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Jacque makes dramatic comeback in China

Jacque makes dramatic comeback in China

Jacque makes dramatic comeback in China

Olivier Jacque delivered Kawasaki's best-ever result in the premier class of motorcycle grand prix racing, with a masterful second place in a water-logged Chinese Grand Prix today.

The podium position was also a personal best for the 31-year-old Frenchman in the premier class. Previously he was fourth in the 2003 French GP at Le Mans.

It was a spectacular debut ride for Kawasaki by Jacque, who was a late replacement for the injured Alex Hofmann.

The Frenchman, starting 15th, finished the 22-lap race with a dramatic surge for victory, finishing just 1.7s adrift of race winner, and four-time world champion, Valentino Rossi.

Jacque closed almost four seconds over the final five laps with a near perfect display of bike and throttle control, which emphasised the step forward made with the latest motor powering the Ninja ZX-RR.

The Kawasaki pilot was ninth on lap two and, when he splashed past Spaniard Sete Gibernau to secure second place on lap 15, the Frenchman was still 6.1s behind Rossi.

In his chase of Rossi, Jacque overcame a fogging visor and windscreen which made it almost impossible to read his pit board and race position.

After the race Rossi said: "I read that Olivier was coming to MotoGP for two races and that China was just for training, so now we must watch out for him at Le Mans."

With China having been his first GP race for more than seven months, Jacque seemed baffled by his second place finish.

"For sure Valentino's crew didn't have my name ready to put on his pit board over the final laps, and I still don't really understand how it all happened. It's magic, better than winning the world title.

"When I arrived as a replacement rider on Thursday I said I felt like 'a hair on the soup' but today I felt like fish in water. I was comfortable with the conditions, had good grip from the tyres and my team gave me a confidence-boosting set-up. It's strange to be here on the podium, I'm not sure how to feel."

In surging from 15th on the grid to second at the finish of the rain-hit race, Jacque and Kawasaki also delivered the best-ever result for Bridgestone in a MotoGP race using full wet specification tyres.

"A fantastic result, and full credit to Olivier in very difficult conditions," said Team Manager Harald Eckl. "Two weeks ago at Estoril we saw that he still had what it takes to race at this level, and today's result just goes to prove that the decision to put him on our bike for this race, and for the next at Le Mans, was the right one.

The result also proves that Kawasaki's engineers have built an engine that is suited to these conditions. Finally, I must say a big thank to our tyre partner Bridgestone, they have done a lot of work on their wet weather tyres."


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