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MotoGP 2002 season review

MotoGP 2002 season review

MotoGP 2002 season review

The 2002 MotoGP World Championship heralded a new era for Grand Prix racing, with the arrival of prototype 990cc four-stroke machines for the first time. It promised to be a season of adaptation and change, although one factor was sure to remain the same. Honda and Yamaha were to go head to head for the title once again with their revolutionary RC211V and M1 machines, and after a winter of intense testing, feuding Italian duo Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi went into battle on behalf of the Japanese factories.

Rossi, of course, was riding high on the confidence of his World Championship winning season in 2001, and despite his early apprehension at trading in the NSR500, he soon got to grips with the RCV and it was no surprise that he took victory in the first race despite the wet conditions at Suzuka. The awesome potential of the Honda came clearly into evidence at Welkom in round two, as Rossi was beaten by his team-mate Tohru Ukawa after a rare last-lap mistake, but there were no slip-ups over the next seven races, as the Italian took successive victories to open up a massive 96 point lead at the top of the championship. $$$ Max Biaggi and the Yamaha were left floundering, but they had made steady progress over the first half of the season and it was at Brno in round ten that things finally clicked dramatically into place. Tyre problems for Rossi when lapping in second behind an impressive Biaggi ended his hopes of an eighth straight win, and the Roman was left to storm to a clear victory over Kato and Ukawa – his first of the season and an landmark achievement for the M1.

A series of wet races then deprived Yamaha fans the chance to see if Biaggi could continue his form, although spectacular racing remained top of the agenda as Rossi twice kept his nerve to take victory at Estoril and Rio with Suzuki GSV-R rider Sete Gibernau and Yamaha´s Carlos Checa both washing out of the lead under pressure from the mercurial number 46. Victory in Brazil was enough to clinch the title for Rossi, his second in succession and the fourth of his career.$$$ The four remaining races provided other riders with the opportunity to raise their own stakes ahead of the winter transfer market, with several teams taking late deliveries of four-stroke machinery. Brazilian Alex Barros was the man who made it count most, taking victory in his first outing on the RC211V at Motegi and repeating his effort at in the final race at Valencia after a second win of the season for Biaggi at Sepang and one final flash of genius from Rossi at Phillip Island.

MotoGP, 2002

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