August 29, 2005 Gauloises Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi became the first rider in the history of the MotoGP World Championship to score nine wins for five consecutive seasons, as he clinched victory in the eleventh round of the 2005 campaign at Brno yesterday. Rossi’s record-breaking ride featured an intense battle with Sete Gibernau (Honda) that again came down to a dramatic finale, with Rossi making his definitive pass at the end of the penultimate lap. Gibernau tried to fight back but as Rossi edged clear through the final series of sweeping corners, the Spaniard’s slim hope of a victorious response disappeared completely as he suffered a “fuel starvation” problem and was forced to retire.
Exactly what the fuel starvation was caused by has not been disclosed – many people believe the Honda may have completely run out of petrol, perhaps due to being short-filled, and perhaps because its fuel consumption has increased as Honda technicians search for more power to overcome Yamaha’s secret weapon – the one-of-a-kind throttle controller (aka Valentino Rossi).
While Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Max Biaggi (Honda) made the most of Gibernau’s misfortune to complete the podium, Gibernau is facing yet another searching few months as he battles in the “fly-away” rounds – the non-European grouping of five races (Japan, Malaysia, Qatar, Australia and Turkey) where he was traditionally performed poorly. It is to be hoped that Gibernau can mentally withstand the misfortune that seems to have dogged him all year as Qatar will be the anniversary of his last win – where the infamous grid-cleaning protest led to Gibernau and Rossi’s“falling out.” Rossi has since won every GP but two (won by Checa and Hayden respectively) and can seal the championship title in the next round at Motegi by finishing in the top two. He leads the title by an amazing 132 points with six races (maximum 150 points available) left in the season.
Ducati Marlboro Team rider Capirossi stormed home in the race to eventually inherit second-place, his best result of the year so far. The hard-charging Italian was electrifying in the final stages of the race, closing to within 1.8 seconds of Rossi at the flag. Capirossi is believed to have been on the verge of leaving Ducati in order to have his chance at a world title in the premier class – having already won a 125 and 250 title, the diminutive Italian would immediately step into the all-time-great class should he be able to accomplish the task. Perhaps it’s the growing possibility that his friend Valentino Rossi will move to Formula 1, perhaps it’s the increased competitiveness of the Desmosedici Ducati – whatever it is, there’s every chance Capirossi will stay with Ducati for one more year.
Honda meanwhile must be ruing the day it let Rossi out the door – six riders are now locked in the bettle to be Rossi’s bridesmaid and five of them are on Honda’s payroll, with the fading star of Max Biaggi having now moved into second place in the title with 129 points courtesy of his third at Brno. Melandri’s fourth saw him drop to third in the case with 126 points ahead of Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha YZR-M1 team-mate Colin Edwards on 123 points, Gibernau on 115, Barros on 114, and Hayden on 112. Capirossi sits a further 20 points behind with 92 points and Kawasaki’s Shinja Nakano heads a gaggle of riders in ninth spot with 69 points.
Of the entire list of riders mentioned above, only two are younger than Rossi and could argue their career was still in front of them – Hayden and Melandri. Melandri has lost his early season form which suggested he might become a contender for the win by season’s end, and Hayden now looks the person most likely to inherit the crown should Rossi decide to do something else. Perhaps 250 champion-elect Danny Pedrosa could be added to the list, though it will be a year or two before Pedrosa could be expected to be ready to tackle the Rossi juggernaut.
Gauloises Grand Prix Ceske Republiky Race Classification: 1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 43’56.539: 2. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) +1.837: 3. Max Biaggi (Honda) +3.444: 4. Alex Barros (Honda) +4.148: 5. Nicky Hayden (Honda) +4.363: 6. Marco Melandri (Honda) +11.150: 7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +13.532: 8. Carlos Checa (Ducati) +19.331: 9. Troy Bayliss (Honda) +27.125: 10. Makoto Tamada (Honda) +27.248
World Championship Classification: 1. Rossi 261: 2. Biaggi 129: 3. Melandri 126: 4. Edwards 123: 5. Sete Gibernau (Honda) 115: 6. Barros 114: 7. Hayden 112: 8. Capirossi 92: 9. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) 69: 10. Checa 59
Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team), 1st: “That was one of the hardest races of the season. After the warm-up I saw Sete’s time and I wasn’t sure that I could beat him in the race. I had confidence in the bike but I knew I was a bit slower than him. I spoke with Jeremy Burgess to ask for some modifications to be made to the bike in order to make a better compromise for the whole race and, like always, he and the rest of the team worked at 100% to improve the situation. There were a lot of fast riders out there but Gibernau was my hardest opponent so I tried to push him and put the pressure on from the start. It was a great fight with a lot of overtaking. In the middle of the race I decided to try to go and make a gap, but Sete came back. At the end I did three or four good laps, made the pass on Sete and then did a perfect final lap. Unfortunately Sete had a problem, which was bad luck for him because he deserved to be on the podium. Anyway this is a good win for me and now I just need one more for the title, but it is not over yet.”
Davide Brivio – Gauloises Yamaha team director: “I have to congratulate and thank the whole team, particularly Valentino’s engineers because they followed his requests to modify the bike precisely and gave him the package he needed to take victory today. He made the bike work and put on a great show for the fans with Sete Gibernau, who deserved to be on the podium. Valentino has a good advantage in the championship now and we will go to Motegi looking for the same result. Unfortunately Colin couldn’t do any better than seventh place today but the fight for second place is still very close and he is still in contention having collected nine points today. We will look for some solutions with him during the test and look forward to going to Japan in three weeks’ time.”
Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro, 2nd: "I was angry with my start because normally I'm a very fast starter on the Ducati. But I knew I was strong - I'd had a very good rhythm all weekend because we focused only on our race set-up. Despite the bad start I stayed cool, I just tried to pass the guys one by one. Towards the end of the race my tyres were good and I was faster than the leaders but I didn't have time to attack them. Anyway, I'm so happy with this podium, even though, to tell the truth, I was lucky to get second and I'm sorry for Sete. My thanks to all the people at Bridgestone and also to everyone at Ducati."
Livio Suppo, Ducati MotoGP project manager: "Our thanks go to Loris, who rode brilliantly, to Bridgestone, who've done such a great job over the last few weeks, to Ducati, where all the guys have been working so hard and to our Technical partners as Shell Advance, for their great support. Maybe we were lucky to get second instead of third today, but we've already had our own share of bad luck this season, so maybe we deserved some good luck today! It was a shame that Carlos couldn't fulfil the promise he showed yesterday. Bridgestone made a big step forward here, now we go to Motegi, hoping the new evolution tyres work similarly well at other tracks."
Max Baggi, Repsol Honda: 3rd: “That is an amazing result and one that makes me very happy for both myself and for all my team. It has been a very hard weekend and I knew that the race would be difficult from the fourth row. The start was not so bad but I was touched in turn one when it was all very close and had a very big slide in fourth gear. I composed myself and tried to get the tyres to warm up – especially the left side where we had troubles all weekend. After a few laps I could see that I can make progress – little by little - and it was possible to move up the field. I start to believe I could move forward and I did. We made the best possible result from our position and I hope this is the started of the more positive part of the season for me. For sure it has not been easy so far. We test here for the next two days and I am very much looking forward to the next races with renewed confidence.”
Alex Barros, Camel Honda: 4th: “I would like to say I’m happy to have done a great race, because it was a real battle and very enjoyable, but I’m still not satisfied. As at Sachsenring, I had to attack hard in the first part of the race and then both the front and rear tyres didn’t allow me to fight at the end. Then not only did I make it up alongside Sete and Valentino, but I couldn’t even finish third. In all honesty the story’s a bit different, because on the last lap I would have been able to challenge for the podium, Sete stopped right in front of me, and I had to close the throttle too. However that’s the way it went, we need to think about the next objective, Motegi, and try to make the most of tomorrow’s test to improve our staying power, because in everything else both the Michelins and the bike are perfect.”
Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 5th: “That was really a tough race. I got a good start and was right in there early on. Me and Melandri went back and forth a few times. I just didn’t want to let the leaders get away. I found myself running into some of the corners a little too hot and got a little ragged at times. The pace was so fast up front but that’s what you get with the best riders in the world. They dropped the hammer at the start and just went. I tried my hardest to make my boys proud but it didn’t happen this weekend. It was all good experience and I’m happy to be testing here tomorrow because we’re going to have to be in good shape for the rest of the season.”
Marco Melandri, MoviStar Honda: 6th: “This morning we made a few changes to the bike and I set a good pace that gave me confidence for the race. I got a good start and forced my way into the lead group but over the first few laps I started to lose traction. I pushed my rhythm to try and stay near the front but I really punished the front tyre. From there on I just tried to finish the race. The two days of tests will be really important ahead of Motegi.”
Colin Edwards (Gauloises Yamaha Team), 7th: “I started alright but after five laps we were in trouble. We changed the setting of the bike a little after the warm-up but the track was much warmer than we expected for the race and we loaded up the front a bit too much. It was a repeat of the race at Mugello – the bike was spinning and I couldn’t get any edge grip on the rear. I pushed on the pegs, stood up, leaned back… everything I could think of to make it stick! The positive side is that we still got some points and we’ve got a two-day test coming up where we can work on some of these problems and hopefully find the solution we need. We haven’t tested since Le Mans so it will be nice to have a chance to rack up plenty of hours on the track without the pressure of a Grand Prix, as we get ready for a tough finish to the season.”
Carlos Checa, Ducati Marlboro, eighth: "I was able to push hard during the first few laps but then I felt the tyre performance start to go down. I don't think we chose the best tyre for the day, it looks like Loris made the better choice. The same tyre worked well yesterday, then we tried a used version of the same tyre this morning, and though the performance went down a little, it still seemed like the right choice. We expected it to work better in the race."
Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda: 9th: “Things pretty much went as I expected today. I honestly don’t know what I have to do to go as fast as the front group, because I’m not saving myself, both in practice and the race I’m giving my all, just as my team do too. It felt like I didn’t have grip on the front and so staying ahead of Tamada, who I had a good duel with, was a slight piece of satisfaction. Ninth is better than in the last two races, but we’re not here for that.”
Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda: 10th: “We tried a new race setting today, but we had more negative sides than the positive ones, and this didn’t allow me to result sufficiently fast. I have many problems in breaking. The bike didn’t seem really stable. Compare to yesterday the grip of the bike was lightly better, but the problem in riding the turns it hasn’t been solved and this has slowed me down. The rear tyre allowed me to be really constant during the all 22 laps, but I still don’t find the maximum confidence to push it more. I hope to find a good confidence in Motegi because I want to try anyhow to remain with the fastest. I really care about that race.”
Kenny Roberts Jr., Suzuki, 11th: “It was a difficult race. I think everybody's lap times were consistent from the front to where we were at, so it was difficult to make ground up. Basically everything on the bike stayed pretty consistent and we had a tight battle where we were. I tried to get past Bayliss and Tamada at the end. I was hoping they would make a mistake with each other to help me get past. I tried to out accelerate them all the time but it just wasn’t working. Basically it was a decent race. I still don’t have a lot of energy so I don’t know what the matter is. Hopefully it’s flu or something and I can get over it in the next couple of days.”
Paul Denning, Suzuki Team Manager: “All things considered we’ve got to be very pleased with Kenny’s performance, one of his most competitive dry races of the season so far. He only completed five laps in yesterday’s qualification session and a short run in warm-up this morning. Without his illness and a better qualifying position there may well have been the opportunity to run a few places further up the field. “John’s race was - in terms of a result – less than he expected and probably less than we expected. He battled hard for the whole race but seemed to use up his rear tyre a little bit quicker than Kenny and didn’t have so much left to fight with at the end.
“We are staying on for some testing over the next couple of days and maybe we will be able to find a direction within the setting parts that we have here to take a step forward.
“Nobu did a great consistent job just outside the points on his return to MotoGP racing. As ever he is a great personality to have around the team and I’m sure he will continue his never-ending hard work over the next two days. By the end of Tuesday I think he will be sick of the sight of the Brno race circuit having turned in so many laps! “We move onto Motegi next and we have some new engine parts in the same direction of development that has been happening in the last few races. We hope that those along with the good match between the Bridgestone new generation tyres and the Japanese circuit will help us get some better results. This weekend has confirmed that the direction we are taking in terms of engine development is correct, but we need a lot, lot more to be truly competitive and that’s where everyone’s intentions are lying at the moment.”
Shinya Nakano, Kawasaki, 12th: "My start was not good and I got trapped with some of the Honda riders, there was no room to overtake or push any faster; I lost a lot of time. After five laps I found a very good pace, some 1'59s laps, and I was able to pass Bayliss and battle in the group with the Suzukis and Alex. I tried to push and escape from this group but it was not possible, although I really wanted to finish ahead of Kenny Roberts. But I struggled with rear drive traction off the turns; this was a very hard race, it seems our bike does like Brno very much."
Harald Eckl, Kawasaki Team Manager: "This was the result I expected today. We could see from Loris Capirossi's second place the Bridgestone tyres were competitive at Brno. The main thing now is that we are looking forward to the test here tomorrow, when we will have a new engine specification to evaluate. The opening three laps by Alex were brilliant, he took every opportunity to overtake other riders. Unfortunately Shinya's start was not good, and when you lose time it is difficult to make up."
John Hopkins, Suzuki, 13th: “Not satisfied at all. That’s the best way to state it. We’ve been pushing all weekend and unfortunately we are still suffering with a lack of acceleration and we are having to ride it on the edge. I couldn’t get away from the pack I was in and then later on I dropped down to 13th which is where I finished. It’s good to finish a race after what happened during the weekend in Germany, but I’m very disappointed because I like this track a lot. Unfortunately we didn’t get anywhere near where we wanted to be. It means we’ve got to work harder, not just me, but Suzuki and Bridgestone and be strong at Motegi. I think if I can get through turn one there – unlike the last two years - I can have a hell of a race!”
Toni Elias (Fortuna Yamaha Team), 14th: “When you get away well, and when you are winning, that is when you really enjoy a race, not when you are fighting to get in the points. But it seems we are slowly solving the problems we have, although starting from so far down the grid does not leave you with any real options. The most positive thing was the consistent rhythm I found especially when the tyres were going off and I still managed to match the times of some of the quickerriders for example. I had a couple of moments that made the race exciting. I am not happy with the result, but the important thing is to fight and to progress race by race and to try to match the leading riders. The next two days of testing at Brno will hopefully bring us forward to where we should be.”
Alex Hofmann, Kawasaki 15th; "That was my best ever first lap and I was right in amongst all the action and I was even able to stay ahead of Biaggi. Then for a long time I was behind the Suzukis and I really thought I had a chance of beating them and keeping Bayliss behind me. But over the final laps I struggled with rear grip and there was nothing I could do, not even go one tenth faster, when the others attacked, especially on the straights. Perhaps the other riders in the group did not go 100% at the beginning of the race."
Nobuatsu Aoki, Suzuki, 16th: “I had a pretty lonely race. Immediately after the start I had a small problem which made the top-end low. I thought I might have to pull in or whatever but I tried to manage it and then the engine became a little bit better. I really appreciate what my guys have done. They prepared a good chassis setting. I pushed harder from the middle of the race and I could make a closer gap to Kenny and John’s group. I thought I could catch them up but my back tyre was worn so I couldn’t. I was a little bit disappointed but I have enjoyed the weekend very much and will maybe see you all in Valencia at the last race.”
Ruben Xaus (Fortuna Yamaha Team), 18th: “I didn’t come to Brno in the best possible shape and I just wanted to get through this race as quickly as possible. Now I have done so, I will keep on working hard and I hope the Ruben Xaus that everyone knows will now be back soon.”
Sete Gibernau, MoviStar Honda: dnf – fuel starvation: “Another negative day after a weekend in which we have done a great job during qualifying. This morning we had a good rhythm in the warm up with some low 1’58s, a pace I knew would allow me to fight for the win. In the race I wasn’t able to set the same pace and that was the main problem. In the first three laps I first noticed the problem that eventually prevented me from finishing the race, which topped it off. I’m really disappointed because once again I gave it everything I had and it’s a shame to end the race in this way.”