News 20 Jul 2009

MotoGP: Fiat Yamaha riders go one-two in Sachsenring thriller


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For the second time this season, Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were embroiled in a thrilling head to head battle to the flag at the German Grand Prix in Sachsenring today. As at Catalunya earlier this season, it was the eight-time World Champion Rossi who emerged the winner, but his young team-mate pushed him every step of the way and finished just 0.099 seconds behind, an almost identical gap to that of Catalunya. Rossi’s 101st win means he equals Agositini’s all-time podium record of 159 in all classes.

Rossi got a brilliant start from pole, in contrast to Lorenzo beside him who slipped several places to sixth at the first split. The 22-year-old soon made up one place however and then Randy de Puniet crashed, elevating him to fourth at the end of the first lap. Lorenzo had a brief exchange with Andrea Dovizioso but soon dispensed with him and it was then Rossi leading from Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo – the four main championship protagonists within three-quarters of a second.

On lap seven Rossi relinquished his lead to Stoner and it remained that way for the next ten laps, although the gap from the Australian to Lorenzo in third was almost nothing. On lap 18 the Italian pulled off a brilliant pass on the brakes at the bottom of the hill into the penultimate turn to retake the lead and his team-mate followed him through, passing Stoner on the finish straight to leave the Yamaha pair lying first and second. They quickly began to eke out a gap from their pursuers and with less than two tenths between them it was clear that they were heading towards another tense finale. Lorenzo made his move at the start of lap 26, passing his team-mate into turn one and hanging onto the lead until the second to last lap, when Rossi overtook him in the same place in what proved to be the decisive pass. A brave attempt from Lorenzo to go around the outside of Rossi at the start of the final lap fell short and a perfect final lap from the 30-year-old sealed his fourth win of the season, leaving Lorenzo to content himself with his eighth podium this year and Pedrosa to cross the line nearly three seconds further back in third.

Rossi’s win means he stretches his lead over Lorenzo in second to 14 points, with eight rounds remaining. The Spaniard in turn lies14 points ahead of Stoner as the paddock moves straight on to the UK for the British Grand Prix at Donington Park

Valentino Rossi
Position: 1st Time: 41’21.769

“I think this was a great race for everyone because there were all four leading riders of the championship, fighting very closely and all in strong form. We knew that they would all be tough to beat today so I am very pleased about this win, I rode very well and my team worked brilliantly all weekend to find the right setting. I had a very good start today, a great battle with Stoner early on and then after half race distance I was a little faster and really able to push at the maximum, which was great fun. At the end it came down to another incredible battle with Lorenzo and I really had to be on top form, especially because he passed me when I wasn’t expecting it. Luckily I was able to take him back and then I rode a perfect final lap with no mistakes. Everything worked well today, my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres, so thanks and well done to everyone. This is my fourth win of the year and I really think that our Yamaha is a fantastic bike this season. I think races like this are great for the sport. Now we have a small advantage in the championship and we’re going straight to Donington, one of my favourite tracks where I really hope I can win after a few bad years without a victory!”

Jorge Lorenzo
Position: 2nd Time: +0.099

“Today was a very hard race because this track is slow and twisty and you have to use all the strength in your body to ride at the maximum. Keeping pace with Valentino today was a big challenge for me, especially since I’m not at full fitness after Laguna, so I am happy that I was able to push him until the end. Passing him was very difficult because he braked hard and late every time, and in fact I made a bit of a mistake because I thought there were a few more laps left when I passed him! I hoped to overtake him and then try to pull away but it didn’t work out today. Of course I’m disappointed to lose another very close race, it is always sad but I know that we are capable of fighting with him and considering his experience this is something I must be proud of. Second is important today and we still have a long way to go in this championship.”

Davide Brivio
Team Manager

“What a battle and what Yamahas! Once again another very exciting race with many changes between the four top riders in the championship. As always Valentino had a very strong drive to win and today he had to use everything he had to hold off the challenge of our team-mate. Congratulations to Jorge because he made it a very hard race for us to win and of course congratulations to Valentino for doing his job brilliantly once again!”

Daniele Romagnoli
Team Manager

“Another brilliant result from us; Jorge rode a great race and the team did a very good job in finding the right setting and choosing the right tyre for him today. Considering he’s not completely fit, we have to be impressed that he could fight so strongly to the end today and push Valentino to the final lap, riding at the highest level. We have to keep going in the same way because we still have a chance in this title fight.”

A double top ten finish for Colin Edwards and James Toseland moved the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team into fourth place in the Team World Championship standings after a hard fought German MotoGP race this afternoon.

Starting from seventh on the grid, American Edwards stayed on the fringes of the top six until he encountered minor rear handling issues that saw him drop down to 11th on lap eight.

Quickly adapting his style to compensate, Edwards produced an impressive performance in the second half of the race as he closed down on the battle between Nicky Hayden and Marco Melandri for seventh position.

But having reduced the gap to less than 1.5s, Edwards had to settle for ninth to finish just two seconds off a fourth top six of the season.

British rider James Toseland was just one place further back in 10th place. Racing with a new Yamaha YZR-M1 anti-wheelie system for the first time, Toseland made a good start from the fifth row of the grid but found himself boxed in at the Sachsenring’s tight first corner.

Having overcome a small front tyre grip issue in the early stages of a 30-lap race, run in bright and sunny conditions, Toseland threatened to challenge for a top six as he pursued the group including Edwards, Hayden, Melandri and Toni Elias. Toseland eventually settled into a consistent pace and easily pulled away from Loris Capirossi and Mika Kallio to claim his fifth top ten finish of the season.

The result ensured the 28-year-old gave himself a big confidence boost ahead of his home race at Donington Park next weekend.

Colin Edwards 9th – 83 points
“It was a weird race and I had a similar problem to the last few races. It feels like I’ve got a load of weight on the rear pushing me into the corners. I can’t get the bike to turn and today was pretty much the same. The first few laps were a bit of nightmare because I was losing the front a lot. I was going backwards and at one point dropped out of the top ten, but when I thought it was going to be a long afternoon, a strange thing happened. As the rear grip started to drop, I actually got faster and the bike starting turning. With less grip on the rear I could turn the bike and it would help keep the front from just running straight on. So I just got my head down and recovered some positions but I ran out of laps when I getting closer to Nicky (Hayden) and Marco (Melandri). Now we go to Donington, which is a place that I love. I’ve had some success there in MotoGP and I’ll be looking to get closer to the front for all my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3, who have worked hard again all weekend.”

James Toseland 10th – 45 points
“I got a decent start and I was pleased with that after what happened at Laguna Seca and the anti-wheelie system from Yamaha has made a massive difference. But I got boxed in at the first corner. I’m not sure who it was but I had contact on my right and left knee. I didn’t roll off and got through but at the start of the race I had a few issues with the front tyre. We’re not sure if it was the temperature or the full fuel load but at the start I didn’t have much confidence. After about half distance it really started working well and I could run a really consistent pace. With the mixed conditions all weekend, I’d not had chance to run the hard rear tyre, but I really thought it would come strong in the last ten laps and help me chase the bunch I was on the back for a while that were battling for seventh. But the hard tyre wasn’t really an advantage for the last few laps and there was no difference in performance against the guys on the soft rear tyre. I’m satisfied with another top ten though and I’m now looking forward to my home race now at Donington Park. Another top ten has given me a bit of a boost. I’ll be looking to make amends for the disappointment of last year at the British GP and giving it my all for my home crowd.”

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“We expected a lot better because this is a track that we know Yamaha is very strong at, but Colin and James rode to their maximum again. It has been a hard weekend with the track conditions changing so much and both of them finishing in the top ten is not a bad result. Through their hard work we are back in fourth place in the Team World Championship and Colin has consolidated his fifth place in the rider standings, which is a great reward for his consistency. James also had a very solid race and this has given some good confidence ready for his home race at Donington Park next week where he keen to perform for his home fans. Congratulations again to Yamaha with another very impressive performance from Valentino and Jorge. They are showing that Yamaha really is the best brand in MotoGP.”