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Sete in the pack at ultra-close Australian GP
Sunday, October 14, 2001 – Phillip Island, Australia: Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki riders Sete Gibernau both finished in the points in today’s Australian GP. But with former champion Kenny Roberts in trouble from the start, only team-mate Sete Gibernau was able to take his part in one of the most exciting 500 races of all time.
The sweeping and picturesque seaside circuit is famous for close races and finishes – but today’s last-ever 500cc race at Phillip Island, run in sunny but windy conditions, was a rare vintage. At the finish, a group of nine riders had closed right up. With two laps to go, the brawl was covered by less than two seconds, and it was only slightly larger when the chequered flag fell after 27 laps of the 4.448km track.
Sete was the last man to join this group, after starting with an extra fuel load to prevent the problems at the last race, when he ran short on the final lap. Once the fuel load had lightened, he was able to catch up and join battle.
He was only 2.8-seconds behind race winner Valentino Rossi, but in ninth position.
Roberts had a disappointing afternoon, Starting from the third row of the grid, he was slow off the line, and found himself boxed in among slower riders. Later in the race, vibration and grip problems made him worry about the state of his tyres. All the same, he made sure he pipped factory rider Carlos Checa for 15th, to take the final point.
Rossi’s victory secured the World Championship for the 22-year-old Italian.
SETE GIBERNAU – Ninth Place
That was never going to be easy. We started with extra fuel, because we were worried about running short again, and that meant the bike was too heavy over the front for the early laps. I had a couple of moments, and realised I had to settle down. Towards the end, with the fuel burned off, I could get going. I caught the group, but I just didn’t have the speed to pass any of them down thestraight. I think we did a good race all the same.
KENNY ROBERTS – 15th Place
Not much to say. I got a bad start, and got mixed up with some pretty dangerous stuff with some of the twin-cylinder bikes. I was just trying to stay upright, then about halfway through I felt as though something had gone wrong with the tyre. I was having vibrations and I lost some grip. After that I just wanted to finish. After the race, the tyre looked okay, so I’m not quite sure what was wrong.
GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager
Both Sete and Kenny did all that the team could ask – they rode to the maximum today, in a superb race, and got the best results possible. The whole team congratulates Valentino Rossi, his race engineer Jerry Burgess, and the pit crew – not only for winning the championship, but also a breathtaking race.
17 years ago
17 years ago