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Race reaction from the Pacific Grand Prix

15 October 2000

500cc Race winner Kenny Roberts Jr. had only one goal at the Motegi circuit having claimed the World Championship last time out in Rio, he said, “Winning the championship was very important, and to throw that dream away in Brazil just was not feasible. I finished sixth there, and it was enough. It meant I was able to come here and race. I got a great start, and the team did a great job with the bike. I'm very happy for Suzuki, to win at their home GP. They worked hard all year. I knew after qualifying that we had the bike to beat today, and I really enjoyed myself. Now we'll go to Australia, and try to do it again.”

Second place Rossi admitted that Kenny had been in a class of his own today, ''I said last week that we didn't see the true Kenny in Rio, but I think I prefer the Rio Kenny, because he was so fast today, and I think he'll be hard to beat in 2001,” he said before adding; “If I had got a better start, maybe I would've been able to fight for the win instead of fighting for second. With seven laps to go, I slowed a little and Max came past me, but I knew where to get him on the last lap, so I got past and kept the door shut from then on.”

Max Biaggi remained stoical after losing second to Rossi on the last lap, “My start wasn't bad but someone hit me at the first turn and I lost a lot of places. The first three laps were very hard, I did some fairing bashing with Barros and by the time I'd got going, Roberts had already said 'bye-bye'. I caught Rossi and had a big fight with him but it was tough to get close enough to pass. I got him with seven laps to go, but he got me on the brakes on the last lap. I had one last go but ran wide. I tried everything, so third is OK,” he said.

Fourth place Carlos Checa (Biaggi's Marlboro Yamaha teammate), celebrating his twenty-eighth birthday said, “I should've got a good start but I had some clutch slip and a lot of guys went past. Without that I think I could've been second behind Roberts on the first lap, with Okada, Crivillé and Gibernau behind me, instead of in front and in my way. The bike was good, so I could pass them but I had to go very deep to get by and was pushing the front. My rear tyre was perfect and the front was good too.''

Top Japanese rider was fifth place Norick Abe who commented, ”My full fuel tank caused me trouble and it didn't improve for 10 laps into the race. When it came right, my feeling improved, but I had Barros in front of me and he was difficult to get past. It took me 10 laps to take him and another lap to get past Crivillé, but by that time the front group was too far away to do anything.”

Daijiro Katoh held on to win the 250cc race by less than a second from countryman Shinya Nakano “When I saw my Pitboard early on, I was surprised because we were already under the lap record, I tried to get away from Nakano but he came with me, it was then that I understood it would be a very hard race. I kept trying to get away but couldn't, but I did enough. I go to Australia not thinking about the championship, just the race. I will try and win and see what happens.”

Second place Nakano closed up to within two points of Olivier Jacque but not even that was enough to overcome his disappointment at losing his home Grand Prix, he said “I did the best I could, I rode hard through the entire race but Katoh-san was just too fast. I couldn't get past, so I had to just follow. On the last lap they showed me Olivier's position but I didn't care, I just wanted to win. In 1999, I raced a domestic race here with the same result - Katoh first and I was second. Today was so much more disappointing. This season has been good for me - five victories - and with two points difference, I have a very good chance of winning the championship.”

Jacque, who hadn't looked comfortable at the Motegi circuit all weekend, remained positive about his fourth place finish despite having his championship lead reduced for the second time in two races, he said, “This was a difficult race for me. Motegi's not the best track for my style of riding and I knew once I fell into fifth that I would have little chance of running with the front-runners. I kept as close as I could to a podium finish, but most importantly; I stayed on my wheels. I've kept the lead, so the championship is still mine to win. Phillip Island is a good track for me. I enjoy the circuit and should do well.”

Yamaha tech 3 Team Manager Hervé Poncharal knows that he has some serious thinking to do before the final Grand Prix, he revealed: “Phillip Island will be an interesting race and I know I've always stressed there will be no team orders, but we will have to wait and see. There's some thinking and talking to be done.”

Ukawa (fifth) was another unhappy Japanese rider saying, “There was no problem with the machine - it was my fault. I did not have the set-up perfect. Like in practice, the rear was a bit loose on the way out of the corners, with too much wheelspin and sliding, so I couldn't fight to keep the third position I had for the first few laps.”

Roberto Locatelli won the 125cc race and in doing so his first World Championship, and was rightly ecstatic about the achievent; “I have been dreaming (of) this moment since I was a child. It was a dream but now it has come true! It has paid (for) all the sacrifices my family and my girlfriend's, Manuela, did for me. I wanted to win both the race and the Championship and, thanks to a fantastic Aprilia I have managed to get this enterprise. At the beginning of the race I pushed hard as I like to do, then, when I realised that Ui had fallen down, my nerves became more calm. In this moment I don't want to think of the next year; now it's time to celebrate. We will think about it tomorrow,” he told his official website.

Ui an the other hand was naturally downbeat and unhappy about the amount of local support he had received at his home Grand Prix, “I'm disappointed because I wanted to be the world champion and that won't be possible. Today, it was impossible to follow Locatelli's pace. I was controlling the race to be on the podium and let the fight be open until Australia. Unfortunately, I had the third crash of the weekend and all my hopes and those from the team were over. Besides, I didn't like to see more Italian than Japanese flags in my country,” he said.

Giampiero Sacchi, Derbi General Manager, tried to raise his team's spirits, “We said goodbye to the title, but we must be happy because the whole team did their best and worked at a high performance level. We've won five races and stepped nine times on the podium, something only a few can boast. We'll try to secure the runner-up in Australia. We'll keep working to improve our performance in 2001”, he said.




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