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Ducati Corse managing director Claudio Domenicali said: "This is a historic moment for Ducati. Winning the riders' and manufacturers' titles in the 999's first year, in a year in which Ducati has had many commitments, is a prestigious achievement. Substituting the 998 was not an easy task but we have managed to prove that the 999 is already an exceptional machine and that Neil has become a successful and mature rider in his first year with us. This victory has also come about thanks to the support of all our partners and sponsors and special thanks must go to Shell, who developed specific Advance lubricants for our engines, and Michelin, with whom we have now won seven riders' titles".
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Ducati Motor Holding President Federico Minoli, commenting on the victory, said: "This is another important chapter in the history of Ducati and the championship-winning 999 will take its pride of place in the Ducati museum! We are very proud of the 999's performance in its first year of racing".
and Superpole has Frankie on top
A flurry of early activity gave the first fastest lap to the man who had scored the fastest lap in regulation qualifying, Gregorio Lavilla, on the Alstare Suzuki. His team-mate Vittorio Iannuzzo did not make the final day of qualifying action, having suffered a severe concussion the previous day. Chris Walker was another missing rider from the Superpole session, having suffered a crash in the morning on Saturday. James Haydon's fall in the morningís timed session also meant that his was out of action in the final untimed session, even though he did not qualify for Superpole per se.
The fully dry track conditions midway through the 50-minute Superpole session was enough to allow a multitude of riders to make their individual fastest lap times and the fastest man of them all was Frankie Chili (PSG-1 Ducati) who finally secured the pole position status he had so desired all season. His late fast lap went unchallenged by Hodgson, despite the Englishman having three laps left to complete, and enough time to get one last attempt in.
Despite hitting the inside of the kerb at the chicane on his earlier fastest lap of the day Neil Hodgson (Ducati Fila 999 F03) stayed aboard to record the second best time, a still impressive 2:01.226, well under the previous track best. In third and fourth places respectively, Gregorio Lavilla (Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila 999 F3) swept all except Chili and Hodgson before them, and were both just in the 2:02 bracket, only a few hundredths away from a 2:01.
The 6.027km Assen track was a challenge for most of the top riders in this battle against the stopwatch, wildcards and regulars alike. John Reynolds, a wild card from the BSB Championship series, was fifth fastest on his Rizla Suzuki, with Regis Laconi in sixth place on his NCR Ducati. James Toseland, the lone HM Plant man in the Superpole session after Walker's medical woes, went seventh, ahead of Chris Walker.
The young British talent from BSB, Leon Haslam (Renegade Ducati 998) went ninth, the top ten rounded out by Ivan Clementi, in the top six after regulation qualifying, was ninth quickest overall, while Troy Corser (Foggy Petronas FP-1) went 11th on his recently modified three-cylinder machine.
"It means so much to me to win this championship" he added. "I've been racing since 1990, I've had an up-and-down career but now I've proved a few people wrong by winning the title and I truly feel I can move on from here. I'd just like to dedicate the title to Kathryn and our baby girl, as well as my chief engineer and right-hand man Ernesto Marinelli, who couldn't make it here due to a recent accident".
The race quickly changed into a heated 2-way battle for the lead between the Ducati Fila team mates of Xaus and Hodgson as they traded the lead as often as twice a lap and looked like they were ready to take each other out and any moment. Ruben needed to finish up the season on a winning streak to secure a contract for next season. While Neil, said afterwards, he didn't want to secure the Championship in Race One (he only mneed to finsh 6th or better to secure the remaining points needed for his crown) without being on the top of the podium. He didn't want to have to give some critics who had hounded him his whole career the chance to say he lucked into the this Championship. But with so much running through his head (including becoming a first time father just a few days earlier), Neil found he wasjust too tense on his bike and just didn't have the presence of mind to retake the lead from Xaus on the final lap. Ruben would take the race win by just half a second over Hodgsen, followed by Frankie Chili on the PSG 998F 02 and James Toseland on the HM Plant 998F 02 and of hios team mate Chris Walker. Troy Corser would bring the underpowered Foggy Petronas home in 6th for its best ever finsih in World Superbike.
Ruben Xaus, who rode a storming race to take his fourth win of the year in Race 1, immediately congratulated his Ducati Fila team-mate on his championship victory. "Congratulations to Neil and Ducati Fila, who have done a fantastic job all through the year. It was a pretty difficult race because there was so much tension between Neil and myself. I didn't want to make any mistakes but I did, throughout the race. Sometimes I was faster than him, and he was faster than me, we had to take the battle right down to the last lap, when I think Neil relaxed a bit because he knew he was going to be world champion".
The Ducati 999's triumphant day was completed with another victory for the promising young Italian Lorenzo Lanzi (Team Rox Ducati) in the round of the European Superstock Championship.
2003 MotoGP World Championship, Spain Round 11
destroys the Pole in Qualifying on Ducati, but...
“I’m very happy,” grinned Capirossi, whose pole time was a phenomenal 1.38 seconds inside last year’s Estoril pole. “We’ve done a great job here over the past two days, and this pole position is like a present for everyone in the team. The bike was perfect this afternoon. This morning I was joking with (Sete) Gibernau that I’d do a 1m 38.5, but I went even faster than that, which is great. The race will be very difficult but after today I’m confident that I can be part of the fight for victory.”
But on Sunday for the race Va;entino Rossi was measured and merciless and neither Max Biaggi (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) who finished second nor Loris Capirossi (Ducati) who was third had any answers to his dominance. Rossi made his usual scything progress through the field on the opening lap after a mediocre start from the front row and once he was behind Biaggi by lap two, he looked at ease matching the Roman's pace in the first half of the 28-lap race. At mid-distance on lap 14 he slipped past Biaggi at turn one at the end of the long start/finish straight and began putting some distance between himself and his rival. He pulled out one second in one lap and then turned up the heat in the next set of ten laps to lie 3.6 seconds ahead three laps from the end.
a determined second, never letting up for a moment and keeping the
duel for third between Capirossi and Gibernau well behind him. Capirossi
had stalked Gibernau in the closing laps and on the final lap he went
through at turn one before getting out of shape and allowing Gibernau
through at the chicane. But Capirossi drafted the Spaniard on the
straight and then beat him by just over a hundredth of a second across
He was utterly convincing today. Fourth out of turn one, he dispatched Gibernau and Capirossi on lap one, but had to chisel away at Max Biaggi who was leading by a clear 0.6s as the pack crossed the line for lap two. By lap four he was right on Max's tail and in his usual early-race fashion he chose to wait and watch as Max coolly stayed in front, riding smoothly and refusing to be pushed into doing anything rash.
Biaggi and Rossi were shadowed closely in the early stages by a Capirossi/Gibernau pairing, but neither of them could make any impression on the front men who were running hot in the low 1m 39s bracket. The pace was too much for them and they were destined to have an epic last lap scrap between themselves as Rossi and Biaggi made the running.
But Biaggi had no answer when Rossi finally decided to make a break at half race distance. Rossi moved into the lead on lap 14 slipping underneath Max at turn one. In that one lap he pulled out a one second lead and then gradually extended it further once he got into his own rhythm. He worked the hard compound front and rear Michelins to their maximum, sliding his RC211V around the 4.182km track almost like a 200mph dirt track machine at times.
By the end of
the race Rossi had a comfortable 2 second advantage over Biaggi, although
it had been as high as 3.6s before he eased off during the final lap.
Biaggi finished comfortably ahead of eventual third-place man Capirossi,
but there was nothing comfortable about how Capirossi had to fight
for his podium place.
Tohru Ukawa (Camel Pramac Pons RC211V) rode a strong race to fifth place while rookie Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) made the top ten in ninth at this difficult track. Makoto Tamada (Pramac Honda RC211V) was another man in the top ten in tenth while Ryuichi Kiyonari (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) was 16th. Rossi leads the World Championship with 237 points from Gibernau with 191 and Biaggi with 161 as the MotoGP bandwagon heads to Rio in Brazil in two weeks time.
1). 46 Valentino
ROSSI ITA Honda RC211V(4) Repsol Honda Team 0:46:48.005; 2). 3 Max
BIAGGI ITA Honda RC211V(4) Camel Pramac Pons 0:46:50.099; 3). 65 Loris
CAPIROSSI ITA Ducati Ducati Marlboro Team 0:46:53.259; 4 15 Sete GIBERNAU
ESP Honda RC211V(4) Team Telefonica Movistar Honda 0:46:53.274; 5).
11 Tohru UKAWA JPN Honda RC211V(4) Camel Pramac Pons 0:46:58.586;
6). 12 Troy BAYLISS AUS Ducati Ducati Marlboro Team 0:47:02.251; 7).
33 Marco MELANDRI ITA Yamaha Fortuna Yamaha Team 0:47:04.148; 8).
7 Carlos CHECA ESP Yamaha Fortuna Yamaha Team 0:47:06.088; 9). 69
Nicky HAYDEN USA Honda RC211V(4) Repsol Honda Team 0:47:06.289; 10).
6 Makoto TAMADA JPN Honda RC211V(4) Pramac Honda Team 0:47:09.820;
11). 4 Alex BARROS BRA Yamaha Gauloises Yamaha Team 0:47:12.064; 12).
56 Shinya NAKANO JPN Yamaha d'Antin Yamaha Team 0:47:15.087; 13).
19Olivier JACQUE FRA Yamaha Gauloises Yamaha Team 0:47:15.656; 14).
45 Colin EDWARDS USA Aprilia Alice Aprilia Racing 0:47:19.510; 15).
41 Noriyuki HAGA JPN
Tony Elias won the 250 race comfortably from Manuel Poggiali, with Randy de Puniet third (all Aprilia). But the scrap for second and third places was the high point of the race, with Roberto Rolfo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) losing out on a probable third and possible second when Sebastian Porto (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS250RW) collided with him at the chicane on the final lap.
After a restart due to a second lap incident involving Marco Simoncelli (Aprilia) and Youichi Ui (Derbi), the 125 race was won by Pablo Nieto from his team-mate Hector Barbera with Alex de Angelis (all Aprilia) third. It was Nieto's first ever Grand Prix win. Daniel Pedrosa (Telefonica Movistar Junior Team RS125R) was fourth and increased his World Championship lead to 38 points over Stefano Perugini (Aprilia) who crashed out of the race.