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Sunday, October 7, 2001 – Motegi, Japan: Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Kenny Roberts, Sete Gibernau and one-race wild card Yukio Kagayama finished eighth, ninth and tenth in today´s Pacific GP, after a race of changing fortunes for all three.

World Champion Roberts led into the first corner, and held a top three position for the first four of 25 laps of the 4.801km Twin Ring Motegi circuit. After he started losing positions, he stayed consistent to the finish to be the first Suzuki home. Gibernau also started well, and actually passed Roberts, working his way through to fifth place in the latter part of the race – only to run short of fuel on the very last lap, dropping back behind his team-mate again.

Kagayama, in his first ride on a two-stroke GP machine for two years, made a cautious start after some last-minute setting changes. As the race wore on, he was able to increase his pace and enjoy a good battle with regular GP riders including reigning 250 champion Olivier Jacque and former 500 champion Alex Criville. At the finish he had left Criville behind (Jacque retired) and was closing on his temporary Suzuki team-mates.

Gibernau´s fuel problem was a first-ever for the Suzuki team, and may have been the consequence of extra wheelspin on the slippery Motegi circuit during a storming ride by the winner of the Valencia GP two weeks ago. Next weekend, the Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki team regulars will contest the Australian GP at Phillip Island, and the weekend after that the Malaysian GP, before a one weekend break, followed by the last race of the year in Rio.

I´m finding it hard to race to my ability, and in my opinion the machine settings come into that. It´s difficult for me to keep my race pace, when I have these limitations. When the top three guys come by me and start pulling away, it´s extremely frustrating. It makes racing no fun. We tried some different chassis stuff here. Now a decision has been made as a result of today´s race that in Australia I´ll try Suzuki´s latest engine configuration, closer to the motor Sete has been using, which will limit us to the latest chassis that I’ve used at previous races this year.

I rode my heart out, and then I ran short of gas on the last lap. What can I say?

YUKIO KAGAYAMA – Tenth PlaceI changed my settings after morning warm-up – but they were no good. For the first half of the race I was struggling. When the fuel load became lighter, it got better and better and I could start to speed up, and I could race with some good riders. At the finish I could see Kenny and Sete ahead of me, but couldn´t quite catch them. There are just three days at a GP to adapt to the bike, and adapt the bike to me, and rain on the first day made it even harder. But I really enjoyed the weekend all the same.

GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager
That was heart-breaking for Sete, after winning in Valencia two weeks ago. It appears that he ran out of gas, which is something that has never happened to us before. The increased consumption may have been influenced by the weather, or wheelspin in a hard race, It´s puzzling, and it shouldn´t have happened, and we apologise to Sete. But it´s interesting that Alex Barros also had the same trouble, running short on the last lap and running out completely on the slow-down lap. Kenny rode a great defensive race, holding his position in the early stages, using all his considerable skill, and riding consistently to the finish. And it was a pleasure to see Yukio going so well and having such fun after a long time without riding a GP two-stroke. Three machines in the top ten is some consolation.

500cc, 2001

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