German GP Preview
GAULOISES YAMAHA TEAM CARRY MOMENTUM TO SACHSENRING
The Gauloises Yamaha team heads to Germany for the tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship this weekend just days after sealing its seventh victory of the season at Donington Park. All of those wins have come at the hands of reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi, but the recent form of his team-mate Colin Edwards has suggested that a victory for the American is not too far around the corner and the pair will be looking to carry their momentum to the Sachsenring – a circuit that promises to be a major challenge for the 2005 version of the Yamaha YZR-M1.
The German venue’s tight and twisty characteristics gave Rossi some unexpected problems with the 2004 bike last season but this new machine has already proved that it is a more complete package. The base set-up that the team has found for both riders has allowed them to be quickest out of the blocks at five of the last six circuits, where either Rossi or Edwards has set the fastest time in the first free practice session, and helped Rossi to take victory in wet conditions as well as dry.
Early practice form has also translated into race results for the pair, with Rossi in particular demonstrating why he is now a clear favourite for his fifth consecutive MotoGP World Championship crown. Victory at Donington Park on Sunday took his season-tally to seven wins, a second and a third place from the opening nine races of the season and extended his advantage at the top of the standings to 104 points – just three points less than nearest challenger Marco Melandri’s current total.
Meanwhile, consecutive podium finishes for Edwards followed by a steady fourth place in the treacherous conditions at Donington Park have propelled him to third place in the championship, just one point short of Melandri in second place. The American is now targeting another top finish as he aims to overturn the Italian and provide Yamaha with a championship one-two ahead of the four-week summer break before the eleventh round of the season at Brno in the Czech Republic on August 28th.
There is a slight change to the race day schedule again this weekend, with the MotoGP event taking place at 12:30pm local time after the 125cc race, which kicks off the action at 11am, but before the 250cc race at 2pm.
VALENTINO ROSSI: A SCORE TO SETTLE
Valentino Rossi says he is ready to put last season’s disappointment at the Sachsenring behind him as he chases another victory to put the seal on an incredible first half to the season. The Italian struggled with set-up problems with the 2004 version M1 at the German track and finished fourth, but has more confidence than ever in the current bike’s capabilities – particularly after his victory at Donington Park on Sunday.
“Donington was a very special win for me because there were two or three times when I almost didn’t make it to the end of the race,” says Rossi. “When I saw the big ‘casino’ at the beginning I thought to myself: ‘I do not want to crash today.’ Of course, I was lucky but I also rode very strongly. I am not as fast at Sachsenring as I am at Donington, especially last year when we had some problems with the M1, but I think we are more competitive this season and will be able to fight for the podium.
“Things have gone very well in the first half of the year but we have some tracks coming up that I don’t like – especially Sachsenring and Brno. I won an important race against Biaggi at Brno in 2001 but I don’t like the track. Also Sachsenring will be very difficult but hopefully it will be dry and we will be able to find the best set-up for the bike very quickly, like at the past races.
“Before this season I had never won in the wet with the Yamaha, but this year we have managed it more than once. I am happy and also surprised with the amount of points we have scored. My team has worked brilliantly and I hope that continues in the second half of the season. My aim is to finish on the podium at every race until the end of the season. Also, my record number of victories in a season is eleven so I would like to beat that!”
COLIN EDWARDS: SECOND PLACE IN SIGHT
Colin Edwards’ recent form has given him plenty of reason for optimism for this weekend, with second place in the MotoGP World Championship now a realistic target ahead of the holiday period, even at a circuit that holds one of his worst racing memories. On his first visit to the Sachsenring riding for Aprilia two years ago Edwards was forced to leap from his bike when it burst into flames, famously turning the American into a high-speed fireball.
“The Sachsenring… that’s the place we had the barbecue a couple of years ago!” laughs Edwards. “Actually, despite that, I don’t mind the track at all and I finished fifth there last year, which wasn’t too bad under the circumstances. It’s a strange circuit with two very different parts – one where it’s very difficult to overtake and another which requires a massive physical effort because it works the left-hand side of your body really hard.
“The tyres are under a lot of strain and it's vital to make the right choice so they don't overheat on the left-side. Then there's the downhill right where you have to be careful in the first few laps, because that side of the tyre takes a bit more time to get up to temperature. Generally I get along pretty well with the layout and there are always a lot of fans so it should be a good weekend.
“Fourth place at Donington was definitely not the result we wanted but the momentum from Assen to here has been fantastic and I’ve moved into third in the championship. I’m only one point behind Melandri and it would be nice to go home for the summer holidays in second place. That’s definitely the goal.”
DAVIDE BRIVIO: ANOTHER BIG EFFORT
Gauloises Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio says he is looking for one more big effort from his team before the summer holidays, after an intense first half of the season that has reaped rewards on all fronts. Not only does Rossi lead the riders’ standings, but Yamaha and Gauloises Yamaha have extended their advantages in the manufacturers’ and teams’ championships respectively.
“This is the tenth race of the season so over half of the championship is gone and we have a good advantage,” reflects Brivio. “We had some problems with the M1 at Sachsenring last season but if that happens again we know Valentino is in a position where he can control the race because of the cushion he has in the championship. Of course, our intention is to see both Valentino and Colin at the front again, as they have been so many times this season, but we will have to wait and see.
“I am very interested to see how well Colin does in Germany because for the last three races he has been on top form and his team are working very well. So far it has been a very exciting season for Yamaha in general so we hope that can continue in the second half of the year. Everybody in the team has worked so hard all season but now we have to give one more big effort before taking a well deserved holiday.”