20 June 2001
Moody's Blue: Ding-a-ling-a-ling! round two....
We saw Japan, now Catalunya... so let's cut to the chase about the fight between Max and Valentino.
I have it confirmed to me how it all started, but only as I was getting on the plane on Monday afternoon by someone who was there and who was prepared to speak about it as they were just a hired member of staff for the weekend rather than a regular member of the paddock who felt uneasy about bleating.
The race finishes and the three riders come into parc ferme and then disappear into the spare garage for the TV interviews before the podium.
Now the room/area in which this happens is very tight and cramped with many people in there (although I thought parc ferme was not supposed to allow any member of a team in, just in case they slipped an extra kilogram into or onto a machine - or maybe it is just me.... Cheating such as this has happened in the past, and it will happen again in any form of motorsport - something which we will have to keep an eye on as the stakes get very much higher in years to come with the new four-stroke rules coming in and hopefully the new victory hungry manufacturers too.)
Anyway, Rossi, Biaggi and Capirossi are all in the area around the TV camera, which is heaving full, when someone accidentally jostles Max who falls into 'Gibo', Rossi's white-haired and very softly-spoken personal manager - who reacts by blaming Max with all sorts of words. Max says it wasn't him and takes offence to the blame. More words from Gibo, and Max takes further offence and pushes Gibo.
It all then kicks off very quickly into a cat-fight, with arms and elbows flying everywhere. Rossi then flies in and lamps Max one or maybe two thumps, which leaves Max bleeding underneath the right eye. Apparently this happened when Max was being restrained by a member of the Rossi camp who was genuinely trying to be neutral and just stop the whole melee. Sharp thinking flyweight Rossi then piled in..!
Max apparently elbowed the Honda team member in the eye, whilst the Roman Emperor's personal press officer got a decent scratch under her eye.
The two riders were escorted away to separate rooms and given a good shouting at before the individual TV interviews took place with Capirossi first and then Max. The Yamaha rider was very short and sharp, which caused me to think 'that's odd...', and then Rossi turned up on screen, and I thought it even more unlike him to be there with sweat pouring off his brow and his leathers unzipped in a very 'sponsor unfriendly style'.
Looking at Max on the podium you could see the blood on his cheek, whilst Rossi returned to being normal in front of the public eye.
All very unfortunate, but they do egg each other on off the track - although I am surprised that Vale lowers himself to such intimidation, as he is running away with the championship and is guaranteed to lead the title hunt up until at least 1400hrs on 8 July, when the British GP starts, albeit some two races away at the time of writing.
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