Crash.Net MotoGP News
Reaction from today's Australian Grand Prix
29 October 2000
Max Biaggi took a thrilling win in the 500cc class, rising from a lowly twelfth on the grid to lead the field across the Finish line in what could have been anybody's race.
The Italian said, “That was a real race, win or lose, it was so exciting. I got a not-so-bad start and everyone was fighting from the first turn. One lap you could cross the line in the lead, then next time fourth or fifth; the fast straight here means that it's easy to use the slipstream, so there was a lot of passing.” adding “There was also a lot of touching - I touched Barros and Capirossi, and many times with McCoy, “ such was the intensity of the lead battle.
Biaggi then described the last lap sprint for the line, “Near the finish it was just the three of us - me, Capirossi and Rossi. Capirossi was very strong but it was my day. My thanks to the team and I'm happy Yamaha have won the constructors' title. It's important because we race for the factory but next time I want the riders' crown too. This race will give us a lot of enthusiasm for winter testing.''
The win was Max's fifth has a 500cc rider and promoted him to third in the final Championship Standings. It also allowed Yamaha to win the much-coveted Constructors crown
“A big thank you to Max for helping us win the constructors' title,'' beamed Yamaha YZR500 project leader Shuji Sakurada, “That was such an exciting race and it completed a great day for Yamaha, for we had already won the 250 riders' and constructors' title. I'm very happy, this result is a gift for all the hard work,” before emphasising “it's not our final goal, next year we want the Riders' World Championship.
Other than Biaggi, Loris Capirossi was the strongest rider out there, leading on a number of occasions, before ultimately losing out in the last lap scramble, running wide at the hairpin.
He said, “I tried very hard all the way and my bike and tyres were good to the end but the Yamaha was faster than my bike.” But despite the result he remained upbeat, “Anyway, it was a fun race and I've enjoyed my return to 500s this year, though I got too many injuries and that broke my championship.”
Valentino Rossi (Honda) although never leading the race was very mush in contention today, being well positioned to pounce on the final lap, should Biaggi or Capirossi have faltered.
“Max and Capirossi were fighting so hard, so my plan was to attack on the last lap,” said this year's 500cc rookie of the year winner. His chance of adding a 500cc Phillip Island victory to his 250cc win from last year was blighted by the ferocious nature of the racing. “I didn't see the last lap board! The race was so close and I was alongside Barros as we started the final lap, so my view was obscured.”
Garry McCoy, racing in front of his home crowd finished a credible fifth after another eventful race on the Red Bull Yamaha. He was denied the chance of a popular win as (like others) his tyres faded in the final stages.
He explained, “We made the right tyre choice and for most of the race they performed well. But towards the end they weren't working as good as I'd have liked and I couldn't get any closer to the front runners without taking a lot of risks – and the plan this weekend was to finish the race at all costs. Unfortunately I have slipped back to 5th in the championships, but as that was the goal I'd set myself at the beginning of the year I can't really complain.”
McCoy then summed up his year further, “Overall, with 3 wins and 3 thirds, I've had a pretty good season. We've taken a few gambles, had a bit of bad luck and made a few mistakes, but we won't repeat those next year and I'm looking forward to having a serious crack at the title.”
Surprise pole position holder, Jeremy McWilliams, was swamped by the field at the start – dropping him to fifteenth position. The closeness of the racing meant that in terms of time he was rarely more than two seconds off the lead – even before he began his charge for the front. Sadly after rising to fourth the Aprilia's tyres began to fade and McCoy was engulfed by the field, sliding down the order to eighth.
The Blu Aprilia MS Team rider said, “I had a really bad chatter problem. Unfortunately, we just didn't put together enough laps at race pace yesterday and the tyre choice turned out not to be good. I was having big problems on the brakes because of chatter. I don't really know why we had that problem. Everything else was fine. The bike had great speed. So I'm very disappointed.”
The 250cc race saw the thrilling climax to a season long battle between Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano. The race, and World Championship, eventually being decided in just the final few metres before the chequered flag.
Nakano had lead from pole at the start, but was soon being hounded by Jacque who was cleverly managing his race to gauge where he could pass before the chequered flag. Jacque held his nerve and followed Nakano for the whole race, not showing his hand until the final corner of the last lap, when he pulled out of Nakano's slipstream to win by the length of his front wheel.
Afterwards the triumphant Jacque paid tribute to his teammate, “All season we have been close. It has been so difficult to beat each other. I was quite nervous for the team and didn't want to make a mistake. Even when I crossed the line I wasn't certain who was World Champion, and it wasn't until a team member handed me the flag that I knew for sure.”
Jacque's victory placed him on equal number of wins with his hero, former French Grand Prix rider, Christian Sarron. “I am very glad for myself and the team. We have been fighting five years for this. I know how hard this is for Shinya. We did a good job together. I am really looking forward to going to 500s next year with Shinya,” Jacque concluded.
Shinya Nakano was naturally devastated to have come so close to the ultimate prize in 250cc racing, “Five or ten metres before the finish I was World Champion.” Was how Nakano summed up the race, before adding, “I wanted it very much and did my best, but this is racing. Every lap I knew Olivier was right behind me. This year he was very fast and very strong, but it was also a good season for me, with five victories. Through the year we have helped each other, and I think this was our strong point.”
Yamaha Tech 3 Team Manager, Hervé Poncharal, was delighted that his two riders fought for the Championship in such a thrilling, and more importantly, sporting manor – neither making an aggressive gesture towards their opponent.
“It was like a fairytale,” said Poncharal “What most worried me was exactly what happened in the race: two riders battling, taking the risks to be in front. To them the most important thing was to be in front and I was scared they'd lose everything. The last lap scared me the most. I have to thank OJ for being a true gentleman rider. Second place was the most difficult place to be in. I told them earlier not to do anything stupid.”
Poncharal then turned his thoughts towards the defeated Nakano, “Shinya had a lot of bad luck this year. I knew he would be disappointed with this result but he put on a brave face. It's both riders that have given us this result. They've worked well together all year. It would be difficult to find a happier team manager, but tonight I just have to look after Shinya.”
Daijiro Katoh (Axo Honda Gresini NSR250) never seriously threatened the Yamaha duo at the front, but still took a determined third-place finish to secure third overall in the 250 World Championship, and with it became the rookie of the year.
Katoh had qualified third fastest and though he twice managed to get between them in the opening laps, he soon slipped back to third and was later briefly passed by Ralf Waldmann (Aprilia) before reclaiming the final podium position.
The winner of the two previous rounds said, “I rode as hard as I could but couldn't stay with Jacque or Shinya, they were too fast for me. Now I'm looking forward to my second year in GPs and going for the 2001 250 title.''
Anthony West (Shell Advance Honda NSR250) made a brave effort in front of his home crowd to seventh, despite riding with a nasty hand injury sustained in a final qualifying crash.
The Australian teenager said, “The finger didn't make riding the bike any easier, that's for sure. It hurt quite a bit and made things difficult especially through the really fast sections and into the really tight sections, where you're braking and you've got all the pressure on your hands.”
Masao Azuma won an incident filled 125cc race for the Benetton Playlife team, leading for the first time on the penultimate lap, before firstly defending against, then out-pacing, countryman Youichi Ui in the last lap dash to the flag.
Azuma said, “I saw so many guys crash, so I thought the track may be slippery and I took care. So I planned to leave my attack until late. I made a good pass and when he attacked on the last lap he was too fast into the turn and ran wide. I'm very happy.''
Ui himself was happy enough with second, “I had so much fun during the race because I didn't have the pressure of the previous races. In the last lap I tried to lead twice but Azuma's bike was too fast and it was impossible. I was only thinking of winning. I never got worried about the runner-up place.”
“We didn't win the title but we must be happy as we won five races and have been ten times on the podium, much more times than any other rider,” said Ui proudly.
Nobby Ueda (Givi Honda LCR RS125) won a tough battle for third place ahead of reigning World Champion Emilio Alzamora (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RS125). He said “That was a really enjoyable race, but Emilio was so difficult to beat because he's so strong on the brakes.”