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Abe the top Yamaha

Abe the top Yamaha

Abe the top Yamaha

Norick Abe finished as the top Yamaha rider for the first time this season after taking eighth place at the Cinzano Rio Grand Prix on Sunday. The Japanese rider was aided by the fact that Valentino Rossi failed to finish the race, but he outdid both Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri at a racetrack and revealed it could have been even better if it wasn't for a problem at the start of the race.

"I made a big mistake at the start while riding on the dirty part of the track, which caused a lot of wheelspin on my rear tyre," commented Abe, who took victory on the two-stroke Yamaha at Rio in 1999.

"At the beginning of the race I practically passed a rider at each lap, then at mid-race my rear tyre lost grip. When I saw that Nakano was catching me at the end of the race, I kept concentrated to avoid any mistake and to save my place.

"This circuit was always favourable to me, since I won here and gained several podiums. My objective was to go on the podium, which was not possible, but I am hopeful of making it happen soon."

Herve Poncharal, Director of Abe's Fortuna Gauloises Tech3 team which also includes Melandri, added: "We expected a difficult race and that was the case. I want to congratulate Norick for his result, which enables him to be the best Yamaha rider in front of Carlos Checa.

"Despite of a super start, Marco was not able to stay with the leaders, since we had not found a solution to his problems. This weekend was particularly difficult, and we are also disappointed that Valentino could not score big points for the championship.

"Fortunately the next two races should suit our Yamahas more and we are looking forward to heading to Sachsenring for the German Grand Prix."

MotoGP, 2004

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