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Marlboro Yamaha

Marlboro Yamaha

Marlboro Yamaha Team riders Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi played a starringrole in today´s thrilling season-ending Rio GP, run as a two-part aggregaterace after rain interrupted proceedings. Cheated of victory by a backmarkerat the very last turn, Checa finished second, just a fraction behindValentino Rossi (Honda) with Biaggi third. This was the third time thisyear that the Marlboro Yamaha Team duo have stood together on the podium,following their one-two performances at the French and German GPs. ´Maybe Carlos could´ve won without the backmarker, but that´sracing,´ said Marlboro Yamaha Team director Hiroya Atsumi. ´The good thingis that he rode a great race, and Max too, it was very exciting for all ofus. Now we have finished this year, so the 500 class is history and we cannow focus 100 per cent on developing the new YZR-M1 four-stroke for nextseason.´

Today´s Grand Prix was the 580th and last 500 Grand Prix beforeup-to 990cc four-strokes join the MotoGP World Championship from the startof next season.


Carlos Checa led most of this afternoon´s restarted Rio GP, only to run outof luck at the very last turn and lose the race. The Marlboro Yamaha Teamman had been in the midst of the leading pack before the rain shower thatbrought out the red flags, ending that four-lap segment in fourth place. Hewas right on the pace again when the race was restarted. Running front andrear cut slicks in the tricky conditions, he took the lead from Rossi onaggregate time on lap 16 and stayed out front, just a fraction ahead of hisItalian rival, who had completed the first four-lap segment 0.195 secondsahead of Checa. So when Checa found privateer Anthony West (Honda) on theracing line at the final corner of the last lap, Rossi was able to getclose enough to win the race by 0.143 seconds on aggregate time.

´I saw the chequered flag and I thought I´d won,´ said Checa. ´WhenI found out the result it was probably the worst feeling of my life. I´vebeen chasing this win for three years with my team, the team did a greatjob here, the bike felt good and I thought I´d found my opportunity. Westturned around as we were coming at him, Rossi saw him too, then I met himin the middle of the turn, so I couldn´t open the throttle where I usuallydo and that was enough to lose me the race. I don´t know what West wasthinking.

´This is such a frustrating way to lose and the people that runthis sport must do something about the blue-flag system. On Friday Icomplained that there were no blue flags to warn lapped riders to moveover, but it hasn´t made any difference.´


Max Biaggi took a hard-ridden third place at Rio to secure second overallin the last-ever 500 World Championship. Starting from the third row, theItalian was in the thick of it from the first laps, and was the only manwho could run with Carlos Checa and Valentino Rossi after the restart.

´This was a very tough weekend for me,´ said Biaggi, winner ofthree races this season. ´This track is so bumpy that we couldn´t get thebike set up to suit me. I couldn´t use my speed because I wasn´t gettingenough feeling from the front, that´s why I qualified tenth. I think thedamp conditions helped today, though maybe my choice of an intermediatefront wasn´t perfect.

´It´s great to get second in the championship. Okay, so secondisn´t brilliant but it´s all I could do today. Over the last few days I´veread a lot of newspapers telling me how motivated Capirossi was to beat mefor second overall, so I wanted to ride a good race to make sure of second.Now we look forward to next year and the big question mark of four-strokes.We´ve got a lot of testing ahead of us and I hope we can have a greatmachine for 2002 so we can go one better than this year.´

500cc, 2001

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