forced to re-enter the pits to change machines once again.

Ellison battled on to finish 16th but it was a rare DNF for Carlos as he crashed out on the slippery surface.

Carlos Checa (DNF, Fastest lap 1’31.500)
“I am very disappointed like the rest of the team but there is very little you can do with the weather. I think we did great to start with as we were second but the tyres just didn’t survive and after a few laps the rubber was pretty bad on the left hand side. I decided to stop because it was very dangerous to stay out there. I went out again and in a slow corner I lost the rear and had a soft crash. Overall we had a fair weekend as we have made so much progress but the race was ruined by the weather. There is nothing we can do against that. We tried our best but that is the way things go sometimes. We have a few races left so I hope that we can get a result that reflects all the hard work we have been putting in.”

James Ellison (16th; Fastest lap 1’35.287)
“It was a very weird race that’s for sure. I came in to change but the tyre we chose had no traction so I came in to change again but I still had no grip. I tried out there but it was just a matter of trying to keep the Yamaha upright. It was a day of trying to deal with things that were beyond us but at least I have created history by being the first rider to come in during a wet weather race to change tyres! We just have to cop this race on the chin and regroup for next weekend in Motegi. Who knows, it might be the same next weekend but at least we have learnt a lot here at Phillip Island so I suppose we have to look at the positives of this Grand Prix as we now know how much the Dunlop tyres have improved in the last few races.

Herve Poncharal – Tech 3 Yamaha Team Director
“It was a very disappointing way to end a weekend that worked really well until the rain started to fall, I think all through the weekend we have been very good on race and qualifying tyres. Unfortunately the rain came and I think we made the right decision when Carlos and James came in a lap before the other guys and after a change of tyres allowed him to go out in second position, which was perfect. Unfortunately the tyres went off after three laps then he had to come in again and restarted with intermediates, but unfortunately he crashed out. We didn’t have any rain conditions to practice in this weekend but we definitely made big, big improvements on race tyres but now we have to work on the wet tyres, that is the main thing we have learnt today. It is very disappointing but we look forward to Japan without rain so we can confirm our progress in race conditions.