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´A great send off for the European season´ - Randy Mamola writes for

´A great send off for the European season´ - Randy Mamola writes for

The Spanish crowd in Valencia certainly had reason to celebrate at theweekend. Sete Gibernau winning his first grand prix, Fonsi Nieto getting hisfirst 250cc podium, and Toni Elias still leading the 125cc WorldChampionship. Spanish company Telefonica had no less than five podiumfinishes on Sunday. Asking for more would have been greedy and so no wonderthe crowd went wild. The atmosphere was fantastic and even the weatherplayed its part in making it a great send off for the European season.

Sete qualified fourth fastest in the Friday session and was making hisSuzuki work quite well. Prior to this grand prix, Honda had tested inValencia between Brno and Estroril and Valentino Rossi topped the chartsuntil the final minutes on Saturday. Sete crashed in the early part of thatfinal session which certainly took away some of his confidence and heended up on the third row in 12th place. He was under enormous pressure.Not only racing in Spain but then as the 250cc race ended it started torain. The race was declared a wet race, which meant what tyres you fitted atthe start you kept for the race. There really is no time to pull in andchange tyres like in Formula One.

The grid lined up like a ghost town with everybody bar six riders starting from the pit-lanefor the warm-up lap. The riders told me in the early stages of the race itwas just like riding on sheer ice. It was a dangerous situation but dangeris part of our business. It was up to the riders how they approached it andhow they rode. I was running round before the race trying to find whattyres everybody was using, Suzuki were basically on slicks with very lightcuts and Sete was still running second on the slippery track. Barros was onan intermediate front and slick rear.

In those opening laps the riders were literally tiptoeing round the trackbecause those bikes unleash so much power. Sete said to me afterwards hethought we should all sit down and discuss what to do if faced with thesame situation again. I said the problem was you guys on the slicks weredoing well while riders who had more cuts in their tyres were moreaggressive, causing them to crash.

It was always going to dry out and Sete just hung in there although he wasbeing pushed around a bit by Kenny and Alex. They came close to touching acouple of times but he kept it all together. What a great moral boost forthe Telefonica Movistar Suzuki team who´ve had some pretty tough timesrecently. At one stage in the race I thought that Kenny had another card uphis sleeve. As the track dried I thought they were going to get Alexbecause of their slick tyres but he did a great job defending his position.Any of the three at the front could have dropped it and I was surprisedthat Sete set the fastest lap on the last lap.

What a wonderful way to celebrate your victory with Sete in his homecountry. He had I love New York emblazoned on the back of his leathers, which was such a nice gesture. After his victory he stuck the Americanflag alongside the Spanish flag in the sand, which really represented thesolidarity from everybody in our sport on how we felt.

When the minute´s silence before the race came to an end, it made whatlittle hair I have stand on end to hear the massive crowd make such anoise, which really meant something.

Suzuki did a fantastic job by getting two bikes on the podium but you alsohave to look at the Championship overall. Rossi leading Max Biaggi by 43points at the start. Should he have risked it in the terrible conditionsby trying to go for a win and fitted slick tyres. Or did he do the rightthing by playing it safe and fitting intermediates. I´m sure he did theright thing by playing it safe and he protected himself by getting the mostgrip in the wet. Max had to take more of a gamble and used an intermediatefront and slick rear with some tiny cuts on the right hand side. He wasconcerned about the right hand side of the tyre because it was not g

500cc, 2001

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