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Hervé Poncharal looks back on the SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

Hervé Poncharal looks back on the SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

Hervé Poncharal looks back on the SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

Gauloises Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager, Hervé Poncharal, looks back on mixed fortunes for Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano at the opening round of the 2002 MotoGP World Championship.

Over the winter tests Olivier was very careful. He learnt his lesson from 2001 and was happy to set modest lap times whilst working hard. At the Grand Prix he was determined to show that he can stand out on a 2 stroke machine, he set good lap times on a dry track in qualifying and made the second row behind the 4 strokes and the wildcards.

On Sunday morning we expected the rain to make things even more difficult for us, because the 4 strokes have a theoretical advantage in the wet thanks as they have a lighter engine. We were surprised that the rain levelled out the playing field much more and the difference proved to be in the set-up and style of the rider. Olivier coped well, and this helped his confidence greatly.

In the race he got an excellent start and was able to stay amongst the front runners before getting pulled in for a stop and go. You cannot question the penalty, because they are the rules, but Olivier took it badly because he thought it was unfair. His bike moved on the grid when he was adjusting his visor. It was the first time he had been in a front position for some time so he was very disheartened when he entered the box and got off the bike. Although I understand it I could never justify this attitude, although this is mainly on behalf of his sponsors and the people behind him in the team.

We had a heated discussion and in the end he understood where his interests and those of the team are. Despite the penalty he could have ended up in eighth position and this would have been a good result under the circumstances. After everything it was a big disappointment to return from the GP with nothing, although there were some positive factors over the weekend. Shinya demonstrated that he is very fast. He got a bad start but before he fell he was the quickest rider on the track.

The next race in Welkom will be difficult for us because the 4 strokes have even more of an advantage at altitude. In any case, we will be once again trying for the best result possible.

MotoGP, 2002

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