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FastDates.com April 2003
Page 1 • Racing & Calendar News
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This Week's Starting Grid: World Superbike at Sugo -
   Sete Gibernau takes an emotional MotoGP win a Welkom

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Sete Gibernau (15) on the Honda caught Troy Bayliss' leading (12) Ducati 8 laps into the race. They traded the lead in a heated fight for 2 laps before Sete was finally able to pull away. Troy then battle Valentino Rossi for a few laps over 2nd place before Troy eventually dropped back to 4th behind Max Biaggi. The new Desmodici was more than a match for the works RC211 V Hondas.

Moto GP World Championship Round 2, Grand Prix of South Africa at Phakisa Freeway

Sete Gibernau Wins An Emotional,
Exciting MotoGP in South Africia

Welkom, South Africia, Sunday April 27: It was an incredible and a highly emotion charged weekend as Sete Gibernau on the Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V payed hommage to his fallen team mate Daijiro Kato who died 5 days earlier from his crash injury sustained 2 weeks earlier at the Suzuka MotoGP season opener, with Sete qualifing on the pole at the South African MotoGP and then going on today to win the race. Sete's win came after an early race battle with former World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss on the Ducati Desmodici, with Troy leading the early laps of the race in what was his 2nd ever MotoGP race before a wrong tire choice cause Bayliss to drop back to 4th as reigning MotoGP Champ Valentino Rossi on the Repsol Honda closed up on Giberarnau for 3nd at the finish line

Under a typical burning South African sun in a cloudless sky, 44,000 race fans prepared for the Africa’s Grand Prix in the aftermath of Daijiro Kato’s death. An extra emotional content that was palpable even before the pitlane observed a heart-rending minute’s silence for the hugely missed Japanese star. The drama unfolded even before the race began when the Suzuki of Kenny Roberts laid a trail of oil around the first third of the track when an oil line fractured and sprayed the racing line with the treacherous fluid. The start was delayed for 50 minutes while the marshals cleaned up the mess and rendered the 4.242km track race-ready again.

Then the delayed start itself was a chaotic affair with Colin Edwards (Aprilia) clipping another machine after losing traction on a dirty part of the track. His bike collected his team-mate Noriyuki Haga, while Edwards
himself mercifully slid through the field unscathed largely thanks to the efforts of Jeremy McWilliams (Proton) who took to the grass to avoid the Texan. While all this unfolded Troy Bayliss (Ducati) took the opportunity to make headway at the front of the pack with Sete Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda
RC211V) behind him and Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) and Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) in unfamiliarly distant pursuit.

Bayliss was making the most of his chance at the front but Gibernau was relentlessly pegging the Aussie back and by lap 11 he scythed past him and prepared to put more daylight between his RC211V and his pursuers. His biggest threat would prove to be Rossi who hunted him down in the closing stages of the race, but could not catch the scintillating Spaniard.

Gibernau won by 0.363 seconds from Rossi with Max Biaggi in third just over five seconds adrift of the winner. Gibernau’s win was one of the most warmly received victories MotoGP has seen and his dignified determination under dreadful circumstances will be long remembered. “There are no words that can
say how I really feel,” he explained. “I felt Daijiro with me in qualifying and in the race and I’d like to thank everyone in the sport for giving me the courage to do this for someone we will hold in our hearts for the rest of our lives.”

Ducati Marlboro Team rider Troy Bayliss rode a storming race – snatching the holeshot from the third row of the grid and leading the race until after one-third distance. And the hard-charging Aussie had never even ridden Welkom before Friday! After loosing the lead to Gibernau on lap 8, Bayliss enjoyed a frantic mid-race battle with World Champion Valentino Rossi (Honda), then eased his pace in the late stages as he found himself all alone in fourth place.

“My start wasn’t so bad, but I only missed Nakano by millimetres after he seemed to stall!” said Bayliss who amazed with his awesome getaway. “I was thinking: ‘I shouldn’t be out front just yet, maybe not for another couple of races!’. I took it a little steady, checking the mess from the oil, then it was just nice to be part of the action, because that’s what it’s all about. I had a good go with Valentino, it was good to be in the race, it’s been a while. The bike was working really well, the only problem was that we’d lifted the footpegs a little, and that was really uncomfortable for my knees. I kind of cruised the last ten laps because I knew then that I couldn’t do any better than fourth. The team’s done a great job here, we’ve still got some things to learn, but we’re all looking forward to Jerez.”

Valentino Rossi (Repsol Honda RC211V) who had been suffering form flu all weekend recovered sufficiently to feel reasonably satisfied with second. “That was a very fun race and I am very happy with the result,” he said. “Really this is the best second place I’ve ever had. I am so happy for Sete, he rode very well and really had the feeling he was riding with a little help from Daijiro. I had a good battle first with Bayliss, then Biaggi and in the end Sete. Who knows what would have happened if there were a few more laps.”

Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) suffered a slight drop in power that was enough to prevent him making as strong a challenge as he would have liked. “On the warm-up lap I’d already noticed that the engine had lost about 10% of its power,” he said. “It was a shame because I think that we could have done even better in this race. But in any case I’m happy that Sete won, which was the best way to remember Kato.”

Loris Capirossi, 3rd place on the podium just 2 weeks earlie at Suzuka, had high expectations for today’s race but his hopes were dashed on the very first lap when he ran off the track at turn two. The Ducati Marlboro Team man rejoined the race, ending the first lap down in 13th, then found it very difficult to make up places because the oil mess prevented him from taking the lines he needed to make a pass. After moving into 11th he ran off the track again on lap eight, ending up at the back of the pack. After that he decided to retire.

“Not such a great day,” said a disappointed Capirossi. “The start was hectic, Biaggi and I collided on the way to turn one, which lost me some places, but the bike was running perfect, so I was confident. But then I ran onto the grass at turn two because of the oil mess, which was a real problem for me after that. When I ran off again and had no chance of making the points, I thought it sensible to stop. It’s a shame because I had hopes of a good race, the bike has once again shown that it’s very strong.”

Capirossi’s Desmosedici headed the top-speed charts at Welkom, just as he did at Suzuka three weeks ago, with a best speed of 170mph on the tight and twisty course which had no really high speed straights. Alex Barros was the top placing Yamaha rider in 5th place.

For a man who won here last year, Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) had every right to feel slightly deflated with sixth. “I hoped for more from this weekend,” he said. “We picked a tyre that was too hard and the grip was not great in the first few laps. Despite that I pushed hard but it was really impossible to go any quicker. I wasn’t physically perfect after my Friday crash and set-up wasn’t perfect either.”

The MotoGP World Championship points table now shows a Honda top three with Rossi leading with 45 points, Gibernau second with 38 and Biaggi in close touch with 36.

MotoGP: Race Classification MotoGP (28 laps = 118.776 km)
1/Sete GIBERNAU /SPA /Telefónica Movistar Honda /HONDA/44'10.398/161.331
2/Valentino ROSSI /ITA /Repsol Honda /HONDA/44'10.761/161.309
3/Max BIAGGI /ITA /Camel Pramac Pons /HONDA/44'15.471/161.023
4/Troy BAYLISS /AUS /Ducati Marlboro Team /DUCATI/44'23.004/160.568
5/Alex BARROS /BRA /Gauloises Yamaha Team /YAMAHA/44'29.328/160.187
6/Tohru UKAWA /JPN /Camel Pramac Pons /HONDA/44'29.511/160.176
7/Nicky HAYDEN /USA /Repsol Honda /HONDA/44'30.554/160.114
8/Norick ABE /JPN /Fortuna Yamaha Team /YAMAHA/44'31.268/160.071
9/Carlos CHECA /SPA /Fortuna Yamaha Team /YAMAHA/44'32.523/159.996
10/Olivier JACQUE /FRA /Gauloises Yamaha Team /YAMAHA/44'35.616/159.811
11/Shinya NAKANO /JPN /d'Antín Yamaha Team /YAMAHA/44'46.301/159.175
12/Nobuatsu AOKI /JPN /Proton Team KR /PROTON KR/44'49.656/158.977
13/John HOPKINS /USA /Suzuki Grand Prix Team /SUZUKI/45'00.628/158.331
14/Makoto TAMADA /JPN /Pramac Honda /HONDA/45'11.839/157.676
15/Kenny ROBERTS /USA /Suzuki Grand Prix Team /SUZUKI/45'14.540/157.519
Fastest Lap : Valentino ROSSI – 1m33.851 - 162.717 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 ROSSI 45, 2 GIBERNAU 38, 3 BIAGGI 36, 4 BAYLISS 24, 5 BARROS 19, 6 HAYDEN 18
7 CAPIROSSI 16, 8 ABE 13, 9 CHECA 13, 10 NAKANO 12, 11 EDWARDS 10,
12 UKAWA 10, 13 JACQUE 7, 14 HOPKINS 6, 15 HAGA 4.

250 GP Race to Aprilia's Poggiali
Manuel Poggiali (Aprilia) won the 250cc race from Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) after making up for a poor start with a steady progress into the lead by lap six. The pair exchanged fastest laps throughout their battle but Poggiali never relinquished his lead despite the best efforts of de Puniet on the final lap. Franco Battaini (Aprilia) was third. Sebastian Porto (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS250RW) made the utmost of a finely-tuned chassis set-up to compensate for a lack of power that plagued himall weekend. He finished fourth after dicing with Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) for the final third of the race.

250cc: Race Classification 250cc (26 laps = 110.292 km)
1/Manuel POGGIALI /RSM /MS Aprilia Team /APRILIA/42'14.305/156.670
2/Randy De Punet /FRA /Safilo Oxydo-LCR /APRILIA/42'14.920/156.632
3/Franco BATTAINI /ITA /Campetella Racing /APRILIA/42'19.946/156.322
4/Sebastian PORTO /ARG /Telefonica Movistar jnr Team /HONDA/42'26.452/155.923
5/Roberto ROLFO /ITA /Fortuna Honda /HONDA/42'27.272/155.873
6/Anthony WEST /AUS /Team Zoppini Abruzzo /APRILIA/42'33.874/155.470
7/Fonsi NIETO /SPA /Team Repsol Telefonica Movist /APRILIA/42'37.385/155.256
8/Toni ELIAS /SPA /Team Repsol Telefonica Movist /APRILIA/42'41.601/155.001
9/Sylvain GUINTOLI /FRA /Campetella Racing /APRILIA/42'44.492/154.826
10/Naoki MATSUDO /JPN /Yamaha Kurz /YAMAHA/42'45.752/154.750
11/Hector FAUBEL /SPA /Aspar Junior Team /APRILIA/42'45.816/154.746
12/Alex BALDOLINI /ITA /Matteoni Racing /APRILIA/42'53.616/154.277
13/Eric BATAILLE /FRA /Troll Honda BQR /HONDA/42'54.514/154.223
14/Johan STIGEFELT /SWE /Team Zoppini Abruzzo /APRILIA/43'01.061/153.832
15/Chaz DAVIES /GBR /Aprilia Germany /APRILIA/43'09.138/153.352
Fastest Lap: Manuel POGGIALI - 1m36.649 - 158.006 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
1 POGGIALI 50, 2 BATTAINI 27, 3 PORTO 26, 4 AOYAMA 20, 5 DE PUNIET 20,
6 ROLFO 20, 7 NIETO 19, 8 TAKAHASHI 16, 9 MATSUDO 14, 10 GUINTOLI 13,
11 WEST 10, 12 ELIAS 8 13 KAYO 7, 14 DEBON 5, 15 FAUBEL 5.

SBK World Superbike Championship Sugo Round 3

Hodgsen Scores Another SBK Double in Japan
Sugo, Japan, April 27, 2003: Britain’s Neil Hodgson scored Ducati’s first victory in Japan since 1995 as he powered to his fifth and sixth wins of the season at the Sugo Sportsland circuit. Fellow Brit Carl Fogarty was the last rider to take the honours for the Italian manufacturer when he won race 2 in his 1995 championship-winning year. Neil’s third successive double win of the year also took Ducati’s total race win haul to 199 in 16 years of World Superbike.

Hodgson’s superb start from the outside of row 2 helped him avoid the first corner pile-up that eliminated three top riders, Corser (Foggy Petronas), Walker (HM Plant Ducati) and Chili (PSG-1 Ducati). Hodgson then passed Laconi for the lead on lap 4 and took the chequered flag a comfortable 7 seconds ahead of the Frenchman. “If I hadn’t got such a good start, I might have been involved in the crash” declared Neil, “so I was really pleased with my start. Because of the limited practice time in the dry, I’d only tried my race tyre once so I took things easy on the first lap and then in the middle I eased off a bit as well. We are on a brand-new bike and when you come to a new circuit, you’ve got no baseline settings so we had to work that bit harder than usual”.

Hodgson was made to work much harder for his win in race 2. After swerving at the start to avoid Laconi (NCR Ducati) on the front row, he then took the lead on lap 5 from Lavilla. The Suzuki rider pressured him until lap 20 before Hodgson broke away to take his sixth successive win. “It was pretty scary at the start because Laconi almost stopped in front of me and I had to shut the throttle” declared Neil. “Gregorio gave me a hard time today, he kept the pressure on and his Suzuki and my Ducati were pretty evenly matched. Five laps to go I picked up the pace deliberately and that was enough. The old Neil Hodgson wouldn’t have done that but I’m starting to use my head a bit now and administer the races better!”.

Ruben Xaus came away from Sugo with two fourth places, which keep him in second place in the table. The Spanish rider was lucky not to get caught out in the first corner incident in race 1 and lost a lot of time. Then in race 2 he had a good start and moved into fourth on lap 9, a position he held to the flag after a great scrap with Toseland. “I started 12th and finished 4th twice today so that’s quite good” declared Ruben. “I was really slow in the first split and it was here that I lost the race and the whole weekend. That was the only reason – between the second corner entry and third corner exit, everyone was faster than me. The bike felt mine today, and only today. In the warm-up we improved a lot and I had a better feeling with the bike in both races today. I think if I hadn’t lost all that time in the first split, I could have been fighting with Lavilla and Chili for sure”.

RACE 1: 1. Hodgson (Ducati Fila); 2. Laconi (NCR Ducati); 3. Toseland (HM Plant Ducati); 4. Xaus (Ducati Fila); 5. Lavilla (Suzuki); 6. Izutsu (Honda); etc.
RACE 2: 1. Hodgson; 2. Lavilla; 3. Chili (PSG-1 Ducati); 4. Xaus; 5. Toseland; 6. Isutsu.
POINTS (after 3 of 12 rounds): Riders – 1. Hodgson 150; 2. Xaus 106; 3. Lavilla 75; 4. Toseland 67; 5. Laconi 63; 6. Walker 48; etc. Manufacturers – 1. Ducati 150; 2. Suzuki 75; 3. Foggy Petronas 43; 4. Kawasaki 31; 5. Honda 20; 6. Yamaha 16.

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Accident Investigation Committee to be Established to Probe Cause of MotoGP Rider Daijiro Kato’s Accident
April 25, 2003 – Honda has announced that it will establish an independent third party Accident Investigation Committee, to be chaired by Professor Ichiro Kageyama of Nihon University’s College of Industrial Technology, to conduct minute analysis on Daijiro Kato’s MotoGP accident at Suzuka Circuit, in an attempt to identify the cause of the crash.

Since immediately after the crash, Honda has been analyzing the accident vehicle with Honda Racing Corporation in order to clarify the cause of the accident, however, there has been no analytical data retrieved thus far which would suggest that there was any type of irregularity with the motorcycle.

Witnesses to how injured Kato's body was handled after the crash by Suzuka track and ambulance personel, who failed to stabilize his head and body before placing him in the ambulance and transporting him away, may have contributed to the spinal and brain stem injuries which led to his death a week later.

Capirissi Takes Front Row Start After a Tumble
Loris Capirossi rode a remarkable qualifying sessionat Welkom on Saturday. The Ducati Marlboro Team man was making a charge for pole position in the final ten minutes when he slid off his Desmosedici into turn two. Unfazed by the fall, he immediately rode back to the pits, collected his other bike and put in his fastest lap of the weekend, lifting himself from fifth to fourth quickest, just 0.234 seconds off pole.
“It’s important to be on the front row here, because it’s so difficult to pass, it’s not like Suzuka,” said the Italian, who started from row four in Japan but was second into the first turn. “We were focusing on some important tests for the race, rather than going for lap times. But don’t forget, we came here with no data for this circuit, and we’ve had just four hours track time, so anywhere on the front row has to be good! After the crash I took my second bike, which I don’t like quite so much, but I was able to go fast enough to get a front row. And my best lap would’ve been faster if I hadn’t had to pass another rider at the final hairpin.”

South African MotoGP Quotes
Sete Gibernau, Telefonica Movistar Honda, 1st: "I dedicate this victory to
Daijiro, it was as if he was riding with me today. I would like to thank
everyone, from Fausto to the whole team who knew how to find the strength to react after the loss of my team-mate. As I said yesterday, it has fallen to me to be the visible head of a tribute I think is on behalf of everyone – teams, riders and motorcycle fans – in honour of Daijiro. I give my thanks for all the support we have received because this has given us the energy to win. I
really wanted victory today and I have no words to express how I feel."

Fausto Gresini, Team Manager: "I am excited, happy and proud of Sete and the team. At a time like this the emotion is so strong that the words just don't come out. Daijiro is with us, we felt him strongly today."

Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team: 2nd: “That was a very fun race and I am very happy with the result. Really this is the best second I have ever had. I am so happy for Sete. I feel he rode very well and really had the feeling he was riding with a little help for Daijiro. I had a good battle first with Bayliss, then Biaggi and in the end Sete. Who knows what would have happened if there were a few more laps!”

Max Biaggi, Camel Pramac Pons: 3rd: “‘This podium finish is worth as gold, for the way it came. This morning, in the warm lap, the bike was perfect, but in the warm up lap of the race, I soon got the feeling that the engine had the same problem of Friday. It lost some power. It’s a shame because the bike normally has a higher potential, and today I could really fight for victory. I made a good start, I soon felt confident enough to ride fast on the filler also (the start of the race was delayed to allow the stewards to clean the track by the oil left by Roberts’s bike) and I can assure, it affects you when you have to put the tyres on it. But I couldn’t ride as fast as in the morning and I had to take many risks and, when Rossi passed me I had my feet in the air trying to control the bike. But is ok, I started the season in a positive way. Sete won the race, and this was also good, for his team. So, I look forward to the next race!

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SBK Fast Dates 2003

Garage Girls 2003

Give our Miss SBK Fast Dates World Superbike Nicki Lane your support as she attempts to retake her crown!
Nicki writes from the British Isles- "Hello Guys! How`s things in the colonies? All's fine here in London where I'm getting ready for the 2003 Miss Great Britain Pageant on May 16th. It spans a weekend. Taking place in a very swanky private members club called the Elyseum.

All us girls will be staying at the Royal Horseguards Hotel. Hope I'm not sharing with another model as I will never get in the bathroom. Friday consists of press calls, photo sets, hair and makeup practice and rehersels. Saturday much the same, but the real pageant is on the night with filming for TV. Unfortunately in this country we don`t do talent sections ( it's a shame as I am sure I`d have the male judges votes with a couple of naked backflips!!!)

Speaking of being naked, I look forward to coming back to California in July for World Superbike and The LA Calendar Motorcycle Show, so I can take up my favourite hobby of naked sunbathing once again to avoid unsightly tan lines ha ha!! I'll see you all soon! Cheers!" -Nicki Lane, Miss Great Britain 2001.

Vist Nicki and the other Contestants on the Miss Great Britain website www.miss-great-britain.com

Pikes Peak, Colorado, USA (Tuesday, April 22) – Australia’s Mat Mladin may be leading the 2003 American Superbike Championship at present, but this position has not altered his Yoshimura Suzuki team’s attitudes to continually improve the Suzuki GSX-R1000 that they are campaigning for the first time in the championship.

Fresh from a double victory at the California Speedway in Fontana (April 6), Mladin has had little time to relax as he and his Yoshimura Suzuki team have completed two valuable test sessions at Road Atlanta (Georgia) and Pikes Peak (Colorado) over the past week.

As he has been for much of this season, Mladin was the fastest rider at the three-day Road Atlanta test which was held last week. With all of the major teams present, Mladin recorded a best time of 1:23.88 around the Georgian circuit, outpacing teammate Aaron Yates who recorded the second fastest time of the test with a 1:24.18.

“It was a good test for us at Road Atlanta as we were able to get further ahead with the bike,” said Mladin. “With the new bike we have had a lot more input and attention from Suzuki, who sent out two of their leading technicians for the test. To have these people present at the test is invaluable. We can learn so much from it and getting a better understanding of what we are doing with the bike.”

“At the end we were consistently quicker than the other guys, so that’s the main thing. We were quick from when we first rolled the bike out of the truck on the first day, so that’s a nice feeling in itself.”

“We have been able to improve the chassis set up of the bike immensely over what it was early in the year. It’s a shame we aren’t heading back to Daytona to race this year, because the bike is running so much better now than what it was in March and we have sorted the chassis out to a point where we are getting much more improved tyre wear.”

“The new Suzuki is coming along nicely, but we are still down a little bit on top end speed, which does come down to the aerodynamic package that we have. Some of the other teams have spent a lot of time working on this area, but we are still to do so.”

With the Road Atlanta test completed, the team headed to Pikes Peak in Colorado where they tested for the past two days. In contrast to the Road Atlanta test, they were the only team present at Colorado.

“Pikes Peak is certainly one track that I’ve struggled on in the past, so it was good to come up and get our bike onto an oval type track and see what happens. The lap times were encouraging compared to what we did last year, so we were very happy with what we have achieved here along with last weeks test.”

With this series of testing completed, Mladin is preparing himself for the upcoming double header round (rounds 4 & 5) of the championship at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California on May 3 & 4. The three-times AMA Superbike champion heads the championship points chase with a total of 99 points, seven clear of Honda’s Miguel DuHamel.