by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 24
surprise at Brno. He did so by falling off. Until then he had led almost every practice session and was leading the race as well, after setting a new record on lap five. Everyone expected him to win. On lap six, however, C Valentino Rossi had managed to cut three tenths to reduce his lead to a second. And then the Marlboro Ducati was gone. With him went the hopes of an exciting championship battle for the rest of the year. The crash came on the seventh of 22 laps of the long and sweeping Brno circuit, where a massive crowd of more than 146,000 fans packed the natural grandstands on the hillsides. From then on, they watched Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha keep on trucking for a clear win, his fifth of the year. But there was plenty of action behind him, in a second race in succession when 30 ASEY Stoner turned what looked like a foregone conclusion into a sensational Michelin tyres weren’t up to the job. The Bridgestone brigade made hay, and previously unfancied runners made the most of it, with Alice Ducati rider Toni Elias taking second and Loris Capirossi third. It was his first rostrum of the year, but Suzuki’s third in a row. The surprises went on. Shinya Nakano (San Carlos Honda) was fourth, easily his best of the year, after being given a factory bike for the rest of the season. Given time to adapt the bike to his style, he could get stronger yet. And Anthony West (Kawasaki), more used to struggling for grip at the back, was a stunning fifth, defeating not only Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) and other fast men, but also his team-mate John Hopkins, who dropped to 11th after qualifying on the front row. Rossi never had subscribed to the view that Stoner was unbeatable. “I got a good start but unfortunately Hopkins passed me into turn one, and by the end of the lap I was more than a second down. Casey was pushing hard because he expected my attack, but on his last lap I gained three tenths and I am confident I could have caught him, because the race is very long. “I was thinking: I can, I can. Then I saw the red bike sliding, and I thought: Aah, it’s easy,”he grinned afterwards. The win to Stoner’s no-score stretched his advantage to 50 points, with six rounds remaining. It’s mathematically possible he could still lose, but unlikely, as Stoner acknowledged. “I was happy with the pace I was running. The crash came out of the blue. That corner was an easy one, but I lost the front very suddenly, and I didn’t manage to save it. Sometimes this kind of crash happens at this level, and it was my mistake. “Anything can happen in racing but 50 points is a big gap against such a strong and consistent competitor. Anyway, I never throw in the towel,” he said. It was Stoner’s first non- finish since he joined Ducati last year. Elias’s second came three races after new rear suspension linkages transformed his feel for the Ducati. Rain in Germany and an off-track excursion in America followed, but at Brno he was back to top form, cutting rapidly through from 11th on lap 1. And Capirossi’s third marked a return to full physical strength for the rider, after a series of earlier injuries. Michelin’s tyre woes began on Friday when it became clear that they didn’t have a good enough front tyre for the tricky track … and one of the worst victims was Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who finished 15th, only two seconds ahead of Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), who had fallen and remounted. “I didn’t feel safe,”he said. “I felt impotent and ashamed.”