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Mick Doohan watched the Grand Prix Polini de France from Australia, but he is as astute as always in his observations

Mick Doohan watched the Grand Prix Polini de France from Australia, but he is as astute as always in his observations

It was another classic race weekend in Le Mans, although it started off with disappointment all round. Olivier Jacque´s withdrawal was a blow to the French fans who had turned up, whilst Garry McCoy´s crash during practice was a real shame. A wrist injury can be very niggly and I just hope he can make a full and quick recovery. I don´t know what effect his absence will have on the Championship, because realistically he was a long way off points wise. His fall in South Africa and ninth place in Jerez had pretty much blown his title chances, but he will always be a contender for winning races and getting amongst the points so it will be a great shame if he has to miss any more races.

Max Biaggi had a great race and never really looked in any trouble, apart from a couple of mistakes. He was clearly feeling good on the bike and, although he got very lucky with those errors which could have ended the race for him, he completely outclassed the rest of the field. It was a shame Valentino didn´t get a better start because in the end there was nobody to take it to Max.

Biaggi showed that the Yamaha is a competitive bike, as Norick Abe has been doing all year, and I think it was particularly suited to this venue. The nature of the track is that you have to rush in to the corners, brake hard and accelerate out. It really makes a difference when the tyres go off and Biaggi and Checa were able to use it to their advantage. The Marlboro team tested last week in Mugello and got their set-up just right, so hats off to them.

Kenny Roberts got off to another great start but he was unable to maintain the pace. He keeps pointing to his bike but at the end of the day all of the machines out there could be enhanced in one way or another. I´ve never ridden a bike that couldn´t be improved. If you watch the race closely from Sunday Max tried to exit the corners quicker than Kenny when he was trying to overtake, but the acceleration on the Suzuki was too much. In the end Biaggi had to use Kenny´s draft on a longer corner. Kenny´s problem is that he´s great when the bike is set up, but as the tyres wear out and the back starts sliding about he doesn´t like it and loses speed. The other guys out there know how to ride 100% even when their bike isn´t in the perfect condition and Kenny must do that if he is to start winning races.

I haven´t spoken with Valentino yet but I´m sure he´ll be satisfied with third place, even though he will be a bit disappointed with his terrible start. Things went in his favour though because the guys who ended up at the front are not really in the points race yet. He finished ahead of Abe though and extended his lead at the top of the Championship so you can´t really ask for more than that. Abe has been very consistent this year and I think he is the main contender for the title along with Rossi.

Finally, just a quick word for Daijiro Katoh. To win the first four races of the year is an absolutely fantastic record and it just goes to show what an immense talent he is. He raced extremely well when he was back in Japan and has made the step up to MotoGP in impressive style. I can´t wait for him to take to a four stroke. I have no doubt he would be able to handle it and I think he could become one of the top riders in the new format.

Tags:
500cc, 2001

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