As Rossi finishes seventh and Edwards slides out
The wooded hills of Brno, thronged by 141,632 spectators, proved a less than happy hunting ground for the Fiat Yamaha Team at today's Czech Grand Prix. Valentino Rossi was dogged by traction problems almost from the start
and was only able to hang on for seventh, whilst Colin Edwards slid out of the race on the second lap.
Starting from sixth, Rossi slipped one place at the start but regained his starting position by the end of lap one, behind Loris Capirossi. The Italian then spent several laps on his fellow countryman's tail before he was able to pass him on lap eight of 22, but by then Rossi was suffering from grip problems and was unable to push on and clear a gap from the chasing pack. A few laps later he was passed by Chris Vermeulen and then by Capirossi, before Randy de Puniet began to threaten him in the closing stages and he was forced to use all his skills to keep the Frenchman behind him to the line.
Edwards meanwhile failed to finish a race for only the third time in his Yamaha career, making a rare mistake on lap two and losing the front. He rejoined the race briefly but was unable to continue, coming into the pits on the next lap.
The race was won by Casey Stoner, who extends his championship lead over Rossi to 60 points. Edwards remains seventh with 93 points. The MotoGP paddock now has one weekend off before the San Marino Grand Prix, when Grand Prix motorcycle racing returns to Misano for the first time in 14 years.
"We expected a difficult race today because we knew our potential here wasn't very high after the last two days. However it was even worse than we expected! I tried to keep my rhythm going but, after only seven or eight laps, the tyre started to slide a lot on the right side and from then on I wasn't able to open the throttle.”
"Throughout the weekend we have done everything to try to find more traction.
We have changed the setting a lot to try to find a way to make the tyre work, but unfortunately during the race we had no grip. Also, with the setting we had to use, we had to sacrifice some of our corner speed and this also slowed us down. It was very difficult today. I was able to do 1.59s to start with but after a few laps the tyre made a big step down and then I just had to wait for the end of the race.”
"I had a hard time with Capirossi at the start; in some parts I was faster than him but I couldn't overtake him because he was pulling away from me on the straights. Eventually I got past him but he stayed with me and I couldn't pull clear. I pushed as hard as I could; at that time I wasn't too fast but not too slow either, but after that my tyre was finished and then Vermeulen came, then Loris again...I am sad because I wasn't even able to try to fight with them today. Towards the end I had to push at the limit to stay in front of de Puniet and luckily I managed, but we were a very long way from a good performance. I tried to change my style, to ride in a different way to help the situation, but it was no good.”
"We have a test now but in reality our situation is quite bad and we have a few different problems to deal with. We will try to make the best of the next t wo days of work and to try to find something different for the next few races. We have to wait and see what we find, but for sure it's going to be very difficult. This is a very hard moment that we're in. We have six races to go and we just have to work as hard as we can to try to find a way to make some good results."
"Even though my start wasn't so bad on paper - I made up one place - it didn't feel too good. We were trying a new starting system that's been working really well but, in the hustle and bustle on the grid, I released the clutch a bit early, dropped RPM and then had to re-group. Anyway, I was pushing pretty hard from then on and I had a couple of passing areas that I knew I was good at so I was working my way up to de Puniet to see what I could do. I came out of turn three, went into four and was watching him and before I knew it, I lost the front and was on the ground. It's been a long time since I've lost the front that fast, usually it just kind of gives way but I guess it wasn't completely up to temperature, it was only the second lap and it just went. I made a mistake and I'm really disappointed, now we've got so me serious work to do during the test so we have a better weekend in Misano."
"It is very hard to find the right words to say about today! We had a very difficult race with Valentino and we tried our best with what we had. Unfortunately Colin crashed when he was feeling good after this morning, so that's a great pity as well. We have to keep working now to improve our package and the situation we find ourselves in. We have two days of testing here and we will try some new engine parts as well as some new tyres. Of course we won't give up and we will be working very hard over the next two days with both riders. We'll be back to try again in Misano."