Rossi’s record-breaking ride featured an intense battle with Sete Gibernau (Honda) that again came down to a dramatic finale, with Rossi making his definitive pass at the end of the penultimate lap. Gibernau tried to fight back but as Rossi edged clear through the final series of sweeping corners, the Spaniard’s slim hope of a victorious response disappeared completely as he suffered a technical problem and was forced to retire. Whilst Loris Capirossi (Ducati) and Max Biaggi (Honda) made the most of Gibernau’s misfortune to complete the podium, Rossi’s Gauloises Yamaha team-mate Colin Edwards was promoted one place to seventh after a tough race that again saw the American struggle to find sufficient rear grip for his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine. Despite his disappointment, Edwards remains in the thick of the battle for second place in the championship, trailing Biaggi by six points with six rounds still remaining. Rossi, meanwhile, can seal the championship title in the next round at Motegi by finishing in the top two.
VALENTINO ROSSI (1st; 43’56.539)
“That was one of the hardest races of the season. After the warm-up I saw Sete’s time and I wasn’t sure that I could beat him in the race. I had confidence in the bike but I knew I was a bit slower than him. I spoke with Jeremy Burgess to ask for some modifications to be made to the bike in order to make a better compromise for the whole race and, like always, he and the rest of the team worked at 100% to improve the situation. There were a lot of fast riders out there but Gibernau was my hardest opponent so I tried to push him and put the pressure on from the start. It was a great fight with a lot of overtaking. In the middle of the race I decided to try to go and make a gap, but Sete came back. At the end I did three or four good laps, made the pass on Sete and then did a perfect final lap. Unfortunately Sete had a problem, which was bad luck for him because he deserved to be on the podium. Anyway this is a good win for me and now I just need one more for the title, but it is not over yet.”
COLIN EDWARDS (7th; + 13.532)
“I started alright but after five laps we were in trouble. We changed the setting of the bike a little after the warm-up but the track was much warmer than we expected for the race and we loaded up the front a bit too much. It was a repeat of the race at Mugello – the bike was spinning and I couldn’t get any edge grip on the rear. I pushed on the pegs, stood up, leaned back…everything I could think of to make it stick! The positive side is that we still got some points and we’ve got a two-day test coming up where we can work on some of these problems and hopefully find the solution we need. We haven’t tested since Le Mans so it will be nice to have a chance to rack up plenty of hours on the track without the pressure of a Grand Prix, as we get ready for a tough finish to the season.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO – GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM DIRECTOR
“I have to congratulate and thank the whole team, particularly Valentino’s engineers because they followed his requests to modify the bike precisely and gave him the package he needed to take victory today. He made the bike work and put on a great show for the fans with Sete Gibernau, who deserved to be on the podium. Valentino has a good advantage in the championship now and we will go to Motegi looking for the same result. Unfortunately Colin couldn’t do any better than seventh place today but the fight for second place is still very close and he is still in contention having collected nine points today. We will look for some solutions with him during the test and look forward to going to Japan in three weeks’ time.”