Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racers Álvaro Bautista and Loris Capirossi had very different ends to today’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as one took a fine seventh position, while the other was forced to retire.
Bautista was boxed in on the first corner and relegated to 12th place at the end of the first lap, from ninth on the grid. He then set about making his way through the field and just after half distance he had caught and passed Marco Melandri for eighth. The next rider in Bautista’s sight was team-mate Capirossi and as he chased him down for what was looking to be an exciting inter-team battle in the closing stages, Capirossi visibly slowed and went into the gravel on lap 22. As Bautista benefitted from Capirossi’s sad demise and moved into seventh, he tried to make up the distance to the top six, and although he ended the race with top-five position lap-times, he was just unable to close down on Marco Simoncelli with the few laps that were remaining.
Capirossi had had an impressive race and was still in with a strong chance of a top-five position, until his enforced retirement. He made an impressive start and settled into a good rhythm in seventh place, fighting with Colin Edwards and Simoncelli for fifth. Capirossi looked in with a good chance of attacking the pair in the last few laps, but an electrical issue caused him to lose power and slow dramatically, before his bike finally stopped altogether due to a fail-safe measure as he went into a corner, causing him to run into the gravel. Capirossi was unable to re-start his machine and forced to retire. He was very disappointed to leave Motegi empty-handed after what had been a very positive weekend for him.
Today’s race was held in warm, but overcast conditions and was watched at trackside by just over 40,000 very colourful and exuberant fans. Ducati’s Casey Stoner took his second win in succession, with World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in fourth.
Rizla Suzuki now travels immediately to Malaysia for the next round of the season, which will be held next Sunday at the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur.
“It was not a good, but also not a bad result! We improved on our position from the last few races, but I had a problem in the first few laps with the rear tyre because it was just not getting enough temperature in it, this made it difficult to follow the others riders. After three or four laps I got back into my rhythm and saw that I could keep a similar distance and time to the front group, but the gap was too big and I wasn’t able to catch them. I am happy with the result and the whole team has worked very hard all weekend, but we need to improve on what happened in the first few laps, because in this category those laps are very important. I hope that in Malaysia we can make steps with this and we’ll try to be in the position that I think we should be – which at the moment is in the top-six.”
“Overall the weekend has been quite positive and we have been in a good position all the time – apart from right at the end of today! I started well and got into a good rhythm behind Marco and Colin, at some points on the track I would lose time on them, but in other places I would make a lot of time on them. Then five or six laps from the end the bike started to slow down a bit. I don’t know what happened, but then it started to go ok again and then with a couple of laps to go it completely stopped. I am very sorry for the whole team, but it seems the luck is just not with me this season – we will still try to finish the season in the best way that we can.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The whole team is very disappointed for Loris. He rode with a lot of pain all weekend, he showed a consistently good pace and without the failure then sixth position was very possible. He can take some positives from this weekend, the bike package worked well and he loves Sepang, so hopefully next weekend he can go for his best result of the season.
“It was nice to see Álvaro go one better than the last three Grands Prix, again it involved a big fight after being a long way back after the first couple of laps and we could make his life a lot easier with better initial performance from the GSV-R in the early stages. He’s been riding well and consistently, his level is increasing step-by-step and we’re excited about his potential for the remainder of the season.”
Grand Prix of Japan Race Classification:
1. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 42’12.266: 2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +3.868: 3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +5.707: 4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +6.221: 5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +27.092: 7. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) +31.826: DNF. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP):
World Championship Classification:
1. Lorenzo 297: 2. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 228: 3. Stoner 180: 4. Dovizioso 159: 5. Rossi 159: 13. ÁLVARO BAUTISTA (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 58: 15. LORIS CAPIROSSI (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 41: