Roberts rides out the storm
11 June 2000
Kenny Roberts Jr kept his head, and his balance, to win his third GP500 race of the season, while Olivier Jacque and Simone Sanna won their first apiece in GP250 and GP125 respectively.
The American made hay while the sun tried to shine at the Circuit de Catalunya, capitalising on a good start and the misfortune of his main rivals to re-establish his championship lead over Carlos Checa. The Spaniard was one of many to crash out on the slippery track, allowing Roberts to head Norick Abe and Valentino Rossi on the podium.
The race should have belonged to pole-sitter Alex Barros but, once again, the Brazilian made a hash of the start and was left to battle through the pack. Despite the task ahead of him, Barros found his Emerson-backed Honda performing better in the conditions than almost anything else, and swiftly closed down and passed Roberts, who had once held a six second lead over the field.
Barros' lead was short-lived, however, and, almost exactly a lap after passing Roberts, his bike slowed dramatically as water drowned the electrics, and he was forced to return, slowly, to the pits.
Again, Roberts was left with an almost unassailable lead and, try as he might, Abe could not bridge the gap before time ran out. The Japanese rider nevertheless put in another mature performance on the d'Antin Yamaha to take second, and closes up on the luckless Checa in the overall standings.
The works Yamaha man crashed out as early as lap five, having just lost second on the road to the flying Barros. The pressure of trying to keep up with championship co-leader Roberts forced Checa to push that little bit too hard, and his bike rewarded the Spaniard by spitting him off into the gravel in front of Alex Criville's fan club. He was joined quickly by new third placed man - and fellow Iberian - Sete Gibernau, giving the fans somewhere to vent their anger at Criville's poor performance. Their ire was then raised even higher within a few laps, as the reigning champion joined his countrymen in the gravel, continuing a disappointing title defence for the Repsol rider.
The demise of the Spaniards ahead of them left Valentino Rossi and Nobuatsu Aoki scrapping for the final podium place and, with the track steadfastly refusing to dry through the middle portion of the race, things always looked more likely to go the Japanese rider's way.
With ten laps to run, Aoki duly made the most of Rossi's uncertainty in the wet to move his Suzuki into third, and the Spanish looked set to have something to cheer - even if it was only a double podium for sponsors Telefonica and Movistar. A twitchy moment eight tours later reversed the places once and for all, however, and handed Rossi his third rostrum finish of the season.
Behind them, the man on the move was now Max Biaggi, determined to put his recent run of misfortune behind him and claim some real points. Having initially run as low as ninth, in the company of Criville and Jurgen van der Goorbergh's privateer Honda, the Italian finally came through to fifth, having passed Mugello nemesis Loris Capirossi in the process.
The second Emerson Pons bike never really featured at the front, despite having qualified second, and, having made a better start than team-mate Barros, Capirossi dropped back to an unrepresentative sixth at the flag. The Honda was followed home by van der Goorbergh's Rizla version, and the rejuvenated Modenas of local rider David de Gea. A good wet-weather practice on Saturday has lifted the youngster's confidence, and dicing with both Biaggi and Criville in the mid-part of the race will serve both rider and team well for the future.
Three riders decided to gamble at the start, hoping that the circuit would dry quickly enough that anything less than full wets would be the way to go, but each was made to pay for his bravery in choosing cut slicks. Garry McCoy's miserable weekend continued with a crash and the ignominy of being lapped, while Red Bull team-mate Regis Laconi and Honda's Tady Okada finished well down the order.
In GP250, Olivier Jacques maintained the Chesterfield team's strong start to the season by winning the his first and the Yamaha squad's fourth, win of the year.
The Frenchman was locked in a three-way battle with Yamaha team-mate, and championship leader, Shinya Nakano and Honda's Tohru Ukawa for almost the whole race, and had to make a daring three-abreast passing move to take the lead with just a handful of laps to run.
All three riders started from the front row of the grid in wet, but drying, conditions, and elected for treaded tyres with the dark clouds still hovering over Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Fellow front row man Ralf Waldmann removed himself from the equation early on, falling on lap three, while other potential challengers Marcellino Lucchi and Jay Vincent both crashed out of fourth place on the same lap.
The mayhem allowed the front three to open out an initial gap back to pursuers Franco Battaini and Daijiro Katoh and, save for a few changes of position back in the pack, this was how it stayed for much of the race. Waldmann and Vincent both remounted in an attempt to salvage points but, while the German managed to eventually annex seventh, the Briton crashed again and struggled just to make the top twenty.
The race for the lead remained static until lap 20 of 23, as the frontrunners sized each other up. Just as the order was looking set, however, first Ukawa and then Jacque made their move. Benefiting from the slipstream of two bikes, Jacques leapt from third to first, forcing both his rivals to back off, and demoting team-mate Nakano to third in the process. From there he was able to pull away, eventually winning by four seconds despite being concerned about the state of his tyres.
Nakano, surprised by the move, almost fell back into the clutches of Battaini and Katoh by the flag, but found enough in his bike to hold on to the final rostrum position.
The battle for fourth was just one of those to benefit as the track dried, Battaini and Marco Melandri swapping fastest laps of the race with the recovering Waldmann as they sort to make the most of the driest conditions of the day. It wasn't to be Battaini's day, though, as Jacque stole fastest lap with just two to run, and then Katoh pipped him for fourth at the line.
Italian Simone Sanna also took his first win of the season but, more importantly for the lieable Italian youngster, also broke his grand prix duck with a dominant performance in the wet.
While all around him disappeared into the gravel, the 22-year old put in lap after lap of controlled riding to win by an eventual ten second margin. The gap had been even bigger - up to half a minute at one point - but a brief sideways moment and the exhortations of his pit-crew finally convinced the Italian that his lead was safe, and he backed off.
In his wake, literally, Gino Borsoi and Masao Azuma battled mightily for a podium place, which became the fight for second when initial leader Lucio Cecchinello went AWOL on lap 15. Almost with each corner, the pair passed and re-passed, with both appearing at times to have made the decisive break. Eventually, however, Borsoi had to settle for third on his first podium visit, as Azuma got the better of him on the final lap.
The duo should have been a trio, as the game Pablo Nieto tagged along until crashing on the 19th tour. It was remarkable that the Derbi rider should have even been in contention for the podium, however, as he had been forced through the gravel on lap one when team-mate Youichi Ui lost it at the opening chicane. Determined to finish in front of his home crowd, and on the local bike, Nieto dragged the battered Derbi out of the gravel for a second time to finish sixth.
He was not the only one to taste the dirt. Going into the race, the clever money was on championship leader Mirko Giansanti being deposed on account of the injury he suffered on Friday but, as it turned out, not one of his closest rivals was left standing at the end. Reigning champion Emilio Alzamora, Italian GP winner Roberto Locatelli and Ui all failed to finish, leaving Giansanti a little happier despite knowing that he will be out of action until Donington at least. Nobby Ueda, Steve Jenkner and Gigi Scalvini all also crashed, while Manuel Poggiali retired his Derbi after a trip through the gravel.
Arnaud Vincent took fourth for Aprilia, ahead of a best ever fifth-place finish for German Reinhold Stolz. Leon Haslam scored his first points with tenth position on the Italjet, but team-mate Jaroslav Hules could not make the most of his ninth place start because of a dead engine on the formation lap.
Race results - MotoGP - Catalunya GP.
Race results - MotoGP - Mugello.
1. Kenny Roberts Jr USA Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki 24 laps 51mins 31.504secs
2. Norick Abe Japan Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin +4.454secs
3. Valentino Rossi Italy Nastro Azzuro Honda +9.541secs
4. Nobuatsu Aoki Japan Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki +12.621secs
5. Max Biaggi Italy Marlboro Yamaha Team +17.224secs
6. Loris Capirossi Italy Emerson Honda Pons +25.906secs
7. Jurgen vd Goorbergh Holland Rizla Honda +45.688secs
8. David De Gea Spain Proton Team KR +62.945secs
9. Tetsuya Harada Japan Aprilia Grand Prix Racing +81.784secs
10. Yoshiteru Konishi Japan Technical Sports Racing +93.670secs
11. Sebastien LeGrelle Belgium Tecmas Honda Elf +1 lap
12. Jeremy McWilliams Britain Aprilia Grand Prix Racing +1 lap
13. Regis Laconi France Red Bull Yamaha WCM +1 lap
14. Shane Norval South Africa Sabre Sport Honda +1 lap
15. Tadayuki Okada Japan Repsol YPF Honda Team +1 lap
16. Garry McCoy Australia Red Bull Yamaha WCM +2 laps
Rtd Alex Barros Brazil Emerson Honda Pons 13 laps completed
Rtd Alex Criville Spain Repsol YPF Honda Team 11 laps completed
Rtd Sete Gibernau Spain Repsol YPF Honda Team 6 laps completed
Rtd Carlos Checa Spain Marlboro Yamaha Team 5 laps completed
Dns Jose Luis Cardoso Spain Maxon Dee Cee Jeans
1. Olivier Jacque France Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 23 laps 48mins 23.116secs
2. Tohru Ukawa Japan Shell Advance Honda Team +4.025secs
3. Shinya Nakano Japan Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 +4.152secs
4. Daijiro Katoh Japan Axo Honda Gresini +12.811secs
5. Franco Battaini Italy Motoracing Battaini Aprilia +12.998secs
6. Marco Melandri Italy Aprilla Grand Prix Racing +13.161secs
7. Ralf Waldmann Germany Aprilia Germany +46.137secs
8. Naoki Matsudo Japan Petronas Sprinta Team TVK Yamaha +49.412secs
9. Anthony West Australia Shell Advance Honda Team +49.458secs
10. Jamie Robinson Britain QUB Team Optimum Aprilia +56.066secs
11. Johan Stigefelt Sweden Dee Cee Jeans Racing Team +58.470secs
12. Jarno Janssen Holland Rizla Honda +68.906secs
13. David Checa Spain Team Fomma Honda +69.056secs
14. Jeronimo Vidal Spain CC Valencia Airtel Aspar Aprilia +72.935secs
15. Klaus Nohles Germany Aprilia Germany +76.235secs
16. Sebastien Gimbert France Tino Villa Racing Honda +76.403secs
17. Lucas Oliver Bulto Spain Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin Yamaha +84.739secs
18. Alfonso Nieto Spain Antena 3 Yamaha - d'Antin Yamaha +84.826secs
19. Jason Vincent Britain Aprilla Grand Prix Racing +98.584secs
20. Sharol Yuzy Malaysia Petronas Sprinta Team TVK Yamaha +98.693secs
21. Adrian Coates Britain QUB Team Optimum Aprilia +114.290secs
22. Julien Allemand France Yamaha Kurz Aral +1 lap
Rtd David Tomas Spain Quereseno Racing Honda 20 laps completed
Rtd Luca Boscoscuro Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 15 laps completed
Rtd Alex Debon Spain C.C. Valencia Airtel Aspar Aprilia 15 laps completed
Rtd David Garcia Spain PR2 - Circuito de Almeria Aprilia 14 laps completed
Rtd Ivan Clementi Italy Campetella Racing Aprilia 11 laps completed
Rtd Alvaro Molina Spain Echo Racing Honda 11 laps completed
Rtd Sebastian Porto Argentina Edo Racing Yamaha 5 laps completed
Rtd Roberto Rolfo Italy Tino Villa Racing Honda 5 laps completed
Rtd Fabrizio de Marco Italy Axo Honda Gresini 0 laps completed
Rtd Marcellino Lucchi Italy Aprilla Grand Prix Racing 0 laps completed
1. Simone Sanna Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 22 laps 47mins 54.390secs
2. Masao Azuma Japan Benetton Playlife Honda +10.770secs
3. Gino Borsoi Italy LAE - UGT 3000 Aprilia +11.012secs
4. Arnaud Vincent France C.C. Valencia Airtel Aspar Aprilia +32.298secs
5. Reinhard Stolz Germany ADAC - Esch Racing Honda +74.098secs
6. Pablo Nieto Spain Derbi Racing +83.253secs
7. Massimiliano Sabbatani Italy Racing Service Honda +87.049secs
8. Toni Elias Spain Chupa-Chups Matteoni Racing Honda +97.000secs
9. Angel Nieto Jr. Spain Via Digital Team Honda +100.199secs
10. Leon Haslam Britain Italjet Moto +106.951secs
11. Ivan Goi Italy Team Fomma Honda +110.843secs
12. Eric Bataille France Queroseno Racing Honda +129.311secs
13. Randy De Puniet France Scrab Competition Aprilia +1 lap
14. Ivan Martinez Spain Team Boydis-Beatriz Hoteles Aprilia +1 lap
Rtd Lucio Cecchinello Italy Givi Honda LCR 14 laps completed
Rtd Alex De Angelis Italy Chupa-Chups Matteoni Racing Honda 14 laps completed
Rtd Joaquim Perera Spain TMR Competition Honda 14 laps completed
Rtd Steve Jenkner Germany Pev Massivhaus ADAC Sachsen Honda 13 laps completed
Rtd Marco Petrini Italy Semprucci-Biesse Aprilia 12 laps completed
Rtd Roberto Locatelli Italy Diesel Vasco Rossi Racing Aprilia 7 laps completed
Rtd Manuel Poggiali San Marino Derbi Racing 7 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Araujo Spain Antinucci Racing Team Aprilia 3 laps completed
Rtd Emilio Alzamora Spain Telefonica MoviStar Team Honda 2 laps completed
Rtd William De Angelis Italy Semprucci-Biesse Aprilia 2 laps completed
Rtd Gianluigi Scalvini Italy Bossini Fontana Racing Aprilia 2 laps completed
Rtd Jaroslav Hules Czech Rep Italjet Moto 0 laps completed
Rtd Youichi Ui Japan Derbi Racing 0 laps completed
Rtd Noboru Ueda Japan Givi Honda LCR 0 laps completed
Dns Mirko Giansanti Italy Benetton Playlife Honda