Sunday's Pacific Grand Prix brought mixed results for the Fortuna Yamaha Team after a weekend of strong qualifying.

It began badly when a first turn crash involving Suzuki's John Hopkins and Ducati's Troy Bayliss forced Carlos Checa off the track and out of the race - a bitterly disappointing end for the Spaniard.

"I had a good start and was behind Valentino," said a disenchanted Checa. "Then I got hit from behind at the first turn along with Bayliss, I think by Hopkins. I don't really understand what happened but I'm so fed up after the hard work we've put in all weekend. There's not a lot more I can say."

Checa's team-mate Marco Melandri was also involved in the incident, forced off his racing line and onto the trackside gravel. The young Italian got back on track and despite having been relegated to 19th position on the opening lap, made a determined comeback in the 24-lap race to finish a respectable sixth.

"I started quite well but was forced wide. I saw Carlos come wide as well," Melandri explained about the start of the race. "It felt like he touched me, I lost the rear and almost crashed, then ran into the gravel. It took a lot of time to get back onto the track, and when I did it took three or four corners to clean the tyres.

"I was really far behind the others but soon after I was back on the pace. I saw Valentino pass me later in the race and that helped me to catch Capirossi and Barros. I'm only disappointed because it took me a long time to catch them. Overall I'm quite pleased with the result considering what happened."

Melandri's result was altered to fifth place soon afterwards, due to a separate incident between Honda riders Makoto Tamada and Sete Gibernau. Tamada clashed fairings with Gibernau on the last lap and the Japanese rider was disqualified shortly after the podium ceremony.

"That was such a bad start to the race for us," said Davide Brivio. "We're both upset for Carlos and pleased for Marco's amazing recovery. We felt that both riders were going to have a good race today, and then Carlos was taken out at the very beginning. Marco was also affected but was able to come back with an impressive performance.

"I think the pace both riders showed this weekend could have allowed them to stay with the top group, if it hadn't been for the incident on the first lap. This race could have been the turning point for us but unfortunately that's the nature of racing. Let 's look to Malaysia where our newly improved engine performance may be even more useful," he added.

 

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