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Randy Mamola gets excited about Le Mans

Randy Mamola gets excited about Le Mans

I told my fellow commentators and viewers just before the race at Le Mansthat the only person who was going to beat Max Biaggi was Max Biaggi, afterhe´d qualified in pole position for the second year in succession. It was agreat result for Max and the Marlboro Yamaha team and the icing on the cakefor them was Carlos Checa´s second place, especially as he was still bruisedfrom the Jerez crash 15 days earlier. Both Max and Carlos have been puttinga great deal of pressure on themselves this year. Max with some bad resultsand Carlos with too many crashes but at Le Mans they seemed reallycomfortable. Following their test at Mugello after the Spanish Grand PrixYamaha seem to have found something extra for them and Max was soconsistent in qualifying he was always going to be the man to beat.

Another great weekend and the atmosphere around this famous circuit wasfantastic. Having such a noisy crowd all the way round the race track makesthe riders even more enthusiastic, not that MotoGP racing and the 500ccclass in particular need any help at the moment. However, it was not aweekend without incident.

Yamaha looked good throughout with Max and Carlos, Abe, Nakano, Haga and ofcourse Garry McCoy. After qualifying on Friday there were six Yamahas outof the top eight with only Valentino Rossi´s Honda and Kenny Roberts´Suzuki the non Yamaha bikes on the first two rows of the grid. After thefinal qualifying Valentino and Kenny were on the front row alongside Maxand Shinya Nakano. The high for Yamaha was the winning performance of Maxand Carlos and without a doubt the low was the crash of Garry McCoy onSaturday morning.

Garry would have been racing for a podium finish after leading the Fridayqualifying session. I don´t think he would have matched Max´s pace in therace but he would have upped the atmosphere round the track with thatamazing riding style.

Kenny Roberts made a great start on the Suzuki and had to put the brakes onto prevent himself jumping the lights. Valentino and Norick Abe made surprising bad starts while Max and Carlos went with Kenny fromthe line. The early pace was in the 1. 40´s and I thought beforethe race it would drop to the 1. 39´s. Every time Kenny wentfaster at the front, Max and Carlos were able to match him and when theywent past him there was nothing he could do. It´s impossible for him torespond when the Yamaha and Suzuki have so much power difference on thestraight. Although he finished sixth, one place higher than those openingthree Grands Prix, Kenny is so close but so far away from being able toachieve what he needs to do. He was passed on the straight by all apart fromValentino who passed him on the brakes. They just line him up and then usethe power of their bike and he is so vulnerable when he can´t match theirpower. Kenny still has the same style as last year and seems to be able toget a jump over Yamaha and Honda in mid corner and exit. He gets out infront and is very difficult to pass but when the tyre performance starts todrop they get by. There is little else he can do at the moment becauseKenny is doing the best possible job with the tools he has. I´ve been theremyself and I can tell you it´s very frustrating.

Max had one big piece of luck after he took the lead when he went off thetrack coming into the chicane on the back straightaway.

Valentino was down in ninth place at the end of the first lap and Le Mansis a very difficult place to pass on because it all has to be done on thebrakes. Slowly but surely he made his way back but when he took his helmetoff at the end of the race he looked more drained than he did at the finishof the three races he´s won this year. The Honda is better suited to fastertracks but he left for Mugello having increased his lead in thechampionship. Norick Abe also did a great job to finish fourth after hisbad start while Alex Criville finished with an almost identical race timefrom last year which won him th

500cc, 2001

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