5 October 2003
Biaggi reigns after Motegi mayhem.
Those numbers made the task look impossible, and Rossi instead found himself having to defend his newly taken position from a charging Sete, who against expectation was able to stay with Vale after being passed – while Hayden and Tamada were still in touch.
Onto the penultimate lap and Biaggi was riding faultlessly up front to keep his commanding 5secs lead intact, while Rossi, Gibernau, Hayden and Tamada were still inseparable. Tamada muscled past Hayden towards the end of lap, the pair swapping paint through the underpass, while Rossi could forget winning – he now needed all his skill to hold second.
The Italian was quick through the first part of the lap and was able to pull a slight lead, while Gibernau was soon to become the controversial victim of a Tamada attack. The Japanese was giving everything he had to claim a home podium and heading onto the back straight the Pramac Honda rider tucked in behind Gibernau, slipstreamed alongside him and then – this is where things get controversial – the pair collided at high speed.
Sete survived the ensuing 'wobble' from his RCV, but couldn't stop in time for the tight, right hand, turn at the end of the straight - and was forced through the gravel. Tamada had no such problems and duly took a home podium, behind Rossi and a jubilant Biaggi.
Indeed, Max was visibly ecstatic at finally taking his first 'on track' win of 2003 – and in front of the Honda bosses after a faultless ride. Rossi was visibly pained to finish second – but he'd also ridden a fantastic race after his earlier mistake, was easily the fastest man on track, and had extended his point's lead over Gibernau.
Despite the last lap, Tamada was naturally delighted with his hard earned third - and gave the home fans renewed hope of a future first premier-class champion, whilst ensuring himself of a MotoGP ride next year.
Hayden also enjoyed himself and was seen beaming from ear-to-ear as he discussed the race with Mick Doohan in the Repsol pits afterwards. Sete wasn't so pleased – and stopped just after the flag with a face like thunder. Makoto can expect a 'friendly' visit later...
Further back, Melandri was top Yamaha in sixth, while Capirossi brought the lone Ducati home in ninth after a 'quiet' day.
Ryo claimed 11th on the development Suzuki, with Haga top Aprilia in 13th. Aoki brought the lone finishing Proton Kr home in 15 for its first ever GP point, two places ahead of Pitt's Kawasaki (McCoy pulled in with mechanical problems). Edwards, Moriwaki wild-card Serizawa and WCM's David de Gea completed the finishers.
However, shortly after the race, it was announced that Tamada had been stripped of his third place finish because of his collison with Gibernau (see seperate story), moving Hayden to a career best third.
Hopkins was also in trouble, being banned from the next round at Malaysia for starting the first turn accident (again see seperate story).
Full results to follow...
19. de Gea
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