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Loris Capirossi discusses the all-Italian battle in 2001, and reveals his aspirations for MotoGP 2002

Loris Capirossi discusses the all-Italian battle in 2001, and reveals his aspirations for MotoGP 2002

The headlines in the 2001 season have been stolen by Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi, and rightly so. Between them the feuding pair have taken thirteen victories from the fifteen races so far this season, with only Alex Barros and Sete Gibernau able to break their stronghold on the 500 class. However, with Rossi already crowned World Champion, Biaggi has found himself looking over his shoulder in the race for the number 2 plate, with Loris Capirossi establishing himself as a firm contender with just one race to go. Capirossi, despite failing to win a race so far, has taken four second places and five thirds, and has swept to pole position on four occasions. spoke to the gritty former 250cc World Champion after his ninth podium finish of the year in Sepang on Sunday, where he took second place behind race winner Rossi to cut the points gap to Biaggi down to just four.

mgp: First of all Loris, congratulations for another second place on Sunday. Were you happy with the result?

LC: Absolutely, that was a great result for me because it means I can now go to Brazil with nothing to lose. I know I have a real chance of taking second place in the championship but I must also be careful not to be caught for third by Barros, who always goes well at his home track. In Malaysia it was a very hard race, especially when the tyres went off. McCoy was very difficult to overtake because of his unique style, but I did it and I am very happy.

mgp: It was your fourth second place of the year in what has been your best ever season in the 500 class, even though you haven´t won a race. How do you summarise a year like that?

LC: Well there is still one more opportunity left to win a race and I will fight very hard for that. The season has been very good, the whole team has worked hard and we have built a solid foundation for next year.

mgp: It was announced in Sepang that your West Honda Pons team-mate Alex Barros has signed for another two years with the team. How important is that continuity for you?

LC: It is very important. I have a very good relationship with Alex, he provides a lot of motivation for me and I think we both push each other out on the track. We have been the best two-man team this year so lets hope we can continue in the same way in 2002 and improve our results still further.

mgp: You have struggled to maintain the consistency of people like Rossi and Biaggi in the races this year even though you have been red hot in qualifying. Why is this?

LC: A large part of it is down to the bike. Myself and Alex have been riding 1999 Honda NSR machines with 2000 parts added to them, whilst Valentino has a 2001 prototype which has been specifically developed by Honda, who have spent a lot of money on it. Vale and Max are factory riders - this is the big difference.

mgp: Do you think the arrival of the 4 stroke machines next year will see riders on a more level playing field, or will the difference be even greater?

LC: I´m not sure. If the 4 strokes are 2 seconds quicker in the first test then we will be looking at two different championships - a 4 stroke one and a 2 stroke one. Hopefully that won´t be the case. We will be riding the latest evolution 2 stroke machines from Honda which I´m sure will be competitive and hopefully we can use the knowledge we already have to get a head start. 2003 will be an exciting year, with factories like Ducati and Aprilia involved. There will be lots of opportunity and I think everything will be more or less an level standard.

mgp: A lot of the focus has been on Valentino and Max this season but you have also been fast on what, as you say, is a lesser bike. Is this frustrating for you?

LC: The competition between all three of us has been excellent this year. We are all World Champions and that is great for Italy. Vale and Max have both been very fast but, as I said before, the difference is their bikes. I would like to see us all on exactly the same bike - then we´d really see who the best rider was. But Grand Prix is not like this and it never will be. As far as the attention is concerned I really don´t care. My job is to ride the motorcycle.

500cc, 2001, Loris Capirossi

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