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Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki - Kenny skittled, Sete in top-ten in Malaysia

Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki - Kenny skittled, Sete in top-ten in Malaysia

Team Telefónica MoviStar Suzuki rider Sete Gibernau was eighth in today’s Malaysian GP, claiming the position in spite of mysterious electrical problems that had mechanics still working on his bike on the starting grid.

Team-mate Kenny Roberts, however, had his hopes of a rostrum finish at a track where he has won the last two races dashed when he was knocked off on only the fourth of 21 laps of the 5.548km Sepang circuit close to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Roberts had led the first two laps, and was fighting to maintain his position, moving to repass eventual winner Valentino Rossi, when he was hit from behind by Max Biaggi, and knocked flying.

Although not seriously hurt, the 2000 World Champion suffered bangs, bruises and pulled muscles, and left the track immediately to return home to the USA, to begin treatment so he can be fit again for the next race, the Rio GP in two weeks.

Gibernau’s race – his whole day – was packed with drama. In the morning warm-up, his bike developed a mysterious electrical problem that cut his session short. The team changed the ignition, but the problem struck again on the sighting lap, and mechanics worked frantically to replace the ignition once again on the starting line.

The bike ran without further problems for full race distance, while Sete found himself engaged in fierce fighting from the first lap to the last. Thirteenth at the end of lap one, he made it as high as sixth in the middle stages of the race, trading places back and forth with rival factory riders until the finish.

The Malaysian GP was the 15th of 16 championship rounds, and the second-last race ever in the classic 500 class, to be replaced next year with a mixed formula which opens the premier GP class to 990cc four-strokes as well.

SETE GIBERNAU – Eighth Place

After all the drama and replacing parts on the grid, the bike wasn’t great, and I also made some mistakes with the chassis – I could have had it set up better. I got a bad start, but I was able to make up some places. After that, I just rode it as hard as I could. I was almost crashing all the time, making up for the speed I was losing on the straights. I think I was on the floor four or five times, but somehow managed to get up again. I guess today just wasn’t meant to be our day.

KENNY ROBERTS – Did Not Finish

That was really disappointing. That was the most comfortable I’ve been with the bike and the tyres for a long while, and I wasn’t having any trouble with the pace. I believe I could have had a top-three rostrum finish. I led the first couple of laps, and when I got knocked off, Rossi had just passed me. He got into the turn a bit hot, and I squared it off, thinking I could get back underneath him again. But Max also got in a bit hot, and he couldn’t do anything to avoid hitting me. I was in the right place, but at the wrong time. I’ve pulled a couple of muscles in my elbow, but hopefully I can be fit for the next race.

GARRY TAYLOR – Team Manager

Sete did extremely well to keep his concentration after a recurrence of the electrical problem that cut short his warm-up in the morning. He rode aggressively, stayed in touch with the others, and did what he could with what he had. Kenny made a magnificent start, and appeared quite comfortable running with the leaders. The crash happened as he went to go inside Rossi, who ran a bit wide. Both guys rode their hearts out today, and got little or nothing in return. That makes it hard for everyone.

500cc, 2001

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