faught hard for the lead and the win in what turned out
to be 2 races, with 6 different leaders. Here he holds off
Championship points leader Sete Gibernau on the Telefonica
World Championship, Round 4 Mugello
in Front of Mugello Home Crowd
Preview: Can Gibernau Keep his Title Momentum Going,
Will Ducati be Back with the Front Runners?
Mugello, Italy, June 4/5/6, 2004: The fourth
round of the 2004 MotoGP title race takes place in the Tuscan
hills of Italy this weekend with a crowd of 70,000 expected
at this fast, flowing, circuit. This race will mark the
quarter-way stage in this year's 16-race series and Mugello,
as it so often does, will prove to be a pivotal race.
for many reasons. Points table leader Sete Gibernau (Telefonica
MoviStar Honda RC211V) will be aiming to win his third consecutive
race of the season and stamp his authority on the title
race at the 'home' Grand Prix of his two closest title rivals.
Max Biaggi (Camel Honda RC211V) lies ten points behind the
Spaniard and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) is only four points
in arrears of Biaggi.
But an early advantage in the points table is only part
of the story. Mugello will also be a test for Rossi's Yamaha.
The 5.245km track is a 'power' circuit with a 1.14km uphill
straight. The RC211V's of Gibernau and Biaggi have never
been short of the outright horsepower needed to take advantage
of this long, crucial straight, while a question mark hangs
over the power quotient of the Yamaha.
the imposing main chute is by no means the only element
of Mugello that poses a challenge. The right-hand turn at
the end of the main 206mph straight is a 'known' passing
place and a baulked run through there can upset a rider's
rhythm for the rest of the lap - and Mugello's sweeping
turns are a test that requires uninterrupted rhythm as much
as anything else.
racing here tends to be close and spectacular with epic
slipstreaming battles along the straight and close quarter
action through the turns where the adverse cambers and downhill
plunges put a high value on machine agility. But without
the power to stay in contention on the straight a rider
has too much to do to make up ground through the turns in
the backfield. This is why power is at a premium here.
The 'home' race advantage is key here too. Riders are never
slow to point out that backing from a big, partisan crowd
is worth a few extra horsepower and both Biaggi and Rossi
will have hardcore legions of fans willing them on to title
Gibernau is under no illusions about how hard it will be
to prevail here. "For sure it will be a difficult race
as the Italian riders will be in front of their public,"
he said. "Therefore they will almost have an extra
gear as they'll be even more motivated that usual. Plus
Mugello isn't exactly a circuit I particularly like. Last
year on this track we had the worst result of the season,
but I will be racing to win. I have lots of Italian fans
too and it would be a fantastic gift to win for my Italian
mechanics and for my team."
Biaggi cannot wait for the race such is his enthusiasm for
the magnificent circuit. Currently holding second place
in the points standings Biaggi is in a buoyant mood as the
"What can you say about Mugello that isn't something
positive? The track would be one of my absolute favourites
even if it wasn't my home circuit and the venue for the
Italian GP. The endless front straightaway, the fast bends,
the technically-challenging esses, all make this a fantastic
track to ride at: with the "Bucine", the "Arrabbiata"
double-apex, the "Casanova-Savelli" where my fan-club
always cheers from, as well as all the rest… I love
every bit of it. I also like the hilly nature of the track,
I'm not a big fan of the flat circuits. The track is very
different from Le Mans, it doesn't have the same hard braking
for starters, but the positive work my team has done with
the set-up after the last race could allow me to have a
good base setting with which to go just as well at this
track. I think that the race will be very hard fought, there
are a lot of us who want and who are capable of going well,
and I'm certain to be amongst those." Commented the
Brazilian Alex Barros (Repsol Honda RC211V) currently lies
fourth in the overall title standings and sees this race
a perfect opportunity to get further on terms with his rivals.
"I'm confident that the important work we did after
the last race at Le Mans will be of big benefit for next
race," he said. "We struggled in France to find
a good balance for the machine. I was not confident with
the front end and was having real problems in the turns.
worked to find a solution on the day after the race and
I was happy with the results where we were able to lap consistently
quicker than over the whole race weekend. This work will
be important for the set-up for Mugello, which is such a
fast and flowing track. We need a good result this weekend
to keep in contention in the long race for the championship."
Edwards (Telefonica MoviStar Honda RC211V) needs to get
his season on track here too - and feels the time is right
after extensive testing. "After the work at the Michelin
test track my feeling with the bike is much better,"
he said. "We had problems with the front whenever the
air temperature rose. We changed the forks and we've now
resolved these problems. So now I can't wait to go to Mugello.
The Italians are favourites but there won't only be Rossi
and Biaggi, Sete and I will be up there to fight also. Mugello
is a special track, full of history, and I like the atmosphere
Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V), currently lying seventh
in the overall standings, also needs to pick up a big points
haul here too. "I'm looking forward to Mugello,"
said the American. "It's a really nice track and I
like the layout a lot. I never really got up to speed there
last year and to be honest had a bit of an off weekend.
I want to start this coming important race weekend where
we left off from the test at Le Mans after what was really
a pretty disappointing race.
definitely found some speed in the test and I was lapping
a whole lot quicker than I did in the race. The team is
working real hard and I so want to get a result for them
and all my fans that have been so supportive. I'm under
no illusions; it's going to be hard. I'm racing in the best
series in the world with the best riders in the world. I've
just got to keep chipping away and learning."
COOL GIBERNAU GRABS
SECOND CONSECUTIVE POLE
Final Qualifying, Saturday June 5th - Sete
Gibernau (Telefonica Movistar Honda RC211V) confirmed his
status as the man to beat when he set the fastest ever lap
of Mugello in yesterday’s provisional qualifying session.
His time of 1m 49.553s remained unbeaten as weather conditions
today contrived to deprive his challengers of a chance to
better his time. Track temperature was sufficiently elevated
at 36 degrees from yesterday’s 33 degrees to make
the difference. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) qualified
second and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) completes the front
The session was red-flagged with eight minutes to go when
Kurtis Roberts’ Proton caught fire after he crashed.
This left most riders with a set of qualifying tyres that
they would have to use in heavy traffic and without the
benefit of a good rhythm in the session. And the delay upset
a lot of team’s plans.
But Hayden was one to benefit from the break as he hoisted
himself from a provisional seventh up to second. “Things
haven’t gone to plan so far this season,” he
said. “So this is a really big step forward. To be
on the front row is really important, but it doesn’t
mean much unless we can back it up in the race tomorrow
with a good fast rhythm. After the break in the session
I knew I had to go for it and I just put my head down and
Pole man Gibernau is in a confident mood. “Everything
is good,” he said. “And I even thought I could
go faster than yesterday, but I hit some traffic and that
prevented me from doing that. The main thing is my race
pace is fast and that will be the key tomorrow.”
IN FRONT OF MUGELLO HOME CROWD
Mugello, Italy, Sunday June 6th: Valentino
Rossi held his nerve and maintained his race-long aggression
to outpace his rivals not once but twice at Mugello in today’s
Italian Grand Prix. In doing so he seized his second win
since joining the Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha Team, in outstanding
style. His team-mate Carlos Checa fell on the 4th lap in
the first sector of a two-race event, putting himself out
of the subsequent re-start, the only one which would count
The initial race was stopped with five laps remaining after
the riders raised their hands to signal that the threatening
rains had actually started. A six-lap restart would determine
the ultimate classification of the race, with the first
section now nullified.
Rossi, who had led Sete Gibernau’s Honda on the last
of the laps in the first running, repeated the trick in
seemingly impossible conditions. The 25-year-old from Tavullia
won by 0.361 seconds in the restart. With treacherous conditions
to deal with Rossi was in a six-rider group at one stage,
before asserting his class and quality to outrun Gibernau
and third placed Max Biaggi (Honda) in what proved to be
a sprint race of maximum risk and changeable traction.
If the second running was a minor classic, the opener was
conducted on a no less grand scale. Rossi drew roars from
the crowd as he took the advantage from the start, leading
into the first corner with his great Italian rival Max Biaggi
in second place. Checa, in eighth position, had already
made a three place jump from his 11th place start, only
to fall on lap four. A huge crash on the main straight for
Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) saw debris littering the track
surface; the Japanese rider escaped serious injury by a
whisker, although the race continued until the rains descended
on lap 17.
The riders lined up for the restart in the order in which
they finished the first segment, with Rossi on pole, Gibernau
second and Biaggi third. Checa, having fallen in the first
part, was not allowed to restart. With this second Yamaha
victory Rossi now sits second in the championship on 76
points, ten behind leader Gibernau and four ahead of Biaggi.
Checa ended his Mugello race weekend in overall fifth, with
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st)
"To win in front of all these people is incredible.
It’s hard to explain the emotion I felt when I heard
the crowds cheering for me on the last few laps. I need
to say thank you to all of them. It was like winning twice
today. The first one was in the dry, where it seemed like
I made thirty or forty overtaking manoeuvres. Every lap
there was a fantastic battle with Sete, Max and Tamada.
It would have been difficult to win in the dry with Gibernau,
but the new race in the rain was held in incredible conditions.
To run with a slick on a wet track was very strange at the
beginning but fortunately it stopped raining and it was
possible to push to the win.”
CARLOS CHECA (DNF)
"I passed Capirossi through the second chicane and
then on the next corner I opened the gas and lost the rear.
Obviously I’m very disappointed and I don’t
really know what to say. It has dented my morale a little
bit. One good thing is that I have been able to retain fifth
position in the championship. Now we’re going to Barcelona
where a good result is really important in front of my home
crowd. I hope things will go better there. "
JERRY BURGESS –VALENTINO ROSSI’S CREW CHIEF
"It was very satisfying to win after the second running
as Valentino did so well in the first race, which didn’t
count in the end. We always make preparations in case of
rain so we were ready. We had to put him on full slicks
in the six-lap race, just like most others. It was a little
tricky as the rain was probably heavier then than it had
been when they first stopped it, but it all worked out.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES FORTUNA YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“That was a really strange day but what a result!
Valentino and the team worked so well to come out on top
from the restart in such difficult conditions. I think we
will all remember this race for a very long time. Unfortunately
at the same time it was not a good day for Carlos; he started
a difficult race from 11th on the grid, he knew it would
be hard and didn’t make it to the end. Hopefully he
can keep his motivation because he’s done a good job
in the past rounds and Barcelona could be a great chance
RESULTS (2nd Race)
1. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha 12’06.803
2. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Telefonica Movistar Honda +0.361
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) Camel Honda +1.540
4. Troy Bayliss (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team +1.782
5. Ruben Xaus (SPA) D’Antin MotoGP +2.389
6. Alex Barros (BRA) Repsol Honda Team +2.446
7. Norick Abe (JPN) Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 +5.842
8. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team +6.228
9. Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Gauloises Tech 3 +6.461
10. Shane Byrne (GBR) MS Aprilia Racing +7.198
DNF - CARLOS CHECA (SPA) Gauloises Fortuna Yamaha
1. Sete Gibernau (SPA) 86
2. VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) 76
3. Max Biaggi (ITA) 72
4. Alex Barros (BRA) 48
5. CARLOS CHECA (SPA) 36
6. Colin Edwards (USA) 33
7. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 28
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) 27
9. Troy Bayliss (AUS) 23
10. Marco Melandri (ITA) 22
National Championship, Road America Rounds 9 & 10
Miguel Duhamel Makes History at Road America
Elkhart Lake, WI, June 4-6th - American
Honda’s Miguel Duhamel did what no one before him
ever had, winning both Superbike races and a support race
on an AMA Chevrolet Superbike Championship weekend, Duhamel’s
coming on the longest track of the year, the scenic four-mile
Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Sunday’s
Superbike win moved him to the top of the all-time list
and was Honda’s 110th in AMA Superbike competition.
But Duhamel wasn’t the only Honda rider tasting success....
leading the first 14 of 16 laps, Erion Honda’s Jake
Zemke finished second to Duhamel in Sunday’s Superbike
race. He was also second in Saturday’s Formula Xtreme
race and third in Superbike on Saturday. Erion Honda’s
Alex Gobert made it an all-Honda podium in Formula Xtreme
by taking third. The trio owns the top three spots in the
Formula Xtreme Championship, Duhamel’s four wins giving
him an 11 point lead on Zemke (two wins), 213 to 202, with
Gobert third at 166.
double Superbike wins also pulled Duhamel closer to the
Superbike championship lead. By winning for the fourth and
fifth time at Road America, he closed the gap to 10 points
behind championship leader Mat Mladin (Suzuki). Mladin finished
second and third in the two races.
Honda’s Ben Bostrom ran second in the early stages
of both races before encountering various problems. On Saturday
he finished in fourth, just off the podium. Bostrom had
chosen a different construction rear tire than race-winner
Duhamel, though it was the same tire compound. On Sunday
it was only in the very latest stages of the race that he
was denied a podium and finished fifth.
American Superbike champion Mat Mladin made two trips to
the podium this weekend after adding a third place finish
in today’s tenth round of the AMA Chevrolet Superbike
Championship, with Saturdays’s hard fought second.
The long and very fast Road America course at Elkhart Lake
Wisconsin was always going to prove to be a tough weekend’s
work for Mladin and his Yoshimura Suzuki crew, as they gave
away a significant speed advantage.
Hard work during practice and typical Mladin determination
during both 16-lap Superbike nationals kept the Australian,
not only in the thick at the action at the front of the
field, but also at the front of the championship leader
board, even though he left leave Wisconsin with a reduced
lead of 10-points over the weekend’s double race winner
Miguel DuHamel, 329 to 319.
Sunday's second of the weekend’s Superbike nationals
was interrupted on lap five when a blown engine resulted
in a large oil spill, with a number of riders unable to
ovoid the spill and falling. The incident forced officials
to stop the race and have it restarted. The restarted race
saw Mladin work his way forward to the lead group after
initially being seventh on the opening lap. He held sixth
place for a number of the early laps before a spirited charge
forward saw him reel off a number of fast consistent laps,
one of which was a blistering 2-min 14.812, that he set
on the eleventh lap as he chased the lead trio. This time
was the fastest single laps that Mladin had set all weekend,
including that of qualifying.
His resulting charge forward was rewarded on lap fourteen
as he passed Ben Bostrom to claim third, which he held to
the flag. Victory in Sunday’s race went to DuHamel,
who after spending much of the race chasing down Jake Zemk
ebefore Jake with two laps of the race remaining.
commentned on his 3rd place finish on Sunday. “Third
place was a good result for us today and matched with the
second from yesterday, that was the best we could do,”
said Mladin. “The speed differential between the bikes
is so great that it is beyond a joke, which was highlighted
at such a fast track like this. We have our bike running
as best we can with the rules, but we can’t keep with
the acceleration and speed of some of the others. It’s
“When the race was red flagged, we took the time to
change a couple of things on the bike, but unfortunately
we were not able to get back out on the track in time for
our warm up lap and had to take our position on the grid
with brand new tyres and no warm up lap. That meant I had
to try hard and not get carried away while getting some
heat into the tyres, before starting to get into a race
rhythm. I think we did a good job to grab third from Ben
and minimise the point’s loss to Miguel. We’ve
got a 10-point lead heading to Brainerd, but I’m not
feeling confident that we’ll still be in that position
after the next few races, with tracks that require high
speeds and strong acceleration.”
Duhamel, Sunday, First Place
excellent. Only my dad (ex-racer Yvon Duhamel) would point
out that I didn’t get pole in (Formula) Xtreme and
he might nitpick about not leading the most laps. Besides
that I think he’s very happy and obviously for myself
I’m very happy. With the company that I’m keeping,
my dad likes to kid around, but he knows and I know that
it’s really difficult to do what we do. I feel great
about what I pulled off but there’s always a bit of
luck that goes your way. You need a great team. This weekend
was just one of those weekends when everything went well."
Zemke, Sunday, Second Place
The red flag hurt us quite badly not just in the time difference
but after we came back in after that restart we had a pretty
serious problem with our bike and it kept getting progressively
got worse and worse as the race wore on. I’m actually
happy to just be sitting here to tell you the truth. I stayed
out there and luckily came home and got some points and
we’ll move on to Brainerd.
Bostrom, Sunday, Fifth Place
We had twice the bike we had yesterday but we’re just
missing out on the rear grip. Miguel (Duhamel), it looks
like he’s riding pretty easy. Jake (Zemke) looks like
he’s riding pretty hard; he definitely didn’t
have the grip Miguel had. Miguel made it look easy. He was
riding pretty comfortable, picking the bike up driving off
the corners stronger than anyone. As the tire wore down
I got slower.
Duhamel, Saturday, First Place
I was definitely keeping a great eye on my pit board and
I saw the gap go up to 1.4, almost 1.8 seconds. So when
you get one second that’s a decent gap. It’s
funny, it’s like they were tied to a string. I was
able to pull one second and then they were just not falling
any more than that. When you’re leading you don’t
want to push too hard and then maybe have a tire problem.
You never know. It was on my mind because when I took off
the tire was reacting quite a bit different than it’s
been doing all weekend. I was aggressive, but trying to
be smooth because I didn’t know what to expect when
the race wound down. But yeah, I was definitely watching
my pit board. Plus one was a lot more refreshing to see
than plus zero.
Zemke, Saturday, Third Place
We had some problems this morning with our brakes and we’re
still having problems with our brakes. Miguel (Duhamel)
got through there and was running well and I was trying
to reel him back him. He got away from me there a little
bit and in doing so, the only time I was really making on
him was on the brakes going in. And eventually they just
couldn’t handle it any more. Just missed turn five
there a little bit and had to turn around and pass Eric
(Bostrom) and Ben (Bostrom) back and that was about it.
Bostrom, Saturday, Fourth Place
I think Jake (Zemke) and I got snookered a little bit on
tires and (Mat) Mladin and Miguel (Duhamel) must have made
the right choice. We all ran the same compound; they ran
a different construction. Tomorrow we’ll run a different
set-up. I knew we were in trouble because I couldn’t
get a drive to pass (Eric Bostrom) on the straightaway.
When the other guys came by, I followed them. We’d
seem to make time on the entries and lose it on the exit.
That’s usually a sign of trouble toward the end of
the race. It’ll be faster tomorrow.
1. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
2. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
3. Jake Zemke (Honda)
4. Ben Bostrom (Honda)
5. Eric Bostrom (Ducati)
6. Steve Crevier (Suzuki)
7. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
8. Geoff May (Suzuki)
9. Shawn Higbee (Suzuki)
10. Eric Wood (Suzuki)
1. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
2. Jake Zemke (Honda)
3. Mat Mladin (Suzuki)
4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki)
5. Ben Bostrom (Honda)
6. Eric Bostrom (Ducati)
7. Steve Crevier (Suzuki)
8. Larry Pegram (Yamaha)
9. Geoff May (Suzuki)
10. Shawn Higbee (Suzuki)
1. Miguel Duhamel (Honda)
2. Jake Zemke (Honda)
3. Alex Gobert (Honda)
4. Doug Chandler (Ducati)
5. Steve Crevier (Suzuki)
6. Vincent Haskovec (Suzuki)
7. Mike Ciccotto (Buell)
8. Larry Pegram (Yamaha)
9. Pascal Picotte (Yamaha)
10. Blake Young (Suzuki)