MotoGP World Roadracing Championship, Round 4 of 18
Valentino Rossi wins
innuagural Shanghai China MotoGP
Shanghai, China, April 29-May 1st- Gauloises
Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi made history once again
today, becoming the first rider to take a MotoGP victory at
Shanghai, with a stunning performance in torrentially wet
conditions at the inaugural Grand Prix of China. Despite starting
from sixth place on the grid Rossi took control of the race
on the fifth lap, passing early leader Kenny Roberts (Suzuki)
and opening up a clear gap over the chasing pack.
an advantage the reigning World Champion would never let slip,
holding his concentration for the next 17 laps despite the
attentions of surprise challenger Olivier Jacque (Kawasaki),
riding in place of the injured Alex Hofmann. Jacque passed
Sete Gibernau (Honda) for second place with seven laps to
go and closed in on Rossi at the front, but was unable to
seriously threaten the Italian's second victory from the opening
three rounds of the championship.
Marco Melandri (Honda) eventually passing Gibernau on the
final lap to snatch third place, Rossi's advantage at the
top of the World Championship now stands at 25 points over
his Italian compatriot. A determined performance from his
team-mate Colin Edwards, who rode from 13th on the grid to
take the flag in eighth, means the Gauloises Yamaha Team now
lead the teams' championship, with Yamaha also on top in the
very quick Nicky Hayden on the factory Repsol Honda RC211.
Haden Sets the Pace in Opening Practice
Friday: Nicky Hayden was the fastest man
on the first ever day of MotoGP action at the Shanghai International
Circuit in mixed weather conditions on Friday. With the riders
taking the opportunity to learn the impressive circuit layout
in the morning, a spell of light lunchtime rain left track
conditions unpredictable in the afternoon and made it impossible
for anybody to improve on Hayden’s fastest lap of 2’02.327.
“The track is okay, there are a couple of strange corners
but overall I like it,” reflected Hayden at the end
of the demanding first day. “I especially like the surface
– the grip is really good and there is a lot of feeling.
It was nice to be quickest this morning but this afternoon
was pretty tough. We were in good shape with full wets but
we had a few problems in the middle of the session when it
started to dry.”
Whilst Marco Melandri was second fastest in the morning session,
delayed by two and a half hours due to a minor mechanical
problem with the medical helicopter, Sete Gibernau completed
a Honda top three ahead of Carlos Checa on the Ducati and
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi. However, in the damp afternoon
conditions it was the turn of Suzuki to top the time sheets
with Kenny Roberts, who clocked the fastest time of the session
on his last lap with an effort just over 12 seconds slower
than Hayden’s dry time.
Alex Barros, winner of the second round of the season in similar
conditions at Estoril in Portugal two weeks ago, again showed
his expertise in the wet with the second fastest time behind
Roberts. Gibernau, who crashed in the morning but escaped
unhurt, was again third fastest in the afternoon ahead of
Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi, who made it four Hondas in the
Whilst Rossi was sixth fastest in the afternoon ahead of Marco
Melandri and Colin Edwards, the surprise of the session came
from Franco Battaini, eleventh quickest riding the Blata WCM
machine. Olivier Jacque was also impressive, the former 250cc
World Champion lapping twelfth fastest on his return to MotoGP
as a replacement for the injured Alex Hofmann at Kawasaki.
Chinese umbrella girls really do come in handy as Colin Edwards
will attest. Spectators pack the main grandstand of the new
$400 million dollar ShanghaiGP facility, the 2nd most expensive
racetrack in the world.
Jr and Team SUZUKI MotoGP fastest in 2nd wet practice session
Kenny Roberts Jr posted the quickest lap time at the end of
a wet 2nd Practice Session at the Chinese Grand Prix today.
A frustrating day for the MotoGP paddock saw a two and a half
hour delay due to a mechanical problem with the medical helicopter
and then a heavy thunderstorm soak the track. Roberts Jr used
all his Grand Prix experience to the full and decided to take
to the drying circuit with a cut-slick Bridgestone front tyre
and a slick rear. The ex-World Champion used this tyre choice
to maximum effect and recorded the fastest time in the closing
seconds of Free Practice Two.
Team SUZUKI MotoGP racers Kenny Roberts Jr and John Hopkins
had been eighth and ninth fastest respectively during Free
Practice One which was run in dry but humid conditions. Roberts
Jr (2'03.270) quickly adapted to the futuristic Shanghai circuit
and topped the leader board on two separate occasions during
the first session. Roberts Jr will be racing in his 150th
Grand Prix this weekend and was pleased with the first day
of testing. He said: "This track is really different
to anywhere else I've ever ridden at - but in a good way.
It has a great atmosphere and the whole place is just awesome.
"We had a good first session and spent time getting settings
correct as we had no data to go on. The second session was
wet so it was difficult to learn much from the bike settings
- especially if the race is dry.
"We're still concentrating on making the bike more consistent
for race distance in the dry. As far as being quickest in
the second practice, that was down to my team and Suzuki having
the right tyre at the end of the session. It shows we are
trying hard, but that's always the same irrespective of position.
"We still have a long way to go but hopefully the bad
luck I have suffered in the last couple of races will not
Hopkins (2'03.420) was also instantly on the pace aboard his
Suzuki GSV-R prototype race bike. He was never out of the
top 10 in the first session and used the conditions later
on to test in readiness for Sunday's race, which could possibly
commented: "The track is pretty cool and everything today
was a learning process for me. I think I can go quite a bit
quicker tomorrow if it stays dry, but we could have weather
like we had this afternoon in the race so it was great to
try all the different combinations.
"As Kenny showed at the end, it was drying quickly and
that was great of him to try those tyres, as it helps me if
that situation happens again."
The drying conditions in the afternoon allowed the majority
of 250cc riders to improve on their morning times as they
jostled for positions on the provisional starting grid, with
the possibility of more rain tomorrow making for an interesting
first qualifying session. Casey Stoner continued his recent
form, following up victory at Estoril with a provisional pole
position time some 0.2 seconds quicker than nearest challenger
Andrea Dovizioso. Sebastián Porto, quickest in the
morning session, and Dani Pedrosa complete the provisional
front row for the quarter-litre class.
Fabrizio Lai took provisional pole position for the 125cc
race in fully wet conditions, with light drizzle falling throughout
the session. Whilst early championship leader Mika Kallio
led the way in dry conditions in the morning, Honda rider
Lai showed his prowess in the afternoon ahead of Kallio’s
KTM team-mate Mika Kallio. The surprise of the session was
rookie teenager Aleix Espargaró, who was third fastest,
whilst his Spanish compatriot Julián Simón completes
the provisional front row.
sets first ever MotoGP pole in Shanghai
Saturday: Sete Gibernau took a historic pole
position for Honda at the inaugural Taobao.com Grand Prix
of China on Saturday afternoon. Despite tremendous pressure
from factory rivals including Ducati’s Loris Capirossi
and Suzuki youngster John Hopkins, Gibernau and his team-mate
Marco Melandri posted a series of fast laps at the end of
the qualifying session to seal the top two places on the starting
“It’s good to see that we’re competitive
at yet another track and particularly here, where we arrived
without any previous data to work from,” reflected Gibernau
at the end of the session. “I think it’s a difficult
circuit but once again we’ve been at the maximum level.
We’re doing a great job, which hasn’t been reflected
in the race results yet, but I know that everything will be
back to normal soon and we will be rewarded for our efforts.”
Whilst second place for Melandri represents his best ever
qualifying position and continues an excellent start to his
first season with Honda, third place for Capirossi was enough
to secure his first front row start since last October. Meanwhile,
Hopkins narrowly missed out on the front row after being held
up on a fast lap at the very end of the session but secured
Suzuki’s highest grid position of the year so far in
Hopkins is joined on the second row by Nicky Hayden and Valentino
Rossi, who qualified over a second adrift of pole position
for the first time since Donington Park in 2001 – a
race he went on to win. Carlos Checa slid to seventh place
and a third row start after leading the session in the early
stages, the Ducati rider clocking his fastest time on only
his seventh lap but failing to improve in twelve further attempts.
The surprise of the session was Yamaha rookie Toni Elías,
who set the eighth fastest time in just his third MotoGP qualifying
session. The Spanish youngster also starts on the third row,
just ahead of Kenny Roberts on the Suzuki. Kawasaki rider
Shinya Nakano completed the top ten ahead of Alex Barros,
who currently lies second in the championship after winning
the last round in Portugal. Meanwhile Nakano’s team-mate
Olivier Jacque enjoyed an impressive return to MotoGP riding
as a replacement for the injured Alex Hofmann, qualifying
in fifteenth place. Practice
congradulates Jacque Oliever for finishing in 2nd, just 2.5
seonds behind and Kawasaki's first modern motoGP podium placing.
takes historic win in first ever race at Shanghai
Sunday: Valentino Rossi became the first ever winner
of a MotoGP event in China as he took an authoritative victory
in torrentially wet conditions at the Shanghai International
Circuit on Sunday. Rossi took the lead from Kenny Roberts
on the fifth lap after the Suzuki rider suffered from a mechanical
problem, opening up a clear gap over the rest of the field
and looking comfortable until a thrilling finale.
Surprisingly the man to challenge Rossi with a late charge
was Olivier Jacque, returning to MotoGP as a replacement for
the injured Alex Hofmann at Kawasaki to score his first podium
in the class. With seven laps to go Jacque overcame Sete Gibernau
in second place and closed in on the World Champion at the
front, taking chunks out of the Italian’s lead with
every lap but running out of time as Rossi took the flag by
“I got off to a good start in the race and I was quite
surprised to be at the front so quickly,” explained
Rossi after the race. “There was a lot of water on the
track so I had to keep my concentration at 100%. When I saw
Olivier’s name on my pit board I didn’t understand
who it was because they only put an ‘O’ on there.
I thought “who is O?”. I thought perhaps it was
a Chinese rider – then I realised it was OJ!. At the
end of the race he was faster than me but I managed to keep
out front and win the race.”
Gibernau’s disappointment at losing out on second place
was compounded on the last lap when he conceded third to his
team-mate Marco Melandri after apparently suffering with a
mechanical problem. Melandri’s second podium of the
season moves him up to second place in the championship, 25
points adrift of Rossi, whilst fourth place for Gibernau means
he is now fifth overall behind Alex Barros and Max Biaggi,
who finished eleventh and fifth respectively today.
Jurgen Van Den Goorbergh capped a day full of surprises as
he clinched sixth place on his return to MotoGP as a replacement
for the injured Makoto Tamada on the Honda. The Dutchman held
off a late charge from John Hopkins, who previously ran off
the track after leading the race on the opening lap, fighting
back to take a creditable seventh. Colin Edwards, Nicky Hayden
and Rubén Xaus completed the top ten.
990cc Race Results
Casey Stoner took his second successive victory in the 250cc
class after a close battle with Andrea Dovizioso. Stoner made
a poor start from pole position but recovered to take the
lead by the end of the opening lap and never looked back.
Dovizioso stalked the Australian all the way to the line but
was happy to settle for a second place finish that lifts him
above Dani Pedrosa to the top of the championship standings.
Stoner also moved ahead of Pedrosa to second place overall,
with the defending World Champion dropping to third after
taking sixth place today. Hiroshi Aoyama clinched his first
podium of the season in third after Randy De Puniet retired
with a technical problem, with Alex de Angelis and Sebastián
Porto completing the top five.
Mattia Pasini clinched his first victory in a 125cc rain delayed
for half an hour by standing water on the track surface. Pasini
led for the majority of the race in a close battle with fellow
Italian Fabrizio Lai, taking the flag by just 0.065 seconds
after overtaking his compatriot in the final corner. Gabor
Talmacsi took his first podium in third whilst eleventh place
for his team-mate Mika Kallio was enough to maintain the championship
lead by a single point from Lai.
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view anyone saw of him all weekend, every weekend, the untouchable
AMA Superbike Championship, Round 3 of 11
AMA Superbike at California
Speedway to Spies and Mladin
Fontana, CA, April 28-May 1st: Team Yoshimura
Suzuki's Matt Mladin..... etc, etc, etc. (To be continued).
Threesome and Bostrom on Provisional Pole
Friday: Team Yoshimra Suzuki riders Matt
Mladin, Aaron Yates and Ben Spies attacked the infield parking
lot course at California Speedway on Frday to secure the provisional
front row for this weekend's AMA Superbike double header.
Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin's Eric Bostrom placed his factory
999 Superbike on the front row as well with the 4th quickest
time. His teammate Neil Hodgson was one spot behind him in
fifth place despite feeling the effects of an illness. The
quickest team Honda rider was Miguel Duhamel in 6th place
on the American Honda home brewed CBR1000RR.
began the day at the 2.3-mile California track by finishing
second in the day's first practice session. The Californian
backed that up with his fourth place effort in qualifying.
His best lap time was 1:24.938. "I'm really happy to
be on the provisional front row," Bostrom said afterward.
"Jon (Cornwell) and Gary (Medley) made a change to the
fork for the qualifying session that really worked. The front
end was really nice. We haven't quite got the rear end sorted
out, so I know we still have a little time to be made. Overall,
things are going well and our times on race tires are competitive
with the others. We're really looking forward to the race."
was fifth in the first of two qualifying session on the weekend.
An illness slowed the 2003 World Superbike champion's efforts
on Friday but he still managed a quite respectable 1:25. 623.
"I've got a bit of a virus or something," said Hodgson.
"I got it from my little girl. The illness didn't last
long with her, so I'm hopeful I'm better for tomorrow. I have
no energy and it was hard to concentrate, and you have to
be aggressive and have the strength at a track like this.
When you feel bad, you want to sit on the sofa, not race a
motorcycle professionally against some great riders."
owner Terry Gregoricka is hopeful Hodgson will return to the
podium at California Speedway just like he had been at Daytona
and Barber, and that Bostrom will join him.
"Both the riders were in the top 5 today, so that's a
good start," said Gregoricka. "Neil was sick today
and put in a strong effort despite that. It was good to see
Eric on the provisional front row again and nice to see the
hard work he and the team have put in pay off for us. We're
happy, but we're far from satisfied. We want to be a little
bit closer to the front. Our goal tomorrow is to get both
riders on the front row and more podium finishes this weekend."
action sees the second round of qualifying conclude before
lunch and the 28-lap Superbike race begins at 3:50 local time.
Qualifying Results: 1. Mladin (Suzuki) 1:24.184
2. Yates (Suzuki) 1:24.327 3. Spies (Suzuki) 1:24.715 4. ERIC
BOSTROM (PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN 999) 1:29.938 5. NEIL
HODGSON (PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN 999) 1:25.623 6. DuHamel
and Mladin share Superbike race day wins for Yoshimura Suzuki
Superbike Round 1 Saturday: Parts
Unlimited Ducati Austin's Neil Hodgson came very close to
his first ever AMA Superbike win on Saturday at California
Speedway, finishing a close third after leading the race on
the final lap. Hodgson, despite an oncoming bout with the
flu, fought for the win before running his Ducati 999 wide
in turn three on the final lap while being pressured by Yoshimura
Suzuki's Ben Spies. The 2003 World Champion regrouped to take
third position, 2.977 seconds behind Spies and his team mate
Aaron yates. Eric Bostrom showed his return to form and finished
fifth on his 999 after leading the race in the early stages.
The day's early
race leader had been Superbike Championship points leader
Matt Mladin on the Yoshimura Suzuki, but after two flag restarts
due to crashed riders on the track, the high powered GSXRs
were suffering clutch problems from the strain of the additional
starts. And despite a frantic clutch change to all 3 Yosh
bikes on pit lane before the 3rd restart, Mladin would only
get midway into the race before his bike lost its drive and
had to be abandoned on the side of the track.
Neil Hodson, though,
had been doing an incredible job despite being sick with the
flu, and just past the half way point of the race had moved
his Ducati 999F05 up and bashed both of Mladin's team mates
Yates and Spies for 2nd place with a hoipeful chance of even
reeling in Mladin. Then Mladin pulled off the track and the
Ducati rider found himself in the lead of the race. The final
3 laps to the finsh saw Ben Spies reel back in on Hodgson
and press him hard, but the former World Champ looked like
he could hold Spies off as they started the white flag lap.
But with his concentration affected by his flu, Neil overshot
the tight turn-in to Turn 3 and before he could recover both
Spies and Yates had blasted past to secure the top 2 positions
on the podium ahead of Neil.
Ben Spies had
recorded his first ever AMA Superbike Nation win, but he really
wasn't too happy about it in victory circle, as he really
wanted his first Superbike winon his own merits, not because
team mate Mladin broke and Hodgson was sick and messed up.
"This really isn't the way I wanted to win."
Hodgson, who still
maintains second in the series standings after four races
and has been on the podium for three of them, explained what
happened on the last lap after the exciting but chaotic race.
"Honestly, I went through the chicane at the start of
the last lap a gear too high. I couldn't do anything about
it but it catapulted me into the next turn. I braked where
I had been for every lap, but I was going maybe five miles
an hour faster and I couldn't get it stopped. The tires were
shot at that stage, on the last lap of a hard race. You just
try to drift it into the corner … I was just a passenger
and the race was over. I couldn't believe what happened and
I was devastated. That's racing and I've done it before and
I'll probably do it again one day. We've all done it, we all
push hard and it's not easy."
was disappointed in missing an opportunity to share a victory
with the Ducati faithful, his effort in the 28-lap race stopped
twice for red flags is to be commended. "I was actually
sick in my helmet about race distance," said Hodgson.
"Yesterday I felt like death. Today I felt a hundred
times better but I don't feel good. I'm hoping to get a good
night's sleep and feel better tomorrow."
For the team,
the long-term goal of the AMA championship remains in sight,
even if an opportunity for a win eluded them today. "It
was very exciting at the end. Neil was doing a tremendous
job of riding his heart out. He tried to do his best to keep
the other riders behind him, he just went in a little too
hot and missed the turn," said team manager Tom Bodenbach.
"We've had faith we could do it, but maybe this is a
Eric Bostrom took
the lead at the start and diced with the frontrunners. "All
weekend long, we've gone quicker with less effort but in the
race I didn't have quite the speed everyone else had. We had
a great start in the first part of the race before the red
flags. I went into the lead for a little while. I just wish
we could maintain that speed. We'll definitely try something
tomorrow to get some more grip."
Round 2 Sunday: With Saturday's bike problems resolved
and behind them, the dominate Yoshimura Suzuki team of Matt
Mladin, Ben Spies and Aaron Yates pulled off their expected
1-2-3 punch aboard their GSXR1000Rs for Sunday's second Superbike
race. Helping to make their win easier was their top challenger
the day before, Neil Hodgson, had succomed even further to
a severe bout of the flu and had to force himself to ride
to help maintain his championship points. Ducati teammate
Eric Bostrom finally put in his best ride of the season to
finish 4th ahead of the ailing Neil. And really suprising,
none of the team Honda riders were in contention with their
home brewed CB1000RRs.
Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin's Eric Bostrom and Neil Hodgson
had an eventful Sunday at Fontana. Bostrom was fourth after
fighting for a podium position and Hodgson finished fifth,
a gutty ride for the Isle of Man resident. Neil spent most
of the day in the track medical center before being cleared
to race his Ducati 999 Superbike and he returned to the medical
center immediately after the 28-lap event.
was the hardest race of my life," said Hodgson. "It
was hard to concentrate. I was just trying to finish."
Hodgson had been sick all weekend, but Neil took a turn for
the worse Saturday night. While he insisted he wanted to race
to keep his championship hopes alive, it appeared doubtful
he could make it. Still, the doctors agreed to clear him medically.
Hodgson started the race, completed it, and was remarkably
Neil is now third in the championship, but gained ground to
first place despite being ill all weekend. "It's all
about the championship. It hasn't been the best weekend but
the championship hasn't been a negative," he said.
engineer Luca Ferraccioli said Hodgson's performance was inspiring
to the Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin squad. "Neil had
an unbelievable race. He fought very hard. He had the IVs
before the race and the doctors told us he might not be able
to finish. It was the best race he could possibly do. It was
very important for him to finish for the championship. He's
still very close to first position. What he did was very important
and inspiring for the team. He's a tough rider."
Bostrom was a fine fourth on the day, a solid result and his
best yet in 2005. Bostrom, however, was less than satisfied
because he wanted a podium finish. "I had a rough time
with traffic," said Eric. "I think I could have
been in a position to race them and in hindsight I wish I
had done a better job keeping Spies and Yates behind me because
I lost ground to them in traffic."
and his crew continued to fine-tune the race version of the
Ducati 999 for the American racetracks. "It's the fastest
the bike has been this year," said Eric. "The front
end was working well and we have more grip than yesterday.
That was a big improvement. This is the best the bike has
been yet under the brakes, which is promising. It seems like
each weekend we're making progress."
had some bad luck with the backmarkers and would perhaps have
had a shot at getting a podium spot if he had gotten a couple
of breaks," said Ferraccioli. "He's improved and
the fact that he's fighting for a podium spot is good."
will race next at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California May
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
2. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
3. Neil Hodgson (Ducati)
4. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
5. Eric Bostrom (Ducati)
6. Jake Zemke (Honda)
7. Josh Hayes (Kawasaki)
8. Steve Rapp (Suzuki)
9. Marty Craggill (Suzuki)
10. Vincent Haskovec (Suzuki)
1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
2. Ben Spies (Suzuki)
3. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
4. Eric Bostrom (Ducati)
5. Neil Hodgson (Ducati)
6. Jake Zemke (Honda)
7. Steve Rapp (Suzuki)
8. Marty Craggill (Suzuki)
9. Clint McBain (Suzuki)
10. Larry Pegram (Honda)
1. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 155
2. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 152
3. Neil Hodgson (Ducati) 146
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 143
5. Eric Bostrom (Ducati) 122
6. Miguel Duhamel (Honda) 118
7. Martin Craggill (Suzuki) 105
8. Steve Rapp (Suzuki) 92
9. Lee Acree (Suzuki) 89
10. Eric Wood (Suzuki) 81