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No fun in the British sun for Yamaha

No fun in the British sun for Yamaha

No fun in the British sun for Yamaha

With two riders in the top five after qualification Yamaha might have had good reason to feel reasonably confident of a podium position at yesterday's British Grand Prix. Carlos Checa had led the race 12 months ago for a hefty period, while Fortuna team-mate Marco Melandri (starting from the front row) won the 250cc race in 2002. Alex Barros was also showing some impressive speed and the last time the firm truly dominated a GP occurred back in 1998 when Simon Crafar comprehensively beat Mick Doohan on the Donington Park curves.

Sadly the outcome of the sun-blessed and hot Grand Prix was to be another Honda benefit and each of the Yamaha hopefuls saw their hopes dashed. Checa was forced to take evasive action at the Esses as Melandri crashed out of fourth place, the Spaniard eventually crossed the line in sixth, while Alex Barros did not even start the race as a freak collision with Yukio Kagayama in warm-up left the unlucky Brazilian with a broken hand.

The Gauloises rider clashed with the Japanese wild-card coming out of the pits as the Suzuki man shot past his braking marker and knocked the pair flying. Barros damaged the metacarpal bone in his right hand and is now likely to miss a GP for the first time in over ten years due to injury.

´During this morning's warm-up Kagayama missed the brakes at the end of the straight and hit me as I was coming out on to the track,´ the 32 year old remarked. ´I went to see Dr Costa straight after the crash and he told me I'd broken the fifth metacarpal in my right hand and that it was impossible to ride today. He has put my hand in a short plaster so that I don't lose too much muscle strength in my forearm. He also told me to move my arm as much as possible so as to accelerate the calcification process. I will have to wait to see Dr Costa a week on Wednesday before I know if I can race in Germany. I'm extremely disappointed - this is the first time I haven't been able to race due to injury since 1992, when I broke my collarbone at Magny Cours.´

To make matters worse Barros' team-mate Olivier Jacque also did not last the distance after a nasty looking fall exiting the Melbourne loop midway through the race. ´The start of the race was difficult, I got stuck behind Bayliss and struggled to find my rhythm with a full tank of fuel,´ said the Frenchman. ´Then around the mid-race point the bike became a little easier to ride and I was attacking harder to try and get past Checa. Unfortunately I gave it a little too much throttle coming out of a corner and the bike let go suddenly and I high-sided off. I hit my head pretty hard and feel a bit dizzy. My left big toe is also hurting, but I should be OK for the German GP.´

Melandri was pumped for a strong showing after taking his highest qualifying spot of the season in third place, but his error at Fogarty's Esses scrubbed his high expectations. ´I made a little mistake on the third lap,´ he reflected. ´I had a bit of a problem when I rode with a full tank because it seemed to unsettle the rear of the bike. I braked a bit too late, maybe, and I think that the front touched the white line. I'm so sad because I was going so fast and really thought that I might have a chance. What can I say? Though at least I can see that I have the capability of doing very well.´

MotoGP, 2003

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